Lydia knew the woman was looking for her. The woman did not look like the type of person who typically paid for Lydia’s services, which meant more work for less pay or the possibility of pro bono work. On the plus side, Lydia didn’t need the money for rent or food, but on the other side, the Houdini Challenge was in a month and she didn’t want to take a job which would interfere with her plans to compete in that.
The bartender kept shaking his head, but the woman persisted. Finally, the woman managed to convince the bartender of her need, or he decided he wasn’t getting paid enough to be harassed, he pointed to the booth where Lydia was sitting. The woman left the bar and approached.
“Lydia Sumerton?” the woman asked once she was standing beside the booth.
“Maybe,” Lydia replied, “Why?”
“My name is Elizabeth James,” the woman moved her hand as if she was wondering whether she should hold it out to shake, “I need your help.”
“I don’t offer help,” Lydia said, “I am paid for my services.”
“Tyler Durand sent me to you,” Elizabeth twisted her fingers, “He said you would help me if I offered to pay you for your services. I don’t have much, but I will pay you what I can.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for a very long minute as Elizabeth continued to twist her fingers.
“How do you know Tyler Durand?” Lydia asked.
“We went to school together,” Elizabeth answered, “We have kept in touch over the years. When I told him my situation, he suggested I come to you.”
Lydia studied Elizabeth for another minute before nodding toward the vacant side of the booth. Elizabeth sat down quickly as if she was scared Lydia might change her mind.
“What are you looking for exactly?” Lydia took out her notebook, sipped her drink, and waited for Elizabeth to start. Elizabeth hesitated as she took a deep breath and readied herself.
“My baby has been stolen,” Elizabeth said, “And I need to get her back.”
“This sounds like a job for the police,” Lydia said.
“I filed a report and they have been working on it,” Elizabeth said, “But months have gone by without them finding anything. The more time it takes to investigate the case the less time and energy they have to put into it.”
“And you think I can help?” Lydia asked, “I am not in law enforcement or any other profession, which would be useful to your situation. There are plenty of agencies around who can help you.
“I have been to many of them,” Elizabeth said, “And they try, but really they can’t help.”
“So, why me?” Lydia asked.
“Tyler said you are a thief,” Elizabeth answered, “Which means you can go places and get information unavailable to the public. You can find out what happened to my child.”
“I’m an independent contractor with certain moral ambiguity,” Lydia said, “But I don’t think that will help you much.”
“No one else has been able to help me,” Elizabeth’s voice caught in her throat and she took a deep breath before continuing, “I promise to pay you for your time.”
Lydia was quiet and sipped her drink. Elizabeth clasped her upper arms and waited. Occasionally she would let out the breath she was holding. Lydia waved down the server for another drink and did not speak until it arrived.
“Tell me what happened.”
For my creative writing course I wrote a novel. I have no memory of where the idea for the story came from. I was looking for something to write on just after News Years and that means going through the documents on my computer until I find one I can continue. The first class of the semester the teacher said we were expected to submit five pieces for critiquing, the same as last semester, but this time we could choose our genre. We could submit poems, short stories, scenes from a script, pieces of a novel, and even pages from a graphic novel. Being a novelist the choice was easy for me and even better I was working on a novel.
The first piece I had finished because it was already written and waiting for me. This worked well because I was sick the first week of classes and having troubles getting anything done. The second piece came easy. Then suddenly I couldn’t concentrate on anything else as my mind was caught up in the story. This caused a slight problem with getting other things done, but I passed all my classes. I finished writing it during reading break and parts of the rest of the semester editing it as I received the comments from my classmates on how I could improve things.
Now thanks to my creative writing course I have a new novel out. A Thief in Search of a Baby is available for sale on Amazon.
As of today my western is available for sale. Physical copies are available from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Chenarcor-The-Adventures-Alex-Toby/dp/1927507065/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380942983&sr=8-1&keywords=Chenarcor) and Create Space (https://www.createspace.com/3827419). E-books are available through Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/364400). Here is a small sample from the beginning of Chenarcor: The Adventures of Alex and Toby:
It was late in the afternoon, but my head was still pounding from whatever this man had been pouring down my throat last night. Jacob Wescott was seated across the table from me and busy telling me about the deal we had struck last night. I remember him as one of the players when I joined the poker game, but after that I barely remember winning that last hand. The job we agreed to do together, I don’t remember. Now he was going on about a third man that was would join us. He was so into what he was talking about that he hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t listening.
He looked like a gunslinger. The softer hands, the hat pulled low, the gun in the holster on his hip. The job was to guard someone, which was the type of job a gunslinger would take. But Jacob’s brown eyes said that he wasn’t a gunslinger. My guess is that he’d shoot if you gave him a reason, but it had to be a good reason.
I had left the farm to become a gunslinger and had hoped to get a job as such. Jacob didn’t seem to be quite what I was looking for. However, I thought I’d go along with the job because the trip this far had drained my money down to the point of not having enough for a hotel.
We both jumped when the kitchen door banged shut. I looked up to see a man dressed like a gunslinger with jeans, black jacket and black hat. His gun sat in the holster that rested snuggly on his hips in easy reach. He was a foot shorter than me and skinny but I wouldn’t bet that he couldn’t handle himself. By the looks of him he had just ridden into town.
“Alex,” Jacob was surprised.
“You were expectin’ Nadine?” Alex asked. There was no humour in the question.
“Alex Turner, Toby Lawton,” Jacob introduced us. Alex offered his hand and I shook it. His handshake was firm and his green eyes were muddy. I noticed several scars along his throat.
We all sat down, Alex taking the chair at one end of the table.
“You said somethin’ ‘bout a job,” Alex said to Jacob. Alex took his hat off and ran his fingers through his short, brown hair.
“Guard duty,” Jacob said, “A man wants three guards to escort him an’ his wife from here to Dustcloud.”
“Very specific instructions,” Alex said.
“It sounds like he’s done this before,” Jacob replied.
“When’s this s’posed to happen?” Alex asked.
“Tomorrow mornin’,” Jacob answered, “Probably not too early. He said he’d pay fifteen hundred at the start and end of the journey.”
“You got time an’ place tomorrow?” I asked. Jacob frowned as if he didn’t like the question.
“I was goin’ to confirm those details today,” Jacob answered.
“It’s getting’ kinda late in the day, maybe you should be getting’ those details soon,” Alex suggested, “This man might’ve hired someone else for the job.”
“I’ll go now,” Jacob said as he stood up. He put his coat on and stomped out of the house. Alex turned to me; it felt like he was studying me.
“How’d Jacob talk you into this job?” Alex asked.
“I was drunk,” I answered. A light that looked like it should have been accompanied by laughter flickered in those green eyes, then it was gone.
“Sounds about right,” Alex said, “Jacob will do practically anythin’ to get his own way once an idea gets into his head.”
“What about you?” I asked.
“He helped me out a couple years ago an’ every time I’ve tried to say no since he reminds me of it,” Alex answered, “Someday it won’t work.”
“You’ve been doin’ this kind of work long?” I asked.
“Three years,” Alex answered, “Seems longer when you’re on the move. I’m guessin’ you were a farmer ‘fore you headed out on your own.”
“If you listen to my father I still am a farmer,” I replied.
“Ever plan on goin’ back?” Alex asked.
“Only if I’m the only one left to claim the land,” I answered, “My father, brother an’ brother-in-law are workin’ the farm. They don’t need another mouth to feed.”