Wednesday, October 2, 2019
#BookQW word is LONG. Read an excerpt from #Tirgearr Publishing's #Free on KU, Bittersweet Alliance!
Welcome to Book Quote Wednesday and an excerpt with the featured word, LONG. When things go wrong with a couple in love, can time and experiences fix their resentment? Jolene and Danker are working a new case together. They're mature enough to form a professional alliance, but will it be bittersweet? Excerpt from Bittersweet Alliance below:
Seven long years since their breakup, Jolene Kualoha spotted Danker Donahue, ambling from the parking lot toward the store. She recognized him by his height and long gait. Wind from the north ruffled his hair and brought a bone-biting chill to her heart. Nuts, here he was, ducking his head to miss the bell overhead. It tinkled, and a strange twisting sensation hit her in the stomach.
This happened at the Kalua-Kona Food Emporium on a Sunday morning in July. She stared from where she stood near the avocados. His dangerous edge drew her in, but she turned her back to him. Her body reverberated like when her cellphone was on vibrate in her pocket. Stunned with minor electric shock, she froze. Maybe he wouldn’t see her. Wouldn’t recognize the back of her head or the once familiar shape of her ass.
Was someone waiting for him in the parking lot? Someone like Louella, the baby’s momma who’d summoned him for an immediate DNA test? For a split second she craned her head around but didn’t see her with him.
She and Danker were a couple when the test confirmed his fatherhood. Her heart ached at the memory. Love hurt, but that wasn’t all. Loneliness hurt. Losing someone hurt. Decision-making hurt when you force yourself to do the right thing.
She’d pulled away, giving him space to work on his previous relationship for the sake of their child. The most shameful thing a woman can do is take parents away from a baby, and this began her year of stubborn steadfastness.
I did the breakup rituals. Got the dramatic haircut. Engraved a piece of jewelry he got me with a new message. Deleted the photos that made me cry.
To have been his woman was like living where the air flowered with jasmine, and the weather day after day was flawless, but the forecast was a hurricane.
Older didn’t mean wiser. All this time she’d dreaded running into him, sometimes dressing in expectation of it. If she did see him again, she wanted to look good. Today she looked like crap, but what did it matter? His reason for being on the Big Island had nothing to do with her, not in a personal way. Tomorrow they’d meet at the FBI field office to collaborate on a serial kidnapping case. She’d wear a sleeveless linen dress, open-toed pumps, and bring the accordion file full of notes and newspaper clippings she’d gathered.
The perpetrator targeted wealthy Hawaiians with social capital, the kind of people seen on television or featured in newspapers when they donated money to charities. The latest missing person, Pua Iona, owned Iona Hawaiian Rugs and was an acquaintance of hers. Not that they shared the same social strata, but they’d volunteered together at an artisans’ market to boost Hawaiian crafts. After Pua went missing and fit the criminal’s modus operandi, Mayor Billy Kim, frustrated with police progress, contacted Jolene’s former boss from California, FBI Agent Gary Guhleman, cowboyish in dress but wise in judgement.
Guhleman didn’t need to tell her Hawaiians resisted outside intrusions. “You know everyone,” he’d said. “Witnesses will share what they know.” The agent and his wife had retired, rather semi-retired, here in Kona. Soon after she and Guhleman had spoken, he called in Danker Donahue to consult. “You remember him, right?”
“Gosh, let me think.” She and Danker went hot and heavy after the Long Beach case that ended with the arrest of mobster Seamus McGinn.
Just then Danker spoke to someone with his rich Midwestern drawl, typical of California transplants. It was the first time she’d heard his voice in seven years after hearing it every day for ten months. She hardened like a turtle on a rock except for a slight turn of her head. He removed an earbud from his right ear and placed it in a protective case.
His longer dark hair, broad shoulders, and square jaw evoked an intense mix of emotions. A car crash of desire. There was nothing more frightening than desiring a freefall. It wasn’t just the sex. Her heart had burst with happiness making
her believe love conquers all. It hadn’t.
In profile, the skin of his face was not as smooth. His craggier appearance reflected who he was, a loner with little concern about his well-being. The work he’d chosen reinforced his inclination toward secretive and wary, trusting few people.
She sighed at his
beautiful elegance. So
beautiful in a manly way, and he was once was hers.
She’d let him go.
No, she’d pushed him away and cut all ties. The right thing to do was the hardest thing. She expected Danker to be different, not just older but still having an immensely handsome face. Worst case, with the risks he took, she expected he’d be dead. What she saw was what she’d hoped for. Alive. Succeeding as a top investigator called on by the FBI. She also hoped he’d found happiness with the child he’d fathered.
He was looking around for whatever it was he came for.
Her hands trembled, and she turned back toward the produce rack. She ran her hand over dark and shiny avocados, distracted with their various shades of green and texture due to degrees of ripeness. She placed several in her shopping basket next to a ready-made beet salad with goat cheeses and a shortbread cookie for being good about getting the salad. When she moved the handles to the crook of her elbow, the basket wobbled from her nervous freaking.
Earlier she’d exchanged niceties with a couple of surfer buddies, but they faded into the background. Her awareness went only to him, his broad shoulders and chest.
He meandered toward an end-aisle coffee display. After speaking to the store manager, they headed off.
She couldn’t see them but heard him right across the store. If only she hadn’t stopped here on her way home from the beach. She shifted her weight and gazed down to her knee-length sarong. Should she flounce over to him in this faded pink and teal rag with sand in her hair and ask, “Buying coffee today?” That lame question fit if her heart rejoiced at hearing his voice but didn’t if it sorrowed with anger. She needed more than a split second to come up with something smooth on the surface but then, if he thought about it later, her cutting words would drip blood.
It didn’t make sense to bolt, and her wish to be glib faded. She had no food at home except for wilted spinach and baby carrots. She shopped for food when necessary even though she liked to cook. Cooking for one reminded her she was just that. One. Singular, alone, and she wasn’t the type to concoct a delicious meal just for herself while sipping wine in her kitchen overlooking the surf with candles burning and then serve her meal on gorgeous stoneware. Why waste energy when she could pick up a freshly made salad and eat it out of its plastic container? Then she’d read a book or maybe phone her parents whom she supported in Honolulu. Eventually she’d go to bed. Alone. The good part was waking up the next morning and flying a helicopter for tourists bent on viewing the erupting volcano.
An experienced pilot, thanks to military training, she narrated while flying guests over the most awesome terrain and geological features in the world. Fire and Ice Tours did it all with views from rainforest to desert, active volcanoes spilling over the shore, sea cliffs and valleys, ancient ruins, and historic towns. She showed off the Big Island with the pride of a local.
Often on her drive from the company’s helicopter pads near the airport to home, she’d envision ways to change up her routine. She envisioned more evening walks or going to those Pilates classes at a studio just down her street, but mostly she liked to surf.
A few times she’d set up girls’ nights out with friends and had put on a pretty dress. They’d hit the swanky bars along Ali’i Drive. Seeing a man look at her made her smile, talk, and even accept a date if he asked. Going on that date sparked comparisons. Comparisons with him.
She’d rehearse the sad things, the reproachful things, the angry things she hadn’t said. The words of anguish and disappointment. The unspoken words of fury over their situation. But now in Kona-Kalua Emporium she was mute. She wanted to rest her head against a refrigerator door and cry. Cry forever. She could begin crying right here by the avocados. Her eyes might wander as they blurred, over the dried nectarines and chocolate-covered ginger slices. She observed fancy chutneys and honeys in their square jars. She winced at their unique design implying privilege. Her acquaintance, Pua Iona, was privileged but now missing as if a silent spider dropped down from a web for all the notice he gave.
What kind of problem did Pua face, hour by hour? Jolene jolted from self-absorption. How frivolous to be nervous about meeting Danker Donahue while looking ratty. She had a job to do, serving as a local coordinator while Danker partnered with agent Gary Guhleman.
Jolene squared her shoulders, strode in the direction of the coffee aisle, and peered around the corner. He wore the T-shirt when they were sky-high in California. Her stomach turned over and over like a chopper spinning in a nosedive.
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