It stares at you as if it knows your innermost secrets. You hated that feeling. Last night at dinner you told Tasha that you thought you were getting close to identifying a group of soldiers who were working with the thief you had killed. She had seemed pleased with your progress. Thankfully, she didn't ask you anymore questions. Other than the one that you knew was bound to come up sooner or later. Were you going to accept her proposal to stay on the ship? Reluctantly you had agreed. Not because you had wanted to serve on board for the rest of you life as her personal security officer. No. You did it because you knew that you might be able to gather more evidence against the military for using kidnapping innocent civilians and manipulating them so that greater pieces of arts would be produced in the United States. You were certain the evidence you had gathered so far wouldn't be enough. But if you could create a scandal by providing proof the the families of the missing MIA soldiers that their loved ones were still alive maybe, just maybe someone would listen to you.
After dinner you have snuck into the secret lower level where you had found the small boy a few days ago and began to journal your ideas. You wrote a letter to your closest friend, a professor at Harvard that had believed in your story about the cruise ship before you had decided to leave. Tasha had told you that you wouldn't forget the experiences you had and would gain on this cruise because the crew needed to remember everything so they could protect future passengers. But you didn't quite trust Tasha. What if she erased your mind and made you remember starting at the next cruise? No, you had to keep everything written down.
You had stayed down there well into the night then snuck back into your cabin where you found Tasha and a few guards inside. You had panicked thinking Tasha had learned the truth. You knew you had to remain calm. Tasha had asked where you had gone. She had been wanting to speak to you. You told her you were spending time with a fellow passenger. She had smiled and told you, "Well whoever it was won't remember you so you might as well enjoy yourself." After a brief discussion she had bid you goodnight then left with her guards. You slept peacefully last night only to wake at the announcement this morning that the ship had arrived in Denver, Colorado. Who knows what you find today?
|owl by Archibald Ballantine|
The door is opened by a thirtysomething woman with long, dark, straight hair and a wide smile. She is perhaps a little on the plump side, but her tailored slacks and blazer enhance her figure.
“Welcome to my condo,” she says. “Come on in.” Then, over her shoulder, she calls, “Joseph, they’re here. Are the appetizers ready yet?”
“Nearly thawed,” a cheerful male voice replies. “The wine’s poured, anyway.” The owner of the voice approaches the door. He is tall and thin, with dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. He looks back and forth from the woman to us and grins. “Don’t leave them standing in the hall, Naomi,” he says, taking her gently by the shoulders and moving her out of the doorway.
“Whoops, sorry,” she says as we enter. “Anyway, hi. I’m Naomi Witherspoon and this is Joseph Curtis. He’s, um, here a lot.”
“I’ll get the wine,” he says, rolling his eyes.
“Anyway,” she resumes, cutting a look of fond exasperation at him, “there’s not much to see, really. It’s a regular one-bedroom condo. The living room is here on the right.” The room is decorated in a comfortable, modern style. A sofa lines the wall just inside the door and a couple of armchairs face it across a glass-topped cocktail table. The wooden parts of the furniture are stained black and the upholstery is dark browns and blues, with red accents. A fieldstone fireplace and the flat-screen TV hanging above it dominate the wall to our right.
“I was sold on the place for three reasons,” Naomi goes on. “One, it was within walking distance from the law firm I worked for. Two, it has two fireplaces – this one and the one in the bedroom. And three, it has a great view of the Front Range. For a girl from the flatlands of the Midwest buying a condo in Denver, there didn’t seem to be any point in buying a place that didn’t have a view of the Rockies.” As she speaks, she crosses to the far wall and pulls open the vertical blinds. We ooh and aah obligingly at the snow-capped peaks.
“Over here is the kitchen,” she says, dodging a desk piled high with papers and law books on the way. “I didn’t bother getting a dinette set. My work hours are so crazy that I never have time to cook. We usually get takeout, or thaw something, and eat it at the breakfast bar.” She indicates the raised portion of the island that separates the kitchen workspace from the living room. Glasses of white wine stand ready for us, and Joseph is just putting some hot appetizers on a plate next to them.
“Help yourselves,” he says, taking off a pair of hot mitts, so you do.
After a few minutes, Naomi moves the tour along by saying, “Over here, through this doorway, is the bedroom.” You step inside with the rest of the group. She skirts the queen-size bed to pull back the blinds on the window on the far wall, giving us another view of the mountains. The light from the window highlights the fireplace, a slightly smaller cousin to the one in the living room. A cozy reading chair, flanked by bookcases, sits nearby.
“This door leads to a walk-in closet,” she continues. “Down that hall is another closet for the washer-dryer, and the bathroom is at the end. And that’s pretty much it.” She holds out her hands, palms upturned. “Any questions?”
In the slight pause that ensues, you hear a series of soft noises from the fireplace. Then a great horned owl swoops out of the opening, takes a turn around the room, and lands at the foot of the bed.
You gasp, but Naomi seems anything but surprised. “Joseph,” she says, frowning at the bird, “I thought you told me the chimney cover was fixed.”
He fluffs his feathers at her, and you get the impression that if owls could smile, this one would be grinning.
Where to Buy Seized:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seized-lynne-cantwell/1109760776?ean=2940014719216&format=nook-book
Where to buy Fissured:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fissured-lynne-cantwell/1112548021?ean=2940014884471
Who Is Lynn Cantwell?
Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. Lynne’s vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Visit her blog: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com.
“The Pipe Woman Chronicles” really get rolling on December 21, 2012. Lynne is celebrating the kickoff of the events in Seized with a Winter Solstice Advent Countdown contest! The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card and an “I Survived the End of the World” key chain. Stop by her blog – http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com – to enter!