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Giant By Nature: A Short Story – Part Two

Welcome to part two of my Giant By Nature Short Story. Enjoy! Watch for the last part of the Story next Saturday.

The next Saturday morning, I was at the fence waiting for Tommy to arrive. I saw his father waiting in line with his friend, one of the zookeepers. I didn’t see Tommy. I was worried. Why would Tommy’s father be there without Tommy? I waited for their turn to come. Tommy’s father said, ‘Hello Fernando, I have your carrots.’ I stretched my neck, looking around him, trying to find Tommy. I reluctantly took the piece of carrot; Tommy’s father gave me.

I heard Tommy’s father say to his zookeeper friend, ‘He is looking for Tommy. I was at the hospital this morning, and the doctors told us that Tommy only has a few months left, that the seizures in his brain are getting worse. I don’t know what to do. Tommy’s only wish in life is for Fernando to be safe once he is gone.’ I watched Tommy’s father’s eyes fill with tears. I honked, trying to let him know I understood. I listened closely as his friend said, ‘Then that is what we will do. Tomorrow night we will take Fernando. I have a friend who owns a boat. Fernando originally came here from the Galapagos Islands to bring his species back from extinction. He has done his job. What do you say we take him back home?’

I got excited. These two men wanted to take me home. I started honking loudly, shaking my head back and forth. I needed them to realize that I understood them. Tommy’s father said, ‘I think he can understand us.’ Then he gave me a fat earthworm and said, ‘I will be back tomorrow night with Tommy, Fernando. We are taking you home.’

I ambled up to my favorite rock wondering how to say goodbye to the girls. The next morning, the girls and I went for a swim and sunned ourselves on the rocks. It was time to say goodbye. I said to the girls, ‘Della, Corrine and Fancy, I have news. I am leaving tonight. Tommy’s dad and that zookeeper, Bert, are coming to get me tonight to take me home to the Island. I want you to know I will miss all of you. It is time to say goodbye. Soon another turtle will come to take my place.’

Poor Della, she couldn’t breathe. She said, ‘I don’t care who they bring, I will have no part of him. None of us will, right, girls? There will no longer be any eggs laid at this zoo. I will miss you Fernando, but I am glad you are going home to live out the rest of your life in peace. If a distraction is needed when they come for you tonight, we have that covered.’

Never have I felt such love. I spent the rest of the day sunning and wondering what life would be like on the Island. Darkness fell, and I heard a truck and I knew Tommy’s father had come. They had a gigantic box and had laid carrots out. I believe they thought they needed to entice me into the box. I was ready. I was going home. I went willingly into the box, picking up a few carrots on the way.

We were off! I could hear Tommy in the front of the truck say, ‘Thank you Dad. Fernando will be happy on his Island.’ I was happy to hear Tommy was with us and not in the hospital. I didn’t mind the bumpy ride at all.

Suddenly, I heard loud noises. I had heard them before, coming from the road in front of the zoo. My box filled up with blue and red lights. The truck started to slow. I could hear Tommy’s father say, ‘It’s okay Tommy, we will get Fernando to his Island.’ I shuddered. I knew something was wrong. I listened carefully to the men talk outside saying, ‘Bert, what do you have in the box?’  Bert laughed, and said, ‘It’s Fernando, the missing sea turtle. Looks like the old guy went for a walk. Found him five miles from the zoo, just strolling down the boulevard.’ I saw a face looking through the slats in the box. I smiled at him and started to sing, letting him know I was fine.

I heard the man say, ‘You are not headed back to the zoo, Bert. Where are you going?’ Bert laughed and said, ‘I was having dinner and thought Tommy here would like to go help search for Fernando, I am just dropping them off at home and heading back to the zoo.’ Listening, I heard the other man say, ‘Sounds good. I will let the zoo know you found Fernando and are on your way back.’

The lights moved away, and I heard Bert say to Tommy and his father, ‘We have to move fast. The boat is waiting.’ It felt like the truck I was in was moving fast. I was having a hard time keeping my balance and for a seven-hundred-pound turtle that is not easy.

It wasn’t long after that I could smell the saltwater. Wouldn’t you know it? I could hear those noises and see the blue and red lights again. It seemed like the truck was going even faster. Then the truck turned to the left, and I almost tipped over. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I didn’t know what Tommy would do if I had to go back to the zoo.

Words Have Power When It Comes To Racial Injustice, Use Yours.

On May 25th, 2020 our community, our State, and our world watched the behavioral outcomes of systemic racism displayed by four Minnesota police officers responsible for the killing of a human being. We watched as one white officer in an intentional act of overt discrimination knelt on the neck of a Black man, while three other officers were complicit displaying gross negligence and in action in the death of George Floyd.

 Again, we are reminded of the injustices that exist in our world. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue. The late Dr. James Cone in his book, The Cross and the Lynching tree wrote: “The claim that whites had the right to control the black population through lynching and other extralegal forms of mob violence was grounded in the religious belief that America is a white nation called by God to bear witness to the superiority of white over black.”

It is time that we all must actively come together to help combat systems of oppression for all minority groups. It is well within our responsibilities to support and advocate for our family and friends when systems have continuously failed them. We as white people need to take personal accountability for how we continue to perpetuate racism at every level in society. We need to educate ourselves on how to be vocally anti racist. Then we need to take that knowledge and apply it every day, becoming effective in the stance of opposing systemic racism. We often hear all lives matter. Well, all lives can’t matter if Black lives don’t matter.

We all have heard those words, “I can’t breathe.” George Floyd uttered those words in May 2020, Eric Garner uttered those same words eleven times in 2014 before dying. It is the collective voice of black Americans and we as white Americans must acknowledge those words and act to resolve. We must and can do better at dismantling a system that favors us and work together to build a better future of equality and dignity for all Americans. 

As writers, our words matter. Our words have power. How many of us challenge ourselves by including people of color in our novels? Do you use people of color as a stereotype, such as an Asian man is great at martial arts? Together we must all work together to dismantle inequality. We can all work to being more conscious when writing what we love. Do your part in making change, make your words matter.

Giant By Nature: A Short Story

Excited to share a new short-story I wrote recently. I will share the story in three parts over the next three weeks. I hope you enjoy it! Please leave a comment, telling me what you think of the story.

Part One

I am a Giant of Nature. When you are a sea turtle as old as I am, one hundred and fifty years old. All you want to do is lie on a rock and take in the sun. My son, Mateo, five years old, seemed determined not to let me spend my afternoon napping. “Dad, how did you come to be on our Island?” He asked. I stretched my long leathery neck to look back up the hill to see what the others were doing. They were all resting. Stretching my arthritic body, I smiled at Mateo. He was always interested in everything. Mateo always had a story to tell.

I smiled at Mateo, looked out at the calm sea off the Galapagos Islands and began my story, knowing that Mateo would tell the story again and again.

I was one hundred years old and living at the San Diego Zoo. One Saturday morning, I slept in late, and went out to the yard that overlooked the pool where I often swam. I found the girls, Della, Corrine, and Fancy already enjoying the sun of the day.  Della said to me, ‘Good Morning Fernando, it is Saturday and your sleeping in. Won’t be long and the children will arrive for their visit.’ Then Corrine said, ‘I hope they bring good snacks this week.’ Fancy laughed as she said, ‘Corrine, is that all you think about is the snacks?’

Moving towards the pool for a dip in the cool water, Della said to me, ‘I am worried about your little boy, Tommy. I think he is getting sicker, Fernando. He is now in that chair that rolls around. His dad pushes him everywhere.’  I nodded my head in agreement, thinking Della was right. It had only been the last few months that Tommy would not or could not walk anymore, but I didn’t know what was wrong with him.

Glancing in the pool, I saw my reflection. My face was an old yellow color. After four decades in this breeding pen, I should have expected it. My shell was looking like a house that could use a fresh coat of paint. My excitement in life was my Saturday visits with Tommy. He always brought the best carrots and that red shirt he wore every week was for me. As I jumped in the pool, I thought of the nice neck scratches Tommy gave.

A short time later, seeing the children arriving, I lunged off the rock in the middle of the pool and swam to the bank. Tommy should come soon. I watched as the girls moved to the opening in the pen, letting the other children pet them and feed them snacks. Looking around, I saw Tommy sitting in that chair, alone while he waited in line. Where is his dad? The two zookeepers were standing with him. Tommy looked upset as I ambled towards the fence where Tommy was sitting.

As I got there, Tommy was crying, and his dad was trying to console him. I may not have ears, like Tommy had, but I could hear him speak. Tommy said, ‘But Dad they said Fernando is too old now. They will take him away and bring another boy turtle in to replace him.’ Shocked, my beady eyes widened. The Zoo planned on taking me somewhere? I watched Tommy wipe his nose on his shirt, and heard him say, ‘Where is this place, euthanized Dad? Can we go there?’ ‘Where did you hear that word Tommy?’ Tommy’s father asked. ‘The zookeepers said that he is too old and needs to go to euthanized. Where is that dad?’

I couldn’t move, Euthanized? I knew what that meant. They were planning on killing me. I heard Tommy choke, not being able to catch his breath. It scared me. I moved closer to the fence and stretched my long neck so Tommy would see me. As his father was giving Tommy a drink from that bottle, I pulled my body onto the rock next to him and started singing. Tommy saw me, and I watched as he laughed.

‘Fernando, you are here! I promise I won’t let them take you away to euthanized, I will save you. I love you.’  I sang higher, and as Tommy moved up in the line, I followed him, staying close to the fence. ‘My dad and I cut your carrots last night Fernando, and I even brought some earthworms I had dad dig up last night for me.’

I smiled at Tommy, honking even louder in response. Earthworms, my favorite! When Tommy got to the opening, the girls moved aside. They could see Tommy had been crying and needed to spend time with me. Tommy scratched my neck lovingly, giving me first a piece of carrot and then an earth worm. Though I enjoyed the snacks, I could tell Tommy’s head hurt, and it worried his father. I looked at his father, while I stretched my neck further for Tommy. I saw the tears in Tommy’s father’s eyes and my heart broke. There was something wrong with Tommy. As he stroked my neck, he seemed weaker.

I heard the bell ring; it was time for the next group of children to have their turn. I looked at Tommy as he whispered, ‘I will save you Fernando, I can’t die knowing they will send you away.

Die? Tommy would die. He’s just a kid. I was 100 years old. Why was he going to die? I watched as his father patted Tommy’s shoulder and started moving him away, back to their car. I felt sick. I ambled back to the rock I sat on most of the day, not interested in the other children.

As I climbed up on the rock, I heard Fancy say, ‘Something is wrong with Fernando girls, let’s go.’ The girls moved away from the waiting children, to sit with me in the sun. I watched the disappointed children that had been patiently waiting their turn, as the girls came toward me, taking their places in the sun. Della asked, ‘What’s wrong, Fernando?’

I lovingly looked at the girls, who had been part of my life the last seventy years at the Zoo and said, ‘I have outlived my purpose. They are planning to kill me and bring in a younger male.  Worse, my friend Tommy is dying. I am not sure why, but there is nothing I can do.’ It had been a long morning. I pulled my head into my shell to reflect on my life and what was to come. Unless a miracle happened, my life was soon ending. If my life ended, what would become of Tommy?

Watch for Part Two, Next Saturday!

NEW RELEASE: ARCTIC EAGLE

It has been a joy to write this book. Though the publishing has been challenging. I am including the first two chapters. I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and will consider buying.

I will reward a FREE E-book version of Arctic Eagle on June 12th, 2020 to one lucky new subscriber!

I am excited to announce starting Saturday, June 13th, I will share a weekly three part short-story with you! Giant by Nature. The story of friendship, between a sea turtle and a little boy.

Now on to your sneak preview!

CHAPTER ONE

The spring breeze pushed past her sundress as she opened the door to the Estes Park Coffee shop. Gliding up to the counter, Dana, the owner of the shop, already had her order waiting. One large café Mocha and a Cranberry Scone. Dana smiled as she watched Cindi “Higgy” Higgins breeze through the door. “A wonderful Monday morning to you Higgy, I have your order ready.” “You know me so well, Dana.” Cindi said. Dana laughed from behind the counter, saying, “I do Higgy, I just added it to your tab.” As Cindi walked to her regular table, in the back corner of the coffee shop, she thought, Higgy, what a nickname to have. Laura Henderson is to blame for that nickname. She missed Laura. She missed the activity of playing with Laura’s kids. Cindi was honored to be the godmother to all three of Laura and Tom Henderson’s children. She would call her tonight, and they could catch up.

Sitting at the table, she opened her laptop to check her email, as she did every morning before walking a block over to the White Hat Risk Assessment office, where she worked. Taking a sip of the hot Mocha, her eyes grew wide, her heart raced. Flaming Feather? That was a name she thought she would never hear again. Staring at the screen in wonderment, she thought it has been ten years since she talked to Danny Davis, aka Flaming Feather. Why would he be contacting her now? Opening the email, the message read,

                          Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me, you know where to look.             

Confused, she read it a second time. Not sure what to do, Cindi sat back in the chair, her thoughts drifting back to her childhood, her past, Danny Davis. Flashes of memories raced through her thoughts, their teenage romance, their arrest, and their conviction under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Looking back at the laptop screen, to read the message again, she found it was no longer there. Blinking her eyes rapidly, Cindi moved closer to the screen of her laptop. The screen was blank, the message gone. Did she imagine it? Confused, she searched her email. There was no record of it ever existing. If she did not get moving, she would be late for work, Cindi hastily closed her laptop and packed it in her messenger bag. Grabbing her cup of coffee to go, she walked down the block to start her day at work.

Briskly entering the offices of White Hat Risk Assessment, Cindi walked to her office, saying good morning to her co-workers as she passed by their desks. Reaching her office cubicle, Cindy sat down. She had a new account to work on today. A Bank whose security system needed to be tested. Turning on the computer on her desk, she stashed her messenger bag underneath the nearby shelf in her cubicle. She spent the next few hours before lunch hacking into the Banks system, finding multiple ways to gather their client’s confidential information.

Stretching, Cindy was startled when she heard her co-worker Mary Stewart say, “Hey Higgy, want to go get some lunch?” Turning in her chair to find Mary behind her, she said, “Not today, I am just going to get some air before I start the report for the bank. It was a breeze getting into their system this morning.” Laughing, she continued, “It is going to take two weeks to get their system secured. Your grandmother could have hacked into that system.” Mary giggled, saying, “I am not teaching my grandmother the tricks of this trade. I will see you after lunch Higgy.”

Cindy stood, grabbing her messenger bag. She walked outside to downtown Estes Park. Feeling the sun’s warmth, and taking a breath of the fresh mountain air, she looked down the street. Tourist season had not started yet, the streets filled only with local patrons. Sitting on her favorite bench around the corner from the office, she gazed up at the surrounding mountains, amazed that even though it was warm for a late April day, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Opening her laptop, she again searched for the email she thought she received that morning from Danny. Nothing was there. Closing her laptop, her thoughts went back to her teen years.

As children, Cindi and Danny were raised in the same foster home. Shortly after Cindi turned 16, the FBI arrested her with a group of five others called the MiamiLink Club. Besides her and Danny, the other three kids were also foster children in various homes in the city. In Miami Florida, they used coffee shops, libraries, and internet cafe’s as their location for hacking into first the local phone company giving them the ability to make free long-distance calls and listen to customers’ calls. They then moved on to hacking into corporate networking systems, as a challenge to see if they could. The Club would have contests on who could break into a company the fastest and do something crazy like implant a worm or change their client’s personal information. Then Chen Williams, one of the club members, the weak link in the club, decided it would be fun to infiltrate the Pentagon network. He never was very smart. That is when they were arrested. Cindi’s code name was Arctic Eagle. Her best friend and boyfriend at the time was Danny Davis, code named Flaming Feather. He was the one who taught her how to hack. 

Cindi remembered the trial, and how terrified she was. Convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, she was sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention center, with three years of probation, and a fine. During her time in the Juvenile Detention Center, Cindi received her GED. With help from a guidance counselor at the center, she became certified as an Ethical Hacker.

Upon her release, that same counselor helped Cindi get a job far from Miami in Estes Park, Colorado working for the company she worked for today. She had been a part of the White Hat group for the last eight years. After her arrest, she had never spoken to or heard from Danny Davis again.

Standing, she thought, that was then, this is now. She had a an excellent job, a cute apartment above the Coffee Shop, friends, and she was now an adult at twenty-six years old. It was time to leave the past behind, and work towards that promotion she wanted as a lead Computer Security Specialist, which would give her a decent raise and the chance to manage a team of four other Specialists. Cindi stood, going back to her office to start the report for the Bank account she had worked on that morning.

CHAPTER TWO

Six days later, on Sunday, Cindi sat at her small kitchen table eating the ham and swiss sandwich she had made for lunch, admiring the new soft yellow color of the walls, her and Dana had painted yesterday. Watching it rain out her window, she picked up her phone to call Laura Henderson, her friend and confidante. Waiting for Laura to answer, she heard Laura say, “Higgy! It’s been two weeks since we talked, hang on.” Cindi could hear Laura say, ‘Charlotte, get off that table before you fall. Tom lift her down and give me a few minutes to talk to Higgy.’ Cindi heard Laura’s husband yell in the background, ‘Hi Higgy!’ Laura focusing back on the call said, “Higgy, how are you? Did you get the kitchen painted? I didn’t see any pictures come through yet.” Cindi laughed and said, “Its done, Dana and I spent all of yesterday painting. I love it. How are the kids?”

Laura replied, “Well, as you heard, Charlotte was dancing on the table. At two years old, I wonder about her sometimes, she is always climbing up on things. Michael is doing fine in Kindergarten, his favorite part of the day is nap time, Kevin, who may not live till next month to turn four, is into everything as usual. Did you get the promotion at work?” Cindi laughing said, “I find out next week. I sure miss you at work, Laura. Though, I must tell you, I appreciate the queen-size bed in our bedroom here, rather than the two twin beds.” Laura giggled, and said, “I miss the quiet evenings, when we could sit and watch movies, eat popcorn, and drink wine. I have not had a quiet evening since Michael was born. When are you coming for a visit?” Cindi replied, “I have two weeks of vacation built up. Depends on whether I get this promotion. If I get it, I want to settle in and get my team together, if not, I will make the trip to cry on your shoulder.” Laura laughed loudly, “So what else is new Higgy? Have you met anyone yet?”

Cindi smiled, “I have no time for a man in my life, Laura.” Feeling a chill go up her spine, Cindi said, “Something happened, I am just not sure if I am imagining it or not.” Laura stood, saying, “Hang on, Higgy, I will get Tom to watch the children.” Waving at Tom to watch the children. Laura walked out to the patio in the back of their California home. Sitting on the chaise lounge she said, “I am outside now, it’s quieter. Tell me what happened?” Cindi replied, “Do you remember when I told you about Danny Davis and the story of my teen years?” Laura replied, “I remember, why?”

Cindi said, “I got an email last week from Danny. I have not heard or talked to him in ten years. All it said was if something happens to me you know where to look.” Laura, aghast, said, “What? That is cryptic. Did you reply?” Cindi said, “I was so stunned. The email came from Flaming Feather, his code name. When I went back to read it again, it was gone.” Laura, surprised, said, “Wow! He had to do some searching to find you Higgy, and then to find your current email, send the message and then make it to look like it never existed. What are you going to do?” Cindi replied thoughtfully, “I will do nothing. That part of my life is best left buried. I do not want to open that door again. It is too risky, and life is good. I cannot mess that up.” Laura replied, “That is probably for the best.” Looking up, Laura saw Tom standing at the door, with a crying red-faced Charlotte. Laura said, “Looks like Tom is having trouble with the baby. Text me some pictures of your kitchen and text me as soon as you hear about that promotion. I got to go, Bye Higgy, I love you girlfriend.”

Cindi stood from the table and put her dishes in the sink. Taking a few pictures of the kitchen, she texted them to Laura and then decided with the rainy afternoon, it would be a good idea to take a nap and read that new romance novel she picked up last week at the bookstore.

Monday morning started as usual. Stopping at the Coffee Shop and walking to work. It was still raining. As Cindi entered the office, she closed her umbrella and moved to her desk. Looking at her in-box, she found three more files of new accounts. Placing them on her desk, Cindi sat down, ready to work on the new files. A few minutes later, Gina, her boss, stopped at her desk and said, “Great job on the Marshall Bank account. Can you stop in my office this afternoon? I would like to discuss your new job duties. Congratulations Cindi, the promotion is yours.” Cindi smiled and said, “Really? I got the promotion. Sure, I will be there promptly at one. Thank you, Gina.” Gina beamed, saying, “You deserve it Cindi. I will see you this afternoon.”  When Gina had walked away, Cindi swung her office chair in a circle in celebration of her new promotion. Picking up her phone, she quickly texted Laura, ‘I got the promotion!’

Setting her phone down, Cindi opened the top file on the pile she received in her in box and started working. Looking at her watch, thinking it was time for lunch, she would have just enough time to have a sandwich and go to her meeting with Gina. Hearing her cell phone vibrate, she looked to see a number from California calling. Answering, she said, “Hello?” She heard a man’s voice say, “Good morning, am I speaking with Cindi Higgins? This is Samuel Herschel; I am the attorney for Daniel Davis.” Cindi felt like her heart was about to stop. Trying to take a breath, she found it difficult. She said into her phone, “This is Cindi Higgins, what can I do for you?”  Mr. Herschel replied, “I am sorry to tell you this over the phone, Ms. Higgins, but Mr. Davis has passed and named you as the executor of his estate. I was wondering if you could come to Los Angeles in the next few days to settle the estate.”

Cindi whispered, “Danny is dead? I have not seen or heard from him in ten years. Why would he leave everything to me? How did he die?” Sam Herschel replied, “Mr. Davis informed me you were the closest he had to family, saying you would know what to do with his estate. I am sorry to inform you; they have ruled his death as suspicious. You have not heard from Mr. Davis in ten years? That’s odd.” Cindi felt the energy leave her body, saying, “Suspicious? What does that mean?” Sam replied, “All I can tell you Ms. Higgins is that his death is still being investigated.” Cindi, taking a deep breath, asked, “Mr. Hershel, do I really need to come to Los Angeles to settle the estate or can we do it by email?”  Sam Herschel said, “Mr. Davis has left you his house, and all his belongings, and a considerable amount of money. You will need to come to my office to sign the paperwork, receive the new deed and keys to the home.”

Cindi’s thoughts started flying a mile a minute. She had just received a promotion. Then her heart sank when she remembered the email, she received from Danny last week. Quieting her mind, she said, “Mr. Herschel, I will need to make some arrangements here at work, can I call you later this afternoon, with a time I can arrive?” Mr. Herschel replied, “Yes, that would be fine. I will email you my office location so you can make the proper transportation arrangements. I will look forward to hearing from you later today. Good day, Ms. Higgins.” 

Cindi set her phone down on her desk. Her eyes filled with tears. Danny was dead. Fear entered every core of her body. Danny’s death was suspicious and with the email he sent her last week, he knew what was coming. What the hell has he dragged her into now? There is no other choice, I will have to see this attorney. Feeling like her past was rushing back into her life, against her will, Cindi stood and walked out of her office to sit on her favorite bench outside. She needed some air; it was hard to breathe. Sitting on the bench, she was unaware of her surroundings. Her mind kept going over the email, Arctic Eagle, if anything happens to me you know where to look. She had no choice. She would have to go to Los Angeles. She would have to find what Danny wanted her to find. Forty-five minutes later, she entered the building. She slowly walked over to Gina’s office.

 Cindi knocked softly on Gina’s office door. Hearing Gina say come in; Cindi entered her office. Gina looked at her watch before saying, “Cindi, right on time.”  Cindi sat down in the chair across from Gina’s desk saying, “Gina, something has come up. There has been a death in what you would call my family, and I need to go to Los Angeles and close out the estate. I know you scheduled this meeting to talk about my promotion. Thank you for having the confidence in me to award me with the promotion, I appreciate it. I am sorry, but I need to use my vacation time to handle this.”

Gina looked at Cindi quizzically. “Family? Cindi, when you came to work for me, I understood that you grew up in foster care. What has happened?” Tears rushed to Cindi’s eyes, “It was one of the other foster children in our home, Danny Davis. He has left everything to me, and his attorney has asked I come to California to settle the estate. His attorney asked that I come to Los Angeles to sign the needed paperwork. The attorney said there is a home involved. I need to find a real estate agent to put the house up for sale. As soon as I am done with that I will be returning.” Gina looking surprised said, “It wasn’t one of the boy’s you they arrested you with was it?” Cindi nodded silently, saying, “I haven’t seen or heard from Danny in ten years so I do not understand why he would do this. I do not even know how he found me. When your sister, Camila, made the arrangements for me to come here to start a new life, I know she did not tell anyone what she was doing and took great care in making sure no one would find me. So, I am as surprised as you are.”

Gina nodded her head. Remembering when her sister Camila called her about Cindi. She said she was one of the most talented hackers she had ever seen. A young girl tied into a group that could have destroyed her life. She thought Cindi was a decent girl who could make a difference in the world with her talents. So, she agreed to give her the start she needed, setting her up in an apartment over her best friend Dana’s coffee shop and giving her a job. Over the past eight years, Cindi had flourished and proved her worth to White Hat Risk Assessment.

Gina looked at Cindi and said, “I understand Cindi, take the two weeks and when you return, we will get you set up with your new team. I am bringing four new employees in from around the States. They are young, with similar backgrounds such as yours. I believe you are the one to guide them into becoming assets to White Hat. When are you planning on leaving?” Cindi replied, “I will make the arrangements to leave from Denver tomorrow. If that is okay with you.” Gina said, “Okay, give your new account files to Mary, and check in with me, letting me know when you will return. In the meantime, I will have your team settled in and ready to start when you get back. Why don’t you go home and get things settled to leave? I am sorry you have to deal with this Cindi.” Cindi gratefully looked at Gina saying, “Thank you Gina, I will call you soon.”

Cindi went back to her desk. Straightening her desk, she took her new work files to Mary, saying, “Mary, I have to leave for two weeks to take care of some family business, Gina asked me to give you these new accounts to complete.” Mary replied, “Sure Cindi, is everything okay?” Cindi nodded, and said, “Yes, just some unexpected family business to deal with. I will see you in two weeks.” Cindi went back to her office, got her bag, and walked back to her apartment, stopping into the coffee shop to let Dana know that she was leaving for a couple weeks.

Entering her apartment, Cindi sat down at her desk in the living room, opening her laptop. She quickly made flight arrangements to Los Angeles and organized a Lyft to take her to the Denver airport at nine am the next morning. Checking her email, she saw she had received the email from Sam Herschel. Cindi mapped out his office, finding a hotel within a two-block area. Making one night of reservations, she thought if Danny had left her his house, when she got the keys from Mr. Herschel, she could take a Lyft to the house and stay there. Emailing Mr. Herschel her travel arrangements, she informed him she would be in his office at ten a.m. the day after tomorrow.

Cindi went into her bedroom to pack her suitcase for her upcoming trip. Once completed with that task, she went back to her laptop finding an acknowledgement for the appointment time with Mr. Herschel. Closing her laptop, Cindi quickly reopened it. She conducted an internet search for Danny Davis. Finding nothing but the article of their arrest, she again closed her laptop. Going into the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine and settled into the plush deep brown couch in her living room. Taking a sip of the wine, she set the glass on the coffee table in front of her and picked up her cell phone without looking at it. She should call Laura and let her know she was coming. Staring at her phone for a few minutes, she thought better of it. She would call Laura when she got settled into Danny’s house, a house that was now hers. Picking up her glass her wine, she said to herself, if anything happens to me, you know where to look. With a deep feeling in her gut, she knew that her life was about to take an unexpected left turn; she downed the rest of her glass of wine, drew a hot bath, and went to bed.

The next morning, Cindi rose and quickly dressed, getting ready to leave. Carrying her suitcase down the flight of stairs, she walked out the door of the apartment and into the Coffee shop, where she ordered a large Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone to go. Seeing the Lyft pull up in front of the coffee shop, her coffee and scone in hand, she pulled her suitcase behind her out the door. The driver loaded her suitcase in the trunk while she settled into the back seat for the hour and a half drive to the Denver airport. Taking a sip of her hot coffee, she placed it in the cup holder next to her and pulled the romance novel she had started the other night out of her bag. Reading a romance novel would keep her thoughts of what was coming at bay.

If you enjoyed the first two chapters, you can get your Free Unlimited Kindle version here.

COVID 19 MASKS: WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

black framed eyeglasses on paper
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Reflecting over the past six weeks, I ponder what I have lost. Networking with other authors, seeing anyone else in general. Though I am an introvert, every so often I do like to see others. At first, I lost my momentum to write, but joining NaNoWriMo Aprils Camp got me back on track and I was able to finish my newest book “Arctic Eagle,” and get it to my editor, Masani.

What I have not lost? Weight seems like no one can take that from me. I cannot seem to quit baking. Though, my mother in law and husband, seem to be enjoying the dozens of cookies, bars, brownies, and bread. My body is screaming Stop!

Now let us talk about masks. I sewed three hundred masks and donated them. However, I should have attached a warning note with them. You see I wear glasses. Big black glasses. So, I go to the local grocery store for some needed items. I put on my homemade mask, get out of the car, go inside, grab a cart, and a disinfectant wipe and clean that baby down.

I walk first to the produce section, you know, where they have those plastic bags you can put produce in? Well, I grab two. One for each hand and quickly insert hands in bags. Thought I should pick up a few oranges for mom in law, fruit is good right? Healthy. They had just filled the bin. I want to be sure to pick the best oranges, juicy ones. I stand in front of the filled bin, picking one, then two oranges and placing them in an individual plastic bag. My goal was six. I think to myself, this is going well, I am being responsible, for my health, and everyone else’s. I smile, and quietly giggle.

As I am reaching to choose a third one, I suddenly realize something is wrong, I cannot see! I grab the third orange, wondering what in the world? What happens? Yes, at least three dozen Oranges are suddenly hitting the floor, I cannot breathe, and I cannot see. I sense the produce man running towards me.

Turns out when you wear a mask, and wear large glasses, they tend to fog up when you breath. Having plastic bags on your hands, does not help your ability to take your glasses off. So here I am looking at the young produce man, glasses fogged, saying, “Help Me!”  Mind you he is a teenager. He takes my glasses off my face, smiles, at least I think he was smiling, I did not hear him laughing. Let me give you a visual. Without my glasses I cannot see a thing. I wear my glasses, but also need to wear readers, when reading, or working on the computer.

As he was calmly wiping my glasses off on his shirt, I was trying to remove my mask with my plastic covered hands. Finally, a not so nice word came out of my mouth, I ripped those plastic bags off my hands, and took off my mask. The nice produce man, handed me my glasses, and said, “Its okay, I will clean this up.”

I thanked that young man. Turned and put my cart away. I went back out to the car, drove home, and made a list. I sent my husband to the store. I may never go back.

So that was how my Sunday went. How was yours? Please feel free to share, with anyone you know who wears glasses.

Covid 19 Shut In: Day 30. A Month In Review

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Though spring is a time of new life, renewal, and warmer weather, I have been spending the morning reflecting on the last month.  It is day thirty of the shut in because of the Covid 19 Virus. My hopes are that everyone reading this is well and healthy.

Foremost, one thing I cannot comprehend is why there is a current toilet paper shortage. Is that really what everyone thought of purchasing first? Why not frozen or canned food? Relevant items to use when you are locked in your home. I do not believe that toilet paper is an effective item to prevent getting the Covid 19 virus. There are closet’s around the world filled with toilet paper.

The last thirty days at home have been nothing short of interesting. My mother-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s lives with us full time. Normally each morning she enjoys watching the news and reads aloud what crosses the television screen at the bottom of the screen. How do you explain the Corona Virus thirty or more times a day to an Alzheimer’s patient?  The solution? Subtitles. I found she will read anything running across the bottom of the screen while you watch something else. Though I have found the Andy Griffith Show on Netflix has kept her laughing without subtitles. Do you know that there are over one hundred and fifty episodes of Andy Griffith?

Then there is the fun of opening Mom’s experiences to Face time and Skype. Trying to figure out how she can see herself and her loved one on a phone and laptop is nothing short of amazing. Then comes the irritation of why can’t they just come and visit, why are we doing this? The most heart wrenching part of all this, is even though Mom can’t remember five minutes ago, there is that space of real time when she hears something on the television and you witness the confusion, the fear, and the realm of anxiety that comes for the next few hours, even though she can’t remember why.

Another realization in my reflection is how I am learning not to even watch the local news stations. If I hear one more word about having so much more time to clean house, tips on how to get your kids to help clean house, or anything that has to do with filling my time with cleaning house, I swear I will toss the television out the front door.  I think they should air repeats of Bob Ross shows, or DIY’s on making something creative.

I am trying to make good use of my time. In the early morning hours, I work on writing a new book, Arctic Eagle. Over breakfast with Mom, we have in-depth discussions on planning a deck garden. I have visions of her watering the plants in the mornings, while I sit nearby on the deck writing a new mystery series, The Cold Case Chronicles.

Random thoughts race through my mind. Will much change when we can go to the store again together? I know she will wear a mask. Will the garden centers open in time for us to plant a garden? Dare I make a trip to Walmart for potting soil and seeds? Will I run out of craft supplies? I do not see that happening in the next five years, but the concern is real. Will I have to cancel my vacation plans to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August? This will be over by then, right?

I am fortunate my husband is essential, as he reminds me of this daily. He is a truck driver. My daughter owns a hair salon and going insane being home. She has taken to painting signs, I recently found one outside the front door that said, “Made with love and other shit.” She is coloring swear pages, and trying not to panic about losing her business, making her mortgage, having enough to buy food. She is one of those business owners that does not qualify for unemployment. The Grand kids are enjoying the break from College and sleeping till noon daily.  This is my life, keeping everyone calm, keeping mom occupied, and being thankful the hubby is working, so we can help family members who need financial support.  So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. So, in closing friends, stay healthy, stay safe. Connect with your loved ones however you can. Stay calm.

FINAL SECRETS

Final Secrets FinalLast week I was thrilled to write the words, “The End.” Finishing the last book of my “Ignited Secrets Trilogy,” which left me feeling proud, accomplished, a bit overwhelmed and sad. I will miss my characters. They have been a part of my life for two years. Three women with secrets, all who grew personally within each story, learning to accept themselves for who they were and who they came to be.

Of course in all honesty “Shadow of Secrets” came to me while I was sitting on my deck painting a rock, thinking, Okay Kacie, you have been forced to retire, are you going to spend the rest of your life painting rocks? What is next? Then it dawned on me, I could be an author.

When I started the first book, “Shadow of Secrets,” is was to be just one book about an environmental mystery Fraud in the renewable energy industry. This was an experience, I watched evolve firsthand, and it disgusted me. Though my book is fictional, the circumstances different, yet similar, it was an experience that impacted me deeply.

Near the end of writing that first book, is when I realized that this could be a trilogy focusing on the main women in the book. Each woman had a story to tell. I surprised my self at the story line as it went on. What started as one book about an environmental mystery, turned into three and by the end of the third book, we had a Mexican Cartel/Mafia war involving the Irish Republican Army and CIA fictional Black Op’s teams. Mind you I am surprised the FBI has not showed up at my door, considering the online research I have been conducting.

It’s amazing how stories evolve as they are written. Soon, I must start the next book, “Arctic Eagle.” In a world full of risk, a quiet Cyber Operations Specialist is pulled into a worldwide chase to stop a terror attack in Los Angeles. Arctic Eagle came to me in a dream. I know right? My dreams should be one of peace, happiness, expectations.

More research to come. If the FBI shows up at the door, I will post a link to donate towards my bail. If I survive the next book, I may start a series of novella’s called The Harris Graystone Mysteries. What mystery could the Girls from the Ignited Secrets Trilogy solve next?

Lesson, life doesn’t end at retirement, we can achieve our dreams no matter how old we are. We all have stories to tell. What’s your story?

Interested in reading Final Secrets? Click Here.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO JANUARY

I personally find January to be the dreariest month of the year. In Minnesota we currently have mountains of snow, and today we are expecting another foot to land on my doorstep. This wonderful month tends to be the longest month of the year. Though I must admit, as the snow falls from the sky, it is beautiful to watch and creates a picture-perfect landscape. It is hard to imagine that Spring will be arriving in just weeks. Of course, Garden Catalogs are already arriving in my mailbox! That one thing provides hope.

January can also be the most depressing month of the year. Though I am not one to get depressed, I have found a multitude of ways to get through the month, so I don’t lose my mind. I have a few items I keep in my bag of tricks and I will share them with you.

I purge my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in the last year. I must admit, three bags went in the donation box this year. I am beginning to wonder if I am clothes hog.

I live in Minnesota! Once the temperature hits thirty below, I accessorize! I put on my multiple layers of sweaters and my winter coat. I often wear a cute scarf and matching mittens.

Let’s keep it real, my bank account does not allow me to go someplace warm. However, I would recommend it for anyone who can. May I suggest, Nevada. Not only is the weather warmer, but they have casino’s and buffets. I especially recommend Laughlin, Nevada. Great food, warm weather, and penny slot machines.

Eating! I tend to bake a lot of cookies during January. Today I will be mixing up a batch of peanut butter cookies to get me through the on-coming snowstorm. I also like to try new recipes during January. Creative cooking is always good for the soul. I especially like creating new soups in the crock pot.

Start a new project! I always start my new craft projects in January. Be it a new afghan to crochet, new set of dish towels to embroider, or a new quilt to sew. Okay, I will admit, I start all three each January. It is important to note, I have 52 unfinished quilts to complete in my sewing room.

I write. Whether it is starting a new year journal or working on a current or new novel, I write. Nothing like getting stranded at home in another foot of snow on top of the three feet you already have, to get your mind working on a story. I try to place my locations in warmer climates.

Television is a staple. New shows start in January, then there is always Netflix!

Remember Spring will be coming, though looking out my window it is hard to imagine. My pool is yet not buried in the snow, so you will often find me gazing lovingly out the window, saying, Hello Pool, sixteen more weeks and I can fill you again.

Remember we can do this! We are survivors! Leave a comment how you get through January.

Barriers

Radical Rhymes

Yesterday I went to see Les Miserables the musical. It wasn’t my first time, and Victor Hugo’s masterpiece is the only book that actually reduced me to tears. But it isn’t the performance I want to discuss here, although it was magnificent, it’s the interactions I observed on stage. The cast were extremely tactile, they were constantly touching one another. Now, some of this was choreographed, but some seemed to be designed to comfort and reassure one another. Back patting, shoulder squeezing, supportive smiles, it was heart-warming to witness.

And it made sense to me. They are a company, a community. They are in it together, a collective with a common purpose: to provide a great show.

In life we are – it seems to me – far less comfortable with contact. As a student one of my lecturers showed us a video taken of crowds walking along a high…

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Setting Your Vision For 2020

For years, I set New Years Resolutions and never accomplished a darn thing.  So I found a strategy that worked for me.  At the beginning of December, I go over my past year’s goals and reflect on what I have accomplished and where I have failed.  Yes, I can tell you now, we all fail at one time or another, it’s a part of life.

I look at the accomplishments as wins and failures?  I spend the time to reflect on what I could have done to improve on my success.  What worked and what didn’t work. 

I reflect on whether my actions indeed brought me closer to my overall vision for the year.  Did your’s?  So I ask, did your actions bring you closer to your yearly goals?  If not, you cannot expect the things in your life that you need and want to change: to change.  Everyone has their different walks in life.  The setting goals process is not a one size fits all method, but it is unique to your life’s vision.  Whether it is personal goals or career goals, the goal map is yours to make to create change and success.

Here are some reasons to set those goals:

Goals will always provide you with a starting point and a destination to reach.

When you write your goals out, you see where you are going, what changes you need to make at the mid-point of the year, and if you are progressing in your goals.

The process of writing your goals will help you clarify your desires, understand their importance, and commit yourself to achieve them.

Remember there are always some sacrifices to be made, but stay committed and overcome the challenges.  Work on your plan.

Your goals will help you focus your attention on your purpose and inspire you to be better.

When setting goals, be sure to define them in your overall vision for the year.

The secret to achieving your goals?  Start them.

Journaling Tips

Write your goals for the year on the first page of your journal, or create a vision board.  Whichever you choose, it will be there as a reminder for the year ahead.

Every month, take the time to review your goals and write about your accomplishments, consider the changes you need to make, and reflect on the challenges of the month in moving forward with your vision.