Dark Tempest

Excerpt from alter ego Lena Christenson’s new romantic thriller, Dark Tempest.  All tempests are not storms.

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***

Belle was blind, trying to keep up with turns and the time between them by counting in her head.  She feared it was a failed enterprise.  It had been so easy on the television program she had seen.

They had been forced into a nondescript, white panel van before dawn broke.  “Why do all abductors use white panel vans…if I were the police, I would ban them.”  Hands ziplocked together in front, gagged and a cloth bag pulled over their heads, she had been unceremoniously dumped on her ass before having her feet roughly zip-tied by the gorilla named Teddy.

She felt changes in surfaces contacting the tires and tried not to think about what might await them at the end of their journey but couldn’t keep her fears at bay.  “Damn I lost count.”

“Could this be my last day on earth?”  Belle didn’t consider herself a religious person, a non-practicing Roman Catholic, but was spiritual, believing death was a pathway to something else.  She didn’t fear death…just dying hard.  Belle also knew that if things went from bad to worse, she would pray to Mother Mary to intercede on her behalf.  She could never understand why a loving God would allow the evil these three animals brought with them to exist.

“If they think I’m going down without a fight….” Belle considered her options…there weren’t many.  One woman with her hands tied against two armed men.  Poor odds at best but they weren’t going to get better.  “What about Phillipe’ and Erica?”  She had little hope for their help and believed the only way to save herself was to act alone if necessary…and act decisively.

The van slowed causing her to slide on the uncovered metal floor.  She noted the change in sound and heard the gravel as it was kicked up by the tires.  After a jolting ten minutes, a right turn was followed by slushing sounds of wet dirt and the bouncing associated with washboard rutted dirt roads.

She was suddenly thrown forward as the van came to a sliding stop.  A door opened and slammed; the side door rolled open.

“Be ready Belle.  You’ll never know when a chance will present itself.”

An opening presented itself almost immediately.  Violently pulled to the door, she felt her legs being released and immediately kicked out.  There was a solid jolt and the sound of someone’s breath exploding from their lungs followed by a loud splash.  Pulling the hood from her head she saw Teddy scrambling out of a blackwater canal.  Jumping down from the van she ran.  She didn’t know where she was going but there was a dirt road behind the van and that was where she was headed…until she ran headlong into the skinny man called Felix.  They went down in a tangle of arms and legs giving Teddy time to recover.

Trying to untangle herself from Felix with hands tied in front of her was a fruitless effort.  She felt wet fingers grabbing the back of her blouse and was pulled off the struggling man.

With swamp water cascading from his body, Teddy threw her on her back and straddled her.  His eyes were sharp points and the automatic in his hand huge, “You bitch I’m going to put a bullet tween your eyes just so you can see it comin’.”

Belle screamed in his face, “Well do it before your breath kills me.  Mouthwash, you freaks ever heard of it?”

Teddy slapped her hard across the mouth momentarily stunning her and bringing the coppery taste of blood.  Pulling back her feet, the attempt at kicking him was batted away as if she was a gnat.  Kneeling, Teddy grabbed the front of her blouse, ripping it to her waist.

Drawing back his fist to hit her again, Teddy felt a gun barrel behind his ear, “Get off her.  We need her.  I’m not going to tell you again.  I’ll shoot you before I have to face Moïse because you got dumped in the water and killed her.”

***

Felix thought, “Just drop the hammer and end this thing.  Call the cops, my boss, and set a trap for Moïse.  Everyone saved and Moïse in the bag…the problem was there was no phone service,” Felix had just looked.

Removing the gun Felix said, “Get off of her and let’s get them inside.”

Pointing it at Belle he added, “No more of your tomfoolery girl.  Teddy, get the other two and let’s get inside before some fool fisherman sees us.”

Teddy stood and brought his gun to bear on Felix, “If you ever point a gun at me you better pull the trigger.”  Slowly he lowered the gun, “Now get them inside and this time make sure her hands are tied behind her back.”

***

Belle saw the sun was barely above the eastern horizon.  “They had been on the road for an hour or so…maybe, who knew?”  A warped, silver-gray boardwalk connected the landing to a stilted house twenty-five to thirty yards on an island in the channel.  The house seemed to be equally ramshackle.

Pushing her between the shoulder blades Teddy snickered, “Pay attention, I’d hate for you to fall in.  Gator feedin’ time ain’t till this evenin’.”

Dark Tempest may be purchased or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19

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Dark Tempest

All tempests are not caused by climate.  Belle Beaudoin’s chance encounter with a man she hasn’t seen in fourteen years leads to a passionate romance.  She and Sawyer Ramsey’s second chance at love becomes complicated and perilous due to her ex-husband’s and his replacement wife’s involvement with a Gulf shore crime lord and his menacing lieutenant.  Their budding romance may not be allowed to bloom but may instead die in the dark waters around Bayou Adelaide.  The following excerpt is from Dark Tempest.

“Virgile Lagasse dressed like a dandy from an earlier era.  A light-colored, linen, three-piece suit was worn over a frilly silk shirt.  The matching vest was embossed with scenes of antelope at play.  A dark, string, bow tie, gold studs, and cufflinks completed his outfit.  His matching gambler’s hat and cane lay on the desktop.  Virgile could have been Big Daddy Pollitt from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Yancy Derringer of Fifty’s TV fame…except he was grossly overweight…more so than Burl Ives, the actor who played Big Daddy in the film, at his heaviest.  Three hundred and fifty pounds if an ounce, carried on a five-six frame.  He resembled a miniature Jabba the Hutt dressed for a cotillion.  Even his skin coloration was a bit green.

No one dared comment on his toad-like looks. As Big Daddy, Virgile Lagasse was one of the most powerful and feared men on the Gulf Coast …one of the most violent.  Unlike Big Daddy, he hadn’t acquired his power from the buying and selling of cotton, he had grown wealthy from the buying and selling of men’s vices.  Women and gambling were the bait, meant to capture men’s souls and he had hooked a big one, Phillipe’ Marcel Beaudoin.  All he had to do was land him and from his phone taps, it appeared Phillipe’ might jump into the boat on his own.

The Beaudoin family had been a thorn in Virgile’s side for years.  Not a big thorn but it didn’t matter.  Virgile hated any competition even if it was from an old-time moonshiner’s family.  He had purchased Phillipe’s gambling debt from the local loan shark, Fat Cherry LeBlanc.  Virgile wanted a monopoly on vice along the delta.  The weed and moonshine the Beaudoin family ran went hand in hand with gambling, women and heavier drugs.  Virgile would have the monopoly…along with the gambling debts Phillipe’ owed or Phillipe’ would have trouble walking without crutches…if at all.”

Don Miller’s nom de plume Lena Christenson creates a tale of romance and suspense with a touch of the erotic.  A second chance at love turns in to a fight for survival.  Dark Tempest may be purchased in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1081900407?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860 or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VL9S7CB

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A Candle in the Window….

 

“You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night….”

It’s been thirty-two years and the words to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” still resonates with memories when I hear it.  Memories of crazy older “kids” falling in love.  I heard the song this morning as I walked alone around the lake at Lookup.  Physically alone but not ever really alone.  I smiled thinking of the woman I married thirty-two years ago….  “The most interesting woman in the world” to hijack the words of a beer commercial.  My smile became broader as I thought of her.

“Oh, I can’t fight this feeling any longer and yet I’m still afraid to let it flow.  What started out this friendship has grown stronger.  I only wish I had the strength to let it show.”

I had no intention of getting married again.  I had no intention of falling into love again.  The previous memories were too painful…but Providence would intervene.   I had no intention of meeting my bride on top of a football stadium’s press box or later with an inflatable pumpkin perched upon her head.  Serendipity would intervene in the form of a hazel eyed, dark-haired sprite who would torment my thoughts, inappropriate thoughts because she was dating my roommate.  Destiny would intervene when they broke up.

“I tell myself that I can’t hold out forever, I said there is no reason for my fear, ’cause I feel so secure when we’re together….”

We go to family gatherings, get together with friends, the occasional party…I find myself close by…preferring to talk with her than anyone else…close enough to touch and whisper in her ear.  I’m not being snobbish, I would just rather talk to her.

I can’t comprehend her not being around, it’s as if she has been around forever.  “Dear God, please take us together or take me first….”

“And I can’t fight this feeling anymore, I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for.  It’s time to bring this ship into the shore and throw away the oars, forever.”

I did fight it…even after she and my roommate broke their ties.  Often my loyalty is misplaced, and I was never going to fall in love again.  We danced around the issue…maybe…maybe I danced around the issue.

We found ourselves at school and athletic functions, enjoying each other’s company.  She actually laughed at my stupid jokes.  I found her captivating, intoxicating and any other ‘ating’ one might think of except ‘dating.’  I couldn’t quite pull the trigger and ask her out…finally she tired of my dance and asked me out.  I’m slow but I’m not stupid.

She is my anchor and I am her storm-tossed, rudderless ship…except when we reverse our roles.

“My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you.  I’ve been running around in circles in my mind.”

We are more like leaves caught in a whirlwind…blown where ever our whims and chance send us.  I remember an early anniversary when we decided to drive to the coast the weekend after our June 29th. wedding celebration.  Our decision was an impulse masquerading as a great idea…a romantic idea.  I’m sure it was her idea.

As we rolled into Georgetown it dawned upon us the weekend after our wedding anniversary was the Fourth of July weekend.  There were no rooms in the inn and we weren’t Mary and Joseph.  Once again happenstance saved us in the form of the Chamber of Commerce.  One bed and breakfast with a room was available.  According to Otto von Bismarck, “A special Providence takes care of fools, drunkards, and the United States.”  I don’t know about the drunks and the US but for thirty-two years Providence has taken a liking to two fools in love.

I wish I had met her sooner…had fallen in love with her sooner…but then we weren’t the people we would become.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have been ready to “to crawl upon the floor, come crashing through (her) door.” Perhaps she wouldn’t have been ready to be my “candle in the window.”  No, I’ll keep things as they are.

Linda Gail, I love you and would do it all over again a thousand times.  To my best friend, my lover, my wife…mother of my beautiful, blind puppies, I love you.

Thanks to REO Speedwagon “Can’t Fight This Feeling”

Album: Wheels Are Turnin’

Released: 1984

Songwriter: Kevin Cronin

Recorded: August 1984

 

Don Miller’s author’s page https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B018IT38GM?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Image https://fineartamerica.com/featured/candles-in-the-window-michael-dohnalek.html

“Nom de Guerre” or “Nom de Plume”?  Whichever, it might have been a mistake.

 

Struggling writer…that’s me.  I really enjoy, metaphorically, taking pen in hand and putting my thoughts to paper.  Well, taking fingers to keyboard…I even have sounds imitating the old Royal I used in Mrs. Leopart’s typing class way back in the day.  Good thing I have a retirement to fall back on because while I am writing, I’m not selling…a thought, which caused my literary train to begin to run off my tracks.

A year or so ago, I decided I would use what had once been a fertile imagination to write historical fiction.  I wrote, I published, but I’m still not selling…much.  While I write for me, I WOULD like to sell occasionally just to know “There are people out there” and maybe that my writing ain’t that bad.  On a day I was feeling particularly vulnerable, I mentioned this to a friend and former student, Lynn Cooper.  She is also a writer…an author who began as a writer of children’s books and transitioned to erotic romance literature.

Erotic romance is not an easy subject to discuss with a former, female student…one I remember as a pretty, well put together brunette who sat in the front right of my classroom.  She was quite memorable.  I also haven’t seen her in twenty-five years so it’s all I have to go on.

I asked her, “You write quite well whatever your genre, but why the move to erotic literature?”

She answered simply, “I’m trying to make a living.”  Hum, it seems smut sells and hers is high-quality smut, well-written smut…it is actually well written, blazing hot romance literature. I admit  I have read her novellas…for educational value, wink, wink.

She suggested I might give it a try…writing romance.  “Maybe you should try to express your romantic side.”  I imagined her dark brown eyes, lashes fluttering…and a mocking grin on her face.

It was an interesting thought, one I almost immediately dismissed…almost dismissed.  Then I didn’t.  I wrote a contemporary romance with just a bit of…(gulp) eroticism.  A novella with not one but two sultry heroines, both of whom, I fell in love with.  A bit of adventure, a little of the paranormal and some  moments of “dirty mommy porn.”  Is that redundant? I was proud of my accomplishment…until my wife commented.  “What in the hell do you know about romance?”  I gotta do better on the home front.

Olivia sorta sold, a few here, a few there.  Some very good comments from those who read it until one reader pointed out, “An old, balding guy with a beard writing mommy porn?  Creepy.”  Was I creepy?  Please imagine a metallic rattle as my locomotive begins to derail.  I should have simply replied, “Creepy? You bought it.”

I will not be deterred!  If writing porn was good enough for Stephen King, it is good enough for me!  But I decided to create a nom de plume…nom de guerre…I don’t know which.  A pseudonym, an alter-ego.  BUT I HAD TO GO THE WHOLE HOG!  This was despite a suggestion of caution from my mentor, Lynn.  The rattles of my locomotive have been joined by bangs and clanks.

Why not create a whole new persona.?  One that is not creepy.  A young female, blond and beautiful.  A transplant from President Trump’s favorite country, Norway, now living somewhere on the Gulf Coast.  Lusty and sultry. herself, with cornsilk hair and sky blue eyes..its a completely fake author bio.  Maybe I am creepy.

I created social media pages…even an author’s page.  Remember, Don must devour the whole hog.  I  purchased the copyright for a picture of a sweet and pouty young woman to grace her different media sites and book covers.  I gave her a name.  Then I really went to work.  Rattle, rattle, bang, bang went the train.  I rewrote and rereleased Olivia under the name of Lena Christenson, my new pen name.   My new feminine side.

I HAVEN’T SOLD A COPY SINCE I DID IT!  “Hold her Newt, we’re headed for the pea patch.”

No, I haven’t sold a copy, but I have received three messages requesting “hook-ups” and today received a message from an Eastern European gentleman by the name of Yusif Tunar professing undying love and a proposal of matrimony…if I wire him airfare and traveling money.  The attached photograph shows he is quite dashing looking.  Dark and robust, six-pack abs covered in thick curly hair and Popeye forearms.  Biceps that can crack walnuts. What’s next? Penis pictures?  I don’t know whether to end the charade or “continue” to play them along.  Hum…If I play them along I may learn something.  Rattle, bang, crash!

If you are interested you can find Lena’s books at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19

If you are really interested in good “mommy porn”, you can find Lynn’s books at https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-Cooper-Writes-Romances-386005534933638/

Oh, I almost forgot. Don Miller’s books may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM. They are downloadable or available in paperback.

[Photo Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images]

HEAVEN IN A ’61 FORD FALL 1966

Bobbi Jo was sitting on the hood of my grandmother’s ’61 Ford. She had on her Trinity High cheerleading uniform. Shorter royal blue skirt with gold inserts, a white oxford shirt with a royal blue Block T letterman’s sweeter. White and blue saddle oxfords over white socks finished an ensemble recognized by cheerleaders everywhere in the fall of 1966.

“John Edward, do you have a date or are you meeting someone?”

“No I was just going to Brannon’s for something to eat.”

“Would you like company?”

Bobbi Jo must be between boyfriends. She tended to drift back into my life when she was in between boyfriends. I didn’t ask because I was afraid the answer would be yes. Instead I said, “Sure, why not.” She raised her hand above her head and waved. A Volkswagen Beetle fired up and sped away from the parking lot. Her father had waited making sure she had her ride. I helped her down off her perch and walked her around to the passenger side. After opening the door for her I tried, and failed, not to watch her skirt ride up as she slid in.

She sat on her side of the car. There seemed to be a gulf between us. In different times, she would have been tucked in close…maybe she would be there again…the hopes of a teenaged boy with raging hormones and so in love it hurt. I immediately regretted turning on the radio as I heard the Beach Boys lament, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, if we didn’t have to wait so long….”

“You are too pensive. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”

“Bobbi Jo, if you will start acting like the smart-ass Bobbi Jo I know, I’ll be fine. All this sudden care is confusing me. I feel like I’m tip toeing through a minefield anyway. I haven’t seen or heard from you in two months.” The radio and the Association reminded me that “cherish is a word I use to describe all the feelings I have hiding here for you inside….”

“Here you are back in my life again. Don’t get me wrong, I like you being here but I surely don’t understand you or us.”

I pulled into Brannon’s and rolled down my window for the curb hop who asked “For here or to go?” Bobbi Jo surprised me by saying, “Get some burgers and drinks to go, won’t you?”

Once our order had been filled I asked where she wanted to go and she smiled her Bobbi Jo smile, “Do I need to draw you a map. Think you can still find the way?” She also moved over to the center and encircled my arm with hers and rested her head on my shoulder. Her left breast was burning a wonderful hole through my right bicep. From the radio, Jackie Wilson sang, “Your love is lifting me higher….”

The way was a dirt road leading to a bluff overlooking the river, through a canopy of water oaks and on to the bottom lands across from Trinity. Next to the river, the oaks filled in tightly to create an almost impregnatable tangle except at a clearing used as a turn around. This was our destination. Bobbi Jo and I had spent many weekend evenings watching “submarine races” on this spot…slowly progressing around the bases that had until now ended at third.

“I am always amazed at how quiet it is out here and how it always seems to glow with its own light. Listen to the silence. It’s as beautiful as you Bobbi Jo. Maybe you’re where the glow comes from.”

“Romantic Devil! John Edward, I need to ask a question and if I don’t do it now I may not have the fortitude to do it later. Do you want to make love to me?”

I wondered if my chest might explode. Could she hear my heart? My heart beat was pounding in my ears, surely, she could hear it pounding in my chest.

Before I could answer she went on, “I know I have treated you badly at times. Terribly I guess. Can you forgive me? I always thought when I did it for the first time it would be with you. I’m not asking for any commitments. I just want to do it with someone I trust and love…even if it is in my own way.”

I knew I was smiling, I just hoped it wasn’t a goofy smile. “Bobbi Jo…I’ve always…loved you? I don’t know if it’s true love or forever love…I kind of doubt it considering our history. But as sure as that river is wet I want to make love to you.”

“Do you mind if the food gets cold?”

Excerpt from “Heaven in a ’61 Ford” You’ll have to wait a bit to read the conclusion. Spring, 2017.

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life, humor and Southern stories of a bygone time, try http://goo.gl/lomuQf