Bart, aka Croak when he’s being a pain.
When the impulse to write a second novel began, I suppressed the images. Pretty dark stuff. I figured that I’d been watching too many murder shows, and overwhelmed by the global terrorism. Then, something weird happened.
On a stormy winter night driving home from work, I met a woman from Afghanistan. Yes, friggin Afghanistan. As if I was in a zombie state, I picked up this total stranger. Never had I done anything so bizarre. Well, maybe, but that’s another story.
When she got settled into my beat up SUV, I tried to make conversation with her. Blank stare. She didn’t understand a word of English. Damn! What have I done? To make a long story short, in the next twenty minutes, my life changed. Over the next month, I became haunted by images of being in the Middle East in the midst of chaos and suffering.
I knew my muse, Bart, was pushing the plot.
“Resistance is futile.” He gave me his wide toothless grin.
“You’re nuts, Bart, if you think I’ll write that novel. How ridiculous. I know nothing of the Middle East or Islam.” I thumped Bart on his little green head.
“Oh crap, you’re going to difficult again.” He massaged his skull. “Madame, he’s waiting.”
“Captain Sharif. Big brute of a man but considered a hero by the citizens of the Republic of Islamic Provinces and Territories.”
I glared at Bart. A mistake. Trapped in Bart’s golden eyes, the mystical dance began. Swirling sapphire clouds descended transforming my surroundings, shifting reality, capturing time.
Several yards away, a man’s shadow emerged.
He stood, a sentinel – solitary, waiting. His fists at his sides, clenched. Moving closer, I noted more details of his uniform. Black, from his cap to the military boots. It was then I noted his death grip on an assault rifle. I swallowed and stepped back. He hadn’t yet acknowledged my presence.
My eyes scanned the direction of his gaze. Only mist. And yet, he prepared for battle. He crouched, a lion ready for the kill. My heart pounded against my ribs. “Who is coming,” I whispered.
“Be quiet,” he growled, a sound escaping from deep in his broad chest. “Damn. They’ve frightened her away.”
Brazenly, I stepped closer. “Who frightened who?”
“The mayor. He’s trying to keep her from coming here.” His shoulder slouched. “Eliza.” He spoke her name as if she held the status of goddess. As he turned back toward the mist, he muttered, “We may be too late.” Pain laced his grief.
Frustration clawed at my need to know what the hell was going on. “Who is ‘we’?”
Finally, the soldier faced me. Still only a vague outline of his features gave any hint of his face. I felt, more than saw, that he could be considered handsome, perhaps in his early thirties, Middle Eastern skin tone, short dark curly hair. Energy surrounded him. No horror would deter him from his mission.
“Who? Me, Sergeant Abdul-Muqtadir, imam Bashir, Captain Khattab, CIA agent Hutchinson.” He stepped forward. “And you.”
“Yes, you.” He towered over me. “You must write the story. If not, she’s going to get better at trying to killer herself. So far, she’s doing a lousy job. Praise Allah, the most merciful.”
“I’m certain there are authors better able to tell the story. I know nothing of Islam or what it is like to be Muslim. Why me?”
“Because, in many ways, you are much like Eliza. You know her. His voice softened. “You see my dear Ms. Stone, as long as she doesn’t get here, their plans for a most vicious crime is safe. They’ll bury me alive if I reveal their secret. But if she’s here, I’ll have a reason to do …. what is forbidden.
A gut wrenching scream tore through my chest. The sound came from beyond the gloom. It continued to echo as if someone was being tortured within prison walls. Suddenly, the soldier fell to his knees.
“What is that?” I shouted trembling with shock.
“That is Eliza.” He groaned and squeezed his eyes shut as if her pain became his. “Her nightmare is never ending. Her mind gives her no peace. She is going insane.”
A sense of hopelessness descended upon me. Yes, I had to write Forbidden. The woman from Afghanistan and Captain Sharif had shared their secret. Everything is possible through the power of love.
Read an excerpt:
On our cattle ranch in Alberta, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.
For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.
My creative DNA shocked me when I was driven to write a dystopian / paranormal / romance novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild. After taking several writing courses, I presented the manuscript to Omnific Publishing who published it in 2011. Just when I thought I could get my life back, another story took me prisoner – Forbidden. I couldn’t believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.
Retired and focused on home life, I’m back to being a mom to four pets and one husband. We travel and taste the excitement of other cultures. In between adventures, I’ve dabbled in water color painting, photography, needle work, gardening – the list goes on. In my next life, I plan to explore the cosmos.
I’ve learned a few things in my seventy years. Thoughts are powerful. Intention is everything. Passion is the key to success.
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Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.
The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.
Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.
When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah’s eternal wrath.
CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.
What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.
Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
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