Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Pen Pals with Ryan Jo Summers


            Darby Adams has a full life between her ten-age son and running a Bed & Breakfast. One morning she discovers the body of a murdered guest upstairs and suddenly her home and business is turned into a crime scene. Now she is the sheriff’s number one suspect. With her life spinning out of control, she desperately needs a friend.
            The surviving family wants to make sure Darby fully pays for her crime. So they hire new-in-town Private Investigator Sam Golden to get all the goods on her. He begins his case in the guise of being Darby’s new friend. Between dodging disasters and riding out calamities, Darby begins to see a future with Sam and herself. And Sam has to rethink his opinions of her guilt or innocence. Then the fateful day comes that he must confesses his dual role to her, tearing her heart out and destroying any chance at their developing romance.
            When a larger, more serious danger threatens to destroy them all, Darby knows she has to trust his police instincts once more. However, she isn’t so sure she can trust him with her heart again. 

“I am so sorry about all this fuss,” Tilly Mae apologized for the twentieth time. “If I had known you were planning to leave, I would not have come. I feel just terrible.”
Darby painted on another smile before turning around, hoping the thin thread on her composure held. By the time Tilly Mae had risen from her nap, Darby's tears were all dried. She had hoped to hide her situation from her guest but it hadn't taken the girl long to figure it all out. At first Darby had been amazed at her intuitiveness. Now she just wanted to get away. Nerves stretched taunt, she felt torn between her duties as an innkeeper and her feelings as a woman betrayed.
“Tilly Mae, please don't be sorry,” she repeated for the twentieth time, her smile starting to hurt her face. “You are my guest here and that's all there is to it. Don't worry yourself over other things.”
Darby eyed Tilly Mae, just knowing she had to be trying to read her mind, wondering at her sincerity. There could be no other thought behind her strained expression. There was no doubt her expression mirrored Tilly Mae’s. Silently, they both acknowledged knew only Sam responsible for their current situations.
Finally, mustering a real smile, Darby patted the girl's arm. “Honey, you just worry about yourself and the little one. I'll take care of everything else.”
“What about Sam?”
Starting to walk away, Darby stopped short, her heart involuntarily twisting at the mention of his name. “What about him?” she asked softly, beyond the pressure constricting her.
Tilly Mae's silence finally coaxed Darby to turn back around. The look on the girl's face made her almost cry again. Disappointment . . . uncertainty . . . fear. It was like holding a mirror to her own face. Then, she saw something else very clearly. She would have to stay and watch out for Tilly Mae, at least until Sam finished whatever it was he planned on doing to make her life safe.
Bitterness rose within her like a smoking flame. The girl, this child, trusted Sam with all the honesty and innocence of her heart. She may feel bad about being dumped here, but she still felt it was acceptable because Sam had said so.
But he wasn't worthy of such devotion and trust. He didn't care about trust. He worked it to his advantage with no thought to the hearts he was going to shatter. He was a liar and worse.
Heart wringing out like an old washrag, she pushed the angry thoughts aside, wishing the pain would go with it. “I don't know,” she finally admitted, answering the girl's question. “He'll be back for you when the time is right. Only he can know when that will be.”
Tilly shook her head. “No, I mean, what about you and him?”
Damn! Hot tears stung her eyes once more. Quickly, she wiped them away. She wasn't going to cry over him anymore! Chin quivering, she searched for an answer. The truth hit her hard across the heart, slapping sharply.
“Our time will never be right.” Spinning around, she fled the room.

Blurb of ’Shimmers of Stardust’

            Logan Riley was an outlaw who was hanged for his crimes in 1869. His life and story should have ended there, but it did not.  Dr. McKenzie Lynn is the anthropologist hired by a team of physicists to find Logan. They have great plans to study quantum physics using his travel through time and his miraculous survival. Kenzie does indeed find Logan, buried in the back of a cave. She also finds out the crazy plans of the physicists and bolts, taking their living treasure with her.
            The chase is on. Pursued by the obsessed physicists and the hired military, McKenzie and Logan race across the deserts and mountains of New Mexico and Arizona, struggling to stay one step ahead of the hunters.
            Logan, however, has spent four years surviving in the Civil War and five years being hunted as an outlaw. He learned a few tricks on how to stay alive, live off the land and knowing when to run and when to hide. Using his nineteenth century know how, in this new world he finds himself trapped in, he vows to keep Kenzie safe. He may not understand the speech or new contraptions, but he understands outfoxing the hunters and he understands having a wonderful woman like Kenzie next to him. If things were different, he would like to court her.
            Kenzie’s Christian faith is strongly tested as she runs through the beautiful and harsh western landscape. Not quite sure she entirely believes the whole time traveling story about Logan, there is no denying he bears a hanging scar on his neck and the physicists and military are quite anxious to have him back.
There is also no denying his relaxed, easy charm and disarming smile.  He could, as she learns his language, charm the hide off from a buffalo. But getting caught meant a lifetime of tests and imprisonment for him and staying free means forever on the run, hunted and homeless.
            Her Scripture reading slowly works its way through to Logan, softening his heart and causing him grief for the crimes of his past. Reading her Bible convicts him far better than the hangman’s noose had. As he works to keep her safe from their hunters, he tries to make peace with the sins of his past.

She felt her eyes narrow. “What kind of proof?”
            “This.” Aiden handed over a folded newspaper. Snatching it away, she unfolded it and shook it out to the front page.
            “Piney Creek, Arizona Territory, August 1869,” she began reading. “Notorious outlaw missing. Logan Riley captured and condemned, disappears during hanging.” Pausing, she lifted an eyebrow to Logan. “Notorious?”
            He shrugged, lifting a shoulder. Still keeping a careful eye on the soldier, he waited.
            “Territorial Marshall Jeb Moore successively captured Riley following a four day chase through the Arizona Territory. He was brought to justice yesterday before Judge Adam Owens.
            Riley, the territory’s most famed outlaw, was found guilty and sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity. Originally set for the next morning, it was moved up to avoid riot problems. Piney Creek's Sheriff Amos Baker and Marshall Moore were both on hand at midnight to carry out the sentence privately, planning to show Riley's body to the public before rioters could start.
            Except Riley's body disappeared.
            “I don't understand it,” Marshall Moore said. “He was shackled. He was swinging. It was just like the sun burst out at midnight and covered everything in this melted gold. It was so bright, it was blinding. We were each struck down to the ground with the brightness.”
            “There is no way he escaped,” Sheriff Baker added. “Logan Riley hanged today. Justice was served as it was supposed to. By the time the Marshall and I could see again from that light, Riley's body was gone. But I swear he died. Justice has been served.”
            Sheriff Baker and Marshall Moore are both unable to explain what happened to the outlaw's body. A posse sent to search for Logan Riley or any sympathizers found nothing.”
            “Is that supposed to be you?” McKenzie asked, lowering the paper.
            Shrugging again, he replied, “Reckon so. It about sums it up.”
            Astonished, she turned to Aiden, hands gripping the paper. “And those think tank doctors, as you call them, think he is this guy mentioned here? Has anyone bothered to do the math on this?”
            Aiden smiled. “Yes, the math says 1869 was one hundred forty-four years ago.”
            “Great, they can add and subtract. But what makes them so convinced he is this guy, other than having the same name?” If that was really his name, she had to wonder.
            Aiden pulled a rolled up paper from his jacket pocket and unfurled it, turning it to her. McKenzie felt her jaw slack. It was a perfect black and white sketch of Logan, right down to the curls in his black hair and the devilish grin she'd already gotten a couple glimpses of.
            She stared at the large words above his picture. Wanted. Reward for capture, alive or dead.
            “You're kidding,” she said, struggling to find words to speak. “This can't be real. There has to be some other explanation for the resemblance and this insane story.”
            Aiden smiled patiently. “Okay, what would that be?”
            “Well, I don't know,” she snapped, tossing the paper back at him. “Maybe everyone has delusional amnesia,” she suggested. “You, Logan, don't you have anything to say about this?”
            “Not really. It happened pretty much like they wrote it. I even had a couple of them wanted posters in my saddlebags. Figured they were safer with me than posted out where folks could see them. I use them as fire starter.” He slashed her that crazy grin. Just like the one on the poster.
            McKenzie threw her hands up in sheer frustration. “I don't believe this. This is nuts.”
            “Calm down, Doctor, “Aiden said, stretching his hands out toward her. “I had the same doubts initially. I tried lots of reasonable explanations. Every one of them was proven wrong. Eventually I had to believe the good doctors. Even if it does sound far-fetched.”
            “Far-fetched?” she laughed. “It's straight out of a sci-fi movie. It's fictional. Not a drop of reality in it.”
            “Okay, then show us the reality.”
            Dropping to the bed, she huffed out a breath, thinking. “I don't know just yet,” she finally admitted, glaring from Logan to Aiden. Ignoring her aching head, she considered other possible explanations for this whole thing. Nothing lasting came to her. Finally, she tried a different thought. She wasn't quite willing to believe this craziness yet, but she was willing to go along with it. Until she figured out what was really going on.
            “You told me you had fought in the war,” she accused, turning on Logan. “How could you say that?”
            “I did fight, for two years. I was too young when the first one broke out, but my pa went to fight. And I served two years and lost my brother in the second one.”    
            “I thought you meant---”
            “Wait a second,” Aiden held his hand out again. “I think what our friend is referring to is the US-Mexican war and then the Civil War. Am I right?”
            “I guess you might call them that,” Logan agreed mildly. It was all war to him, the names didn't matter much. Just war. And bloodshed. And pain. And wasted death.
            “Okay, assuming, and just assuming here, that those people are right, and Logan is the man from the article and poster, what would a bunch of physicists want with him? How did they even know to look for him at the dig?”
            “I really don't understand how they pinpointed that location. Apparently one of them was given this article and it worked into the quantum and matrix theories they were working on. So they figured out where to find him, then contacted my commanding officer who asked me to find some experienced anthropologists.”
            “Okay, fine. So what do they want from him?” The guy didn't remember cars and was barely able to take care of himself, she told herself, so how was he supposed to help a group of theorists.
            Aiden sobered, reminding McKenzie much like a sad beagle. “The truth? They plan to study him, poke and probe, dissect, bisect, and take him apart bit by bit. And to use him to try and repeat the time traveling theories again and again. Figure they can win some Nobel Prize in the end.”
            Feeling her jaw slackening again, McKenzie looked over at Logan. “But what if he doesn't want to participate?” she asked Aiden. Somehow he did not seem the type to care about Nobel prizes to her.



1 comment:

  1. Maggie, thank you so much for the spotlighting! Have a great weekend.


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