your Signed copy today!
Barnes & Noble.com
An action thriller with a capital "T". You will enjoy and savor each page, as you are drawn into the chaos that engulfs James Ellis and Kathy Allison, as their new romance, and their very lives are challenged.
No. 1 EXCERPT FROM BOOK
The fear of life had replaced the joy of living as he scanned the dusty tavern.
“It’s worse than we imagined,” Bartok said with the same look of wariness on his face for the thousandth time. “What the church has not destroyed has been taken care of by the Templars.”
“I don’t understand. I was so sure. This can’t be happening.”
Bartok’s eyes were deep with pity. He slowly shook his head in dismay.
“You were always overly optimistic about the humans. Those of us who follow you shared that hope, but it was not to be. They are a very violent species, and our efforts have failed. There is nothing left to do but work for our own survival.”
Looking into those eyes, he realized Bartok spoke the truth. Decades of planning had fallen into chaos because of the greed and lust for power of these humans.
“Do not despair, Father Desmond,” he said soothingly. “The important thing now is to salvage what we can of our work and to make our way back to our homeland. The few scattered reports I have been receiving have all but stopped. I fear the worst.”
“I still don’t understand why the church would seek to destroy us. We have served them faithfully in our efforts to serve humanity. We shared with them many of the secrets of our people in that same effort.”
“You are forever naive, Father Desmond. The Templars have challenged the very foundations of the Church’s power. Anyone associated with them is now an enemy to be sought out and destroyed. We introduced the idea of the chivalric orders and the Knights Templar. In the minds of the Church hierarchy, we are one and the same.
“For the Knights Templar, we represent an untapped and uncontrolled source of power. The rumors already spread throughout the city that they are seeking anyone associated with our group. There have been stories of torture chambers—” He stopped; a look of distress on his face.
For long moments, they sat silently. Father Desmond’s eyes, however, were never at rest. They continued to scan the tavern for unusual activity. He was afraid. Gradually, his fear overcame his ability to ignore it. Reluctantly, he began to mimic Bartok’s motions and observe the people in the tavern. This was a remote place, on the fringes of the city of Jerusalem. It was unlikely the Templars had spread their search this far. Still…
“You have any idea how many of us are left, Bartok?”
Bartok paused a minute before answering. Something in the doorway to the tavern caught his interest. Turning to follow his gaze, Father Desmond noticed a shabbily dressed man, taking a seat in a darkened corner of the tavern. He said nothing as the owner came over, but simply waved him away and sat in silence. On any other day, his actions would not have aroused curiosity. Today, they evoked fear.
“I think it is time for us to leave, Father Desmond,” Bartok said quickly. “We cannot afford to tarry too long in one place. For all I know, you and I may be the last of our kind left alive in the city of Jerusalem.”
His words struck like a physical blow. For the first time, the impact of what was happening truly began to sink in. His species was being hunted by the humans he had worked so hard to help. Glancing at Bartok, his long, lean frame, blond hair, and blue eyes set him apart from most of the people in this region. The long facial features and his height were unusual for humans. In that same moment, he realized his flowing blond hair, blue eyes, and tall stature were calling out his difference as well. Where there was once dismissive indifference, now there was fervent belief.
As Bartok rose to leave the small table, Father Desmond hurried to join him. It was at that moment he noticed the man he had been watching had disappeared. Fear and dread began to spread in his mind. A furtive look toward Bartok revealed he had recognized the situation as well. They moved in unison toward the rear of the tavern…and escape.
“No matter what happens here, Father Desmond, we must get out of the city. The Templars have found out about the talisman you carry. They know it hides a secret, and they mean to possess it.”
No. 2 EXCERPT FROM BOOK
The sound of the aircraft engines was soothing in a way. For most of his adult life, James had spent a great deal of time on one type of aircraft or another. In his military career, it had been transport aircraft taking him to meetings or to intelligence evaluation sites. After the military, during his brief tenure as an attorney in private practice, he had traveled extensively across the state of Pennsylvania and the country to try cases. Now as the Director of International Contacts for DEVCON there was often travel to foreign countries to negotiate for the corporation. Despite all of his traveling, it was unusual for the government of the United States to make available a private Learjet for his use. He was not exactly sure what Stella had done to get the aircraft for him, nor was he sure he wanted to know. Instead of questioning the gift, he simply enjoyed it—it certainly beat traveling by commercial aircraft. The two military pilots in control of the craft had given them a picture-perfect takeoff and a smooth ride for the first hour of their journey. Content to leave the mundane issues of flying the aircraft in their hands, he settled back to catch up on some paperwork, but mostly to let his mind roam across the many pieces of the puzzle unfolding before him. He was lost in the paperwork in front of him and his own thoughts when a petite hand intruded into his world.
“If I didn’t know better, James, I might begin to feel you were trying to ignore me,” Kathy said as she took a seat beside him in the spacious cabin. “You’ve been as quiet as a tombstone all the way to the airport and for the last hour of the flight.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking up at her. “I didn’t mean to ignore you; it’s just that sometimes I get preoccupied with my work.”
“There’ll be plenty of time for work—and plenty of work, I’m sure, before this is all over. I was hoping to spend this time getting to know you better. After all, it’s not every day that a person saves my life twice. So tell me all about James Ellis.”
“There’s nothing much to tell, really. I served in the military as an intelligence analyst. Eventually, I resigned my commission, went to law school, and finally into private practice. I worked in that capacity until I took the position of Director of International Contacts for DEVCON. That’s the entire story.”
“The Reader’s Digest version, I see. I was hoping for a more detailed account of your existence.”
“As I said before, there’s not much to tell.”
“I can’t tell if you’re just being modest or are telling me to go away and leave you alone.”
He looked up into her face and saw that she was sincere in her comment. For a moment, he hesitated, unsure of what to do. He enjoyed her company immensely yet felt guilty and uncomfortable with her presence at the same time. Just as she was curious about him, he was desperately curious about her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m not very good at social chitchat, so why don’t you just ask questions and I’ll answer.”
To his surprise, she moved to ease his discomfort. She smiled at him, gently placing a hand on his. The touch of her skin and the warmth it generated confused him. He wanted the contact, but again the guilt pursued him. For the briefest moment, he thought about moving his hand, but did not.
“Okay,” she agreed, “I can do that. Let’s start by you telling me some of the things you like to do. We’ll take turns. You tell me about things you like, and then I’ll tell you about things which interest me.”
He smiled at her, trying to appear calmer than he actually was. These were the situations he dreaded. A million thoughts flooded his mind, and a million sensations went through his body. Fear and pain he could handle with ease, yet contact with the small and beautiful woman sitting next to him left him unsettled. Shaking himself mentally for acting like an addled schoolboy, he forced his mind to concentrate.
“Alright. I guess the one hobby I have is an interest in ancient documents. I have a small private collection, which has been added to with Bell’s help over the last year.”
“What kind of documents do you like to collect?”
“My primary interest is slavery and its impact on men of color and the larger society. More recently, Bell has been attempting to broaden my horizons. He started me looking at documents which helped structure modern languages in Europe. According to him, if you start at the beginning to understand where things came from, you have a better sense of where they’re going. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of material about the structure and origin of language in the modern world. I never realized how complex languages are. I used to think that it was nothing more than verbal representations of what we see in the world around us; I’m now beginning to understand it carries a sense of time, place, texture, culture, and an overall sense of group purpose. The way each civilization framed a specific word and brought it into being tells a great deal about the people of that civilization.
“The written language is a great deal more complex than the spoken word. It is one thing to be able to conceptualize verbally the meaning, intent, and feeling generated by an object; it is something else altogether to place that symbol in the proper context of the document to give it meaning and substance.”
He turned to face her and realized she had not said a word. When he looked into her face, the wonder and beauty he saw there caused him to pause. She sat carefully holding his hand in her lap and smiling as she listened to every word he spoke. For a moment, he felt a little foolish, lecturing the head of the archeology department of a major university about language. She probably knew more on the subject than he could ever hope to know, but there was no impatience or condescension in her demeanor. Her eyes and her smile waited patiently and gently for him.
“I didn’t mean to ramble,” he apologized. “I suppose you know all of this already?”
“Don’t be silly. I enjoyed listening to you talk. You’re very passionate about the things you believe.”
“Alright, now it’s my turn,” he managed to get out. “Tell me how a woman as beautiful as you has managed to stay unmarried.”
“That’s not fair, James. I didn’t ask you anything personal.”
“My understanding of the rules didn’t impose a limit on the questions in any way.”
They both began laughing and neither moved their hands from the other’s grasp.
“I think you’re cheating, but I’ll answer the question anyway. I’m divorced. I met Sharon’s father when I was a graduate student and he was just beginning his internship in medicine. I took a position as a research assistant to a professor at the university to help put him through school. When he graduated, I wanted to continue my own academic career, but he wanted a wife to further his career. He wanted a wife to attend the cocktail parties for board members and department heads of the hospital. I did the best I could to compromise with him, but he wasn’t interested in compromise.”
“Does he still live in Seattle?”
“No. He eventually took a job with a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. He seems to be very happy there. If I’m not mistaken, he should be getting remarried soon and starting a new family.”
“Is Sharon all right with that?”
For a moment, she sat looking at him strangely. He became afraid he may have overstepped his bounds and insulted her. He was about to apologize when she spoke.
“That is very sweet of you to be concerned for Sharon. Most men wouldn’t have given a thought to how the child would react.”
“I didn’t mean to be presumptuous. It just seemed—”
She placed one hand to his lips, motioning him into silence. He inhaled her fragrance. Their eyes locked in an embrace, and the world seemed to shrink until she became the focus of all that he knew and desired. He had no idea how long they sat that way before the steward cleared his throat from the entrance to the cabin. Reluctantly, they moved apart. It was several seconds before James could focus his senses on the man in the doorway.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Mr. Ellis, but there’s a transmission for you from Mrs. Davishar.”
“Thank you. Will you have the pilot put it through to the cabin?”
In those few seconds, the magical moment shattered. Kathy released his hand and moved away from him slightly. The break in contact was almost painful. He looked at her across the small distance, and it felt like a yawning chasm. She turned away from him and began to do her own paperwork. He wanted to reach out to her and renew the contact, but thought better of it. While he was still considering what to do, the phone on the cabin wall rang. Reluctantly, he moved to answer it.
“James,” Stella said, “I hope you’re enjoying the trip so far.”
“So far it’s been just fine.”
“Well, we got some more information for you to consider. Remember the man you killed near my cabin in the Cascades?”
“Yes,” he said as a flood of memories came to him. “Why?”
“Somebody just got around to finishing a DNA analysis on him. For some reason, the coroner didn’t think it was important once he found the anomalies in the two boys. He assumed the man’s body would show similar genetic manipulation. Well when he did finally complete the analysis, there was a surprise in store for him…and us.”
“What was it?”
“Apparently the man’s genetic structure was not cloned. However, we did find the genetic pattern for this individual has not existed for at least the last thirty thousand years. The man has an unusual mixture of the Homo erectus genes.”
“Hold on a minute, Stella; I want Professor Allison to hear this.”
James called the steward and asked him to transfer the call to the speakerphone at the table where he was working. As the man left to make the transfer, James moved over to the table near where Kathy sat, and beckoned her to join him at the speakerphone.
“What is it?” she asked, moving to join him at the table.
“Stella is on the line with information I think you should hear.”
At that moment, the speakerphone on the small table came to life.
“All right, Stella,” he said into the small speaker, “I’ve got Professor Allison here with me. Would you repeat the information you just gave me about the dead man?”
“Hello, Kathy. I hope the flight is going well for the two of you.”
“Yes,” she said in response. As she did so, a slight blush rose in her cheeks.
“As I was telling James, we finally got an autopsy report back on one of your assailants. The results were a little shocking. We had expected to find another cloned individual but what we got instead was a new mystery. Apparently, the dead man as genetic structure that has not existed on this planet for at least thirty thousand years. His genetic makeup has a strong content of Homo erectus genes.”
“Are you sure, Stella? That’s got to be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Homo erectus died out thousands of years ago. There are traits of their genes found in Asian and Indian populations, but nothing more.”
“Well, we’ve had the results checked three times: once by the FBI lab and twice by our own laboratory people here at DEVCON. They all match the coroner’s findings.”
“I’m speechless,” Kathy said looking up at James in confusion. “It’s as if the entire world has suddenly turned upside down.”
“What did Knowel have to say about these new findings?” James asked.
“Not much. He was just as surprised as Kathy. I think his exact words were, ‘someone in research circles has been withholding a great deal of information, and that’s just not cricket.’”
“I can certainly understand his frustration,” James said as he shook his head in consternation. “There are lots of pieces that don’t add up or make sense.”
“There’s nothing else to report from this end, so I’ll get out of the way and let the two of you get back to whatever you were doing.”
James cast a furtive look at Kathy and saw red in her cheeks. His gaze traveled from her to the open doorway leading out of the cabin to the steward’s compartment. In the back of his mind, he wondered if Stella had directed the man to keep an eye on them. He cast the thought aside as being unimportant. After all, he reasoned, they were adults. Besides whatever had started was long past with this new information.
As the phone went silent, they were both left with a great many things to consider. Kathy immediately called her department to find whatever information she could about Homo erectus and their genes existing in the present world. This new information had consumed her, and she was now lost in a new academic puzzle. James regretted the loss of her attention, even for a few minutes. But, before he reflected on it to long, he became absorbed by this new bit of information.
They worked in quiet corners for several hours until the steward brought food into them and insisted they eat. After the meal, the room grew quiet as they both drifted off to sleep.
He was awakened some time later by the wonderful fragrance of Kathy Allison. She had moved close to him and cradled her head on his shoulder. He did not stir, not wanting to disturb her or to break the contact. He was content to be near her. He didn’t remember how long he sat there; he was too busy enjoying it.
Sometime later on, the steward came in to inform them they were about to land at the NATO air base in Germany. Reluctantly, James awoke the sleeping damsel in preparation for the landing. Kathy smiled sweetly and rubbed her eyes with her delicate balled fists. He was so lost in watching her, the steward had to remind him to fasten his own seat belt.