Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, June 8, 2018

he must now make a choice - Preordained by David L. Wallace

“A riveting and intriguing read.” – Clarion Review
“Original and engaging.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“A gripping detective story.” – Kirkus Reviews


Published: April 13th, 2018

Art Somers is a detective in close-knit Murrell's Inlet, S.C., a small-town, coastal community with deeply held spiritual and supernatural belief systems. A serial killer has shattered his peaceful existence by abducting multiple twelve-year-old boys within his county. Young thugs, backwater drug dealers and the occasional murderer are the most Art’s had to deal with, but now he must apprehend a predator who FBI profilers can’t find.

He discovers he has a tie by blood to the case and uncovers evidence that calls into question his long held spiritual and supernatural beliefs.

Abraham, the father of faith, had to choose to either sacrifice his son or disobey a direct order from God. Art must now make a choice - sacrifice his soul to save his son.

"although we all know it needs to go down that way, is intense and crazy sad. But good. Read it and you will see what I mean. I’ve read other books by Wallace, and in his other books as well, I was impressed not only with his narrative skills, but combined with a vivid imagination, a profound exploration of other ‘possibilities’, … and you have a truly unforgettable book that surpassed my expectations." - Cody, Goodreads


Chapter 1

From his crouched position in the woods of rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, and under the echo of his heavy breathing in the night air, he watched his favorite family’s movements inside their small brown home.

After much thought about the impression his outfit would make, he’d decided it was festive enough for the occasion. The complete ensemble consisted of a red and black head mask, aligned perfectly to the holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth and a form-fitting, black bodysuit with white wings painted on the back.

For years, he’d contemplated a befitting name for himself and finally settled on Star of David killer. He liked the way the alias reverberated in his head. It revealed a lot. It concealed everything. It hinted at his purpose and yet – it withheld the true essence of his aspirations, keeping them covered in a shroud of secrecy. He hoped an insightful reporter would have an epiphany and bestow that nickname on him. It was far more interesting than the one his parents had given him at birth. He breathed deep and exhaled slowly, taking in the ambience of the moment. He flexed his muscles. It was time to initiate the events that would lead everyone to recognize him by his self-appointed moniker.

He clenched and released his toes on each of his hospital footie–covered feet. Through the sheer curtains of the dimly lit dwelling, he watched the boy pick up the used plates from the table, which signaled the parents and their twelve-year-old son had finished their dinner. He knew them well. He’d cased their dwelling for years, observing every nuance of their behavior. He sat flushed as he watched them for the last time, shivering from time to time from the thrill of the thought of what he was about to do.

The music of the bullfrogs kept him company, along with the thought that all he’d longed for, all that he was meant to be, was about to be on full display on the world stage in a matter of hours. Like Heinz ketchup, he’d been waiting in anticipation for a long time for this moment.

He glanced at the scavengers in the clear sky above him, each casting its shadow across the moon as it circled. They were his favorite creatures—the redheaded, black-feathered, and partially white-winged turkey vultures of the Carolina skies. His outfit mimicked theirs. The birds squawked in the sky, seeming to know his plan for that evening. They’d followed his vehicle from his home until he’d parked, and now they circled directly above him. He could feel their hunger and impatience.

The boy walked outside his home and scraped the remains of their dinner plates into a slop bucket on the back porch. He picked up the hog’s food and headed out to the pigpen, which was located near the backend of their yard.

The Star of David killer watched the boy make his evening trek on pigeon-toed feet that turned inward with each step. Ever since the infant pigs were born, the boy fed the adult male hog an extra feeding at night to prevent him from dining on his offspring. That’s right, the daddy hog actually ate his own children. What a disgusting breed of animal.

The overhead undertakers began to shriek and shrill as the boy moved across his lawn, their voices echoing in the night.

The boy jumped at their sound and looked to the skies. He stared into the woods directly below them.

The Star of David killer remained as still as a stone as the kid’s gaze seemed to linger on him for a moment. The last thing he needed was for the boy to detect his presence and yell out for his daddy. The papa of the family had an itchy twelve-gauge finger that he didn’t want to deal with that evening.

Seemingly satisfied, the boy stopped searching the woods and continued his walk.

The Star of David Killer glanced overhead at the vultures, angry with them for almost giving away his position. For their carelessness, they wouldn’t be feeding on his handiwork that evening, and if they didn’t atone for their misstep, they wouldn’t partake in any of the festivities on his planned itinerary.

This was the first night—the evening of his coming-out party and the kickoff of his personal pilgrimage. It was the acknowledgment that the presence within him, who had compelled him to plan and now execute the initial steps of his mission, had chosen the right vehicle for the job.

He felt something biting him on his lower legs. Glancing down, he saw by the light of the rear porch that ants were advancing up his calves. He remained silent and didn’t move, not wanting to sound the alarm that he was out there in the dark. A small green garden snake slithered out of the brush toward him. He stepped on it and crushed its head.

The grunting male hog reveled in the slop the boy had dumped into his pen. The female hog stood to the side with her five remaining piglets cowering under her.

The killer frowned at the stench of the hogs. It wasn’t the last smell he wanted on his mind before he began his body of work. To get past it, he closed his eyes and thought of the fragrances inside the boy’s family home, smells that he knew all too well. He’d spent many nights there while they slept, enjoying their scents, with his favorites being the individual smell of each of their worn clothing. The laundry room was a treasure trove of delights. Each of the family members left their own unique and enjoyable stains in their underwear. He’d gotten to know the other families in just as much detail, meticulously taking in their routines and schedules, getting to know every nuance of each of them.

He removed his blade from his waistband and watched Rueben, his first victim, as he rinsed out the slop bucket with a water hose attached to the rear of his home. He squeezed the black-handled blade. The paring knife felt perfect in his hand, after having gone through an exhaustive testing process to find the right cutting instrument—one with just the right shape and size for optimal carving control against a moving body. He’d practiced his skills with it for many hours, initially on cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, until he’d graduated to successful tests on small gerbils, kittens, and puppies he’d purchased at various pet stores.

Finally, the lights went out in the shack. It was time. As usual, Rueben’s parents were more than likely already fast asleep. Rueben, on the other hand, should be wide-awake in his darkened room, surfing Internet porn sites by the light of his laptop. The little fella loved to look at online pussy, but he wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy any.

As the final step of his preparation process, he extracted a bottle of removable glue from the front waistband of his outfit and placed another coat over his hands. It was an additional layer to guard against him leaving fingerprints behind, but he knew he didn’t need to worry on that score. Over the past year, he’d used razor blades every month to remove the top layer of skin on each of his fingertips, making them as smooth as a baby’s ass.

He had no fingerprints.

He could’ve easily used gloves, but he wanted to touch them, to feel his prey with his bare hands. He blew on the glue until it dried. Satisfied, he stood, stretched his legs and approached Rueben’s home on silent feet.

He hadn’t troubled himself to brush the ants from his lower torso. The stinging sensation of their bites would serve as a reminder that before that evening, he was once human.

Chapter 2

In the quaint, historic city of Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, at the onset of a torrential downpour,  thirty-five-year-old  detective  Art Somers rolled up the driver’s side window of his blue, classic Camaro and turned on his wipers. He took inventory of himself in his rearview mirror: his black mane of shoulder-length hair that offset his olive skin, the shadow of a beard that now graced his face, and more troubling, his bloodshot eyes. He hadn’t slept much lately and it showed. How much longer was it going to take the FBI boys to capture the serial nutcase operating in their midst?

Within a span of twenty-one days, someone had kidnapped and slaughtered multiple twelve-year-old boys in his county and eluded all capture efforts. He gripped his steering wheel tighter. The only good news, if you could call it that, was that the bastard hadn’t struck in Murrell’s Inlet.

He stared at his former neighbor’s sons, who were playing a game of pickup football on the dirt field to his left. One of those boys—or even his own son, Ben—could be the killer’s next target if Murrell’s Inlet became his next city of choice. He breathed deep. Not even the fishy fragrance of the nearby Atlantic waters he loved so much, did anything to improve his frame of mind.

A cluster of lightning bolts illuminated the darkened, cloud-filled morning sky, followed immediately by booming thunder that echoed in the distance. Overhead, seagulls darted away as the winds picked up.

Every locale within his county was on edge because the killer only struck within the confines of Georgetown County and always in a different city. For all he knew, his town could be next. He reached over to his front passenger seat and rested his palm on the printout of the FBI serial profiling article. Under captain’s orders, every detective in the station house had spent the past two weeks boning up on the behavior patterns of serial killers.

He flexed the muscles in his arms and looked at his Navy SEAL tattoos. He had no clue what to do if that sick bastard showed up in Murrell’s Inlet. He was too new at being a detective and some were questioning why the captain had promoted him in the first place. Following up on an obscure lead, he’d taken the initiative and pursued and captured a couple of long-sought backwater drug dealers, a feat that catapulted him from the rank and file into the role he now held. Another contributing factor for his promotion could’ve been that his captain was also a former Navy SEAL. Reading the FBI profiling article hadn’t made him feel any better. He hoped he’d never cross paths with the sick freak.

He wheeled his Camaro into the driveway of his former home, a light green, two-story, southern vernacular. It had a pool in the backyard that he’d put in himself. He sat behind the wheel for a moment under the overhanging branches of the angel hair oak tree his ex-wife had planted long ago in honor of their son Ben’s birth.

He ran his hands through his long, wavy hair and climbed out, wearing worn, faded jeans and a burgundy T-shirt that worked well with his muscular, tanned frame. The rain soaked him as he jogged through the piles of wet leaves that covered the lawn. He stepped onto the covered porch and was about to knock when Judith, his ex-wife, swung the door open.

His son, Ben, with dark hair and piercing, dark eyes just like his, dressed in his white baseball uniform with burgundy letters that read Gamecocks, dashed by him toward the car carrying his cell phone. “Hey, Dad.” “Whoa. Hey, Sport. If this rain doesn’t break,
they may cancel the game.”

“Let’s go,” Ben said and climbed into the front passenger seat.

Judith stood in the doorway in a revealing pink nightie. She was breathing heavily, as though she’d just finished a vigorous workout. She was thirty-four, with shoulder-length blond hair and enough sexual energy to raise the dead. “It’s about time you showed up. Benjamin is being disrespectful to my guest.”

“A killer who’s randomly taking boys our son’s age is kind of a priority, don’t you think?”

“You don’t even know if he’ll come this way,” Judith said.

“A good scout is always prepared.”

“Maybe you should prepare by going to church sometimes and praying about it.”

“I’ll pretend that church means something to you, just as soon as you stop placing hairs of your enemies in those jars of yours.”

A young black man with a shaved head and chiseled body—and more than likely the source of Judith’s workout—joined her at the door. He expanded his chest and stood straight at the sight of Art.

Art shook his head. Yet another boy-toy around his son. “You think Ben’s disrespect has something to do with your choice of guests?” He frowned. “Let him come live with me.”

She stared at him. “I told you, I need the child support—and I’d miss him.”

“Two years of monthly child support checks— even if he’s with me.”

There was a moment of silence as Judith seemed to consider his offer. She glanced at her boy-toy, whose arm now rested across her shoulder. “We’ll be back from vacation soon.”

“Think about my offer.”

She kissed her boy-toy deeply, pursed her lips at Art, and then slammed the door in his face.

“Bitch,” he said under his breath to the closed door. What in hell had he been thinking having unprotected sex with her? He strode back to his car, climbed in, and screeched his tires as he backed out of the driveway. He turned on his windshield wipers and tore off down the wet street. He glanced at his son, who was watching him. He slowed to the posted speed limit.

Ben tossed the FBI serial profiling article in his lap onto the backseat. He pulled his cell phone out of his front pocket and pressed buttons. He rocked his head back and forth to his music selection. “What were you and Mom talking about?”

Art glanced at Ben. “Life, son—things you deal with in life.”

“Mom said call him ‘Dad.’”

Art pressed the brake pedal, coming to a complete stopped in the middle of the street. He stared at his son. “Who?”

“Her new boyfriend, Clarence.”

Art tensed. He pressed the gas and proceeded down the road. “I’m your father.”

“I know, Dad.”

They rode on in silence. His son’s words had cut deep.

Chapter 3

With the heavy rain and bad weather behind them, an unusually bright and hot October sun beamed down on Art, the baseball players, and the fans. He stood in front of his team’s dugout, now dressed in his coach’s uniform. His attention drifted away from his son in the batter’s box, to the parents and spectators who filled the overflowing bleachers.

A large banner hung over the visiting dugout: ‘In Honor of Odo Atkins.’ Odo’s parents sat on the upper deck under another sign commemorating their son, who’d been a member of the opposing team. Unfortunately, Odo was the latest victim of the serial killer.

Art squinted in the sunlight and continued to study the spectators. He sought new faces in the crowd— ones he’d never noticed before at any of their games. His serial-profiling research suggested that some killers got off on watching the reaction of their handiwork on the love ones of their victims. The killer could be there watching Odo’s parents but try as he might, he didn’t spot anyone who seemed out of place. He returned his attention to the game.

Ben took his most menacing stance at home plate and glared at the pitcher. He moved his bat in a circular motion above his head.

Ben’s best friend, thirteen-year-old Scott Kennedy Jr., with blond hair and blue eyes, yelled out to him from third base. “Come on, Ben.”

Art cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled above the crowd of spectators, some of whom now stood, clapping and stomping their feet in the stands. “Remember, son—keep your eye on the ball.”

Art heard a familiar laugh behind him and glanced over his shoulder at twenty-nine-year-old Angela Hunter. She looked irresistibly captivating—tanned and brunette, dressed in a white summer blouse and khaki shorts that revealed her slim, well-toned body. She stood close to Art’s silver-haired maternal grandmother, Sarah Somers. Eighty-five-year-old Sarah sat slouched on the corner of the lowest row of bleachers.
Angela waved and blew him a kiss.

Art smiled and nodded back, loving the way her full, round, emerald-green eyes lingered on him—eyes that had instantly made him want to get to know her better when they first met. Something about her got to him. They had whatever it was that drew people together and then some. He listened to her lively discussion with his grandmother about their favorite topic those days: him.

“When are you going to make my grandson an honest man?” Sarah asked.

“Grandma Sarah,” Angela said.

“You’re the right age. You need to have children.”

“I have a career,” Angela said.

“He should never have married that girl. She broke his heart. You don’t want him, now that he’s damaged goods?”

“I’m trying,” Angela said.

Art smiled at his grandmother. “All right, Grandma. Stop playing matchmaker and watch your great-grandson take his turn at bat.”

Ben stepped out of the batter’s box and wiped away sweat that dripped into his eyes from his forehead. He raised each foot and used his bat to knock the dirt out of the cleats of his baseball shoes. He stepped back into the batter’s box and dug in.

“It’s not me who doesn’t want to commit. Talk to your grandson.” Angela yelled, “Go, Benjamin!”

“A woman can get a man off his butt,” Sarah said. Angela laughed. Art chuckled.

Blond-haired Scott Kennedy Sr., the associate pastor at the Faith Tabernacle Church and father to Ben’s best friend, walked up and took a seat next to Grandma
Sarah. He nodded at Art. “I miss anything?”

“Not much,” Art said. “Just the fact that your son hit a line drive single, then stole second and third base, and now represents the tying run.”

“That’s my boy,” Scott Sr. said.

The scoreboard showed the score was 3–2, with the visitors ahead in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Scott Jr. inched off third base, ready to race toward home plate.

Art stepped farther out of the dugout and leaned on the railing. “Come on, Ben.”

“You need a good woman in your life,” Sarah


“Give it a rest, grandma,” Art said.

Supporters in the crowd continued to clap and stomp their feet to urge Ben on.

The pitcher wound up and fired a fastball in close

at Ben.

Ben dropped to the ground to avoid the pitch. He rose and wiped the dust from his uniform. He readjusted his cap on his head and resumed his aggressive stance in the batter’s box.

Art once again glanced through the spectators and this time, he spotted two people he’d never seen before at a game: an elderly black man and a younger black woman.

The couple sat quietly watching him, not paying attention to the action on the field, while everyone else cheered and clapped, heavily engrossed in the game.

Art’s left eye twitched. There was something familiar about the couple. He couldn’t quite nail down why, but it was as if he knew them from somewhere. He felt uneasy. They were dressed the same way some of the island kids on his baseball team sometimes dressed. They wore multicolored African outfits. It wasn’t their clothing that bothered him. It was the fact that they were just sitting there, staring at him.

The woman wore a traditional tribal tunic dress and matching headwear. She had a forced smile on her face. The man had on a dashiki shirt, along with Sokoto drawstring pants and a kufi cap, exposing the gray hair near his temples – strangely, he never seemed to blink.

Art wondered if they were friends or relatives of one of his players, but he thought he knew most of the family members and their close friends.

The pitcher fired a curve ball that dropped and brushed the outside corner of the plate.

Ben swung and missed.

“Strike two!” the umpire said, drawing Art’s attention back to the playing field.

The crowd moaned.

Art flinched and grasped the dugout railing, his gazed still locked with the elderly black man’s. Strength drained from his legs, but his grip on the railing helped him to maintained his balance.

“Go, Benny,” Grandma Sarah yelled from the stands.

Art struggled to steady himself as tightness in his chest gripped him. He closed his eyes and hoped he wasn’t having a heart attack. He reopened his eyes and stared again at the black couple, noticing they were still watching him. He looked over at Angela and his grandmother. They appeared to haven’t seen what he was going through. He tried to speak and motion to them but couldn’t. He locked gazes again with the old man.

Suddenly, Art experienced a vision of a beautiful, light-skinned, young black woman standing on the front porch of a faded-gray slave cabin on a full moon lit night. It appeared to be somewhere in the backwoods marshlands near the Plantation River in Murrell’s Inlet.

Tall blades of dying grass, weeds infested with crabgrass, and four-leaf clovers covered the landscape. The winds picked up and blew her white nightgown up around her thighs. She yawned, went back inside the hut, and warmed herself by the fireplace for a moment.

She then climbed into her bare bed, with her auburn hair splayed out across her pillow. The young woman fell asleep. She began to rub her body—a body glistening from beads of sweat, caused by the flames that flickered and seemed to lick at her skin. She moaned, bit her lower lip and caressed her firm, young body. She dreamed of a handsome young man with piercing eyes and pale white skin kissing her passionately.

Art grabbed himself. It was as if her feelings and her thoughts were his, and at the same time, he was observing her as if watching a movie. What was happening to him?

Cracking thunder and flashing lightning illuminated her hut, startling and awakening her from her dream. She rolled over and through half-opened eyes, watched the winds whip the cabin’s curtains around through the closed windows. The unusual sight puzzled her.

Suddenly, the window at the front of the cabin flew open, causing her to bolt upright on her bed. She rubbed the goose bumps on her arms and glanced around the cabin, sensing an eerie presence. She trembled, climbed off the bed, and went over to the window on unsteady feet. She struggled to close it. She glanced outside and saw a wolf standing on the bank near the edge of the river among moss-laden oak and cypress trees.

Cranes stood in the water among alligators.

The wolf stared up into the heavens. It glanced over its shoulder at her with bloodshot eyes. It took a deep breath, expanding its powerful gray-and-white chest, and howled at her, filling the night with its baritone timbre. An anaconda slithered along a tree branch near the wolf, tasting the air with its flicking tongue. The wolf turned its head and glared at the snake. In an instant the wolf struck, ripping the snake to pieces.

The cranes scattered as if spooked. They flew out across the river, barely escaping snapping alligators.

Animals approached her cabin from the trees and gathered on her front lawn—deer, wild hogs, raccoons, and possums. They all stared at her, as if waiting for something.

She shook as trees around her changed form: part human and part animal, entwined in a hedonistic display of passion, engaged in an orgy with the tree limbs seeming to melt into one another. Flames ignited within the trees, billowing into the sky, but the trees didn’t burn.

She backed away from the window at the sight of the earth cracking open in her front yard. She thought she must still be dreaming. She pinched her arm to no avail. The image in her front yard remained.

A steamy mist rose from the deep. The form of a man with powder-white skin and a powerful build ascended from the bottomless pit.

Art clutched the dugout railing even tighter and struggled to maintain his balance as the vision overtook him. He blinked his eyes and looked around. He should be able see the spectators and ball players on the field, but he could only see the woman in the cabin.

The sight of the man from the bottomless pit caused her to dash back to her bed. She scooted toward the top, which had no headboard, and riveted her back against the wall of the hut. She trembled when the spirit form of the man materialized just outside her window.

The spirit’s appearance morphed until it resembled the young man from her dream.

She pulled her knees up to her chin and cowered in his presence. She wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go. The vision of the man caused her to shudder and cringe at his menacing presence, but it also appealed to something deep within the core of her being. She sensed he was capable of both savagery and compassion.
“Dad! Dad!” Ben said.

Art heard his son, but he couldn’t see him. “Dad,” Ben said again.

Art felt his son’s hand squeeze his forearm. He came out of the vision, his head spinning as if he had vertigo. He blinked and tried in vain to adjust his eyesight, but his son and others on the field appeared hazy.
“Are you okay?” Ben asked.

Fuck no. He wasn’t okay. After a moment, his natural vision returned to him.

All the players, along with the umpire, Scott Sr., Angela and his grandmother Sarah, stood before him. Ben was directly in front of him.

He didn’t know what had just happened. He looked into the stands. The black couple was gone.

Angela walked up to him. “Art?” She wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Your shirt is soaked.”

“I’m okay,” Art finally said. He continued to hold onto the dugout railing, willing his strength and equilibrium to return.

The umpire stared at Art. “It looked like you were having a seizure or something.”

“Yeah,” Scott Sr. said, who was now standing next to Art. “Dude, I thought you were going down for the count.”

“Do we need to stop the game?” Ben asked. Art shook his head. “No. Play ball. I’m fine.” “You seem wobbly,” the umpire said.

His knees still felt weak. His head was spinning. He had no plausible explanation for what had just happened. “I’m fine.”

“Play ball,” the umpire yelled.

The players dashed onto the field. The fans clapped.

Ben retook his stance at the plate. He glanced between the pitcher and his father.

The pitcher wound up and fired a fastball.

Ben swung with all his might and made contact with the ball on the bat’s sweet spot. It made a loud pop, launching the ball high and far into the sky, out over the outfield fence.

The crowd exploded into cheers.

Art forced a smile as images of the woman in the hut flashed in his mind while Ben circled the bases. Could he be losing it?

Ben’s teammates rushed out to home plate and waited as he trotted around the bases to repeated chants of his name from the crowd.

Angela jumped up and down. She and Sarah clapped as the team mobbed Ben.

Ben strode up and gave his dad a bear hug. “We

did it.”

“We did, son.” Art released him. He walked over and searched the parking lot, looking for the elderly black man and the young black woman. They were nowhere in sight. His head hurt like hell. And for the first time in his life, he’d experienced an otherworldly event he couldn’t readily explain.

Chapter 4

Later that evening, Art and Angela sat across from each other in matching faded jeans and white T-shirts at the Pawley’s Island Tavern,

a low-country nightspot near the Waccamaw River. What happened to him at the ballpark? It wasn’t like him. He’d always categorized stories such as his waking vision of a white demon with a slave girl, as superstitious nonsense when spoken of by others. He didn’t like what had happened to him one damn bit. It was outside the scope of everything he believed in, and yet it happened to him.

He refilled their glasses from a large pitcher of beer that sat between them. Angela peeled the hull off a large shrimp, dipped it into a bowl of red cocktail sauce, and fed it to him. Couples around them danced close to the sound of a live band belting out an old Robert Johnson blues classic. He stared at Angela. He had something much more pressing to attend to than rehashing what had happened to him that day. He gazed deep into her eyes, attempting to get a read on her.

“You haven’t said much tonight,” she said. “I have a lot on my mind.”

“Like what happened to you at the game, maybe?

I yelled your name over and over. You didn’t respond.” He grabbed a shrimp and fed it to her. “You and Grandma are pressing me way too much about our relationship.”

“I’m serious, Art. You were sweating out there, trembling.”

“I’m serious too.”

She  sat  back  and  folded  her  arms  across  her


“Okay. I don’t know what happened out there.” She smiled. “See?”


“You should move in with me. I can keep an eye on you.”

“We’ve talked about this.”

“I know, after we’re engaged. What are you waiting on?”

“I’m pacing myself.”

She dipped her fingers into her glass of beer and flicked them at him. “Thanks a lot.”

“Things need to be just right. There’s the ring and the right venue.”

“Look around yourself. This is the perfect spot, our spot.”

“Come on, baby, I want the moment to be special. I want to do it the right way.”

“Just ask.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He raised his glass. “Here’s to me growing a pair and proposing.”

“I like your pair just fine.”

He chuckled. They toasted each other and threw back a few gulps. He reached out and used his thumb to wipe the beer fuzz from her upper lip.

Angela leaned across the table and kissed him. “Something happened to you on that field today. And now you’re not your usual self tonight.”

Art returned her kiss. “I’m a little tense. There’s something I need to do, but right now, I need to use the bathroom.”

“When you get back, talk to me about what happened to you.”

“I’m fine.” He rose from the table and made his way through the crowd to the bathroom. He pulled a hundred-dollar bill from his front pocket and folded it up in his hand. When he glanced back, he saw she’d returned to eating the shrimp cocktail.
It was now or never.

He presented a thumbs-up signal to the lead singer of the band, who nodded yes. Once he was sure

Angela wasn’t watching, he climbed onstage and took the mike from the singer.

The band members stopped playing. Some in the packed room waited in anticipation to hear what Art had to say. Scott Sr. and his son sat eating oysters.

Art glanced out at her and smiled at her puzzled expression. He then spoke to her. “Baby, here, in front of everyone–”

She sat up straighter in her chair and clasped one of her hands over her mouth as if it had finally dawned on her what he was up to.

“–Will you marry me?”

Tears filled her eyes. She rose from the dining table and made her way through the smiling patrons on the dance floor. She moved to the edge of the stage and stopped just in front of him.

Art handed the microphone back to the lead singer and pulled a red ring case from his pocket. He knelt before her.

“You jerk,” she said. “Complaining about me and your grandmother. You had this planned all along.”

Art nodded. “Yes.” He opened the case, retrieved a large diamond ring, and placed it on her finger.

Angela appeared shocked. “Your grandmother and your mother’s engagement ring.”

“You’re the only person I’ve ever given it to.”

They hugged and gave each other a deep kiss. The crowd cheered.

The lead singer spoke into the microphone to

Angela. “I think he’s waiting on an answer, sweetheart.”

The crowd laughed.

Angela nodded. “Yes. Yes!”

Art lifted her up on the stage and pulled her close. Angela hugged his neck. “Yes, I will marry you.”

The crowd applauded and filled the room with catcalls.

“Way to go, Art!” Scott Sr. yelled.

Art held her close. It felt right. He swept her up into his arms and carried her down off the stage, back toward their table. While still holding her in the air, he placed the folded bill he held in his hand on the table and moved toward the tavern exit with her clutching his neck. Angela swung her feet and waved at the cheering crowd as they exited the front door.

Art’s cell signaled a received text. Angela retrieved his phone from his shirt pocket and frowned. She showed him the message while he still held her in his arms.

He squinted and lowered her to her feet. The content of the text message revealed that the unthinkable might’ve just descended on their doorstep.

About the author:
Before publishing his debut novel in 2016, he served over 27 years as an information technology professional working initially for the US Navy, and then the Department of the Navy and various fortune companies. He’s a UCLA writing program alumnus who writes mystery thrillers and children stories. He has three wonderful kids who he enjoys immensely. Writing is his passion and his goal with each story is to capture the imagination in the opening pages and keep it engaged to the story’s riveting conclusion.

Author's Giveaway

1 comment:

CMash said...

I just saw a rave review on this book and hope to read it in the near future.