Today is National Mother Goose Day. In honor of that, I thought I would share a scene from a book that will probably never see the light of day. I entered this book in a publisher contest many years ago. It didn’t win, but a few weeks after the contest ended, I received a letter from an editor at the publisher requesting the complete. She loved my voice. Ultimately, the publisher passed on the book.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt. It’s one of my favorites.
The purr of a car in the lane drew Jake out of his funk. Gracie emerged from her nest under the porch to investigate. The goose was better than any watchdog because she was unexpected.
A sporty white Miata stopped next to his truck. Gracie headed straight for the intruder.
Jake swung his feet to the porch. He didn’t rise, waiting instead to see if his visitor was foolish enough to tangle with a goose. The car door opened, and Gracie’s wings came up in her warning stance. Legs clad in light colored slacks swung to the ground. Gracie hissed.
The trespasser ignored the warning. Jake’s hand went to his side, looking for the gun he’d stopped carrying eighteen months ago. His palm itched with longing when he recognized the hat.
The woman who had tumbled his world stood in his dooryard, warily eyeing his guard goose.
Sic her, Gracie, he thought, blood lust overriding the tightening in his chinos.
The goose’s head shot toward Lyra, hissing another warning.
“Nice birdie.” Lyra tried to appease the fowl.
Gracie wasn’t having any of it. Her wing feathers ruffled as she prepared to defend her domain. Lyra stepped forward, ignoring the signs of attack.
Just like a reporter. Can’t see what’s under her nose.
“Ouch!” She jumped back and fumbled with the door handle.
Seconds passed before he realized he was grinning.
Gracie nipped again before Lyra reached the safety of her car.
He waited for her to start the engine, but only Gracie’s triumphant honk disturbed the twilight silence.
“Mallory!” Lyra lowered her window. “I know you’re here. Call off your bird.”
Fat chance. Gracie roamed at will for exactly this reason. And if Lyra didn’t leave soon, Gracie would fly right through the open window and attack, like a scene from a Hitchcock movie. Gracie circled the Miata. The lazy goose didn’t want to exert the energy for flight.
“Mallory!” Lyra’s tone slid from angry to pleading. “I’m bleeding. Your stupid bird bit me.”
Good. Maybe you’ll get an infection.
“I’m not going anywhere until you hear me out.”
That was the problem with reporters. They clung like leeches, sucking the life from their victims. Hadn’t she already stolen too much from him? Now she wanted his time.
Oh, hell. He had time. Time was the only abundance in his life besides his anger.
The car door inched open. Gracie honked, homing in on the crack as if it were food. “Call off your bird!” The door slammed. Gracie glared — if a goose could glare — at the open window.
He had nothing better to do than wait to see who surrendered first — Gracie or Lyra. Both were tenacious. Both were stubborn, argumentative and audacious. Their standoff amused him. The confrontation was better than any sitcom zipping through his rooftop antennae.
He sipped his drink, holding the rough liquid in his mouth.
How desperate for entertainment was he that he actually looked forward to discovering if Lyra Lucas could outmaneuver a goose? He’d been isolated too long.
But if she’d found him, anyone looking for him could trace him. Not that he was hiding. Just out of the picture.
Forcing him to witness Matt’s murder was a threat he couldn’t ignore. He’d spent too much time in O’Flaherty’s inner sanctum to leave without ties. He wasn’t sure why O’Flaherty let him live after Lyra’s exposé. All he knew, all he cared about was that his silence kept his sister and her babies alive.
What if Lyra had compromised their safety?
Fear rode on the breeze, chilling him in spite of the whiskey’s fire in his belly.
She wouldn’t surrender. Ego wouldn’t allow a goose to win.
Gracie’s snowy white feathers were nearly luminous in the fading lavender light. Her wings ruffled at Lyra’s words.
“Why don’t you whack her with your Emmy?” he suggested, breaking his silence. “It worked on me.”
“I knew you were here.” The door whipped open, nearly broadsiding his bird. The white Miata resembled a one-winged goose battling with Gracie.
He laughed. Aloud. Laughing felt good.
“This isn’t funny,” Lyra said, as Gracie ducked under the door to nip at a bare ankle.
Blaming the whiskey for his half-aroused state, he planted his feet on floorboards. “You’re trespassing again.”
His glass slipped from his numb fingers, spilling acidic liquid on the porch. Silence closed in. Crushing silence. Even Gracie ceased hissing. He tried to force his feet to move toward the kitchen door.
O’Flaherty. The name was better than a secret password.
Didn’t Liar realize O’Flaherty had never gone away? He’d merely lurked in the shadows as he determined the weaknesses of those whose help he required.
The blare of the Miata’s horn split the night. Gracie honked back, as if surrendering to a larger fowl, and scurried toward her haven beneath the porch.