I’m especially pleased with this book. In 2009, I finished my NaNoWriMo novel, The Ninja Tattoo, early and got an idea for another book. I started on it Thanksgiving afternoon and finished it in four days. In addition to my NaNo novel, I wrote Checkmate, another 54,066 word novel. I’m pretty proud of that and I’m pretty proud of the book, too.
Dane Berry is a body building chess champion. He meets Milla Cochran on an elevator at a hotel where they are both staying. There is an immediate connection and they both know it’s a matter of timing before they get together. Unfortunately, right after that, things get crazy and there have already been a couple attempts on Dane’s life. With the help of the local police and a friendly FBI agent, Milla and Dane are trying to figure out who’s trying to kill him and why. This excerpt takes place right after Milla confesses, over the phone, that she’s ready to make love to Dane. Cam is one of his bodyguards.
Dane was in agony. Milla had just admitted to him that she wanted him to make love to her and he couldn’t act on it. Balling his pillow up, he threw it across the room.
“Dammit!” He tried to control his volume, but realized too late that he hadn’t.
There was a knock at the door. Cam peered around the edge of the door. “You okay?”
“My life sucks, if you hadn’t noticed.”
“Could be worse,” Cam said, stepping into the room. “You could be laid up in the hospital, or dead. Of the three choices, I think you’ve got the best one.”
“Yeah, you have a point. And I have the worst case of blue balls I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ve gone longer than this, what’s wrong with me?”
“You want the perfect woman and you can’t have her yet. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. Time to break out your two best friends,” he held up his hands. “Thing One and Thing Two. Open a bottle of Jim Beam and party.”
“You have a unique way of putting it.”
“It’s not a bad thing, you know. Lots of guys indulge on a regular basis.”
“Yeah, well. . . . Does it make me a pathetic loser?”
“No, man, cause it’s gonna happen. You’re only a pathetic loser if that’s the extent of your sex life and always has been. Look at Wronski, dude. He’s what, a year older than you?”
“Okay, so Wronski. He’s not even in the game anymore. Poor guy’s probably never been laid a single day in his life, and he’s playing solo soccer every night so his balls don’t turn to concrete.”
“Such a nice way of putting it. Thanks for reminding me why we don’t have heart to hearts very often.”
“Look, kid, I know you miss Grady. You and him have a connection that the rest of us don’t have. And that’s okay. It isn’t always good to get too close to the client. But I consider you like family. My advice, free of charge, whisk that girl off to a wedding chapel, have a nice meal, then go home and fuck all night.”
“Thanks, Cam. That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard.”
“Don’t get smart-assed, kid. It doesn’t suit you.”
“I’m serious, dammit. But what kind of a life am I inviting her into right now? Am I doing her a favor to marry the girl and leave her a widow? Could you?”
“No, Dane. I couldn’t and I know you can’t either. But this won’t last forever. Then you can take care of business. Get some sleep.”
“I’m gonna try.” Dane lay down, flinging an arm across his eyes.
Cam left, turning out the light and shutting the door behind him. Dane knew he and the others would sleep in shifts, having one awake at all times. He felt like a heel keeping them from a full night’s sleep.
“I swear,” he promised himself. “When this is over, we all go on vacation. They can go anywhere they want and I’m going to take Milla to the Bahamas or Puerto Rico, somewhere lush and tropical.” And fuck her brains out, his Id added with a leer.
Being careful not to yell again, he lay on his bed trying to sleep, but it eluded him. Attempting to bore himself to sleep, he reviewed chess moves in his mind. Picturing three different boards, he made moves and counter moves automatically, trying to stump himself.
Concentrating on one board, he started to see a pattern emerge that he hadn’t even considered before. He was playing white, the black taking on a menacing aspect in his mind. For some reason, his mind had applied faces to the pieces. He saw himself as the white knight. Milla’s face graced the white queen and his father’s the bishop. Across the board, glowering at him, Angus McInnis’ face was on the black king piece. The anonymous gunman was a rook. They were advancing slowly toward him, leaving him no place to retreat. The faces on the other pieces were hidden in shadow, but the face on the black queen kept flickering at him as if he should know something that escaped him. Sitting up, he broke out in a cold sweat.
“That’s it!” He couldn’t explain how he knew, but it was finally becoming clear.
Lying back down, he snuggled under the blankets, suddenly cold. This was why they were trying to kill him, he was sure. But how could he prove it? And how could he make anyone, even those closest to him, believe it? Allowing the chess pieces to make their moves, he watched the board carefully, formulating a strategy.
© Dellani Oakes 2015