Saturday, August 19, 2017

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview: Ch. 6 The Louvre

Chapter 6
The Louvre



Li Li had wanted to enter the museum through the shopping mall underneath the complex, no doubt hoping she’d be allowed to forego the art altogether, and be left to her own devices among all the boutiques, and teenagers. She’d even taken the trouble to ascertain the existence of a shop that sold discounted gallery passes, along with its collection of snow globes and post cards. But her scheme went awry when Andie announced a desire to see the Jardin des Tuileries, which meant getting off at the Tuileries metro stop and walking above the ground the rest of the way to the glass pyramid entrance.
“Why can’t I go this way?” she pleaded, once they’d finally descended the main escalator. The main atrium underneath the pyramid was brightly lit even on an overcast day, and she tugged on Emily’s arm as the others tried to decide which of the three smaller escalators to choose, each one leading to a different wing of the museum. “Perry can come with me, if you’re worried. I bet he doesn’t want to look at a bunch of stupid paintings all day either.”
“It’s not going to be all day,” Andie said. “Besides, we do things together in this family.”
Emily had been studying the floor plan of the museum this whole time, with one ear cocked to Li Li’s complaint. She glanced at Perry and smiled, and he returned one of those sad puppy expressions that meant, “Please don’t make me go shopping with a teenager,” or something to that effect.
“I doubt Perry really wants to go clothes shopping, sweetheart.”
“Fine. Then I can go on my own. I can find my way around.”
Emily glanced at the floor plan one more time. “How about you and Perry and I go to the Richelieu wing? That’s where they keep all the cool sculpture. I think Stone will prefer to explore the Denon wing, where all the really famous paintings are. Okay?”
Li Li grudgingly assented to this proposition, and Emily had guessed right. It wasn’t the museum she really objected to, but the prospect of having to go wherever Stone wanted, to see and do what he wanted. Emily turned to Stone, and ran her fingers through his shaggy hair, and pulled it away from his face. “Is that okay with you?” He nodded, his eyes a little watery.
Finally, she turned to Andie and Yuki. “We’ll meet here,” she said, pointing to a room marked in red on the plan. “It’s the main hall on the first level. Two hours?”
“Shall we keep Ethan and Jerry with us?” Andie asked, and Emily nodded.
“We’ll be okay on our own.” Emily knew this thought would thrill Li Li, and maybe she deserved some special treatment.

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview: Ch 5 Paris By Night

CHAPTER 5
PARIS BY NIGHT


“I know a good place for Moroccan food,” Lieutenant Zaki Talib said. “But we’ll have to take a train.”
“Is this the place out by Saint Denis your cousin was telling us about?” Lt. CJ Tanahill asked. “Because I’ve heard some things about that area.”
“Like what?”
“Well, it’s in La Courneuve, right? Isn’t that the place people are calling a ‘no-go’ zone for the police?”
“My cousin says it’s all a lot of nationalist propaganda. The police do regular patrols there, no one’s instituting shariah. It’s a French neighborhood, ethnically diverse, and maybe a bit gritty, but everyone you meet on the street speaks French. Plus, the food is really great.”
“I say we go,” Emily said.
“… and it’s only one train from the Jardin de Luxembourg stop, which is right around the corner.”
“It’s okay,” CJ said. “You already sold me.”
“It’ll be safe.”
CJ looked up into Zaki’s face – and that’s saying something, since she was quite tall herself, her straight, blond hair making a sharp contrast with his close-cropped black hair – touched her nose to his, and snaked a hand around his elbow. “There is no place on this earth I wouldn’t feel safe on this arm.”
Emily hooked him from the other side. “Have you stepped up the workouts? Because these guns seem to have grown since last spring.”
Perry followed after the trio, happy to bear a distant witness to Zaki’s discomfiture at the subtle sarcasm of the women. “Better him than me,” he thought.
They’d just spent a couple hours relaxing in the famous gardens, discussing world events of great import, and watching Stone sail a toy boat in the fountain alongside a few of the local kids. For much of the time, Li Li tried to look bored to conceal her envy. Eventually, Emily dangled a sketchpad on the edge of Stone’s peripheral vision, and Li Li got her turn. The park was two short blocks from the hotel Michael had arranged, and once the sun had set, the kids were sent packing, to dine in with Andie and Yuki, and give the grown ups ‘some space.’ The remainder of their night promised to be free and clear, and CJ spoke French well enough to navigate the City of Lights.
The early evening traffic had already thinned out by the time they entered the metro station, and Perry spotted a half-empty car toward the front of the first train.
“On a watchlist?” CJ turned wide-eyed to Emily, once they’d found seats. “What on earth for?”

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview: Ch 4 Riding The Rails

CHAPTER FOUR
RIDING THE RAILS



Of course, the next morning Emily had insisted on walking to the Hauptbahnhof, pulling luggage the whole way. By the time they crossed Bismarckstraße, Perry had plenty of motivation to regret bringing a duffle without wheels. But it was sweet of Stone to make a point of walking in front with him, carrying his bag even though it had wheels. Had Emily put him up to it? Perhaps she’d also wanted one last chance to pop into a shop or two.
A darker thought presented itself: perhaps she just wanted to pass through the scene of the previous day’s ‘unpleasantness.’ If it was catharsis she was after, Li Li appeared not even to notice, though she had developed an air of inscrutability that could rival Emily’s, on occasion. By contrast, Stone was preoccupied with the pleasures of walking in a group.
When they passed by the fountain in the central market square, too early yet for the tourists to have finished their hotel breakfasts, and still time for the merchants to busy themselves about opening their shops, Perry thought a few of them paused to take notice of their little procession. In fact, one old man, who had just moved several displays onto the pavement in front of his shop, took particular notice of Emily, and stepped back inside. In the windows on either side, other faces had paused from their labors to take notice of her. Perry glanced around the square, and thought this curiosity had become more widespread than he was comfortable with, though she seemed not to notice, or at least, was not letting on if she did.
Bitte,” the old man cried out. “Warten Sie mal, gnädige Fräulein.” He turned to say something to the old woman who’d remained in the back of the shop, and repeated his call, since Emily had not responded. “Bitte, warten Sie mal…”
Finally, Emily stopped to consider the old man. In the meantime, the food stalls at the far end of the square had begun to show signs of life, and some part of their activity seemed to have reference to them. Perry pulled Stone to one side, to better take stock of the situation.
Bitte, Fräulein.” The  old shopkeeper had caught up to Emily by this time. “Verzeihen sie uns, gnädige Fräuleinwas sie gestern getan haben… Danke vielmals.” He tried to push a small package into her hands. Bitte, Fräulein.”

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview: Ch 3 Morituri Te Salutant

CHAPTER THREE
MORITURI TE SALUTANT



“What are you doing?”
Emily called out to Li Li and Stone in a hushed tone. She’d just caught up with them, in a sub-basement of the Roman amphitheater in Trier. They’d been scratching graffiti into the stone wall of a cell probably used in a previous millennium to hold gladiators before they found a death in the arena. A nearby sign in German seemed to announce some sort of prohibition.
“Don’t do that.”
Stone shrugged, but Li Li merely pointed to the many symbols and initials that had already been cut into the rock. “What about those? It’s not like lots of other people haven’t done it, too.”
Perry leaned forward to examine some of the etchings. “This one looks like Latin… morituri… something, I can’t quite make out this last bit.”
“Do you know what it means?”
“What am I, a Latin scholar?”
Emily punched his shoulder. “Don’t tell me you didn’t study it at whatever pompous private school you went to.”
Perry rubbed his chin and tilted his head. “It might mean something like we… or maybe they who are about to die…”
“You mean like the gladiator salute – we, the already dead, salute you?” Emily grinned at him, pleased with her epiphany.
“I imagine the gladiators were fatalists, but I don’t think they had anything on you.

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview" Ch 2 Sake Town In Sasebo

CHAPTER TWO
SAKE TOWN IN SASEBO



“Are you sure about this address, Sir?” Gunnery Sgt Hector Colón turned the paper over, as if the directions might make more sense that way. “It’s in Sake Town.”
“Is there a problem, gunny?”
General Lukasziewicz, the Marine Commandant, had plucked his sergeant out of a hospital ward a few months back, pinned a Purple Heart on him, and processed his promotion to Gunnery Sergeant. The injuries Colón had received in the action on Itbayat provided a convenient excuse to interrupt his progress through the infantry ranks, at least for a little while, and seemed like a good way to keep him from being debriefed about certain events by CIA operatives. Colón hadn’t been assigned to any unit that included Capt Tenno, but he’d flown in her bird a few times, and took part in the final firefight precipitated by her rescue of Princess Akane of Japan. When Admiral James Crichton, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, put a bug in his ear about deflecting any intrusive inquiries into the Jarheads who’d been there, Lukasziewicz obliged without asking too many questions of his own. So, for now, Hector Colón drove him wherever he needed to go in and around Sasebo, Japan.
“No sir… it’s just, most of the places on that end of the ginza don’t… how shall I say?... I don’t know…”
“Spit it out, Marine.”
“We may not be welcome there, sir.”
Lukasziewicz grumbled at this information, and watched as the Albuquerque Bridge, which connected Nimitz Square, at the west end of the base, to the ginza, slipped past the side window. “What exactly is an izakaya?”

Girl Stalks The Ruins Preview: Ch 1 Ramstein AFB

CHAPTER ONE
RAMSTEIN AFB



Zwei Biere, bitte.”
This statement nearly exhausted Lieutenant Commander Perry Hankinson’s knowledge of the German language, and, in the ordinary course of events, he wouldn’t need much else for the duration of their stay. For this evening, however, he’d sought out the sort of establishment unlikely to be frequented by English speakers, or base personnel, or any foreign tourists. It had meant taking a taxi to Kaiserslautern, the next town over, but the driver seemed to understand more or less intuitively where he wanted to go. Emily had offered “Bierstübe,” or something to that effect – as if she spoke any better German than he did – and here they were, a dimly lit pub with no big-screen TVs, no ‘high-and-tight’ haircuts, and no uniforms in sight.
“This is a relief.” Emily Kane, Captain USMC, glanced around a room full of civilians from their table in a far corner. Of course, she’d be indifferent to the question of whether they were locals, but she might like the feeling of anonymity. No one here would know them. Perry listened to the long, slow breath she let out.  He used to think she was sighing, or exasperated, when she did that, but he’d gotten used to her ways over the years. No, the breathing wasn’t the sign of a mood, bad or good. It was something more… existential.
“After this morning… no kidding. Was it a melée before you got there, or…”
“Or what?” She turned her dark eyes upon him, and he began to regret having let his words run. “Do you really think I go looking for these things?”
“No, of course not. But…”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I'd like to spread the word about a new collection of Mountain Romances, Kiss Me CowboyAll proceeds go to Heroes & Horses, an organization helping veterans in a new way—with horses and wilderness.

My friend, Suzie O'Connell, has contributed to the collection as have five other fine authors, Tessa Layne, Genevieve Turner, Christine Kingsley, Erin Wright, and Amity Lassiter. The whole collection is available at all the major outlets and is only $0.99.

Amazon

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You can read more about the collection and the project it supports at Kissmecowboy.com, or connect with the authors on Facebook.