Excerpt – Chapter 7 of Tarkir– Dark World Warriors

I am making progress on my SFR story. I’m trying to do some work on it everyday. Right now I’m mostly feeling good with what I have so far. Although I think I may have to “punch up” the world building aspect of it.

So with all that said, here’s an excerpt from chapter 7. Note: This is first draft stuff, no editing has been done on it!

Da’von Rai’lyn stared at the figure of his older sister on the viewscreen, back straight, chin tilted up, fully in command of herself and her ship.  He’d heard the heated possessiveness in the War Admiral’s growled word, wondering what it meant. Ay’esha’s demand for identification plus her not so subtle threat to blow the alien ship out of space pushed that thought to the back of his mind. His gaze swiveled from the view screen to Tarkir, trying to gage what the War Admiral would do. One brow shot up at what he saw. The male’s body was ramrod straight, tense, his face drawn tight, eyes a swirling mix of red and violet. Movement near his waist drew Da’von’s attention. Frowning, he watched those hands clinch, long fingers curled open and closed with each breath he took.

Da’von stepped closer, ignoring Zotul kul Nozek’s  warning snarl from behind them, standing ready to defend his War Admiral. Clearing his throat, eyes locked on the imposing male, Da’von spoke softly. “War Admiral,” he paused, drawing the male’s attention to him. “War Admiral—“

“Da’von!” Ay’esha hissed, taking a step forward on the view screen when her brother stepped into view behind the alien commander’s right shoulder. Da’von glanced at her, a brief shake of his head and her mouth snapped shut on whatever she had been about say.

“War Admiral,” he repeated, this time Tarkir turned his head to look at him. “My people mean you no harm,” he glanced back at his sister. “She means you no harm.” Da’von emphasized with a nod at Ay’esha. Tarkir’s eyes flashed back the female.

“Who is this female, Rai’lyn?” Tarkir growled, having regained some control. Da’von moved, standing a few paces ahead, to the side of Tarkir.

“If you would allow me—“  The same low growl filled the space. Da’von grimaced. Something was going on with the big War Admiral, something Da’von didn’t quite understand. He frowned, drawing in a deep breath, straightening, arms down to his side, chin up.

“War Admiral Tarkir kul Cadeyrn,” Da’von bowed slightly from his waist, voice study, respectful. “Allow me to introduce you to Commander Ay’esha Rai’lyn of the Lel’eiona Space Fleet.” He turned to look at his sister, who was frowning at him. Both Ay’esha and Tarkir spoke at once.

“This female is the sister you told me of?”

“Da’von, what in the all of space is going on?”

One corner of the younger man’s lips lifted in a smile. One that he did not dare let cover his entire face as both parties glared at each other. Oh yeah, this was one time his sister could not take control, the thought was fleeting, scattering almost before he could grasp it. He cleared his throat, looking to Tarkir, asking permission to explain. The big male, body still tense, folded his arms across the hard planes of his broad chest, nodding at Da’von to proceed. With a brief nod, Da’von turned, fully facing the view screen. He stared at the image of his sister a minute, noting how tightly strung she was, before he spoke.

“It’s good to see you, Esha—“

“Commander Rai’lyn.” She corrected him tersely. Her lips tightened, her tone holding both anger and fear. He was going to have step lightly. He started over.

“Commander Rai’lyn, it’s good to see you.” Her eyes narrowed. “The Ph’oenix was attacked, destroyed. Those of us that survived were rescued when War Admiral kul Cadeyrn intervened, destroying our attacker and collecting our Life Pods.”

Ay’esha stared at her brother, eyes carefully avoiding the big male standing just behind him. “The Ph’oenix and her crew were assumed lost after comms between your ship and Fleet were lost.” She paused. “The Sc’ythe was sent to find out what had happened and to bring back any…” She stopped, not finishing her sentence. Da’von grimaced, knowing what she had left unsaid. 

“Commanders Rai’lyn,” Tarkir’s deep voice brought both the Rai’lyn siblings gaze to where he stood. “This conversation can be better held in person.” He locked eyes with Ay’esha, “Commander, you will transfer to the Slayer, your brother can speak of what happened and what to do next.”

There was a long moment of silence before a rough voice hissed from behind him, “War Admiral… I must point out, we do not know what threat this ship is to us. To bring these beings aboard—“

“Enough First Sentinel!” Tarkir snapped, freezing everyone on the bridge. He turned to Zotul kul Nozek, locking eyes with his First Sentinel. “You will escort Da’von Rai’lyn to the hanger bay and shuttle him to the Lel’eiona ship. Return with,” He turned to look at the female standing ramrod straight on the screen. “Both Commanders.” His gaze went to Da’von. “You will accompany my First Sentinel, returning with Commander Rai’lyn.” He wasn’t asking. Da’von frowned, eyes narrowing.  

“War Admiral kul Cadeyrn,” Da’von came to attention.  “I thank you for your timely intervention, the rescue of my crew, and the hospitably of your ship. I do not take orders from you.”  Tarkir raised one eyebrow and Zotul growled loudly, taking a step toward Da’von, ready to protect his captain. Tarkir held up one hand.

“Stand down,” he ordered Zotul, who froze, massive body vibrating with suppressed tension. “I understand your words, Rai’lyn. In your place I would feel the same, there are issues we need to talk about. The three of us.”

“What issues?” Da’von asked. “Why do these issues involve my sister?” Tarkir looked back at the viewscreen. He ignored the other male’s questions.  

“You will go to her ship, return with her,” Da’von swung his gaze to his sister. Her gaze was locked on the big Teric male.

“Nether of you will decide my actions.” Her words were pitched low, each one dropping like ice. “I am the commander of the Sc’ythe and as such will determine my next course of action.” She glared at both males, her gaze softening on her brother’s face. “I’m so happy to see you alive, brother. Most thought you all lost.” A slight tremble edged her words. “I knew you lived…” Breaking off, she visibly reined in her emotions, eyes shifting back to Tarkir, she gave him a shallow nod. “I will contact you, War Admiral.” The viewscreen on the bridge of the Slayer went dark. War Admiral Tarkir kul Cadeyrn eyes narrowed. He’d been dismissed…by a female!

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Dark World Warriors Star Map

I’m to the point in Tarkir kul Cadeyrn and Ay’esha Rai’lyn story that I need to create a star map to find my way about space. So far I only have three galaxies and a dead zone, but I left room to add more as I need them. So with that, I give you the world of the Dark Warriors…

WIP Update 07/30/2019

Writing Hawaiian Style
Honolulu Hawaii
May 2019

Taylor – Paranormal Operations, Inc. Book 1 (PNR)

My edits are done. Now I have to send the manuscript out to be professional edited. That’s not going to happen soon. Funds are tight for me and about to get tighter. I’ll have to look at my budget at a later date. But it’s DONE. Word count ended up at 87,932.

Polar Shift – Mistletoe, North Pole Book 2 (PNR)

I’m now working on this one. I’m about 13 chapters into it and while the characters are talking to me again, they aren’t wanting to go in the direction I want them to go. So I’m deciding if I need to do a small rewrite or just forge ahead and see where everyone in the story ends up. Word count so far is 17,162

Tarkir – Dark World Warriors Book 1 (SFR)

I have done no work on this story. I hope to get to it after edits are done completely on my Paranormal Operations, Inc. book. Word count hasn’t change, it’s still at 8,889 words.

Incubus MC – Demon (PNR/MC)

See Tarkir, above. No progress at all. But I have been thinking about the story line. I think I need to “punch” up the story. Make it grittier, rougher, at least the bikers in it. Word count is at 4,870.

Kai and Kekipi (Hawaiian Tales PNR)

I’m not sure I’ll publish this one or just make it a freebie for on my author’s page. I’ve kind of lost interest in this story. I’m writing from a weird, third person point of view.  We’re were in Hawaii in May for a two weeks, but didn’t even work on this short story. I’m still at 3,178 words on this one.

Future Plans

Hubby retired in Jan of 2019, so writing has been a bit hit and miss. I do love him being home through. He holds much better conversations than the cats! LOL! I’m still on schedule to get my SS and Medicare in Dec. Although signing up for both may be a pain. I have been called for the dreaded Jury Service starting end of this week (08/01/2019) and if picked, be tied up for about 4 months.

My writing plans for the year are still to publish my Paranormal Operations, Inc. book at the end of the year (or Jan 2020). Try to complete Polar Shift (Mistletoe, North Pole #2) and maybe find some time to work on my SFR book. Plus I lots of story ideas! One even set right here in Las Vegas!

So much to do!

Sneak Peek – Chapter 24 Taylor – Paranormal Operations, Inc

I’m making some progress on the text to speech edit of Taylor – Paranormal Operations, Inc. This is the edited version of chapter 24. After all the chapters are done, then it will be off to a pro editor.

Shay looked up from the report he’d been reading as a rumble shook the building. A second one rolled through before the first one had ended. Immediately alarms rang, their high pitch squeal loud enough he cringed.

“What the fuck?” He murmured jumping up from his seat and headed to the closed office door, ripping it open and striding out into the operations center. “What the hell is going on? Where did those explosions come from?” He shouted the questions over the screaming alarms as he moved to the center of the room.

“The surveillance cameras are down in both the garage and the adjacent staircase.” A voice answered from the left. Shay swung his head in that direction. A man named Tomas sat in front of a bank of video screens that showed the feeds from the cameras that monitored the Paranormal Operations Irish headquarters. Tomas glanced at Shay as he continued. “The blasts were in those areas. The other cameras nearby show the staircase blocked and the elevator to the garage is out.”

“Casualties?” Shay barked. “And turn off that fucking alarm!” A woman answered from a desk next to the bank of screens.

“Yes sir.” Her eyes never left her computer screen as her fingers raced over the keyboard in front of her. The screaming alarm cut off suddenly. “No casualties reported so far, sir.” She added. Tomas broke in before she could say something further.

“There were people in the garage, sir.” He peered back down, pressing a few keys on his keyboard. “You need to see this, sir.” Shay tensed and moved to stand next to Tomas.

“Who?” Shay demanded. Tomas gestured at a side monitor. The screen switched from black to a still image of the garage, with one stab of his finger, Tomas started the video playback. Shay hissed out a breath.

On the screen was Devon and Taylor along with Mikhail Romanov. There wasn’t sound with the video but it was obvious that the couple was saying goodbye. The following minutes of the video recorded the two men checking the SUV for supplies before they got into the vehicle and drove out of the garage. After it disappeared from view, Shay watched as Taylor turned around and glared right into the camera before passing out of view.

“So they made it out before the blasts?” Shay questioned, note of relief in his tone. Tomas shook his head.

“The camera in the area near the elevator caught this.” He pressed several more keys and different scene filled the screen. Taylor walked into view, her head down as she worked her phone. She stiffened and turned as a red headed figure moved into the frame from the bottom of the screen. Even from the back, Shay knew who he was.

“O’Grady.” He hissed, watching the leprechaun raise a weapon and fire. Taylor threw herself to the side trying to avoid O’Grady’s shots. Shay’s hands curled into fists at his side as Taylor jerked from multiple impacts before she slid down the wall and slumped over.

“Fucking bastard!” He snarled, as O’Grady turned, flipping both of his middle fingers at the camera. He grabbed one of Taylor’s legs and dragged her body from view. A few minutes later the video shook as the first explosion went off, then within seconds the elevator doors blasted outward and the video died.

Shay glanced at his watch, gauging how much time since the explosions. Five minutes, he thought with grimace. Five minutes for everything to go to hell.

“Track where that bastard took agent Conner,” he instructed Tomas, his voice hard. Tomas frowned as he started to speak.

“I’ll try, sir, but…” He swallowed at the dark look Shay aimed at him before he continued. “With the camera destroyed in the garage, I’ll have to piece together what I can from the surrounding traffic cameras.” Tomas peered at the keyboard in front of him as he muttered to himself. “If I sync the time of the garage blast with the traffic cameras on both corners nearest to the building and check for any vehicles going through those intersections…”

“Just fucking do it.” Shay said before he turned to speak to the female agent seated nearby.

“Get the EOD to the garage and after they’ve swept it for evidence, get a team to remove the rubble.” The explosive ordnance disposal team was made up of a few well trained agents at each headquarter site. The woman’s fingers flew over her keyboard as Shay shot orders to her. “Have another team access the damage to the garage and the surrounding space for structural damage.” He glanced at the woman. “You’ve got that?” he asked. She nodded and replied without looking up from her screen.

“Yes, sir.” Shay turned and strode toward his office. He reached for the phone that rested on his hip and punched the speed dial number for Devon.

“Devon’s going to lose his fucking shit about this.” He said as he waited for the other man to answer.

Taylor – Paranormal Operations, Inc. The Haunting of Chapter 4

So… I’m using NaturalReader to do a second round of editing. By using text to voice, I can pick up the “little” stuff I missed in the first round of editing/rewrites. You know, the missing small words that your mind “sees” even if they aren’t really there. I was rolling right along, doing a chapter at a time, making changes, saving them to my main word doc. So I get to chapter 7 and find I have to reboot my PC (Windows Update can be such a nag!). So I checked each chapter in my doc. I got to chapter 4 and… what the heck! It’s GONE! Totally GONE!

Time to panic! I had the wip rough draft but that didn’t have any of my changes. The good news is, with Naturalreader I had saved each chapter as an .mp3 file to listen to later. But how to get that audio file back to a text file? After some Googling, I found an online transcriber.

WOOT!!

Only draw back is that, when transcribed, it looks like this:

Rage rolled off Devin in waves.

Shay drew himself up to his full six foot six height.

His mouth tightened and displeasure.

Knock it off.

Devin.

I had no reason to think this assignment was anything other than what I told you it was.

It seems I wasn’t given all the facts either.

I can assure you.

I will find out who’s decision it was to keep us in the dark.

And why.

I can tell you though part Shay.

A new voice came from the kitchen doorway behind Devin.

So now I have to put the whole chapter back together. Ok, started that, worked all evening on it, and went to bed. Next morning I found that my PC had rebooted itself with a second update (come on Microsoft, you’re killing me here!). And dumb me hadn’t saved my work from the night before. So to make this sad story a bit shorter. I’ve redone most of chapter 4 THREE time! The last time I screwed up and closed it down myself. I’m hoping the 4th time will the last!

So I’m going with this chapter is freaking HAUNTED!

Long Over Due Update

stamp overdue in red

This update is long over due. Not just for my writing, but for me personally as well.

So… my writing “career”… I had started the second book in my Mistletoe, North Pole series. As I got into it, my charterers stopped speaking to me. The more I forced myself to hear them, the more frustrated I became. So I tucked the story away and worked on the Paranormal Operations, Inc story. I had finished it but it needed editing. I’m still working on it. I have 11 or so chapters to do. I’ve noticed as I’ve worked on it, that my writing seemed to improve in the later chapters. I’m using AutoCrit for first round editing and the later chapters have fewer corrections to make (i.e. in story pacing, word use…). Where it was taking me a week to edit one chapter, now I’m doing almost 1 every two days or so. Yeah me! I still need to find a pro editor and a cover artist to complete the book before I can publish. I’m on a shoestring budget for those.

While I’ll probably never be a multi books published a year kind of writer (and to those writers that do… you ROCK!). I would like at least one a year published. I have tons of ideas! One woke me up the other night and I was then up until 4 AM putting ideas for the story on “paper” (really an excel sheet). It’s be a shifter story and I even did a color coded map and names for several packs!

On the personal side, I decide last year to just call myself “retired”. I struggled with looking for a job after the layoff in 2017. I went on interviews but most places were looking for longevity when hiring. Add my age (2-3 years from true retirement) to the fact I was a woman with no degree and the prospects of a job just wasn’t there. So when the unemployment ran out I called it quits. I decide to try my hand at full time writing. Easier said than done, my friends! Being home all day is distracting! I’m kind of back on track now and looking to “officially” retire at the end of this year. Hubby retires in two days, so he’ll be home for a while with me. Might cut back on my writing time some, but he’s worth it! He wants to pick up a part time, consulting gig later this year.

And there you go… all caught up! One thing I want, no need, to do, is keep both my blogs up to date. Good intentions abound in the New Year!

 

 

July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo

So I’m doing the July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo with a couple of friends (Hey Calen and captainamy!). And since I was struggling so much with the second book in my Mistletoe, North Pole series (as in I’m not really ready write Sig and Holly’s story), I decide to work on my paranormal MC WIP, Demon -Incubus MC.

Image2

My goal for Camp is a modest 5000 words in 31 days. I know that’s a low number, but I can adjust it upwards as I go. Today I did 1001 words. I started the morning by working on it outside, than moved inside when it got hot. Being outside seemed to get my writing juices flowing!

writing outside

Now the weekend is coming up. So less words as I like to spend time with the hubby. Plus we have eye appointments for new glasses tomorrow. I will get some words over the weekend through.

I’m also going to try and get my time organized. The last year (since getting laid off) I just haven’t been able to find a rhythm to my life as it is now. This resulted in my bouncing from one project to another and not getting much done on any of them. This to stop. I love writing and I want to keep publishing/sharing what I write.

I WILL DO THIS!

Polar Shift And Rewriting

 

 

 

If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past two, maybe three years of writing is that you’ll always be rewriting. And rewriting! This is where I’m at with Polar Shift. I had three chapters done, even posted them here. But rereading those chapters as a whole I find I’m not happy with them. I love them, just not for this book. They were angsty, way darker then I wanted, and  just not the direction I wanted to take the story.

Santa Baby was lighter and I want to keep the series that way. So… I rewrote chapter one one day last week. I hauled my butt, my new tablet, and Polar Shift off to our new local Starbucks and knocked most of the rewrite in just under 3 hours. I’ve done some light editing and now I’m going to post the new and (I hope) improved chapter one!

 

Sig Olson sat at a small table in the corner of Rudy’s Diner, his back to the wall, nursing a large, frosted bottle. He idly scanned the door as people arrived and left. He noticed everything that was going on around him in the diner.

To anyone watching him, he’d just look like a guy having a beer on a wintry evening after work. They’d be mistaken. Sig’s position as commander of security for North Pole, Incorporated, and by extension the town of Mistletoe, North Pole, meant a part of him was constantly vigilant.

He needed to be. With everything that had happened over the last few weeks and now the man behind the violence never making it to the Paranormal Correctional compound in Alaska. The airplane that had retrieved the man responsible had disappeared in an epic snow storm on Christmas Eve. Sig had been notified via email to be exercise cation until a PCC team could locate the crash scene and report back.

Sig lifted the bottle into the air, catching the eye of the tall, buxom blond waitress making the rounds with a coffee pot. She nodded her head at him before filling the mugs on the table she was standing next to. A pair of tight jeans and soft gray t-shirt hugged every curve of her body as she headed to Sig’s table. She could turn the heads of every man in the room. No one watched her as she worked the tables, knowing that Rudy would hand any man his head on a platter if they came on to her in any manner.

“Hey, Sig.” Kandy stopped next to the table and sit the coffee pot on it. “Need another brew?” She nodded her head to the nearly empty bottle in his hand. “Or something to eat?”

“Kandy.” He lifted the bottle to his mouth and drained it before smiling at her. “How’s Rudy doing?” Kandy’s mate, Rudy, had been attacked and injured a few days before Christmas Eve by Jackson Frost. The psychopath’s family had carried a long festering resentment against the Kringle family over the generations. In an attempt lure Christian Kringle to a deserted toy shop to kill him, Frost had kidnapped Christian’s new mate. Kandy’s smile wavered as she remembered and he saw pain flash through her eyes.

Kandy was silent for a few moments. “He’s fine. We’re both fine.” Sig had his doubts they were both fine but he didn’t comment. Rudy was a tough as nails ex SEAL who happened to be a reindeer shifter. He seen and done a lot over the years, so Sig wasn’t surprised to hear he was doing OK. But Kandy, she was human and it was tougher for her to put Rudy’s nearly dying and her best friend’s kidnapping behind her. “So,” Kandy’s smile had returned, maybe not as bright as it been before. “What can I bring you, Sig?”

“Ribeye, rare.” Sig didn’t need to see the menu to know what he wanted. “Baked potato, butter and sour cream on the side, and a large salad, no dressing.” He waited as she wrote it on her pad. “And another ale, please.”

“Sure thing,” Kandy looked at him. “Another Alaskan Winter? Or are you feeling… adventurous… tonight, big guy?” She grinned at him. Sig’s eyes narrowed in mock suspicion.

“Are flirting with me, Kandy?” He asked. He leaned closer to her. “Just what kind of adventure did you have in mind?” His voice was low and amused. Kandy turned a nice shade of pale pink but before she could speak, a booming voice bellowed from the kitchen. Even through he kept his voice low, he knew Rudy could hear him. Shifter hearing was beyond excellent.

“No flirting with my woman, Sig!” Sig looked over to the pass through behind the bar. Rudy was glowering at him and Kandy, a huge metal spoon clutched in one hand. Sig grinned as he fisted one hand, his middle finger offering Rudy a one finger salute. The place had grown quit, watching and listening to the exchange.

Both Kandy and Sig spoke at the same time.

“Can’t help it if she’d rather have an adventure with me then with you, old man.”

“Oh my god! Will you two stop it!” She was laughing now and within moments both Sig and Rudy were grinning. Soon laughter and chuckles filled the diner as people returned to what they had been doing.

“So, I’ll ask again,” Kandy challenged, “Feeling adventurous?”

Sig leaned back in his chair again and nodded. “Sure, what do you have?”

“A brand new dark ale, brewed just for the diner.” She eyed Sig. “Tomas has been dabbling in home brewing and came up one just for us. He’s called it Rudy’s Mistletoe Ale.”

“What’s it taste like?” Tomas was one NPI’s List Keepers. He’d been attacked the week before Christmas while transferring the Naughty and Nice lists to digital. Both lists had been stolen in a try to derail Christmas. Like all the paranormals attacked that week, he made a rapid recovery. Sig hadn’t known he was into home brewing through.

“It’s nutty with hints of candy cane and sugar plum.” Sig grimaced, it sounded cavity inducing. “Don’t look like that, Sig” Kandy swatted his shoulder with her order pad. “It’s not so sweet you can’t drink it. Like I said, it’s more nutty than sweet.” She peered at him expectantly.

“OK, OK,” he responded. “I’ll try one. But only for you, sweetheart.” He winked at her when a growl rumbled from the kitchen.

Kandy rolled her eyes before she turned on her heel and walked to the kitchen pass through, slapping Sig’s order onto the counter between the kitchen and the bar. Rudy looked up from the grill and made kissing noises in her direction. She sighed softly and did the same to him. He offered her cocky grin as he reached out one long arm and plucked the order up.

“Love you, babe.” He mouthed and she melted. This huge man owned her heart and it sent shivers of fear through her at the memory of how close she’d come to losing him.

“Love you always.” She murmured back before pulling up a bottle of Rudy’s Mistletoe Ale from the cooler and taking it back to Sig.

Sig looked at the bottle of dark, reddish ale that Kandy sit it in front of him. There was a picture of the diner on the label, with a reindeer paw print stamp in one corner. With a sigh, he picked it up and took a small sip. His eyes widened in astonishment. A full but delicate nutty flavor burst over his tongue, accompanied by minor notes of peppermint and sugar plum. “Damn,” he murmured. “Shit’s good.” He tilted the bottle up again and took a deeper drink.

It seemed that in no time, Kandy returned with his meal. She placed a wooden platter in front of him with a sizzling plate on it. The aroma of perfectly seared steak wafted around his head and his mouth started to water. Next to it was a huge, steaming potato with butter and sour cream in small ceramic tubs and a big green salad. Being a big guy, and a polar bear, he could pack away enormous volumes of food. Tonight, he’d gone for a lighter dinner. Another bottle of ale appeared in front of him.

“Thanks, Kandy.”

“Enjoy, Sig,” She smiled at him. “Let me know if you need anything else.” She strolled away and Sig picked up his knife and fork.

About half through his meal, the front door opened and a burst of freezing air swirled into the diner. He peered up from his plate and stiffened. The figure that entered pushed back the hood of her parka and dragged her ear muffs off, before removing her gloves. Sig’s eyes followed her hands as long, elegant fingers tugged her parka’s zipper down. So focused on the woman’s movements, his meal was forgotten. He stared as she slipped out of it up and hung it on a peg by the door before, with a smile, she waved at Kandy.

That smile had Sig’s inner polar bear roaring in his head, wanting out. Sig pushed hard at his bear, driving the animal back. He recognized what his bear wanted, he wanted the woman now walking toward the diner’s bar.

“Fuck,” He cursed under his breath. “Holly…” His bear grumbled when he said her name. She was the last person he needed to see right now.

Doctor Holly Rowen. Head of North Pole Inc. medical center and his mate. The mate that had his bear prowling and growling inside of him now.

The mate he’d left behind in the dry, gritty sands of Afghanistan.

Polar Shift – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Combat Outpost Khilagay, Afghanistan – 2011

It was December in Afghanistan and a faint dusting of snow blanketed the dirt of the outpost. But it was stifling in the tent housing the or, the heaters running at peak as the temperature outside dipped below freezing.

Faint Christmas music drifted in each time the or doors swung open to admit another casualty, transfer a patient to the neighboring recovery tent. Or when removing a body to the smaller tent set up as morgue.Just after breakfast a call came that the SEAL team assigned to the territory around the outpost had been ambushed in a small Afghan village. Three of the eight man squad were injured during the attack, as well as the young Afghan man… boy really… that served as interrupter for the team. More than a few of the friendly villagers had been hurt as well. Once the fighting ended, all the wounded had been evacuated back to the outpost for treatment.

Air Force Captain Holly Rowan’s forehead creased in concatenation as she focused on stopping the blood that spilled from the young Afghan man’s body. The organized chaos of the tent that served as the Forward Surgical Element (FSE) operating room barely registered as she worked. More of an irritation was the ever present flies that buzzed around her head and her patient. The Army nurse standing across from her shooed them away from the young man’s open wounds. A bead of sweat formed on her temple, gradually slipping down the side of her already damp face.

“Shit…” Blood splashed the front of her blue scrubs. “Get a clamp on that bleeder!” The medic next to her reached in and clamped it off.

“Got it, doc.” A soft southern drawl assured her.

“Vitals?” There was too much blood, too much damage. “Come on, kid…” Holly muttered behind her mask. “Don’t die on me…”

“Bp is seventy over forty, pulse irregular, respiration…” the nurse across from her broke off as a loud beep sound from the monitor. She shifted to glance at Holly. “We’ve lost him!”

“Shit…shit…shit….” Hands flying, Holly continued to work on the young man, “Hang more units of blood and bag him.” Her mind raced as it searched for a way to save this kid’s life. He’d been hanging out around the camp for the last two years, becoming a part of the daily existence in the dirt that was Combat Outpost Khilagay. The SEALs took him under their wing, giving him small tasks to do and errands to run before accepting him as a translator when meeting with the locals. Everyone in the camp seemed to adopt the bright, grinning young man. Aamir was only seventeen and she would not let him die.

Holly glanced up at the screaming monitor, seeing all the lines flat on it.

“No… no…” She hissed. “Come on… live damn it.” As if willing it to provide some hint of activity.

Nothing.

“I need more blood…” A hand settled on her shoulder.

“Enough.” Major Dawson, the post commander, spoke from behind her. “You can’t do anything further for him, Captain.” His tone was quiet but there was hint of steel in it. “We still have people that need our help.”

“It’s… it’s Aamir, Major.” He acknowledged her words with a slight squeeze of her shoulder.”I know, Holly.” Sorrow colored his voice, the use of her name offering his support. It was always hard to lose a patient, but when it was someone you considered a friend, the was so much harder.

Polar Shift – Chapter 2 Excerpt

Doctor Holly Rowan clutched at the armrests of the small commuter plane as it rocked side to side. The winds sweeping across the runway seemed to think the landing plane was a ping pong ball it could bounce around. Deadhorse, Alaska was flat and open to the winds that swept in from the arctic sea, making any landing hard. Flying wasn’t a problem for her. She had been in the Air Force and had flown in many different types of aircraft, and in all types of weather during her service.

But seeing the older, bright red Cessna 206H Stationair setting on the tarmac in Fairbanks, it’s single prop spinning, a fissure of dread had run through her. The plane looked dirty, battered and so… so small. Smaller than anything she’d ever flown on in her years in the Air Force.

The planed dipped to the left and her grip tightened to the point that her bluntly trimmed fingernails almost pierced the leather armrests. “Oh god… please just let us get on the ground in one piece.” A glance out of the window showed the plane just coming in over the end of the landing strip.

It rocked right for a second before leveling out. Holly released the breath she hadn’t even known she’d been holding as the plane touched down with some bumps and bounces. Once settled on the runway, it zipped toward a low roofed building midway down the tarmac. Holly pulled her cell phone from the large carry on bag she’d jammed under her seat and turned it on. She wanted to double check the information for last leg of her journey.

“Crap!” The plane made a bumpy right turn and her phone slipped through her fingers, thudding to the floor at her feet. Holly released a frustrated sigh and leaned forward to pick it up only to have it slide out of reach under her seat. “Shit!” She bit out and reached for buckle of the seatbelt that rested low across her hips. The plane was still moving but if she was careful…

“Excuse me?” The voice came from the seat behind her and she turned sideways in her seat, leaning over the arm rest to see a girl holding her phone. “I think you dropped this?”

“Thank you so much!” Holly took her phone back with a small smile. “I worried it would get stepped on, bouncing around like that.”

“Oh, no problem. I’m Jilly Rose.” The girl introduced herself with a bright grin that had Holly smiling for the first time since leaving Seattle. Jilly had boarded the small plane in Fairbanks, along with two men. The men had gotten off at Fort Yukon, leaving the two women to go on to Deadhorse.

“Holly Rowan.” Holly offered with a small smile. “Nice to meet you, Jilly Rose.” It had been a quiet flight from Fort Yukon to Deadhorse. Both women had been lost in their own thoughts while the pilot was busy flying the plane.

“Just Jilly will do.” There was a loud “click” from behind Holly as Jilly slid forward in her seat. “Only my mama calls me Jilly Rose.”

“Welcome to Deadhorse, Alaska.” The pilot, a grizzled old man of indiscriminate age, boomed from the open cockpit over the plane’s noise. “And let’s keep those seat belts buckled until we’ve stopped rolling, OK folks?” He paused. “That means you, Jilly Rose!” A loud sigh sounded from behind Holly, followed by an audible click.

Holly grasped the end of her seatbelt and tugged on it once, making sure it was snug across her hips. The terminal building grew bigger as the plane darted toward it not seeming to slow down at all. Holly braced herself, sure that the plane’s brakes didn’t work and they were going to crash through the building. At the last minute, the pilot jammed pedals to the floor and took a hard left, coming to an abrupt standstill ten feet from the low building. The propeller slowly came to a stop as the old pilot turned his seat to address his passengers.

“OK, folks, we’ll be on the ground about twenty minutes, long enough to take on fuel, then be back in the air to Barrow.” He turned the other way and shouldered the door next to his seat open and rushed around the plane to open the larger door. “This is your stop, Miss.” Holly took the hand he held out and stepped to the ground. She swayed as the solid ground seemed to rock for a moment under her feet before.

One gnarled hand of the old pilot wrapped around her arm, steadying her. “Are you alright, Miss?” Concern filled his voice and Holly looked at him, seeing that same concerned echoed in his eyes

“I’m fine,” She’d regained her equilibrium and smiled. “Everything just rocked for a second.”

“Yeah, that happens sometimes, when you’ve been cooped up for a while.”