As promised, here's chapter 1 of THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT - my debut action/thriller fiction novel! Enjoy. And please leave a comment to let me know what you think.
I heard from my copy editor today. All is going well and on track so I'm still looking forward to a beginning of December release date.
I am going to post one more chapter - chapter 2 will be up in one week. This will be the LAST chapter I post.
FOR EVERYONE WHO LEAVES A COMMENT, I WILL OFFER A FREE E-COPY OF MY BOOK.
"What do you mean, you have to turn me in? Do you know what you’re saying?" Roland Dupre sat in the over-stuffed, brown leather chair across from Simpson's desk, his fists clenched.
Charles Simpson stood staring out the window into the gardens of the U.S. Embassy. The sweet, nutty scent of his Cuban cigar wafted through the air, enticing Roland's taste buds. "This isn't Botswana we're talking about," Simpson said, "it's the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and you crossed the line when you went digging there. The DRC wants what they believe to be rightfully theirs, for the benefit of their country."
Roland sneered. "Come on Charlie. We’ve been friends far too long and seen far too many years of political bullshit for you to think I’d believe that crap. You know as well as I do the rebels have been working with the Chinese on digs like mine, ever since they discovered the element Yttrium a few months back.” He leaned forward in his chair resting his elbows on his knees, and ran his fingers through his thick, gray hair. “My discovery won't even make it into the hands of the government of the DRC. The rebels will confiscate it and use it to fund their army - grow their forces. Nothing good will come of that, and you know it.
"Our government, on the other hand,” Roland drew in a long breath and exhaled, “we need this, Charlie.” Roland stood, the red notebook clenched in his hand. “This is Promethium. Do you know what that means? Do you know how rare this is? I need your help.” Excitement and desperation oozed from his words.
Simpson continued his gaze outside.
The clock over the sofa began to chime. Roland waited for the final eleventh chord to fade. "I said, I need your help.”
Simpson turned, his hands clasped behind his back. His dark suit and gray hair made the deep, etched lines in his pale skin stand out, making his worn face appear older than Roland remembered from just four months earlier. He reached for the phone.
"What are you doing?" Roland asked.
Roland stood. "No, don't give me that shit. You owe me, you son-of-a-bitch. Do you know what will happen to the United States if China gets their hands on this? We're talking about a new discovery, a possible new element of the periodic table. I need you to help me secure that cave." He took two strides closer to Simpson. "Is this about money? Is that it? What'd they promise you? Whatever it is, it's not worth it. Your country is at stake. Your fellow Americans' lives are at stake. The world as we know it could change forever."
"What have you done with the girl?" Simpson asked.
Time stopped for the briefest of moments and Roland’s mind froze. “Is that what this is? You want the girl? Are you working with them now, Charlie?” Roland asked in nearly a whisper. Anger crept under his skin as he regained focus. "You have a responsibility here, and you damn well better own up to it."
Simpson turned, his gray eyes pinched to narrow slits. "Don't talk to me about responsibility. I fulfill my responsibilities to my country each and every day. Look around you; this is the goddamned U.S. Embassy - Gaborone post. And I've been stuck in this God forsaken country for nine years. It seems the good 'ole U.S. of A. doesn't want me back, so fuck 'em. Responsibility? I've paid my debt to our country. Now they owe me." Simpson stood before Roland, his body shaking, spit sliding from his lower lip, his eyes red with rage.
Roland knew he'd gone as far as he could. Simpson had made up his mind and he'd chosen a side -- as wrong as it was. "Fine, have it your way." Roland returned the notebook to the pocket beneath his field jacket. “The girl’s safe. That’s all you need to know. As for the cave…”
Simpson eyed the notebook and softened. "Just give it to me. They can decipher it themselves. Give it to me and you can walk away. No one has to get hurt."
"Weren't you listening to me? An entire country will get hurt, and that's just for starters. I'm not giving you shit."
"Then you leave me no choice," Simpson said, lifting the receiver from the desktop phone.
Roland took the receiver from him and returned it to its carriage. "You owe me. Give me a head start, at least."
"What will you do with a head start? You have no place to go where they won't find you. You're an old man now, my friend. You're no match for these men. It would be better for you to be here, let them come to you. The Embassy will protect you; out there you're as good as dead."
"Yeah, maybe. But at least I can try to do what's right."
"I'm afraid I can't buy you time. I'm sorry."
Roland pulled a small caliber pistol from his jacket pocket. "I'm afraid you don't have a choice," he said backing toward the door. "I don't know what happened to you, Charles 'ole boy. It breaks my heart to see you go to the dogs like this, after all we've been through together." He reached behind with his left hand and opened the door. "Touch that phone or call out to your assistant, and I'll kill you myself."
Roland squeezed out the door, slid the gun back in his pocket, and rushed down the hall and out of the building.
A young African man standing in the shadows of a tall Fica tree in the lobby, watched Roland exit the building, then pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed.
He returned to his room at the lodge. Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he gathered his thoughts. Sitting at the edge of the bed, he pulled the notebook from beneath his field jacket and thumbed through its pages. Who could help, if not Charlie?
Roland dialed the front desk and gave the New York number for Bull Reardon. After several minutes he heard Bull's voice.
"You've reached Bull Reardon. I'm away on business and will return next week, at which time I'll be happy to return your call. Please leave your name and number. Thank you."
Roland hung up the phone and dropped his head in his hands, rubbing his temples with his thumbs. His mind snapped on an idea. On the desk sat a pad of paper with "Big Five Wild Game Preserve" written across the top. He tore off a piece of paper and quickly made a rough drawing of a map, then tore it in two. Shoving a piece of the map in the middle of the notebook, he scribbled out a letter to his niece, then jammed the notebook and letter in a large envelope. He turned it over in his hands several times, doubting his decision, but knowing he had no other he could make. With his mind set, he grabbed the backpack and left the room.
"Good day to you, sir," said Samson, the front desk operator.
"Yes, good day. Listen, I need you to do something for me, right away. I want to have this mailed to this address. Can you do this?"
"Yes, yes, of course, Mr. Dupre. I will see that this is done right away."
"Thank you." Roland stared out the doorway into the setting sun and cursed Simpson for his betrayal. Two things were very clear: his discovery of the rare earth element was of definite value… and the girl needed to be moved… again. He returned to his room.
Roland woke to loud male voices. He sat up and pulled the curtain back. Were they soldiers? Unable to make out their clothing from the distance, he threw on a pair trousers and a shirt, and rushed to gather his things. He pulled the second half of the map from the night stand and slid it in the pocket of the pants he wore the day before, then shoved them in his cargo trunk.
Roland’s cell phone rang and he looked down at the caller I.D. - Simpson. “Tell me you’ve had a change of mind, or we have nothing more to talk about.”
“I’m sorry. I thought you should know that the rebels have been informed of your visit here yesterday.”
“No, it wasn’t by me. I told you, many people want what you have. I’m afraid it was my assistant who turned you in.”
Roland moved to the window and pulled the curtain back. “I think I have company.”
“Yes, that would be my men. Listen, Roland, just go with them and everything will be fine. You have to trust me.”
Roland’s heart raced with anger. “Trust you? Your assistant turned me in to the rebels, you sent your own men after me, and you want my trust?”
“Listen to me, if you don’t come back, I won’t be able to help you. Please, stop being so pig-headed and acting like an old fool.”
Roland watched the men from the window as they moved from hut to hut. “Why, Charlie?”
“Because you’re my friend, and it matters to me what happens to you.”
“No, I mean why did you change sides? What could make you turn against your own country?”
Simpson’s voice came through the phone weak, and tired. “I haven’t changed sides.”
“Then you should have helped me.”
“Come back to the Embassy. We’ll work this out.”
“Nothing left to work out. I no longer have the notebook. I’ve sent it some place safe from the likes of you.” Simpson’s silence made Roland smile. “What’s wrong, Simpson? A little curve ball in your plans?”
“Roland, what have you done? You must tell me where you’ve sent the book.”
Roland chuckled at his victory. “No need to worry, ‘ole boy. It’ll get where it needs to now.”
“Listen to me. Wherever you’ve sent it, to whoever you sent it to, you’ve put them in grave danger. The people I’m dealing with - they’re well funded and have resources. They’ll find you, and they’ll track the book. Tell me now. Where have you sent it?”
Roland’s gut wrenched. He disconnected the call and stared out the window at the chaos in the camp. His thoughts raced and his heart sank at the thought of what he’d done. Danielle’s life was in danger, and it was his fault. He had to make it right. He flipped open his cell phone and dialed the only person he knew could help.