I’m very happy that Soul Mate Publishing accepted my fourth novel in the Zodiac Series this week. I know it’s good–my best work so far. I posted an excerpt on my website here, and below a different one:
This is a gross injustice. He fingered the wound on his cheek and looked down at his shirt—blood-spattered and dirt-stained, and one sleeve was torn.
His grimace was mistaken for a smile. “Nothin’ to smile about in here.” A short, thickset man stood on his right, with gray, wispy hair and an unkempt salt and pepper beard. The steely blue eyes seemed out of place in the sun-beaten, weathered face. “You been fightin’, too.” the man shook his head disapprovingly. “Name’s Nate,” he held out a hand.
That’s all I need. Some drunk dude wants to be my friend. Can’t he see I’m not in a friendly mood? Reluctantly, he wiped his hand on his pants and took the man’s hand, feeling the steel in his grip.
“Drew. How you doing?”
“Been here before?”
“My third time. Cop recognized me from a previous conviction. Nothing big. They’ll let me go tomorrow so long as I agree to be one of their snitches again. I know the drill.” He paused to allow Drew to speak, but Drew only grunted and turned his head away.
She doesn’t love me anymore. She hates me. Do I still love her? Don’t know the answer. I thought I still had a tiny bit of love for her left, but after what she’s done, I don’t know anymore. How does that happen? How can you love a person so much and then lose it all?
Drew eased himself onto the floor, trying to ignore the pain in his back, joints and muscles—not to mention his face. His head pounded and he wished he could take a couple of Advils. He leaned against the wall with his knees up in front of him. The cold concrete floor numbed his butt.
Nate followed him. He talked a lot. “I was in ‘Nam. EOD. Explosives Ordnance Disposal if you don’t know what that is. Bomb and landmine detection and disposal is what my job description was, but I also learned how to blow things up.
“You don’t wanna know the things went on out there. I seen some real bad things, you know. Children, I seen kids killed by our own men, and women. I burned down the villages of innocents so they’d have nothing to go back to. It was real hard for me to come to terms with, so I used drugs to escape from the reality of it. Hell, the most of us did. Time I was there is all a daze now, but I can’t forget the killin’, can’t forget the wounded, screamin’ for help, their guts spillin’ out in the dirt, and the stink of death, all around. The flies. The fear gnawing at your belly every time you move, couldn’t even take a shit in the bushes without bein’ in fear for your life. Got wounded,” he patted his thigh, “and they brought me back here.
“Wife had found another man, asked for a divorce…” Drew tuned him out. He had to find out more about Escorpio.
Nate glanced around, and then stared at him with wide eyes. “Don’t be messing with those drug dudes, man,” he whispered quietly, and made the sign of the cross on his chest with his hand. “They’re just as dangerous as the mob. Narcos are all bad. They will kill you in a heartbeat if they find you’ve even been thinking about that. Don’t ask me again. You might have a death wish, but I don’t, and they have ears everywhere.” He held Drew’s gaze until Drew dropped his eyes.
Time passed minute by agonizing minute. Most of the others in the cell were either asleep or had passed out. A couple of them were snoring. Drew was almost dozing off, but he jerked awake when he picked up a word in the whispered conversation nearby. He held his breath, ignoring the pounding, throbbing headache.
One of the two Hispanic men was staring at his wrist. At the tattoo. He saw Drew had noticed, and glared at him.
Drew moved closer and leaned in. He whispered in Spanish, “El Escorpion es venenosa y muy peligrosa.” (The scorpion is very dangerous.)
One of the men cursed him under his breath.
“Listen,” Drew whispered in Spanish. “My son was murdered by the Vibora de Coral Cartel. Me igo. Muerte. I want to know more. You see the scorpion tattoo on my wrist, so you know you can confide in me.”
The two men stared at him. One of them glanced around as if to make certain no-one else had heard. “Las paredes.” (The walls.) He covered his face with his hood.
“Tienen oídos,” Drew said under his breath. (Have ears.)
The man whispered through the fabric of his hood, “El doce de Octobre—October 12th.”
Drew heard his name being called from outside the cell. He wished he could talk more with these guys. He dug into his pants pocket and found a crumpled piece of one of his business cards. It had his name and the business’ name on it. He threw it at the feet of the two men, and then pushed his way to the front of the cell.
They loaded him and several others into a van, and placed them in a small holding cell at the court house, where his attorney found him.
“Brian, I’m sorry.”
Brian screwed up his forehead and peered at Drew’s face. “What’s going on, Drew? What’s with all the damage to your face? And the blood on your shirt and all over. You’re a mess, man. What did you do to Wendy? I can’t believe it.”
“Drew, are you listening?”
Grab a free download of the prologue, Neelie’s Story here: