At the recommendation of a friend on Facebook, I made a book cover into a poster! http://rlv.zcache.com/hands_of_time_poster-p2283036221336114188h7h_325.jpg
Princess Rashima isn’t what she seems. It took Wil longer to figure it out than usual. Does this mean something even more diabolical is going on than he thought?
Wil guided the horse with his knees, subtle and continuous, leading them gradually to the primary pick up point. Ben and the others should be there by now. Emory, Wallace and Freedrick had probably already been picked up and would be waiting for them. Now he was bringing in this Trojan horse, Rashima. Whoever she was, whatever organization she worked for, he hoped to discover before she could harm his people or screw up his mission.
She stopped the horse, sliding from the saddle to the ground. Wil held her blanket clamped in one lax hand, falling slightly from the horse’s back, sliding off to one side. She was too annoyed to notice him put one foot on the ground beside her and let his other leg slip down as he leaned on the horse for support.
A snap of her fingers brought him out of his pretend trance and he smiled down at her, leaning over to kiss her on the lips. For a moment, she pushed away, but he persisted and she gradually responded to his touch. His hold around her tightened, pressing his chest against her and he turned so she was between him and the horse’s side. A shift of his weight and she was well and truly caught.
Grabbing a handful of her long, dark hair, he took his mouth from hers, trailing his fingers down her neck, tracing the line of her breast. She stayed a moment more with her eyes closed, then realized the position she was in and the fact that he was obviously not under her control struck her. Ashen faced, she struggled to free herself. His smile faded, replaced by a mask like visage which had been known to intimidate even the hardiest of warriors. Rashima shrank away from him, terrified.
“Who do you work for, Rashima?” His hand gripped her brutally, fingers digging in, bruising her flesh.
“No one, I work for no one.”
“Oh, baby, you don’t lie well.”
His grip relaxed, his hands moved to her body, working their way around in subtle and provocative ways. He kissed her lips, her neck, her shoulder. He could feel her powers affecting him and fought for control.
“Don’t make me hurt you, Rashima. You are too beautiful to damage like that. Just tell me who you work for, I’ll let you go.” His lips brushed her ear.
“I don’t know,” she whispered, her head against his chest as if in defeat. The tenseness of her body belied her.
Despite his determination not to let her get to him, he was weakening. She was beautiful, she felt good against him, she smelled like fresh flowers and gentle breezes. He wanted her like he’d wanted no other woman in his life. She had to be his! His lips pressed hard against hers.
A warning sounded in his mind, some sense saw below the surface of what seemed so real. Someone said his name. Did he hear a voice? Yes! A woman was saying his name. It wasn’t Rashima. He felt lightheaded, intoxicated.
“Rashima,” his voice was hoarse with passion as he slipped her gown down from her breasts.
“Wil!” There was that damn woman again!
Lashing out, he found his arm pinned behind him, a knee placed firmly in between his legs from the rear, pressing up dangerously against his testicles.
Rashima was still sandwiched between him and the horse, her dark eyes glowing with a desperate passion. Rough hands grabbed her away from him, shoving her toward a waiting vehicle. Wil called out in anger and distress, trying to follow, but was held firmly. He saw Ishanti clip Rashima on the jaw as she shoved her into the car.
A few dreadful minutes passed as his head cleared, leaving a harsh ringing in his ears and a pounding headache. Penny held him more gently now, leading him to the front of the armored car, protecting his head as he ducked inside, falling onto the seat. Shoving his long legs over, she slid in beside him, putting the car in gear. In silence, they drove back to the waiting shuttle. Wil crawled like a child from the car, stumbled to the shuttle door and was hauled in by Ben and Emory.
“What do I do with her?” Ishanti’s voice sounded harsh.
Wil’s ears were ringing like a four alarm fire.
“She under? Tie the bitch up and throw her in the back. I want to question her when we get back to the ship,” Ben’s voice cut in.
“No,” this was Emory. “Kill her.”
“Kill her,” Emory said with finality.
A shot rang out, Wil heard a body drop, but he was too disoriented to care. He fell asleep in a heap on the floor.
Books make amazing gifts. They’re the kind of thing that keeps on giving since your loved one can return to them again and again. E-books make a marvelous last minute present. Below, I’ve gathered the websites of several of my author friends for you to visit and (I hope) purchase from. Other author friends, please put your links below in the comments.
My book, “Indian Summer”, is an historical romance set in St Augustine, Florida in 1739. It’s available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com and http://www.amazon.com The novel is available in E-book and Kindle form as well as printed form. My new sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf”, is coming soon form Second Wind. ~ Dellani
For William Beck’s great spy thrillers:
For the beautiful & moving Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey by Jon Magee
And Jon’s other amazing book, From Barren Rocks to Living Stones
For books by Bethany Warner
For the work of Olwyn Conrau
For the books & artwork of Mickey Hoffman
For the funny and poignant, My Bad Tequila by Rico Austin
For your copy of Activate Intuition by Jim Wawro
To find the work of Mark David Gerson
“From a Child’s Perception” is available at www.authorsden.com/annalfowler Anna Fowler
Susie Schecter http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lifetimes+ago&x=14&y=1
Susie’s website is http://www/. lifetimesago.com
Wow, an over abundance of dictators! Wil’s found not one, but two! Not only that, he’s also found another member of the royal family, a Princess named Rashima. She’s beautiful, clever and devious enough to drug Aurialonus. She helps Wil out of the palace. Despite her help, Wil still doesn’t trust her. But then, chances are good he wouldn’t trust his own mother.
Realizing this could be a clever trap, he followed cautiously, weapon drawn, silent as a cat on the thick carpets. Rashima stopped by an ornately carved door which she pushed open quietly. It swung inward revealing a naked, heavy set, old man asleep on a lavish four poster. He was drooling and snoring loudly.
“You could have killed him yourself,” Wil walked over to the bed, wondering what he was going to do with a naked old man.
“Yes, but then no one would have believed that he was dead when you discovered the imposter. I’ll help you carry him out. He’s disgusting, but we can wrap a sheet around his nakedness.” She grimaced slightly at the idea, handling the sheet delicately.
Wil roughly bound Aurialonus in the sheet and hoisted him casually over his shoulder. Turning, he saw the princess eyeing him speculatively.
“All men are not created equal,” she said, her eyes lingering on his tight glutes. “I saw him with disgust, but maybe some men are not so bad.”
Wil chuckled with a hint of rancor. “Princess, some of us are down right evil. You’d better get a robe, it’s cold.”
She grabbed a blanket off the bed. “There is no robe, my clothing is upstairs. This is the bridal suite.” She snorted in disgust. “As if I would marry such a pig!” She spat at the unconscious, fat man in disgust, then led the way through more doors, down passages and into a long, stone hallway.
The sounds of the destruction at the palace faded to nothing and noises of the night intruded themselves instead. Crickets, night birds, horses whickering. The stables! Wil suddenly was filled with hope that this mission would succeed.
“Princess, I could kiss you!” He walked to a nearby steed, dropping his burden over its back, tying Aurialonus’ hands and feet together under the belly.
She grinned, raising a speculative eyebrow. “I might let you.”
Wil laughed at her and she winked, swishing her blanket around her as he helped her onto a horse. Hopping up behind her, he took the reins of the other horse in his hand.
“Hold tight,” he told her, taking up the reins to his horse, clucking softly.
Wil took a moment to get his bearings and turned slightly east, heading toward the pick up point.
“Where are we going?”
“To meet up with your family.”
The Princess stiffened slightly, her back pressing against his chest. Her right hand dropped behind her, between his thighs.
“Oh, we do not have to do that right now, do we?”
Her hand continued to roam. The hairs on the back of Wil’s neck began to rise. His hackles were never wrong.
“Princess, how old is your little sister, Ambra, the one who was to be executed today?”
“Ambra? She is six, no seven.” Her hand moved rapidly, trying to arouse and distract him. He closed off his mind to her movements and sat straight in the saddle.
“When is her birthday?”
“Why does it matter? She just had a birthday, so I get confused. Now stop the horse, I beg you. The saddle is rubbing my bottom raw.”
He eased the horse to a standstill and Rashima turned slightly toward him, drawing his face to hers, pressing her breasts against his chest. He felt her hand reach for his gun belt, but he beat her to it.
“Nice try, Rashima. You had me going for a bit, but there is no Princess Ambra. You didn’t do your homework too well. Who sent you?”
She tried to hop down, but he caught her under the chin with his right hand, the left still holding the reins of the other horse. She spat at him, trying to claw his hand to free herself.
He saw fear in her dark eyes, but she had not given up. The timbre of her voice changed, her features softening as she tried her different tactics.
“Does it matter why I’m here? What matters is the two of us, nothing else.”
She stared directly into his eyes and the faintest glimmer of a warning flashed there. She was a telepath, a powerful one, and she was trying to unlock something in his mind. She dropped the phoney accent, her voice falling into the cadence of a hypnotist. Wil pretended to go along, relaxing against her, letting the reins dangle from his limp fingers.
Satisfied, Rashima took the reins to both horses, clucked her tongue and continued along the same heading they had been following before they stopped. Wil continued to lean against her, letting more and more of his weight push on her shoulder. Being over seven feet tall, he was a large and heavy man. She was not over five foot seven and slight of build. She tried to push him off her as they rode.
On this day in 1982, I became a mom for the first time. My beautiful baby girl, Kathryn, was born at 3:50 PM on December 17th.
She was a stubborn little thing even then. She didn’t want to breathe, so the doctor smacked her fanny. She let out a holler that shook the foundations of the hospital. This being back before they let family members in the room, we were in the chilly delivery room with our parents waiting down the hall.
Kathryn let out that screech and I heard my mother say, “I hear my grandchild!” I’ve teased her that she came out screaming and has been screaming ever since. A slight exaggeration, but it’s true that she’s never been shy. She’s always stood up for herself and faced adversity with a balled up fist and a vocabulary that could peel paint.
So, I want to wish her a Happy Birthday and let her know how much I love her. I don’t suppose any of us say those words often enough. I also want her, and everyone else, to know just how proud I am of her. She’s worked hard to get her biology degree and is back in school working on her degree in psychology.
It’s taken a long time, but that’s because she’s worked full time almost the entire time she’s been in college. Not only that, she gave us our first grandchild just over two years ago. Our beautiful baby girl had a beautiful baby girl in September of 2008.
I know I deviated from my monthly excerpt, but I’ll do that later. It was more important to say what was in my heart. I think we as authors sometimes are so busy with our literary emotions, we forget the real ones. It’s easy to set aside or even trample real life in an effort to get the words in our heads down. So, I set aside the pen & paper (or more accurately, the keyboard & screen) to wish my daughter
Having found Aurialonus, Wil and Ben have to get him to their extraction point and off planet. Now comes the fun part, getting out of the palace and back to the ship.
Aurialonus looked puzzled, then rose gradually from his chair, staggering against the wall. Ben grabbed him roughly by the elbow, forcing him ahead of him at gunpoint. Moving at a snail’s pace, the three men made their way back upstairs.
The people in the kitchen had woken up and were struggling against their bonds. Wil took their gags out, telling them to be still and he would free them. When the maid saw Aurialonus, she spat at him, making a rude gesture, recognizable in any language. Aurialonus seemed to fold in on himself, suddenly looking very old.
Dragging and shoving him roughly, Ben and Wil forced him to the ballroom and through the doors to the terrace. Shouting and gunfire greeted them. Dragging Aurialonus back inside, Wil swore loudly.
“The gas wore off, I can’t believe I forgot!”
Ben looked outside. “They’re coming this way,” he muttered urgently.
“Got any bright ideas?” Wil was furious with himself and he was taking it out on Ben. Both knew this, and let it slide.
“You’re the genius, I’m just a grunt. If you don’t get brilliant fast, we’re dead.”
“Back to the kitchen. Take him.” He shoved Aurialonus at Ben. “Get the servants out.”
“What are you doing?”
“Giving them a Krall cocktail.”
He shut and locked the doors, dashing for the king’s bedchamber as Ben half carried Aurialonus back to the kitchen.
In the darkened bedroom, Wil ducked through the doorway and dropped by Krall’s body. The Marine demo expert was covered in items of heavy destruction. Wil regretted his death, mostly because it was damn inconvenient. They could have used him now. The fact another human being was dead on the floor hardly fazed him. It might bother him later, right now he hadn’t the time.
Using his knife, he cut straps, stripping Krall of all his toys. With a wicked smile, he concocted a little surprise of his own design, grabbing items at random from the room. He made three bombs in less than a minute. The soldiers outside were finally organizing and planning to rush the castle doors.
Running across the hall, he found a room overlooking the terrace. Crawling out the door, he peeped through the balcony balustrade. Setting the timer on the first bomb, he hurled it over the edge.
As it exploded with a satisfying blast, he heard the howls of men being ripped apart. The second bomb followed the first, landing to the other side. Horrified shouts reached his ears as the men below tried to figure out where the shower of death was coming from.
The third present was a little different, full of all manner of debris from the bedroom. It also had a special ingredient Krall had fondly called joy juice. It was Krall’s own concoction and similar to nitroglycerine, only less unstable and more volatile. This he dropped right over the edge of the balcony on the lip of the terrace where the men were attempting to enter the ballroom.
Flinging himself back into the bedroom, he flattened himself on the far side of the bed, hands over his ears. He saw the flash of the explosion before the kaboom rocked the palace. Pandemonium and panic reigned as the soldiers all tried to run away at once, knocking one another down and trampling each other.
Taking further advantage of this disorganization, Wil slipped out to the balcony once more, unslinging his weapon. He opened fire on the chaos on the lawn. Bullets flew from his weapon, laying down a veil of lead and explosive pellets.
Howling like a Civil War Rebel, he hurled smoke bombs, grenades. One last blast from his weapon and he heard it click on an empty magazine. Grabbing up Krall’s and Bennett’s guns, he ran full speed down the stairs and slid down the bannister the last few feet.
Behind him, he heard the blasts on the ballroom door as the soldiers finally entered the palace. More screams, howls and curses followed. Wil trotted leisurely to the front door, checking Krall’s weapon, satisfied it had a full clip. He sauntered to the door and froze. Not dogs this time or soldiers, but a very beautiful, dark haired woman in a filmy, white nightgown was pointing a very lethal looking weapon at his balls.
“Who are you?” She demanded as all hell broke loose behind him.
It was only a matter of moments before the soldiers made their way into the main palace.
“Who are you?” He repeated, hoping to distract her. It didn’t work.
“Why are you here? Have you come for Aurialonus?”
His silence confirmed this.
“Thank God!” She put the safety back on the weapon and lowered it.
“Come this way, quickly!”
Wil trotted after her. “Who are you?”
“Princess Rashima,” she said over her shoulder as she ran. “I was to be tonight’s prize, but he could not manage it.” She took the gun, holding it in one hand, letting the tip drop limply. Wil chuckled.
“It might have been the drug I put in his tea.” She shrugged. “Hurry, while he still sleeps.”
“But we got him already,” Wil remarked.
She raised an eyebrow, glancing over her shoulder.
“You got his double, which you would have discovered as soon as you began to interrogate him. Then it would have been too late. Come.” She gestured urgently.
The royal family has been rescued, so half the job is done. Now, Wil needs to find the raving lunatic, Aurialonous. Leaving the others to convey the king and his family to safety, they go in search of the dictator.
At the kitchen on the ground floor, they found the people Wil and Emory had gassed earlier. A cook, maid and butler sat at the table, out cold. Two guards had collapsed by the door. They left the servants tied up and gagged, but killed the guards.
A narrow stone stairway spiraled downward. It led to the servant’s quarters and wine cellar. Chances were good if there were a bolt hole for the King, it would be down here. It was the most defensible place in the palace.
Switching to infrared, Wil surveyed the cellar walls with care. They were thick, solidly built, probably part of the original structure dating back several hundred years. Cursing silently, he accessed the map once more and headed for the wine cellar first. It was to their right, down a damp, sloping tunnel, smelling of niter and mildew.
A systematic check of the area didn’t disclose any hidden mechanisms. Even the racks of wine bottles were built into the walls, hewn from the stone face of the bedrock. Wil examined it all with his cybereye, looking for the hint of a seam. The wine cellar was a dead end. Frustrated, they retraced their steps.
A long, dark hall continued in front of them, doors on either side, servants quarters. Wil switched again to infrared, stopping and scanning each room as they went down the hall. All of them there were empty.
Three doors from the end of the hall, Wil hesitated. He couldn’t see anything through the door, meaning it was shielded. This door was securely set in the wall and bolted inside. Wil figured a little plastique would do the trick to open it. He wasn’t an expert like Krall, but he could make something crudely effective. He set the charges and they took safe positions down the hall from the door, blowing it with a remote.
The explosives made a muffled thump, the door flying inward in pieces. Nothing happened. Moving quickly and silently, they cautiously picked their way into the room. Two men lay dead, killed by the impact of the door. Neither was Aurialonus.
On the wall behind the dead men, Wil saw the barest hint of a seam in the brick. It ran along the lines of the mortar, but little was hidden from his cybereye. He and Ben began a thorough search of the room looking for the control mechanism to open the door. Wil was ready to blow out another section of wall, but Ben had an idea.
“Could it be a voice code?”
“Hell if I know.”
“I’m guessing a password. Think about it, a command attuned to a particular voice could be risky. But a password, anyone can say and it will open right up. I mean, considering how lax the security has been so far, why not?”
Wil chuckled, he had to admit, twisted as it was, the idea was logical. A frown replaced the smile. “We’re no closer than we were then, we don’t know the password.”
“Something easy to remember. Something about the family, a pet, even the name of the city?”
“Gundesburg,” Wil spoke clearly and loudly.
Nothing happened. The names of all the royal family did nothing either. Five minutes guessing and they were out of ideas.
“Damn Aurialonus anyway!” Wil grumbled. A click sounded and a hiss of escaping air. “You’ve got to be kidding!”
He and Ben took defensive positions, waiting. The door eased open and inside they saw the crumpled form of the petty dictator.
“You suppose the shock of the explosion killed him?” Wil asked.
Ben shook his head, stepping carefully toward the man seated on a hard wooden chair.
“No, he’s breathing. Sound may have stunned him.”
Wil nudged the inert form with the tip of his gun. The man stirred slightly, mumbled and slowly opened his eyes. Their guns came up and he raised his hands in surrender.
“It’s over,” Wil said harshly in the native tongue of Starflatz. “Get up.”