Saturday, September 19, 2015
Saturday Snippets–Judgement By Fire
Ah, Saturday! How do you spend yours? In our house it used to be a crazy day of playing catch up with laundry, housework, and cooking and freezing meals for the following week – as well as checking in with the kids, hearing all about their schoolwork, projects, and friends.
And we had a small hobby farm, so there was always plenty to do with cleaning out pens (oh, joy!), checking livestock health, fences, and a thousand other things.
So Saturday evening was movie night. Glass of wine, pizza (delivered – I didn’t have to cook it!) and some quality time with the Better Half.
And always, always, there were a few snatched minutes to read.
Now that I work from home and I’m my own boss, Saturdays are no longer such a mad rush. All four kids – two boys, two girls – are grown and have homes of their own. I never really experienced that Empty Nest Syndrome I’ve heard so much about. I was really proud that they’d reached a stage in life where they could fly the coup – and blissed out with the peace and quiet and so much time to read – and write. Sure I miss them sometimes, but they’re all close enough to visit and anyway, if it gets really bad, I’ll put them in a book
Judgement By Fire was my very first published book, – if you don’t count a fair number of children’s school subject books – first by a publisher and later Indie published because I wanted the experience of independently publishing a book. It was written in stolen moments during those crazy years. So I thought it was only fitting that this be the first book for Saturday Snippets.
Canadian wildlife artist Lauren Stephens swore off men after her marriage collapsed and burned. Instead, she’s focussed on her increasingly successful art career and made her home in an artists’ colony based around an old mansion estate in Ontario.
When a multi-national corporation wants to buy the estate and turn it into a health spa for the very rich, turning the artists and writers out of their rented cottages, Lauren volunteers to lead the protest against the sale. The move brings her into direct conflict with Jon Rush, the powerful CEO of Rush Co. International.
An instant attraction springs up between them, although Lauren is reluctant to trust the handsome industrialist. When Lauren’s studio is trashed and her life is threatened, Jon fears she’s being targeted by the mysterious person trying to destroy his company – a villain not afraid to use violence in his determination to see Jon suffer.
But is there a darker shadow over Lauren? And can Jon save her from a Judgement By Fire?
“I’m warning you; put her down!” Paul’s stentorian voice commanded and Lauren decided he was right. Struggling in the iron clasp of Jon’s arms, she, too, demanded to be put down.
“Right away,” he conceded, swinging open the passenger door and depositing her on gently on the leather seat in the warm cab of his Jeep.
“I’ve already alerted the police. There’s no way you can get away with this,” Paul stated, holding Jon’s eyes with his own. “Just let Lauren go and we’ll talk, maybe sort out something.”
“There’s nothing to sort. She can’t stay here.”
“She can’t go with you.”
“She’s in no condition to deal with this…”
“And she’s the cat’s mother,” Lauren interjected, knowing she probably sounded ridiculous, but tired of hearing the two men fighting about her as if she was a bone.
“Lauren, I’ve called the police. We’ll see how he can explain this to Chief Ohmer,” Paul told her, his eyes never leaving Jon’s face. At that moment, as though they had conjured him up, they heard a blast of the police siren as Ohmer himself turned into the Haverford Castle driveway.
Moments later, he’d surveyed the wreckage of Lauren’s home, checked that she herself was uninjured, called for scene-of-crime backup, and fixed a cold eye on Jon Rush.
“So, Mr. Rush, how do you explain yourself?”
“I don’t have anything to explain.” Rush’s voice was flat, authoritative.
“Then who trashed Lauren’s place?” Ohmer asked.
“Who else would want to, except some corporate scum?” Paul interjected, drawing a daggers-glance from the police chief.
“Easy now…” Ohmer warned, but Lauren interjected.
“No, Paul, finish what you were going to say. I liked the sound of it.” Lauren knew shock was making her giddy, but an attack of the giggles seemed preferable to howling at the moon and tearing her hair, which was her only other apparent option. All three men swiveled to look at her.
“Hysterical,” Paul judged.
“Overwrought,” Jon agreed.
“Getting madder by the minute,” Lauren chimed in.
“So who could hate her enough to do this?” Jon asked Paul.
“I wouldn’t think she’s got that many enemies,” Paul replied.
“No, but she does have an attitude,” Jon commented sagely.
Paul burst out laughing.
“Now, just you wait a minute. One moment you’re calling him out for ravaging my home and kidnapping me, the next you’re making jokes at my expense? What is this, the Men’s Club routine?” Lauren demanded, and both men shamefacedly lost their amusement. Chief Ohmer turned away to greet another police car with the backup personnel he’d requested.
“Lauren, I don’t know what you believe, but I certainly did not, would not, do something like this.” Jon’s eyes held hers, but Lauren looked away.
“Go and look at the painting on my easel—what there is left of it,” she told the two men.
As they left, she leaned her head forwards against the chilled glass of the windscreen, fighting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her. It had been okay to keep up the slapstick while Jon and Paul were there, somehow it had defused the situation, and besides, she couldn’t really take seriously the concept of Jon Rush trashing her home.
But if not him, who?