Archive for the ‘Excerpts’ Category

I’m in the process of formatting my novel, “Secrets of Hawking Manor” for publishing as an eBook and hope to have it on Kindle, Kobo, Sony and many other outlets for downloading.  Formatting it for an eBook is an interesting task.  I’m learning how to do this as I go, and I hope I’ll be able to do the other five novels faster.

For your enjoyment a scene from the novel

“We will settle the accounts right here and now!” Eugene screamed.  “You will feel my sword generously in your belly.  Draw, you upstart!”  Eugene drew his sword and more swiftly than anyone suspected, he was in front of Benjamin who deftly jumped aside drawing his own sword while backing away from the angry former Dragoon.  “I should have plunged a dagger into your heart the night I threw you on board that ship,” Eugene heckled.  He charged several times, but was rebuffed by Benjamin’s skilled counters.

Still hoping to settle the account with Eugene peaceably, Benjamin kept reminding the charging man that he could have a good deal of money and be on his way to Liverpool where he preferred to be.  But Eugene’s anger did not abate.

“What kept me from throwing you overboard the Fortune Four I cannot tell, but I will right my mistake presently.”  Eugene lunged at Benjamin again.

“You did me a great favor that night, Eugene.  I found great riches in the new world.  My fortunes improved still more when my path crossed Charles Chambers there, who installed you here as a manager, to the estate’s detriment I might add.  He sold his inheritance to me.”  Lay down your weapon, Eugene.  You shall leave here with a tidy sum.  I shall not make you this offer again.  You may soon be taken by the crown for killing Christopher, a good man and my friend.  You will need some wherewithal for your defense.”  Benjamin made a quick charge at the man before backing up again hoping to see signs that his foe’s fierce anger lessened in intensity.

“You’ll rue having laid eyes on me this day, you young pup!”  Eugene laughed a wicked laugh and made tricky maneuvers to try to overpower Benjamin.  For a man who had been injured with life threatening wounds inflicted by Christopher and Henry’s shots, Eugene attacked the younger man with surprising strength, speed and imagination.

But the younger man was naturally athletic, quick and skilled.  He expertly avoided all of Eugene’s charges while staying on the defensive most of the time attacking only now and then to try to contain his opponent.  In time Benjamin became convinced that the older man was not going to be satisfied until he had wounded him.  He suddenly thrust forward with a quick maneuver, stepped deftly to the side making Eugene miss him with his counter strike.  Benjamin saw sweat form on his opponent’s forehead.  He attacked again quickly, fell back and somersaulted over the railing to the terrace.

Smiling he took a position at the top of the stairway to the terrace waiting for Eugene who lumbered up to engage him again.  “You could have been on your way to Liverpool Eugene with a satchel full of money,” he scorned him.  For a few more minutes Benjamin was satisfied to defend against Eugene’s charges and tease him with short attacks.  Suddenly he began to press the former Dragoon with swift, crafty and powerful strikes.  He danced and jumped and turned with such speed that Eugene anxiously retreated again and again.  Several times Benjamin had him at his mercy only to back off and let the older man recoup.

Beats of sweat rolled from Fairham’s brow.  He cursed and swore at Benjamin. His breathing had become more labored.  A false reaction by him to Benjamin’s faked thrust provided a new momentary opening for the younger man.  This time Benjamin’s sword drew blood from the horseman’s limp arm.  Increasing the pace and charging with creative and swift maneuvers to which Eugene reacted slowly followed.  The former Dragoon grimaced with pain.  The point of Benjamin’s sword had slashed deep into his thigh and had followed it up with cutting his ear grievously.

With an effortless spring Benjamin jumped to the railing of the stairway and smiled down at his opponent.  “I have so far only tickled you gently, Eugene.  Lay down your weapon.  I will not ask you again,” he said.

Eugene cursed.  He came at Benjamin limping and bleeding but swinging wildly.  “You shall feel my steel in your belly,” he shouted.  But so quickly did Benjamin feign a sideways spring that the horseman’s turn caused him to slip with one knee to the ground while Benjamin somersaulted to the terrace’s floor again and springing forwards to stand before his opponent.  Eugene realized too late what Benjamin’s intent had been.  He could only watch the young man’s sword come to touch his throat, remaining there while hearing him call out, “Guarde!”

In a rage, but fearing to have his throat sliced, Eugene dropped his sword.  “Have it your way, Carstairs!” he hissed and pretended to give himself up.  “I shall take your offer after all and be gone, only put up your sword,” he cried.

Henry saw Benjamin and Eugene dueling as he approached the entrance to Willowdowne Park.  His heart beat faster.  His horse’s mouth frothed, but he pressed the animal on harder still.  He marveled at Benjamin’s skill with the sword and his agile maneuvers.  He saw how he danced around his foe and made him miss time after time.  Henry was within earshot when Eugene dropped to his knees.  Fear ripping through him, he shouted to his brother to beware of a pistol in Eugene’s boot, but Benjamin did not hear him calling out.  In horror Henry watched his brother put up his own sword and turn away from Eugene.

The sound of a shot that followed drove icy panic into Henry’s heart.  Like in a horrid nightmare he saw Benjamin slowly sink to the ground.  Henry cried out with a great shout of rage. Mercilessly he kicked the heels of his boots into the flank of his animal.  His eyes spewed fiery darts at his former comrade.

Awkwardly Eugene rose and scoffed at his fallen foe on whose coat a crimson spot began to grow larger.  With a hateful laugh Eugene walked slowly to the fallen Benjamin.  He raised his pistol, coldly aiming it at the fallen Benjamin’s head.  “I will have great pleasure at snuffing out the light of a Carstairs this day,” he laughed wickedly and cocked his pistol.

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A Novel in the Making

Instead of adding a second excerpt of “Beyond the Law” at this time I decided to post the first excerpt of a novel I’m in the process of writing.

Many people who read my novel “Secrets of Hawking Manor” implored me to write a sequel to the story of the Carstairs family.  I was not inclined to do so for some time, but individuals kept asking.  So several months ago I began that work. The first chapters I wrote in a relatively short time, about four months.  Subsequent chapters have been slower in developing.  I’m about half way to completing the sequel and plan to have it done in the late months of winter.  Here are the first two pages of “Storms over Hawking Manor”.

Storms over Hawking Manor

The Trial

The momentary silence in the courtroom hung like a swollen cloud over the men seated opposite the prisoner’s box.  A battle raged within Henry Carstairs’ heart.  He sat near the front of the room next to his brother, Benjamin, and Simon Lawson, Christopher’s father.  Henry stared across at the man, his former friend, seated in the prisoner’s box.  This man had poached for months in the woods of Eagleridge, part of Hawking Manor’s estate, and he had shot Christopher, Eagleridge’s manager’s son.  The youth had been Benjamin and Henry’s dear friend.  He had come upon this poacher suddenly.  Henry, along with Christopher and Simon his father, had set out on a cold, wet day a year earlier to catch the unknown man who had come regularly into the Eagleridge woods to poach.  It was Christopher who had sighted the poacher first.  He had wounded the man who was in the act of gutting a deer.  The thief refused to heed the youth’s warning.  Not knowing the poacher was Eugene, a former Dragoon, an expert with various weapons; Christopher did not realize how dangerous this thief was.  Although the poacher had bled profusely from Christopher’s bullet, he had shot and mortally wounded Christopher in return, before Henry and Simon had been able to come to assist the youth.

Now, seated in the courtroom all the grief that day, now months past, had brought into his life crowded back into Henry’s heart.  As he had done many times he wondered again, if he had not planned the capture of the thief carefully enough back then and was in part to blame for Christopher’s demise.  He recalled again the hours he had sat with Simon and Christopher and mapped out strategies to catch the poacher.  “What could I have done differently?” he silently lamented again.

Although Henry and Benjamin had expected the judge to pronounce Eugene Fairham guilty as charged, hearing the judge’s words, “An eye for an eye, a life for a life, Eugene Fairham this day of our Lord, the fifth day of November 1854 I condemn you three days hence to hang by the neck until you are dead,” chilled both young men to the core.  Henry glanced at his former friend.  He saw none of the man’s former spirited energy, his distain for problems other men deemed insurmountable, his unbridled, sometimes callous humor, nor his unveiled love for life.  Now he sat in the prisoner’s box and appeared to be a man drained of self and bare of the will to live.  He sat motionless with his eyes cast to the floor.  For a moment Henry wondered if Eugene was cunning enough in that fashion to try to gain the court’s mercy. “He’s play acted persuasively many times,” Henry murmured silently, but he soon banished the thought.

Finally, a few muffled coughs in the back of the room and the suppressed sobs of a woman seated behind the prisoner’s box broke the silence.  It was then that Simon turned to Henry and Benjamin and whispered, “It will not bring my son back, men.  Your former friend, Henry, also is the son of a mother.  I ask you to plead for your former comrade in arms.”

Simon’s words touched Henry.  He and Benjamin had testified against Eugene during the trial, but after hearing the sentence pronounced, he wanted to shout out, “No, Your Honor, not that!”  But the remembrance of holding the mortally wounded Christopher in his arms and hearing his last words to him again, ‘I saw his face,’ as the youth had dreamed the night before losing his life had sealed Henry’s mouth.  Now pity for his former friend welled up deep inside of him.

Henry saw Eugene turn to glance at the sobbing woman seated behind him.  He stared at her for a long moment.  Then in the stillness of the room the people heard him whisper painfully, “Mother.”

When Henry saw him turn again to face the judge.  He saw the pitiful face of a defeated man, a man without hope, a man Henry had once known to be full of life and energy, a man who had been willing to lay down his life in the service of Her Majesty and his country.

Slowly Henry rose from his seat, “Your Honor,” he stammered.  “On behalf of the father of the youth who lost his young life by the hand Eugene Fairham, the condemned man, I plead for mercy for him.  My former friend and comrade in arms in our monarch’s service once served this nation with valor and distinction.  The horsemen had none more fearless than he was.”  Henry’s eyes fixed on the judge were filled with sadness.  He repeated once more almost in a whisper, “I plead for mercy for him.”

The judge, who was a friend of Samuel Carstairs, Benjamin and Henry’s father, and who was also a distant relative of Rebecca’s mother, Lady Lydia, stared at Henry for a long moment.  He muttered words Henry could not understand.  Turning quickly and casting a stern glance at Eugene the judge accidently dislodged his wig.  Righting it he turned his eyes to Benjamin.  His Lordship held Benjamin in high esteem.  He had met him at the christening of Henry’s son at Hawking Manor.  At that meeting with Benjamin he had learned of the young Carstair’s years in North America, and how he had come to be on that faraway continent.  The story had intrigued him at once.  He, therefore, had sought Benjamin out during the christening festivities to learn all he could about the New World.  Now he commanded, “Stand, Benjamin Carstairs.”  Benjamin stood up quickly.  With his blue eyes, blonde hair, tall and trim youthful figure he looked handsome and strong.  “How say you?” his lordship demanded.

“Thank you for hearing my brother, Your Honor,” Benjamin began.  “The father of my friend, forever young, wishes that the blood of the one who took his son’s life will not be laid at the feet of his departed son.  Like my brother, I too plead for mercy for Eugene Fairham.”

“What would you have the sentence to be then,” the judge called out leaning forward toward Benjamin from the bench above.

“Banish him, Your Honor,” Benjamin replied respectfully.

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Beyond the Law

Over the past months I have posted excerpts from  from three of my novels, “Secrets of Hawking Manor”, “In Joy and in Sorrow”, and “Beyond the Breaking Point”.  I have finished an edit lately of “Beyond the Law”, another one of my novels and will post the first excerpt for your enjoyment below.

Chapter 1

Beyond the Law

Dawn had spread the first rays of light on the street where Marianne stood at the bus stop.  A light breeze gently massaged her blonde hair.  Her black eyes sparkled.  Her thoughts turned to William.  Her smile told of her feelings for him.  They had shared a late dinner the previous night.  She giggled thinking of how he had proposed to her, after the waiter had left them with her favorite dessert that William had ordered that morning to be sure the restaurant had it on hand.  “I just wish he would not work so hard,” she whispered.  “He is so driven to give me all the material blessings he thinks I desire, when all I care to have is him.”  Startled to hear nearby puffing she turned her head to see who approached.

A young man of slight built almost ran into the shelter of the bus stop.  His dress looked disheveled but expensive.  He nodded to her while sighing, as if glad to have reached the bus stop.  His eyes briefly searched her from head to foot .  He seemed unable to stand still for more than a second.  Soon Marianne wondered why he turned from side to side continually looking up and down the street and shuffling his feet, as if ready to sprint away any moment.Cadillac SUV

She touched the can of pepper spray she carried in her coat pocket.  William had given it to her and asked her to carry it with her.  Glad it lay concealed in her coat pocket she gripped it.  Maybe I should have taken William up on his offer last night to pick me up, she thought.  Watching the man out of the corner of her eye she didn’t see the Cadillac approaching from her left side.  It had pulled into the right lane a few dozen meters ahead of the shelter.  She heard the man beside her swear under his breath before she heard the shots and felt a searing sting at her temple.  She whispered, “William,” before thick darkness embraced her.  She did not see the man beside her dropping lifeless to the ground, nor did she hear the car speeding away.

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For this week I thought it would be the right time to post the final excerpt from my novel, “Beyond the Breaking Point”.  In the few paragraphs of the excerpt we see Monty, the main character, attempting to confront the gangster boss who had ordered his men to eliminate Monty.

Walking up the steps of the cathedral toward the large front door, Monty nervously touched the starting gun in his pocket as if to reassure himself.  “If Barney’s account is right, Tony will be in the entry way,” he murmured.  “To get to his boss I have to eliminate him quickly.  I better start my act right now.”  He stopped for a second, let a bit of spittle roll down his chin, began to walk unsteadily and started to mumble over and over, “Father Anton I got to confess.”

Monty had found the priest’s name among others on the sign in front of the church.  He hoped the Father or any of the other priests were not inside the sanctuary.  Pretending he had trouble opening the door he made himself stumble inside.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw Tony standing to the side of the entryway a few feet away from the right side of the door leading into the sanctuary.  Seeing Monty enter he began to move toward him.

Monty stopped, made himself sway a little and acted as if he needed to find his bearings.  He burped before he pretended to finally see Tony who had stepped in front of the door into the sanctuary.  “Father Anton I got to confess,” Monty slurred the words and saw Tony smirk and relax the grip by which he held his handgun.

Monty stepped toward the door that Tony blocked.  “Do yourself a favor and come back in an hour,” Tony said and laid his hands on Monty’s shoulder trying to turn him around.  But Monty sidestepped him and a second later pointed the starter pistol at Tony’s temple clicking the hammer back.  “Make one sound or a tiny little move with your hands and you’re dead Tony,” Monty hissed trying to sound desperate.  He clearly saw the shock in Tony’s face at the sudden change in the man in front of him and his reaction to the cold barrel of the gun at his temple.  For a moment he seemed frozen to the spot.

Unblinking, he watched Tony trying to collect himself and gain time by asking, “What do you want, man?  If you want money, let me reach into my pocket.  I’ll give you my wallet.”

“Do you think I’m stupid, man?” Monty asked imitating a sneer.  “I’ll get my money from the collection box in there.  He pointed to the door by tipping his head toward it.  “You just turn around nice and slowly.  We’ll go in there in a second, and you can reach for the money in the collection box for me.  See, you can be my partner.”

Monty didn’t want Tony to know that it was Carlos he wanted. Tony turned around slowly.   For a moment he took           his eyes off Monty, who seeing it hit the man’s temple hard with the pistol he had still held to Tony’s head.

A groan escaped Tony, and he slowly sank to the floor.  Monty caught him by wrapping his arms around his chest.  He eased him to the floor and dragged the prone man to the far side of the entry way.  Pulling the handcuffs from his pocket that he had taken from Harry’s house he clamped one cuff on Tony’s right wrist.  He wound the chain around one of the metal bars that had been fastened by thick metal rings in front of the large stainless glass windows that reached from the ceiling to the floor and snapped it on the man’s left wrist.  Next he took a small tablecloth from the table nearby, tore off a large strip and stuffed it into Tony’s mouth. Searching through Tony’s pockets Monty found a handgun and a switchblade knife.  Working quickly he placed the pistol into his own pocket, slid the knife down the slot of a collection box fastened to the wall at the left side of the entryway and quietly stepped to the door leading into the sanctuary.  DSCF0346

For a moment Monty stopped to listen.  Not hearing any sounds coming from the sanctuary he opened the door slowly and quietly walked in.  He took several careful steps inside before he stopped.  It took him a moment to adjust to the candlelight inside.  Looking around the sanctuary he let his eyes sweep from pew to pew.  All stood empty.  For a moment he wondered if Carlos had been warned and had managed to escape through one of the side doors.

Monty took several quick steps forward.  He saw Carlos kneeling on the bottom of the red carpeted step to the left and below the altar.  He saw that the man’s hands had gripped the carpet of a step above him.  His head lay bowed between his outstretched arms.  He did not move.  Monty could not detect any rise and fall of the man’s shoulders.  He wondered if the gangster had stopped breathing.  But listening carefully he heard him mumble softly.  Deep disgust for the man lying at the foot of the altar praying swept over Monty.  I’m going to have to shoot him to get my freedom back, he thought.

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It has been quite a while since I posted the first excerpt from my novel, Beyond the Breaking Point.  The two pages from the manuscript that follow will introduce those of you thinking of reading it to two of the gangsters who had orders to silence Monty.  I introduced Monty in the first excerpt.  He had witnessed and taken pictures of a murder the two gangster had committed.  Once Carlos, the gang’s headman, found out that Monty had witnessed the murder and taken pictures of it, he gave the order to eliminate that threat to the gang.  For several days Monty had managed to elude the two ordered to kill him. Carlos blamed them for this development. To get swifter results he did what he did best.  He threatened them.

Harry Kratzinsky sat in his living room.  He had not turned on the lights even though it was dark outside.  Switching the television on to a news channel for the eleven o’clock news he reached for the glass and bottle on the side table to pour himself another drink of whiskey.  With the bottle and glass in his hand he heard a series of dull explosions.  Three holes suddenly marked the living room window.  The television screen shattered and darkness suddenly covered the room.

Harry had been drinking for some time.  His reactions to what had happened were slow. After several seconds had passed, he recognized that someone had fired bullets into the room and hit the television.  He dropped to the floor, crawled to the chair where he had left his coat and removed his revolver from the holster hanging behind the jacket.  He snapped the safety off.  Keeping his body close to the floor he crawled slowly to the window through which another round of shots rang shattering the whiskey bottle and a glass bowl near it.  He swore.  Keeping his head low he waited.  No other shots came, but he heard car tires squeal out.  Carefully he lifted his head. He looked outside for a second before pulling his head down again.  While no other shots entered through the window, Harry remained lying on the floor for a few seconds longer, waiting to see if other shots would be fired.

Finally, he thought it safe to take another look out of the window.  He noticed the taillights of a car speeding away and turning out of sight far down the street.  He swore again and stood up.  His thinking was clouded.  He wondered what to do next.  Finally he walked to the door to look outside to see if any of the neighbors had heard the shots.  Surveying the neighborhood he saw no one out of their house.  As he looked up and down the street all appeared quiet.  Turning to go back inside he saw the note pinned to the door.  He ripped it off, swore once more and walked inside.  Not wanting to turn on the lights in the room he made his way to the bathroom.  He closed the door and turned on the light to read the note.

“This is only a friendly reminder to get it done.  The next reminder won’t be this friendly.”  The note was not signed, as he knew it would not be, but he had no doubt who had written it and who had pinned it to the door.

Harry cursed.  He crumpled the note up and threw it into the waste basket.  His anger flared up.  “Darn you, Carlos,” he hissed.  It was the second time that day that he had cursed the man whose orders he took

Daryl Nalun had fallen asleep in his easy chair while his wife sat near him watching television.  She sat up suddenly thinking she had heard something that sounded like shots.  She turned the sound of the television down to listen more carefully.  She heard another three shots and turned white with fear.  “Daryl, someone’s shooting on our property,” she shouted.  Daryl groaned, rolled over and turned to his other side.  “Daryl!” she shouted louder.

He sat up not sure where he was.  Once fully awake he saw his wife pointing outside, but what she said made no sense to him still trying to clear his head.  “What’s the matter with you?” he finally demanded.  “Have you lost your marbles?”

“Someone’s shooting out there, and I’m sure it’s on our property.  Go have a look.”  grazing-sheep

Harry took in the information, but it took him a moment to digest it and recognize its meaning and the danger it presented.

“Are you crazy, woman?  Turn out the light and get down on the floor.  If I go out and there’s someone shooting what’s stopping them from drilling me?”  He rolled on the floor to the wall at the front of the room.  He listened for other shots, but there were no more.  When he heard the sound of a car speeding away he lifted his head.  Several minutes passed in silence.  “How many shots did you hear?” he demanded staring at his wife who lay motionless below the light switch.  He saw little by the small amount of light that came through the windows.  Not seeing her move he asked, “Did you catch a bullet or what’s the matter with you?”

“I heard five shots, but there might have been more,” she finally said.  “The television was on.  At first I thought the shooting came from the program I was watching.  It was a movie of detectives hunting down a couple killers.  They were hot on their trail, and I first thought they shot the crooks.”

Daryl spat out a curse that she could not hear.  “I’m going out the back door and check out what’s going on out there.  But I think whoever was shooting took off.”

“Why don’t we call the police and let them handle it?” his wife asked.

“I can handle it.  The cops will only wag their finger at whoever was shooting and tell them not to do it again.  If I catch them, they’re going to get a belly full of lead.”  He made his way outside ducking behind cover wherever he found it.  It took him several minutes to reach the front of the property where the shooting seemed to have occurred.  Within a few minutes it became clear to him that the shooter was no longer on the property.  He looked around to see if he could see anything amiss.  Nothing appeared to be out of place.  He let his eyes roam into the pasture where several of his sheep had grazed during the afternoon.  He saw that they had bunched up in the near corner of the two acre pasture.  Suddenly he stopped short.  It seemed to him that two sheep lay in the grass on the opposite side, the side nearest the road.

“That’s strange,” he mumbled.  “Why are they not with the flock?  I better go have a look. Arriving at the first sheep he saw that the animal was bleeding.  It had been shot.  He quickly walked to the second sheep and found it shot through the head.  “Darn it,” he said and let out a string of foul expletives.  Looking up toward the road he noticed what looked like a piece of paper stuck on one of the posts above which his property sign, Cottonwood Pastures, hung.  He walked to the post and tore it off.  It was too dark to read the note.  He looked up at the sign to make sure it had not been damaged and then walked back toward the house. Under the outside light he read the note on the paper.

The words were like stabs from a knife to him.  “This is a friendly warning to get the job done.  The next time it may not be sheep that get sheared.  Hope you like lamb chops.”

Daryl turned red with anger.  He had always disliked Carlos even though he had been paid well by him.  Standing under the light outside his house he hated him nearly as much as he hated the young fellow he had been ordered to eliminate.

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A couple of weeks ago I said I would post the first of a few excerpts from my novel “Beyond the Breaking Point”.  It’s time I kept my promise.  Here is excerpt one.

“I’ll look forward to seeing you at Mountain View Lisa Mc Cleary,” he smiled.   Monty chatted with her for a minute longer before making his way to his car.  He decided to take the stairway rather than the elevator to the lower level.  Taking two steps at a time he reached the door to the parking area and pushed it open.  Running to his car he was eager to get to the golf course where he hoped he could drive a few balls before the first lesson he was to give was scheduled.

He lowered the car’s window and was about to start the engine when he noticed one of the three men who had interviewed him, Jackson Stadler, the vice-president of electronic development and operations, exiting from the elevator.  At the same time he heard car tires squeal, and out of the corner of his eyes he saw a black Cadillac bursting from around the parking level’s corner toward the elevator.  Before he fully closed the car’s door and could start the engine four popping sounds rang out.  That sounds like shots fired through a silencer, Monty thought. Ford Mustang

He froze.  He pulled the car’s door that he had left slightly open slowly and careful closed not to make a sound and slid lower into his seat, but not so far that he could not see what took place in front of him.  Instinctively, he reached for his camera lying on the floor on the passenger side.  Monty saw the vice-president clutching at his chest briefly before dropping to the cement floor.  Two men silently left their car.  One was a heavy-set man with short cut graying hair.  He looked like a wrestler to Monty. He walked with a slight limp Monty noted.   The other one was tall and skinny and about fifty-five years old.  He wore a short, groomed beard.  They had stepped quickly from the vehicle.  Both were dressed in dark overcoats and walked to the fallen man.  Monty saw that they held handguns with silencers in their hand.

He heard the taller man say, “Looks like he’s not going to make any more trouble for Carlos or anybody else for that matter, Daryl.”  Blood had begun to pool around the slain man’s body.

“Let’s make sure of it, Harry,” the shorter man replied with a snarl on his face.  Another shot rang out from the gun held in the left hand of the heavy-set man.

Monty’s camera clicked away.  He saw the tall fellow push one shiny black shoe under Jackson Stadler’s shoulder raising it a few inches off the ground.  Then he heard him speak to the other man before the two turned quickly making their way to the idling car blocking the approach to the rest of the parking areas for incoming vehicles.  They climbed into the car’s backseat unhurriedly.  A moment later the car passed Monty’s vehicle on its way toward the exit as if nothing had happened.  Through the open front side window of the Cadillac Monty saw a younger man with shoulder length blond hair seated behind the steering wheel.  A long scar dominated his cheek, and he wore an earring with a Cadillac SUVblack pendant of a hawk.

“Man, oh man,” Monty whispered trying to keep control of his nerves.  His heart pounding he focused the camera on the leaving vehicle’s license plate and zoomed in on it.  Without hurrying the driver of the black Cadillac passed out of view around a corner on the way out of the underground parking area.  Monty waited for several more seconds.  “I hope they didn’t see me,” he murmured. “I don’t think they’ll be back unless one of them did.  But what do I do now?”

Dazed by what he had witnessed in the previous minutes he slowly left his Mustang.  He walked to the executive lying unmoving on the ground in front of the elevator.  A pool of blood had formed around the upper part of the man’s body and a trickle of blood still ran from the back of his head.  A wound in the middle of Stadler’s forehead stared at Monty.  He noticed an empty shell near where he stood.  “This looks really bad,” Monty mumbled and thought he had heard his words echo back to him.  He stooped to take the man’s pulse, but found none.  Mechanically he dialed 911.  “A man’s just been shot,” he answered the questioning voice and supplied the address where he was and all other details the female on the other end wanted to know.

Seated in his car again he waited for the police to arrive.  He rested his head on the steering wheel trying to make sense of what had occurred in front of him.  Soon he heard sirens rushing closer.  Suddenly he remembered that he had to be at the golf course at noon.  Looking at the car’s clock he said under his breath, “I’ve got less than ninety minutes.”

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Douglas looked up for the first time.  Tears had gathered in his eyes, but he felt a sense of warmth in his heart.  The others were still silent in the living room.  Only Daniel and Mark could be heard playing in their room.  I better feed the boys, he thought.  But he slowly walked to his office.  He had a strong sense of needing to be alone.  Once he had closed the door and seated himself, he read Danielle’s letter slowly once more stopping several times to try to visualize her writing what he read.

When he had finished reading it again, he dropped to his knees in an effort to pray.  He now asked without the anger he had felt until recently, “God, Lord of heaven and earth, why?”  For a moment he remained silent.  He neither spoke nor did his mind turn to consider any other thought.  It was as if he was in a void.  There was no sound except the precise ticking of the wall clock above his desk.  He remained silent and still for a moment longer, then a word began to nudge into his mind.  More subdued he asked once more, “Why God?”

A week ago I finished proof reading and editing a third novel, “Beyond the Breaking Point”.   Please check back again.  In a few days I’ll post the first of several excerpt from it.

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