Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sneak peek

Most of my loyal, loyal readers know that I self-published an e-book earlier this year titled "Blue Light of Dawn," a murder mystery/romance that gets generally good reviews. I've sold enough copies so far to cover two bottles of Lagavulin single malt. (You can buy the book for any electronic device that supports an ebook format here.

Undaunted (and facing the prospects of another winter), I'm writing a sequel to "Blue Light" called "Yellow Light of Dusk." See the theme here? Anyway, I'm precisely one-quarter through the sequel, and I really haven't a clue of the precise plot -- it tends to take on a life of its own as I write. Here's a brief excerpt from Chapter Six -- I hope to be done by the end of the winter.

Henry and Nicole exchanged small talk as he drove and I just kept quiet. Within 10 minutes we pulled into a long lane with the ubiquitous oak trees and Spanish moss on either side. After a half-mile or so a large white house appeared -- your standard Southern plantation house.
“So what’s your boyfriend’s name?” I whispered to Nicole as we approached the mansion.\
“My friend’s name is Alex,” she said, giving me a mildly reproachful look.
The gravel drive circled in front of the columns that fronted the home. Henry stopped in front the steps leading to the massive double front doors and opened Nicole’s door. We got out, thanked Henry for the ride, and walked up the steps as Henry drove the Lincoln to a side driveway that apparently led to a garage. As we approached the front doors, the one on the left opened wide and a tall, slender woman stood before us, holding her arms open to embrace Nicole. They embraced, and the woman kissed her on both cheeks. Nicole stepped back and turned to me.
“Dan Pittman, meet Alexandra Pennington,” she said.
Alex, it turns out, is a woman. She turned to me and opened her arms wide again, and I walked into an impressive embrace. She kissed me on both cheeks, too.
“I’ve heard so much about you,” she said, echoing Mrs. King. Her voice was strong and clear. Her eyes were spectacularly blue, her short-cut snow-white hair, cut in a modern version of what used to be called a page boy. She appeared to be wearing a navy blue kimono and matching blue slippers. When she stepped back to let us farther into the house, I caught a twinkle in her I that immediately knew was permanent. It took me a moment to get my wits about me, particularly when I saw my surroundings -- an enormous two-story foyer, a wide semi-circular staircase leading to an upstairs balcony that seemed to lead to upstairs wings. A chandelier the size of a small hot air balloon hung over our heads.
“Thank you for inviting us,” I finally said. “It’s a great pleasure to meet you.”
“I rather suspect you had no idea who you were going to meet tonight. Am I right, Dan Pittman,” she said, the twinkle in her eye more obvious.
“No, ma’am, I had no idea,” I said.
“That will be enough of the ‘ma’am’ stuff,” she said. I noticed she had no Southern accent whatsoever. She spoke a careful style of language that seemed to include no contractions. I could smell something I couldn’t quite discern coming from what must have been a distant kitchen. Alex showed us into a nearby sitting room where a crystal decanter of brown fluid, two short crystal tumblers and a crystal container of ice sat on a side table. The room feature a smaller chandelier and obviously expensive furnishings.
“I understand you enjoy the occasional bourbon, Mr. Pittman,” Alex said.

“I do, indeed,” I said, “and, please, call me Dan.”
“Excellent!” she said, as if I had done her a great favor. “I happen to favor Kentucky spirits myself. Would you mind pouring for the two of us? Henry will be here soon with a vodka martini for Nicole here, who cannot be convinced that American whiskey is vastly superior to that nasty Russian stuff.”
She actually winked at Nicole as she said it.
“You may serve mine on the rocks,” she added.
I put ice in two tumblers and poured two fingers of bourbon in each.
“Now, Dan, you can do better than that,” Alex said. I filled the glasses, delivered Alex’s drink to her, and she sat in an overstuffed chair. I joined Nicole on a matching love seat and Henry appeared presently with a tray holding a single martini glass filled with clear liquid and two olives -- a dry vodka martini. I sipped the bourbon, which was so smooth that I scarcely tasted it. This was not Wild Turkey. Alex noticed my reaction.
“It is a single-barrel bourbon aged 12 years in American white oak,” she said. “I could tell you where I get it, but then I would have to kill you.”
Alex was enjoying herself. Tall and slender, she was attractive and charming. She wore no jewelry or makeup and looked to be in her mid-60s, clearly fit and active.

“I presume Nicole has explained our friendship,” Alex said. I looked at Nicole.
“No, as a matter of fact, she hasn’t,” I said.
Alex clapped her hands.
“Excellent!” she exclaimed. “I get to tell the whole story!”
“Some months ago I was enjoying dinner at one of Savannah’s many fine restaurants when I spied this spectacular woman sitting alone at a corner table. I really could not take my eyes off of her. I eventually suggested to the waiter that he invite her to join me and, gratefully, she accepted. We enjoyed a lovely meal and even lovelier conversation. I am afraid that I was quite smitten.”
At this, Nicole turned a bit red and reality finally dawned on me. Alexandra Pennington is gay. She continued, apparently assuming that I was catching on.
“I have learned over the years to be discrete when getting to know another woman, particularly one as lovely as Nicole here,” she said. “It took several other evenings together to discern that she was not ‘my type’ as some would say, and a few more evenings for Nicole to discover that my original interests had been a not altogether honorable.” Nicole turned a brighter shade of red.
“Fortunately, I am quite accustomed to attractions that do not quite work out. Even more fortunately, Nicole was not offended or bothered, and a splendid friendship has developed. Of course, Nicole, it still could be more if you have changed your mind.” She winked again and Nicole went full neon red.

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