Well, LJ Reynolds, it took a long time, but I finally got this story ready for publication. Thanks for your support and persistence.
Coming soon (October 1 ,2020).
This post is for LJ Reynolds who was the first reader for this story. Think I should finish the revisions on it?
Or…Nanowrimo beckons in a couple of weeks, what should I work on: A. a sequel to “The Dreamcatcher” or B. a New Mexico mystery?
This will be the basis for NaNoWriMo 2012
“Dammit Melissa, there’s nothing I can do about that now. No. Hey, just call the condo management and tell them the air conditioning is broken and get someone to fix it.” Kirin looked up to see brake lights in front of her. She looked over her right shoulder, flicked the turn signal, and swerved into the next lane. “Listen, I’m on a deadline I can’t deal with that right now. Can’t you just handle it? Fine. I’ll call you when I get there.”
She tossed the phone on the front seat and gripped the steering wheel with both hands. “Sonofabitch. Why can’t I catch a break here?” Her editor from Travel & Tour had called at the last minute with the change of assignments. Instead of a piece on the Oregon wine country, she wanted Kirin to go to Belize for a week to write a piece about the latest private resort that occupied a small island. June in the Caribbean. What could be more idyllic—or more humid? She changed lanes again causing two more cars to honk at her.
She eased her 2005 Saab into the long-term parking area, double checked the doors and windows, retrieved her carry-on, and looped the leather messenger bag over her neck and shoulder. The shuttle moved slowly toward her and she had just the briefest moment of regret for shouting at Melissa.
Now that they both agreed they were better friends than they were lovers, their relationship improved. One night of hot sex after a chance meeting at a fundraiser had turned into three years of bickering and—hot sex. By the time they were deeply in love at six months, Kirin suspected that her new girlfriend might be a certifiable nymphomaniac. What the hell, she’d been enjoying herself immensely and never dreamed it might get old. It did. Melissa’s libidinous demands interfered with sleeping, eating, bathing, working, and socializing. Even the breakup took a more than month.
Since then they maintained a relatively comfortable friendship and Kirin came to depend on Melissa to help whenever she had to leave town. She shouldn’t have been so testy. Blackberry in hand, Kirin dictated a note to herself to bring back something nice from Belize.
At the American Airlines departure entrance, Rachel Bates eased the car to the curb. She jumped out and pulled the red suitcase from the trunk. After setting it on the curb, she reached to help her legally blind girlfriend climb out of the car. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
Silke Dyson knew she’d be much better as soon as she could get out of town and away from her controlling partner. She smiled. “I’ll be fine, I do this every year. You worry too much.” Silke hoisted her backpack and hailed the skycap.
Rachel stood awkwardly unsure what to do and awkwardly provided a quick hug then got back in the car. “Have a good time, baby.” Silke sighed audibly and felt relieved as the car moved away into the stream of traffic. It made her sad to think how contentious their relationship had become. It was hard to remember when everything started to go wrong. She watched the brake lights disappear and swallowed hard. Towing her suitcase she nearly bumped into a skycap.
“Where are you headed miss?”
“Yes ma’am, can I get you some help to the gate?”
An American airline employee appeared with a wheelchair and escorted her through security and all the way to the gate, he even notified the gate agent so that an airline porter would meet Ms. Dyson’s arrival in Dallas. She tipped him well and thanked him.
Since her flight would not begin boarding for least half an hour, Silke relaxed in a chair by the window and pulled a sandwich from her backpack. Saturday morning at Mitchell field, the air crackled with excitement and nervousness from travelers young and old. Most were heading out on a vacation but there were some business travelers returning home.
Silke enjoyed traveling but as her vision deteriorated, it became more difficult. With each hurdle, she tried to anticipate difficulties and avoid frustration. Her doctor diagnosed the tunnel vision about a year ago after a particularly nasty disagreement with Rachel.
A week on the warm beach would do wonders, it always did. Diane and Mark bought the little resort nine years ago and worked tirelessly to make it a five star resort on the island of Ambergris Caye just off the coast and inside the second longest barrier reef. Silke had visited every year mostly to hang out with her childhood best friend and to recharge her creative batteries. Her art fed her soul but the business end of running a studio drained her. Rachel wasn’t much help because she traveled two weeks a month for business.
To Be Continued…… Like it?
July 1st 2012
Chapter One — of a not yet titled Zeke Cabot prequel
“Hey guys, I’m sorry I’m late traffic was unbelievable.” Zeke tossed her raincoat on the back of an empty chair and joined her three former classmates at a high-top table between the bar and the chic art deco lounge. “What’s everybody drinking?”
“Glad you made it, Special Agent Cabot. Tonight we’re celebrating vodka.” Dickinson signaled the waitress with one finger and pointed to Zeke. Ramirez and Schneiderman took turns shaking hands. Hard to believe it had been one year since they were all together at Quantico. Schneiderman was the oldest at 28. Ramirez and Dickinson were both 24 and Zeke was 25.
“It’s good to see you guys. And I guess congratulations are in order, Special Agent Ramirez.” A round of cheers went up.
“Thanks, Delia is 34 weeks and looks like she could go any day. We’re hoping it’ll be a girl.”
Dickinson jumped to his feet. “Hey! What kinda loyalty is that, amigo?”
“Oh, stow it you cranky misogynist.”
Schneiderman threw his arm around Zeke’s shoulders. “Hey, if it’s a girl, you could always name her… Zarathustra.”
Convulsive laughter followed, much to Zeke’s discomfort. “Still a bunch of junior high assholes, I thought when you weenies finally graduated you’d grow a pair.” Zeke took another swallow of her drink as her three classmates calmed to giggles and wiped their eyes.
“We’re sorry and have a wonderful way to make it up to you.” Dickinson glanced at the other two guys and said conspiratorially, “don’t turn around yet. We’re going to give you the supreme honor of inviting that spectacular red-head at the bar to join us.“
Zeke shook her head. “Honor?”
“Seriously. See that straw in front of you? We drew before you arrived to see who’d invite her. You lucked out.” They each held up a drink straw, all of which were longer than the one in front of her.
Zeke turned to look over her shoulder and knew instantly who their target was. She could hear Dickinson ordering another round but couldn’t take her eyes off the stunningly beautiful woman seated alone at the bar. Her dark red shoulder length hair shimmered like an aged cognac. She was posed on the high bar stool as though waiting for a photographer. Zeke couldn’t see her face but admired the gentle curves of her shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.
Her mouth felt dry and she knew her jaw hung open—but she couldn’t move.
Schneiderman nudged her with his elbow. “C’mon Cabot, fair is fair. Invite the lovely lady to meet some of Washington’s finest—except for Ramirez.”
It took a few more minutes of haggling and badgering, but Zeke had learned long ago, to be part of this fraternity meant going along with some of their ludicrous ideas. And besides, she couldn’t think of a better excuse to talk to the stunning beauty.
“Mind if I sit here?” Zeke said. Is my voice really that high?
The woman barely acknowledged her. “Not especially.” Then she waved to the bartender.
Zeke looked back over her shoulder at the three slavering wolves back at the table.
“I’m really embarrassed to have to do this, but…would you like to join my three adolescent classmates and me for a drink?”
The woman turned her head and Zeke thought she heard her heart flip over in her chest. The Emerald green eyes were the crown jewels in the most beautiful face she’d ever seen. A flawless creamy complexion highlighted with a faint pinkish blush surrounded a pair of elegant soft lips. Zeke swallowed audibly.
“Isn’t that a unique and irresistible invitation?” The exquisite lips morphed into a smile. The green eyes twinkled.
Zeke opened her mouth and a squeaky gibberish came out. She coughed. “I’m sorry. That did sound lame didn’t it?”
“Is that them over there? The three lads staring and giggling?”
Zeke followed her gaze. “I’m afraid so.”
“Please tell your friends that I appreciate the irresistible invitation,” she said reaching for a cocktail napkin, “as it happens, I’m waiting for client.” With her left hand she reached for a pen and scribbled a number on the napkin. She folded in half and placed it gently in Zeke’s palm. “However, I would like to see you again.”
Zeke stumbled back to the table and picked up fresh drink. After a healthy swallow, she put it down. “Gentlemen, the lady declined our invitation.”
A round of moans and curses followed. “Why?”
The whine stopped, as the beautiful woman in question walked past with a tall, aristocratic man with silver-gray hair and a mustache, who looked vaguely familiar.
Not surprisingly, the conversation fell back into the comfortable banter of former classmates. Zeke relaxed and listened to familiar stories from the guys she competed with for months. She had worked hard for five grueling months to obtain the best scores humanly possible in the four major categories required graduate from Quantico: academics, case studies, firearms training, and operational skills. Women were in the minority, women of color even fewer, and gay women of color—one.
Zeke endured gentle ribbing as well as verbal and physical harassment. In the end, she graduated in the top ten percent surprising nearly everyone. After a year, Dickinson, Schneiderman, and Ramirez had turned out to be loyal friends.
“Cabot, do you remember that FUBAR tactical in Hogan’s Alley?” Ramirez actually choked because he was laughing so hard. The
Dickinson puffed up. “I am sure I wasn’t the first guy to ruin a pair of perfectly good cargo pants.”
All four collapsed in gales of laughter.
Zeke wiped her eyes and glanced into the lounge. The breathtaking redhead was indeed flipping through a portfolio with animated gestures and dazzling smile. Schneiderman was pontificating—as usual. Zeke pushed her chair back and stood up. “Be right back.” She glanced around and remembered the ladies room was just off the lobby. As she neared the door, the redhead caught her eye.
The lounge area of the washroom was the same art deco as the hotel and bar. She liked the bright colors and sharp angles. It was understated and stylish.
After drying her hands, she started to reach for the exit but stopped as the door opened. She froze.
“I thought I caught you.” The woman said.
The deep green of her eyes glowed in the brighter light of the lounge. Zeke was horrified that her mouth didn’t seem to work.
“I’m a little embarrassed… Well a lot. I don’t normally stalk people into bathrooms, but after we spoke, I might’ve been a little abrupt. What I’m trying to say is… that I find you incredibly attractive, and… Shit.” She crossed the room to a small vanity and began going through her purse, as she did she looked up in the mirror.
Zeke swallowed hard not daring to believe which she had just heard.
“I’d really like to get to know you better.” She glanced at her watch. “I should be finished with my meeting in half an hour. I’m staying here and…” she thrust the white plastic card toward Zeke. “This is for my room, 2020, I thought maybe when you’re finished with your friends, you could join me. This is really awkward.”
Zeke nodded and reached for the card. “Sure. I’d like that.”
One of those smiles bloomed on her face. “Oh. Good. That’s good.”
Zeke felt herself blushing as the woman brazenly looked her over.
“I just, uh… I guess I better get back.” And she disappeared back into the busy hallway.
Zeke looked at her hand, which was, in fact, clutching the key card to a hotel room, somewhere above her. “2020.” She chuckled hearing Barbara Walters voice in her head. She slipped the card into her pocket and returned to her table.
“Hey Cabot, we decided to head on down to Dante’s for a steak, except for Ramirez—he needs to get home to little woman. You wanna to go?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve got some stuff to do. You go ahead I’ll wait for the check.” All three men threw some bills on the table and gave Zeke a one-arm hug. “Take care.”
She sat alone sipping the rest of her drink as she waited for the waitress. Her gaze, no longer distracted, could focus on the magnificent woman across the room. It had been years since she had felt this powerful an attraction. Her entire body vibrated with excitement.
A small voice in her head was arguing that this idea was crazy. This woman could be a homicidal maniac. At that moment, she didn’t particularly care because the need growing inside of her felt increasingly like an all-consuming fire. Thirty minutes was an eternity.
The waitress set a folder onto the table and Zeke slipped her credit card inside. She placed the cash and her wallet and reached for her raincoat. She needed to move. Sitting was becoming uncomfortable.
The lobby was crowded with Friday night celebrants. The stone floor, high ceilings, dearth of sound absorbing fabric created a cacophonous echo. Fresh air might be the best thing in her fevered state, however, the spring rain curtailed that plan. She looked at her watch for the fifth time, deciding she might as well go upstairs. A quick stop at the gift shop for some gum and Zeke boarded the elevator for the 20th floor.
She smirked a little as she glanced at the other passengers. Would anyone guess that she was on her way to a perfect stranger’s room with one single purpose. A vision of the Emerald green eyes and soft lips appeared as soon as she closed her eyes. Zeke wanted to kiss those lips—desperately. She shoved her hands into her pockets to keep them still and chewed gum in order to focus.
One by one, the elevator emptied. The number 20 flashed in the door opened. Suddenly she felt riveted to the floor. What the fuck am I doing? She stepped off to just as the door started to close.
The sign on the wall indicated the room to be at the end on the right hand side. The hallway was silent. Brightly colored abstract forms blanketed the carpeting and the wallpaper. Wall sconces cast directional beams of light. She was vaguely aware of an artificial flowered scent.
2020 marked the door in front of her. Am I really going to walk into a stranger’s room? This is nuts. She looked around nervously and tapped lightly on the door. No answer. She took a step back. Maybe I should wait out here? Logic told her she would be less conspicuous if she just went in. She slowly removed the key card from her pocket and unbuttoned her jacket. Training had made her more comfortable when she had easy access to her weapon.
to be continued…
November 19, 2010
Excerpted from “Diva”
“You are probably aware this summer’s repertoire includes a new production of La Traviata with the remarkable Nicole Bernard. We’re all very excited to about this new production, especially since Lars Logan will be guest directing.”
“Yes, I was thrilled when I read about it, probably the biggest draw of the season.” At least it would be for me, I love the opera, there is no singer I admire more than the remarkable Nicole Bernard.
“I believe it will be, judging by early ticket sales. Here’s the dilemma, Mme Bernard generally travels with her family because they use this engagement as a kind of vacation. This year however, her husband is unable to be with her… and it is likely she will need some assistance, though; as you might guess, she is not one to ask. The second part of the dilemma is she has developed a slight problem with her health. I don’t need to tell you these items are strictly confidential. It seems her blood sugar fluctuates wildly and she has had several episodes of collapsing unexpectedly.”
Greta stood up, walked over to a desk in the corner, and returned with a file folder, which contained several legal looking forms. I was completely confused by now by what they thought I could do about either of those problems.
“Here’s what we’d like to offer you, with Mme. Bernard’s tacit agreement, a limited to contract to work as her personal assistant for the duration of the show. The Santa Fe Opera would technically be your employer, and we would pay you. Of course, she will set the terms according to her needs. Your obligation to the company is to provide service, which will enable her to perform consistently and safely. We would also expect you to sign a confidentiality agreement. If you’re interested in this position, Thad will take you over to meet with her to be sure you’re both an agreement. Would you like to look over the forms?”
Are you kidding me? A chance to work with Nicole Bernard… every day. This is a dream come true. My heart was pounding so hard I was sure they could hear it in the pavilion. “I’m flattered and completely at a loss. This is an incredible opportunity, but I have to be completely honest, I really have no experience being anyone’s assistant and my nursing experience has been primarily with the school system.”
“We understand. We also know you worked with her when she did “La Sonnambula” several years ago and you have the advantage of knowing how our programs work. I know it’s not a lot of money But I’m sure we can negotiate something if you’re interested, and we’ll certainly cover your mileage.”
This is just getting better and better. Being paid to spend three months with a magnificent Nicole Bernard, I think my head is gonna explode. “Well if Madame is agreeable, I would love the opportunity.”
Greta sighed loudly and slumped back in her chair, “Margaret, you have just made my life easier. There’s nothing more important to me right now than the safety of my biggest star. Her happiness and well being are paramount and you will earn my undying gratitude.”
Thad beamed at both of us, “shall I’d take her over to see Ms. Bernard?”
“By all means, let me call her to make sure it’s all right. Is this all right with you, Margaret?”
I couldn’t help but laugh, “sure, I only wish I had time to go and buy a new outfit.”
“Don’t even worry, its important to you both feel comfortable.”
October 1, 2010
A brief excerpt from a work in progress entitled
“The Peace Accord at Iona”
There was little conversation as they walked back down the Royal Mile road, each having a conversation in their own head about their experience. The World’s End Pub was up on the left-hand side of the road and they crossed over at the next block. It was late in the afternoon and they were ahead of the dinner crowd. Each ordered a pint of ale and a sandwich.
“Don’t you think some of the old churches we’ve seen are just so inspirational? I believe that people were much more devout in the olden days, you know, the church was just so important to them. I don’t know how we got so off track, sometimes I get so upset with how evil and greedy people have become.” She swallowed her ale and looked around at the pub. “It’s really darling, I’m glad you found this place, it’s so quaint and antique.”
Sam took a long draught and fought to keep her tongue. There were not enough hours left on this trip to point out the faulty logic behind Lucille’s erroneous beliefs. All I can do is accept her for who she is..They ate without much conversation but Sam once again noticed Lucille’s new toned down appearance. She was a lovely woman without the costume and makeup, “you look lovely tonight, Lucille, I like the new you.”
“Why thank you. I just found it too hard with our travel schedule, you know, I’d have to start at four AM. Then wonder of wonders, I found that I kinda liked it too. I do appreciate you sayin’ something; it means a lot coming from you.”
“Can I ask you something, Lucille?”
“Sure, if anybody can, you can.” She laughed conspiratorially.
“Have you ever read any romance novels or what they call chick lit?”
“Can’t say that I have. When we were young, there was only one book to read, other than school books. Then in college I didn’t do much reading for pleasure, I just didn’t have much interest. I do have several books by more contemporary authors, mostly spiritual reading, you know.”
“Would you say that you’ve been rather sheltered as a woman?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, as far as your world view, what you might know about other cultures and the way women live in other parts of the world. Do you have a good background in history? That sort of thing.” Sam thought she knew the answers; it was more rhetorical questions meant for pondering.
Lucille looked puzzled then embarrassed, “Sam, you know what my life has been like, why do you ask me questions like that.”
Sam reached over and took her arm, “I’m not trying to upset you. I think this trip has been very good for you and I think you are trying to make changes and become the person you were meant to be, not the one that other people created. I just want to help you, so I need to ask you things, not to hurt you but to find ways to make suggestions.”
Lucille pushed her plate away and put on her petulant child mask. Sam smiled because it was becoming quite endearing. They ordered another drink and Sam leaned forward and spoke gently. “I asked you about the books because that’s how a lot of women learn about romance and love, they read and talk about it with their friends.
When women develop close girl friends, they can use them as a sounding board. If they have an unusual experience with a date or and employer, they can check it out with a diverse group of women who may have had similar experiences. The collective wisdom can be really helpful in making important decisions. The more diverse your group of friends, the better your chances of getting clear advice.”
“Well, I have a number of friends and they are always very supportive.”
“But you didn’t tell them about the way your husband treated you, did you?” Silence.
“So you suffered, he got away with it and on it goes.”
“Well, what would your friends do if you told them that you were being hurt?”
Sam could only imagine the shit she’d get, “they would kick me in the ass if I ever went out with that person again. I have a couple of friends in law enforcement who might take it a step further. Now, if this started to happen after we were together for a long time, I would first suggest counseling and if they refused–time to move on.”
“I could never talk about that with my friends.”
“You talked to me.”
“That was different, you’re a doctor.”
“I’m not your doctor, I’m your roommate. But why didn’t you ever talk to your doctor, then?” Sam knew that it was her religious upbringing, but Lucille needed to figure that out on her own.
“I couldn’t! I just couldn’t” And she began to cry. Sam paid the check and they left. She took Lucille’s arm as they walked and Lucille continued to cry softly. The walls were crumbling and Sam wasn’t sure what to do. She wasn’t hired to perform an intervention, the woman wasn’t in a cult—at least she didn’t think she was. But, she had started the deconstruction and she couldn’t abandon her now.