I will be putting a chapter or two up every week of my newest book, Murmansk. It will appear both here and on Wattpad. I hope you will like and get into the story as it progresses.
Please note and keep in mind that these pages are from the first draft, and as such will not be as finely tuned as the final document.
December 10, 2000
Abby slid the tray slightly on her shoulder to help the balance as she weaved her way through the tables.
Setting the tray down at a booth with four leering men, she distributed glasses of Vodka to them while surreptitiously eyeing the front entrance.
“Hey!” she shouted, suddenly jumping away from the table.
“Xpahnte Grubby pkyn moeň ass!” (Keep your grubby hands off my ass!)
The Russian men around the booth burst out in riotous laughter as they threw their money on the tray.
Grabbing up the tray, Abby pocketed the bills and made her way to the bar to pick up the next order. As she waited for Gregor to fill the tray again, she blew her bangs out of her face nervously as she once again furtively glanced toward the door.
Where the hell are you, Gabe? She mumbled to herself worriedly.
Outside of the bar, a man in the back of a nondescript car lowered his sniper rifle. He could have easily pulled the trigger when the American girl was serving her last table; even though his shot would have probably been ruined when she jumped back…one of the old perverts had grabbed her from behind!
The man smiled despite the delay in completing his mission.
“Soon little printsessa, soon. We will soon see if your man comes through with his end of da bargain.”
I shoved the hand full of gauze pads against Preacher’ shoulder and applied pressure.
“Hold on buddy, it went through and through, we just need to get the bleeding stopped.”
Preacher’s pain was evident in the film of sweat on his forehead, his breathing short and shallow. Wrapping his shoulder tightly with tape, I was relieved when I saw that it had seemed to slow the flow.
Covering him with several blankets, I went to check on the heating unit. I could see by the condensation showing at the bottom of the tank that we were about to run out of propane.
Dammit I whispered, angry at getting my friend into this…Angry at getting myself into this!
Slipping into the heavy parka, I pulled the hood over my head and walked out of the shack and onto the barren plateau. Distractedly, I realized that it was close to the first day of winter…the shortest day of the year.
But there had probably been no sun here today…we were already in the depths of arctic winter.
Pulling the satellite phone out of the parka’s pocket, I powered it up and waited for it to find a satellite. I had discovered a speed dial number on a note taped to the phone when I woke up, and I was waiting to try it when I heard the beep.
Looking down at the device, it told me that there was a picture message coming in. Clicking on the icon, the screen filled with the image of Abby, looking back over her shoulder toward the camera. It would appear that she was acting as a server at some establishment, but that wasn’t the worst part of the picture.
The picture had been taken through what appeared to be the scope of a rifle…the crosshairs converging on her heart!
Punching the speed dial, I waited anxiously for someone to pick up, holding the phone to my ear, I could barely hear the ring tone over the biting wind beating at my face.
“Da?” the voice finally answered smugly.
I waited a few seconds before I said anything, exerting I suppose the last vestiges of my failing rebellion.
“Ok,” I finally said into the phone, “You have my attention.”
November 24, 2000
I pulled the coat around me a little tighter when I saw my breath form a cold fog in front of me.
It was 6:30 in the morning and I was enjoying the dark silence of the street as I sipped on my third cup of coffee. Most of the Black Friday crowd had already left for the day, and those of us that didn’t brave the malls were letting the day unfold before us at a slower pace.
My mind wandered to the day before with a smile. It had been the first Thanksgiving with May and I together as man and wife.
It was also my first Thanksgiving as a grandfather!
Although I was still not used to that term applying to me, I was getting a little more comfortable with it.
I grinned despite my overt reluctance.
Raven May Celtic had come into this world in June, and had basically been running the household since then!
The spitting image of Abby, Ya Su* was a bundle of joy and determination. Already crawling, the purposeful set of her exotic eyes when she was concentrating on a task never ceased to bring a smile to my face.
(* We called her Ya Su at that time to avoid the confusion of calling her Raven or May. It is a Hoosier-ized attempt to simplify the Vietnamese Nhô Xíu, which essentially means tiny girl.)
Moving in the chair again to get comfortable, I uncrossed and re-crossed my legs, looking for a spot that eluded me.
I sighed with frustration before taking another sip of the coffee. I knew it wasn’t the chair that was bothering me.
Although I had never been happier with my life on a personal level, I was still antsy.
Our last big case had been over a year ago now!
We had kept ourselves busy of course, and those first few months had been filled with healing from our injuries from that case anyway. Once we had recovered however, we started taking on a veritable treasure trove of smaller cases. But working as a bounty hunter or catching cheating husbands was not what I would consider remotely challenging.
Not after helping to save the world!
I had to smile at my mental proclamation. It had indeed been a heady time then, and an accomplishment that I had thought would hold me for the rest of my life.
I had been wrong.
I sighed as I took another sip, hearing the door rattle beside me.
I looked up and smiled at my oldest friend as she shut the door behind her. Carrying a blanket and a cup of coffee, she handed me the cup before sitting beside me on the glider and covering our legs with the blanket.
“Brrr,” she shivered as she took back her cup and tipped it to her lips. Taking a swallow, she then leaned over to give me a kiss.
“Good morning,” she smiled as our eyes gazed into each other’s.
“Good morning yourself,” I replied. “How did you sleep?”
She smiled as she took another sip of her coffee. “Pretty well…mostly. I got up with Ya Su around 4:00. Abby had already been up with her twice…I’d forgotten how annoying teething could be.”
I smiled back. May, my bride of less than a year had two grandkids of her own, but they all lived far away and she didn’t get to see them often. Although my daughter Abby and she were not related by blood, they had grown together as friends as well as mother and daughter long ago.
Abby’s mother had died years ago in
knowing anything about me until her mother’s deathbed confession, Abby had then
moved to the states to seek me out.
I hadn’t known of her existence before that time, but found her to be a natural addition to my life.
It had been a wild ride ever since…and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
“I may need a nap later,” May continued with a grin. “I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“Maybe I’ll join you,” I grinned with a wink. May giggled and pulled me to her as she kissed my cheek and whispered, “Again?”
We both then fell into a comfortable silence…sipping our coffee and watching the quiet street as the day started making itself known in the east.
My mind had inevitably wandered back to my dilemma when May again spoke in a near whisper.
“We need to get you a job.”
It took a few seconds for her words to fully hit me, but when they did I quickly sat up and turned toward her.
“I have a job May,” I smiled as I took her hand in mine, “As well as a whole household of family that I love dearly. I’ve also acquired just enough good friends, ones that coincidentally I can work with and depend on with my life. I’ve never been blessed with so much goodness at one time…ever!”
Folding her hand over mine, she gazed into my eyes lovingly.
“I’m blessed also, but we both know something is missing…don’t we?”
I had been trying to hide my feelings from her on this matter for months, and the fact that she already knew what I had been thinking made me a little sad. I certainly didn’t want her to think that she wasn’t enough for me!
“I’m sorry,” I started, “I hope you know this is no reflection on you, May. Finding each other again after all of these years is one of the best things to have ever happened to me.”
Nodding, she then laid her hand on my cheek. “Me too Gabe, but you have always had the need to be working on some kind of mystery or adventure. Even when you were a boy I often wondered how any woman could ever corral your heart if there was another adventure around the corner.”
Leaning toward me, she kissed me gently. Holding herself inches from me, she smiled a smile that infused my soul.
“I am that woman now Gabriel Celtic; and I feel no threat from any mystery that you throw yourself into. It is a part of your makeup, part of your persona that can not be denied…even by you!”
Deep in my heart I knew that she was telling the truth as she saw it. I smiled inwardly as I also thought of her part in our last big case. Both her and Raven, another friend and love from long ago had both risked their lives as we faced off the enemy at the
I had witnessed bravery that day from those two that I could never have imagined possible.
Leaning back into her seat, May took a few moments to sip some more of the warm coffee.
“True as that is May, there is nothing out there!”
Frustrated, I turned forward in my chair again, leaning back into it with a sigh. My eyes flicked momentarily to movement out on the street. A dark car was parking in front of the neighbor’s house…probably picking someone up for a trip to the mall.
“It’s the weirdest thing, but there hasn’t even been a single murder in this part of the state all year!” I continued. “Not that I’m complaining about that mind you, but it’s indicative of the lack of anything interesting going on!”
Turning toward her again, “Maybe I’m just too old for this crap anyway. Maybe everyone thinks I’m washed up…or that I think I’m too good to work the measly crimes anymore.”
May grinned at me with tender eyes. “Something will turn up, it always has and it always will.”
“Yeah well,” I grumbled, “Patience hasn’t always been my strong suit.”
At that moment, a voice from the sidewalk suddenly interrupted our conversation.
“I may be able to help with that.”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis