Work in Progress

The new novel in the series is taking shape. It’s now titled “Dell’s Leap”, and involves our hero coping with a series of attempts on her life, and working to discover who is behind it all. Here’s another excerpt:

A squall moved in at daybreak Wednesday to wreak some mischief on the Parker Ranch. It tore three corrugated panels off the horse barn roof, took down several yards of fencing and left dark puddles everywhere before moving out as quickly as it blew in.

Francine and son Donnie had engrossed themselves in replacing wire, trimming, and nailing for two hours after finishing a quick breakfast. Marty had been sent to town for extra supplies.

As they pulled wire along the access road, the rumble of an automobile engine slowly intruded. Stopping work to listen, they threw silent questions at each other. Donnie, at age sixteen, stood a head taller than his mother. Their physical proximity had her looking up at him.

She turned to peer down the road. “It’s too soon for Marty to be back. Were you expecting someone to come by today, Donnie?”

The young man took off his glove and scratched the back of his neck. “Only Rachel, but she won’t be here until lunch, and she almost never drives.”

They rarely got stray visitors. Most of the time when people came over, Francie knew about it well in advance.

“It’s probably UPS or something. They won’t get within sight for another five to ten, so let’s try and finish this one line.”

Most of the clouds from the early morning storm had drifted off, but the ground remained wet, and no telltale dust cloud betrayed the visitor’s whereabouts. Ten minutes passed as the sound of the vehicle got closer, and eventually a bright green Jeep four-wheeler bumped over the rise. Francie moved a step closer to the shotgun leaning against the fence and cast a steady gaze at the machine grinding noisily toward them.

The vehicle slowed when it neared, and stopped a few feet from the fence line. They watched in the sudden quiet as the door opened and a tall woman in olive drab overalls slid to the ground. She shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare as she looked at Francine and Donnie. Francie idly noted her black shirt blended with her black skin, and it took another glance to decide whether the garment was long or short-sleeved.

As the woman opened her mouth to speak, Francie noticed other details—she would tower over many of her sex, likely even Dell. Her hair dangled in tiny braids, and her right hand now shading her eyes, showed two fingers missing.

“Good morning! Would you know a redhead, name of Dell? I’m told she lives around here.”

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