NaNoWriMo 2019, I’ve just put up my novel for this year

Nanowrimo graphic

As I have for the past few years, once again I’m going to try and put out 50,000 words.

The title of the novel will be “Betrayal”, though that might change as the novel progresses.  Sometimes a better title comes to me later on in the writing.

It’s another spy thriller, though with a slightly different angle this time, and I’ve spent the last few days working on an outline which is, to say the least, very general at the moment.

I know how it will start.

I know how it will end, or at least I think I do.  Having an end in mind is quite new for me because I tend to write and see where it goes, like being in the reader’s seat and not knowing what will happen next.

Over the next few days I will refine the cast of characters and then work on some of the introductory plot points.

Right now, as I’m writing this, I can see a rather dank prison cell somewhere in Moscow, where one of the main characters is languishing.

The other, in rather different circumstances, has just got through the throes of a semi amicable divorce and is considering how the next chapter of his life is going to be written.

That, of course, could change in the next twelve hours, after I’ve slept on it.

It’s now 2am here and time to get some sleep (or either pleasant or unpleasant dreams, depending on the character whose shoes I want to step into).

 

Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 21

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

An unlikely ally?

 

“Wait.”

It seemed that I had managed to scare her.  Either that, or she had decided to be a little more forthcoming.  I stopped and waited until she caught up.  I was nearly at the top of the stairs.

“Look, I have to go back to my people, and I’ll get them to look into those two people you don’t seem to trust, who were they, Nobbin and Severin?”

“I don’t think you want to do that.  You start making waves, your people will send out feelers and they’ll get to hear about it, and they will know exactly where it came from, and it’ll come back and bite you.  For your own peace of mind, I’d let the sleeping dogs lie.”

She seemed over-eager to get ahead using this as a steppingstone.  I’d seen the type, in the training ranks, and in former jobs.  She was clearly assigned this job because of her looks, and she might be a good agent too, but she hadn’t thought this through.

“Are you telling me to back off?”

“I’m trying to save your life.  If I have no idea who to trust, then I have to assume both of them are theoretically the enemy.  I’m still counting the blessings I’m still alive, but I suspect that will only last until the USB is found.  The rest of my team are dead.”

Now that put the right amount of fear into her.

“If they’re willing to kill everybody that’s come in contact with this information, I doubt they’d stop at killing the both of us if we got in their way.”

“Then you have a plan?”

“At the moment that plan consists of one line.  Stay alive and find the USB before they do.  After that, I’ll see what happens.”

I caught sight of an incident, two people almost colliding, and one, I noticed, was more intent on his phone which is what caused the clash.  And, a second later, I thought I recognised one of the two.

Maury.  Severin’s offsider, and more likely cleanup man.  My guess, he was the one searching O’Connell’s flat, and Jan’.”

I think it was safe to say she was compromised.

“Ok,” I said quietly, “we have a problem, well two problems.”  And if I was wrong about her, and she was one of Severin’s people, which, seeing Maury just turned a probable into a likely, I had three.

If she was, I hadn’t seen that coming. 

“What now?”

Time to test the water.

“One of Severin’s men is downstairs, mingling, which means he knows I’m here, and maybe you two.”

I did a quick check of my scan of O’Connell’s, thinking I might have picked up a bug.  It was the only explanation why Maury was here.  And, it was likely he was not alone.

Not me.  Jan?

“Did you take anything from O’Connell’s?”

“No.  Why?”

“Are you sure.  Think”

While scanning the lower floor of the station looking, no doubt, for Maury, and anyone that might present a problem, she looked like she was recounting her steps.

“Damn.  A pen.  I left it there the last time I saw him.”  She pulled it out of her bag and went to toss it in the bin.

I snatched it, and as someone brushed past me, I dropped it into their pocket.

A flash of annoyance, then, “Hey, that cost a lot of money.”

“Then be grateful it didn’t cost you your life.  Yet.”

We waited, keeping far enough back from the stairs, but with still a good view of the station.  I kept an eye on the man whom I gave the pen as he made his way across the floor towards one of the platforms.  Luckily it was at the furthest end, and as he approached it, I saw three figures, and Maury slowly make their way towards him forming a blockade so he couldn’t escape.

“Time to go.”

She had noticed the movement too.

We went down the stairs and headed towards the first available exit.  As we were going out the door, we heard a commotion, the team obviously apprehending the wrong man, who would be wondering why four burly men were accosting him on his way home.

We didn’t wait to find out what happened to him.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 30

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

Was this going to be the very definition of dining with the devil?

Or was my curiosity going to be the death of me?

It was just one of a dozen questions I asked myself on that trip back to Nadia’s room.  One reason I was going there was not in the expectation of a romantic interlude.  No, this was something else.  I kept reminding myself that Nadia was, first and foremost, a Cossatino, and the Cossatino’s were not people you wanted to be friends with.

When we arrived, she asked for a few minutes so she could change, so I stayed out on the balcony.  It was a coolish night, a clear sky, and just a hint of salt in the air.  We were not far from the ocean, and it reminded me of another lifetime, one where I was young enough not to have to worry about all that grown-up stuff.

I heard the door open behind me.

“Thanks for waiting.”

I turned, not sure what I was expecting.  Certainly not a statuesque woman in training gear.  She looked to me ready to go for a training run.

I walked past her into the room, faintly smelling of some perfume, and sat in one of the two chairs in the room.  I watched her close the door, go over to the mini bar, get two bottles of beer out, and hand one to me.

It was an odd thought, being in a hotel room with Nadia, the last thing I’d ever be doing with her, let alone any other woman.  My choices had always been limited, or so I had thought.

“I had this thought,” she said, leaning against the desk on the opposite side of the room, “that we should try and beat Vince at his own game.”

An interesting thought, was Nadia thinking of joining in Boggs’s treasure hunt, take it over, or was this a ruse, and had she been working with Vince all this time, and using us to get to the prize by another route.  Or was it a rivalry with Vince that she wanted to win?  Wasn’t it Boggs’s call who joined the expedition?

“We as in you and me, or we as in Boggs and you, or…”

“You’re overthinking it Smidge.”

“A word of advice, Nadia, if you’re trying to appeal to my good side, you might consider dropping the nickname.  Only the people I hate use it, and I’m sure you don’t want me to add you to the list.”

Not necessarily warranted, and in my younger days I’d never dare to speak to her like that, but I felt I had the upper hand, at least for a short time.

“OK.  Note to self, call Smidge Sam.  Old habits are hard to break.”

In more ways than one, I thought. 

“Well, overthinking it or not, it’s not my call to make.  I’m assuming you want to join in on Boggs’s treasure hunt?”

“That was the idea.”

“You’re assuming that Boggs actually has the real map, or, in fact, there is such a thing.  You have to remember that his father created all those maps, and it wouldn’t be hard to make one look more authentic than another, just to get a better price.  Everything to do with the treasure seems to me like it’s one big hoax.”

“If that was the case, why do you think Vince is so wound up about it?  My point is, Vince is simply all muscle and no brains.  He always has been, so you have to assume that my grandfather has decided there’s something in the rumours.  Granted he may have been working in league with Boogs senior, but don’t you think that in order to create forgeries, there had to be some sort of map to work from.”

An interesting premise.

“If it led to treasure on an island in the Wast Indies, I’d be more likely to believe in it, but here, a million miles from any of the pirate trading routes, and having a deep abiding disbelieve in hidden treasure still not recovered in this day and age, what do you think?”

“Does Boggs’s know about your scepticism?”

“I’ve told him enough times, but he has this bee in his bonnet, and I’m his best friend, probably his only friend.  I humour him.  And I doubt seriously if he’ll ever go through with it, because he’s never finished anything in his life.  He gave me a copy of the map, but I suspect that was a copy of the one he gave Vince in the end.

“So, you think it’s not a worthwhile exercise?”

“What I think doesn’t matter.  But I’ve got a question for you.  Why have you come back here?”

“What if I told you it’s possible that the treasure is real.”

“I’d say you’ve been indulging in the drugs your family pedals.”

“What if I said I had proof?”

OK, where is this going?  Did that mean she had proof, or that the Cossatino’s had proof, and was she about to open a can of worms?

“I’m listening.”

“That man that you found dead on Rico’s boat.  His name was Jacob Stravinsky.  He was an authority on pirates and their lost treasure, and had over the years, uncovered evidence that pirates had come here supposedly fleeing from the authorities, and that at least two of them could have hidden some of their treasure somewhere along this coastline.  News of the discovery of several gold coins off the coast, not ten miles from here somehow caught Ales Benderby’s ear and he went to visit him.

“No one is sure what happened at that meeting, but I know Alex was there because that’s where I ran into him.  And, the fool that he is, got drunk and told me, no bragged about how he was going to find the treasure and prove his worth to his father.”

“Then how did this Stravinsky end up dead on Rico’s boat.”

“Because Alex got what he wanted and made sure no one else found out.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

“The Things We Do For Love” – Coming soon

Is love the metaphorical equivalent to ‘walking the plank’; a dive into uncharted waters?

For Henry the only romance he was interested in was a life at sea, and when away from it, he strived to find sanctuary from his family and perhaps life itself.  It takes him to a small village by the sea, s place he never expected to find another just like him, Michelle, whom he soon discovers is as mysterious as she is beautiful.

Henry had long since given up the notion of finding romance, and Michelle couldn’t get involved for reasons she could never explain, but in the end both acknowledge that something happened the moment they first met.  

Plans were made, plans were revised, and hopes were shattered.

A chance encounter causes Michelle’s past to catch up with her, and whatever hope she had of having a normal life with Henry, or anyone else, is gone.  To keep him alive she has to destroy her blossoming relationship, an act that breaks her heart and shatters his.

But can love conquer all?

It takes a few words of encouragement from an unlikely source to send Henry and his friend Radly on an odyssey into the darkest corners of the red light district in a race against time to find and rescue the woman he finally realizes is the love of his life.

The cover, at the moment, looks like this:

lovecoverfinal1

Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 20

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

A chessboard of players

 

I sighed.  Someone else who wasn’t who they seemed to be.

At a guess, it was a gun in my back.  We were far enough away from anyone else for them to recognise what was happening.

“No need for whatever weapon you have in my back.  I’m neither armed nor dangerous.”

“Why are you following me?”

Should I tell her the truth or tell her a lie.  The latter would be the most expedient, but I needed to talk to her, so I went with the former.

“You know O’Connell.”

“Were you the one who attacked me?”

“I told you I meant you no harm.  What happened to you wasn’t my fault.”

Whatever was in my back was no longer there, so I turned around to face her.  She had changed her look since O’Connell’s flat, not only the change in hair colour and length but also the makeup, making it difficult for anyone to recognise her from a distance.  I’d been lucky.

“What do you want with him?”

“More than likely the same as you.  He made the mistake of thinking you were interested in him, but I suspect your assignment was to get close, and the flat next door was as close as you could get.”

“What are you babbling about?  We were friends.”

“How often did he stay in that flat?  Everything in it still has the price tag on it.”

“You’re loopy.  I’m going now, and I suggest you don’t follow me again.”

“I know where you live remember.  All I want is some answers.”

“There are no answers.  He was a friend, that’s it.  I’m going now.”  She turned and started to walk away.

“If I know who you are, the chances are the others do too.”

She stopped.  Interesting response.  In her shoes, my first reaction, if I was an innocent person, would be to call for a policeman to have me taken away for assaulting her.

She turned and took two steps back towards me.  “What are you talking about now?”

“O’Connell’s flat was like Marks and Spenser this morning.  I came and found another woman claiming to live next door, named Josephine, unconscious on the floor, and I didn’t do it by the way.  She works for a man named Nobbin, McConnell’s direct superior, and whom I think, indirectly I do too, and I suspect she was neutralised by another man named Severin.

“Whatever O’Connell was up to, there are a lot of people who want a missing USB with what I suspect is very interesting, and probably damaging information.  You wouldn’t have it, by the way?”

“Who are you?”

“That’s what I’m not sure about.  Like I said, I think I work for the same man whom O’Connell worked for, but before that, I worked with the people who had him killed for whatever was on the USB.”  It sounded far more horrible out loud than it had a few seconds earlier in my head.  God only knew what she was thinking about it.  “Who do you work for, because a woman who can do the transformation you just did is either a call girl or an agent?”  Another thought just occurred to me, a reason perhaps why she had changed her appearance so radically.  “Your flat was searched too, wasn’t it?”

No need to answer yes or no.  The look on her face was enough.

 

We ordered coffee and sat down.  She was still very wary of me, but since I seemed to know, or presumed to know, what had happened, she was going to ask me some questions I wasn’t going to be able to answer.\

And not because the answers were in the top-secret category, it was simply because I didn’t know.

“So,” I asked, “who do you work for?”

“You don’t need to know.”

“But you were either keeping O’Connell close company by insinuating yourself into his life, or you were maintaining some sort of surveillance.”

She was plating it close, and with a poker face.  She was better at it than I was.

“Where is he, by the way?”

“Dead.”

“Dead?”  

No mistaking that look of fear the flickered on her face, then disappear again into rocky granite.

“Dead.  Seems he came across some information, and it caused his death.  I was there shortly before he died, shot by a sniper, I think, and there was nothing I could do about it.  Any idea what that information was?”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about, but either way, if I did or I didn’t the answer would be the same, no.  He told me he was a reporter, working on a really big story, and that he would have to go away for a few days.  I knew that was his cover story.”

“Were you after that same information?”

“Probably, maybe, I don’t know.  Our information was mostly conjecture, a profile built up by our research department, based on his travels, and sightings at a location we know is running a network of agents.  The conclusion was that it was not one of ours, so I was assigned to find out exactly who they were.”

“O’Connell would not have told you.”

“Given the circumstances I find myself in, I’m beginning to think that.  If you worked with him, then he was on the same side as you, so are you good or bad?”

That was a rather interesting question to be asking me at this late stage, and especially after she had told me basically what I needed to know, bar who she worked for, but that, I was beginning to think, was MI6.

“A rather silly question to ask, don’t you think?  It stands to reason that if I was bad, then I would not have left you alive in O’Connell’s flat.”

“Not unless you wanted something from me and set this up as a trap.”

So that was the reason why she kept checking everyone she could see upstairs and monitoring the stairs to see who arrived and left.  We were in the right spot to keep tabs on everyone.  And I knew her gun wasn’t very far from her hand.

“Obviously you don’t have it, so my work is done here.  I suggest you don’t go back to that flat.”  I stood.  “Your location and probably who you are is compromised.  And two men and their attack dogs will be looking for you.  Good luck with that.”

“Aren’t you one of those two men attack dog, by your own admission?”

“I’m new and not cynical enough to shoot people out of hand.  You’re probably lucky in that regard.  And if someone like me can find you, then think what a seasoned professional would be able to do.  Have a nice life, what you have left of it.”

© Charles Heath 2019

“The Devil You Don’t”, be careful what you wish for

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favor’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

Purchase:

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“The Things We Do For Love” – Coming soon

Is love the metaphorical equivalent to ‘walking the plank’; a dive into uncharted waters?

For Henry the only romance he was interested in was a life at sea, and when away from it, he strived to find sanctuary from his family and perhaps life itself.  It takes him to a small village by the sea, s place he never expected to find another just like him, Michelle, whom he soon discovers is as mysterious as she is beautiful.

Henry had long since given up the notion of finding romance, and Michelle couldn’t get involved for reasons she could never explain, but in the end both acknowledge that something happened the moment they first met.  

Plans were made, plans were revised, and hopes were shattered.

A chance encounter causes Michelle’s past to catch up with her, and whatever hope she had of having a normal life with Henry, or anyone else, is gone.  To keep him alive she has to destroy her blossoming relationship, an act that breaks her heart and shatters his.

But can love conquer all?

It takes a few words of encouragement from an unlikely source to send Henry and his friend Radly on an odyssey into the darkest corners of the red light district in a race against time to find and rescue the woman he finally realizes is the love of his life.

The cover, at the moment, looks like this:

lovecoverfinal1