I hope you’re enjoying your June, wherever you are, and staying safe from the new Delta variant of the virus. We are truly living through interesting times.
I’ve got an excerpt from Total Immersion, my upcoming release, for your reading pleasure, but first a quick reminder that the audiobooks of Campus Confidential and Permanent Position are both deeply discounted on Nook, Apple, and Google Play. They’re also in Nook’s Mystery & Thriller Indie Deals and Romance Indie Deals, so check those out before they expire at the end of June!
And if that’s not enough deals for you, check out the Thrillers for Free ebook giveaway on Bookfunnel!
And now for that promised excerpt. This is Chapter 10 of the story that I initially titled Summer Intensive but then later tentatively decided to call Total Immersion. Several of you have already weighed in, but if you have a preference for the title, let me know! It’s a long novella/short novel of about 45,000 words set over a single weekend in the summer following the end of Honor Court, book 5 in the Doctor Rowena Halley series.
I had a hard time finding a good excerpt, since pretty much the entire story is a massive spoiler for the cliffhanger at the end of Honor Court. But this chapter seemed safe enough. Well, actually, there is a bit of a spoiler, so proceed at your own risk 🙂
To set the scene, the action takes place in Monterey, CA, where Rowena is spending the summer teaching at the civilian language institute. She’s living with her boyfriend Alex, who works at the DLI, the military language institute there. But things are, as is so often the case, more fraught than they should be. Not only has their relationship hit a rocky patch, but someone has gone missing under alarming circumstances. Will they manage to resolve everything in time???…
Alex left, slamming the sticky door behind him so hard that the dishes rattled on the shelves. The front—and only—door to his apartment didn’t quite fit in the frame, so it required a good hard slam, and sometimes considerable shaking, jiggling, and prayers for mercy, to get it to shut enough to be able to shoot the deadbolt.
I shot the deadbolt. The door was still quivering in my hand. Alex must be even more worked up than I’d thought.
I went over to the kitchen/dining room table and sat down. What was that noise? The dishes—all two plates and two bowls that Alex owned—were still rattling on their shelves. Jeez. This place was even more ramshackle than I’d thought.
My legs were quivering. What was this? I was tired, sure, but I didn’t think I was this tired. Was I sick? What was that noise? Oh my God! Was I having aural hallucinations because I was having a stroke? No, wait. It was just a train…I wasn’t in Indiana. There weren’t any trains here…it must be a plane. We were right by Monterey Regional Airport. But planes didn’t make the ground shake like this…not unless they were about to crash right into you.
I looked up at the ceiling in terror, as if I could see right through it to the plane plummeting straight at my head. The table was shaking under my hand. It must be just outside the house…it didn’t sound like a plane.
The shaking and the deep rumbling I felt as much as heard stopped. I looked around in frantic confusion. Then I felt like an idiot. It had been an earthquake. Just an earthquake. The San Andreas fault ran through Monterey County, along with several smaller faults. By California standards, it wasn’t a particularly active fault zone, and the chances of half the town cracking off and falling into the bay were apparently small. But minor quakes weren’t uncommon. We’d already had one this summer. I just wasn’t used to them, and hadn’t thought this might be one. But it had to have been.
I brushed something off my face, then looked up again. Dust fell squarely into my eyes, sending me scurrying off to the bathroom to flush them out with cold water.
As I was bent over the sink, splashing my face with water, a soft paw reached out from behind the toilet and touched my ankle, making me shriek and jump, spraying water everywhere. I don’t know why. It was Fevronia, my tan long-haired rescue cat, whom I’d brought with me for the summer. Reaching out from hiding places and placing a paw on my ankle was one of her favorite hobbies. But it still made me leap like a gaffed salmon every time.
“I guess the earthquake didn’t freak you out too much,” I said, and reached down to pet her. Fevronia pinned back her ears, hissed at me, and darted off to the bedroom. At least she hadn’t drawn blood.
When I came back into the dining room, I saw that a small crack had opened up where the wall met the ceiling. Dust and bits of plasterboard were drifting down onto the table.
What do I do? Is the whole place about to come down around my ears? I watched the crack for a couple of minutes. It didn’t get any bigger, and after a while dust stopped floating down onto the table. We were probably safe enough. I’d point it out to Alex when he got back, and he’d probably notify the landlord, and the landlord would probably ignore it, and I’d be out of here by Sunday anyway and it wouldn’t be my problem. Meanwhile, I couldn’t use this as an excuse to get out of searching for Erin.
I wiped down the table. Then, unable to delay it any longer, I got out my phone and called Frank.
So there you have it! Stay tuned for more developments. I’m hoping to have the book available by the end of the summer.
Meanwhile, here are those links again: