I've published this story a few times, so forgive me if you've already read it.
With everything going on in the world I thought it might be nice to have a little escape.
Murder by bear
Julia Hepburn crouched in the snow, peering over the barrel of a modified rifle. Where had she gone wrong? She was a nice, middle-class accountant from Toronto, not a hunter. Maybe, she hadn’t made the best choices lately, and those choices resulted with her kneeling in a snowdrift on the outskirts of Churchill, Manitoba, waiting for a polar bear.
The move to Churchill was the latest in a long list of bad decisions. The people were great, but she was a city girl at heart. She enjoyed wearing her favorite black, patent, high-heel shoes on a daily basis, and reveled in starting each day with a skinny latte from a trendy coffee shop. Those things did not fit in with the remote lifestyle of Northern Canada.
She’d only agreed to relocate to the North because of her husband, Mike’s persistence. He’d received a promotion with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which was contingent on him moving to Churchill. He’d used every piece of ammunition at his disposal to persuade her to join him. First he pouted, and then he charmed. When that failed, he talked about the babies he knew she wanted. Eventually, he wore her down. So she packed her designer clothes into boxes, put them in storage, and then purchased a warm, practical, down-filled coat.
Her ankles cramped. She stood, and stretched her legs. This polar bear hunt was another of Mike’s bright ideas. Every autumn, between August, and November the omnivores migrated to the Churchill area while they waited for the sea to freeze. Some of them scavenged for food too close to town and had to be sedated and relocated.
When Mike asked her to help with the hunt she had refused. What did she know about tranquilizer darts, guns and hunting? But, once again, he’d worn her down.
Jake, the hunt coordinator strode toward her. A conservation officer, he was tall with broad shoulders, and no hint of a middle-aged spread, which was a surprise given he was nearing fifty.
“Are you ready for this?” His eyes narrowed, scrutinizing her.
“I don’t know.” She bit her lip, and then patted her mouth, hoping the damp skin wouldn’t freeze. The nervous habit always irritated Mike.
“You don’t have to take part. You can wait in my truck if you want.”
She glanced at her husband a hundred yards away. His striking features animated as he talked to the other hunters. He was so eager for them to fit in, and helping to rid the community of a nuisance bear would go a long way toward their acceptance. “No, I’ll do it.”
“It’s okay to be scared.” His grey hair lifted in the frigid breeze.
She sucked in a breath and straightened her spine. “I’m not scared, really. I’ve just been a little accident-prone lately.”
“I heard you almost burned the house down.” His brow wrinkled.
“I don’t understand how it happened. I wasn’t using the space heater, and I never put it near the curtains.”
“Was anything damaged?”
“Everything. By the time I woke up the whole house was full of smoke. All our stuff reeks.” She turned her gaze to the snowy landscape, and winced, wishing she had sunglasses to guard against the glare.
“Where was Mike when all this happened?”
“He was at work.”
“It was lucky you woke when you did.”
“Yes, the neighbors were banging on the door. That’s what saved me.” She gave a little shiver as she remembered her close call.
“But one incident doesn’t make you accident-prone.”
“Yesterday, I nearly electrocuted myself.”
“How?” His eyes widened.
“When I plugged in my hairdryer I got a zap that threw me across the room.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, but I swear my heart stopped, then started again.” Her hand went to her chest, as she remembered the all-consuming pain of the electric shock.
“I can see why you’re a little nervous.”
“I’m probably being silly.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll only be twenty-five yards from you. Have you loaded the tranquilizers into the rifle?”
“I don’t know much about that kind of thing so Mike did it for me.”
Jake’s radio crackled. He held it to his ear, and then said, “It’s time. Are you sure you’re ready?”
She nodded, and he strode away.
Once again, she crouched behind the snow bank, and stared out over the Arctic Tundra.
At last, the bear appeared, a white, shifting outline. Her skin tingled with a mixture of fear and excitement as he came into view. He walked with a steady gait, his enormous paws spreading as he moved, giving the impression of a large, overgrown puppy, instead of the dangerous beast she knew him to be. He sniffed the air, and then as if catching a scent, changed direction, and headed straight for her. She steadied her firearm, preparing to shoot.
The sound of helicopter blades cut through the frozen sky. The bear panicked, and charged. She took aim, and shot. The tranquilizer dart hit his neck. He did not stop, did not slow. Terror surged through her as she lifted the rifle to her shoulder and fired again. The second dart had less effect than the first.
Her mind flashed to Mike loading her rifle, and in her heart she knew it was useless. He had used the bear to murder her. Her recent accidents were attempts on her life.
It was too late to run. Too late to do anything but pray. In her peripheral vision she caught a glimpse of a figure aiming a gun, another dart struck the bear. The beast went limp midstride. His body smacked the ground, forcing the air out of his lungs with a hiss.
She stood frozen to the spot, watching as the helicopter landed, and men surrounded the huge animal. They checked its vitals, and then rolled it onto a net.
“Are you okay?” Jake stood beside her.
She hadn’t heard him approach, hadn’t noticed anything but the bear. “Three darts, it took three darts.”
“Yes, it did. You were great. You didn’t lose your nerve and start running.”
“Three darts,” she repeated.
“I’m really surprised the first two didn’t work. There must be something wrong with your tranquilizers.”
Julia glared at Mike, who stood on the other side of the net watching her. Hate flickered in his dark brown eyes. Then he turned his back to her, and struck up a conversation with the man standing next to him. At that moment she knew beyond a doubt, he had tried to kill her. She put her nose to her jacket, and sniffed. Had he laced her clothes with scent to attract the bear? Probably. Meticulous by nature, he wouldn’t have left anything to chance. She had no idea why he wanted her dead, but she couldn’t go home with him.
She raced to catch Jake as he boarded the helicopter.
“What are you going to do with the bear now?” she shouted above the roar of the blades.
“We’re going to airlift him to a bay that’s about twenty-five kilometers up the coast.”
“Can I come, and watch? I won’t get in the way.”
He shrugged. “Why not? You’ve earned it.”
She climbed into the back seat not bothering to say goodbye to her husband.
Once airborne, she looked down to see Mike standing below, watching her leave. Did he have another plot to end her life? Was he going home now to put his plan into action? She hoped so.
Once home, he would open the front door, and before he had a chance to smell the gas, he would turn on the light. Hopefully, the explosion would kill him. The small wrench she had used to tamper with the gas line lay deep in her pocket. She would dispose of it while the others were busy dropping off the bear.
When he had urged her to go on the bear hunt she’d suspected he was going to make another attempt on her life. If her suspicions had proved unfounded she would have gone home with him, and saved him.
Marrying Mike was the worst decision she had ever made, but it was a bad decision she wouldn’t have to live with anymore.
I was unsure whether I should release Wind Storm because having a new release seems somewhat shallow when measure against a global pandemic. Then I realized that all I have to offer is escapism, and if ever there was a time to escape reality, it’s now.
So, today I’m releasing Wind Storm at a special price 99¢. This price will remain in effect until Monday 27th April. You can also read Wind Storm Free through KindleUnlimited.
A woman who fights to protect the vulnerable
A genius white hat hacker
A group of billionaires, intent on chaos
And an FBI agent trying to make sense of it all
When Sinclair Quinn is jumped in a back alley, her assailants only want to know one thing, the whereabouts of Native American, Michael Papin, the man she’s been in love with since they were street kids together.
Nine months ago, Michael was hit by a car while trying to prevent a group of billionaires, known as the Syndicate, from framing Sinclair’s brother. Now they are back, and they want him dead. When the Syndicate attacks his family, Michael will do anything to ensure their safety, including hiding out with Sinclair.
Sinclair has devoted her life to rescuing stolen children and saving the victims of human trafficking. She knows who she is and is comfortable with the woman she’s become, although she’s never forgotten the man who broke her heart when she was eighteen. Going underground with Michael and his family is not part of her plan. She trusts him with her life, but can she trust him with her heart?
Sinclair Quinn twisted her hips to the side, trying to absorb the punch with her pelvic bone instead of taking a blow to the stomach. She groaned, doubling over as pain ricocheted through her right hip and down her leg. It hurt, but it wasn’t debilitating.
The initial hit to her face had stunned her and allowed the two men to drag her into a nearby alley. The smell of stale urine burned her nostrils. A chewing gum wrapper lay on the ground at her feet. Her heartbeat hard in her ears, and she gasped for breath. Blood dripped from her cut lip; big drops landed on the ground and splattered. She concentrated on them, using them to focus her thoughts and slow her mind. She had her collapsible baton in her jeans pocket. Don’t overthink. Create an opportunity to escape.
“Tell us where the Indian is.” Her assailant grabbed her ponytail and yanked on it, pulling her up and forcing her head back so her throat was exposed.
Michael? What did they want with him?
The thugs had attacked her after she’d left the grocery store. Foolishly, she’d felt secure once she was home in Granite City in northwestern Montana. That was her first mistake. Her Glock 19 handgun was in the glove compartment of her car where it did her no good at all. Mistake number two. Her final error was not noticing she was being tailed. By the time she’d become aware of them following her, it was too late.
The shorter of the two, a man who wore a cheap suit, stood behind her attacker. His hand rested on the pistol in his shoulder holster. “Tell her it’ll only get worse for her the longer this goes on. We need to know where she hid Papin.”
“She’s got ears. She can hear,” the larger one snapped. He had the broken nose and muscle-bound physique of a fighter. He let go of her hair and turned to his partner. “You should do some of the work instead of standing back there, yapping. I hit bone with that last punch and hurt my hand.”
Sinclair grabbed her telescopic baton and flicked it open. She whacked the big guy’s knee, throwing him off balance. Then she struck Cheap Suit’s hand so he couldn’t go for his weapon.
Big Guy regained his equilibrium and pulled his arm back, ready to punch her.
She took advantage of his wide stance and smashed his ribs. He doubled over. Cheap Suit backed up, holding his injured appendage to his chest, protecting it.
She ran. Her groceries—eggs, flour, sugar, and milk—were scattered over the sidewalk at the entrance to the alley. She jumped over them. She’d just returned from a hellacious trip to Ukraine and had been looking forward to a couple of weeks downtime, starting with a day of baking. That wasn’t going to happen now.
Not many people know this but I like to draw pencil sketches. An actual artist might describe my pictures as amateurish…if they were being kind. Occasionally, I draw subjects from my books.
Okay, ‘subjects’ is too strong a word. I mean a building, flower, tree or any other article I’m picturing. I can’t draw people because I’m not that good.
This picture is from Wind Storm. My character, Sinclair Quinn, has a she-shed.
I thought it would be fun to give this sketch to one of my newsletter subscribers. Everyone who opened and read my March newsletter was automatically entered to win.
And the winner was...
The amazing Debra, who lives near Atlanta and is waiting patiently with Sam and Momma Kitty (pictured below)
Your sketch is in the mail and will get there eventually.
If you would like the opportunity to win one of my sketches or get a free copy of The Wily Witness and The Wedding Deception you can sign up for my newsletter here
Thank you Readers' Favorite for giving Disturbance this wonderful 5 star review
Disturbance: The Gathering Storm by Marlow Kelly is the story of two people who had a falling out, but the love between them never died. Detective Mateo Ramirez and Criminal Defense Attorney Sophie Reed used to be in love but then their differences drew them apart. They loved each other but their work got in the way and now they are nothing more than strangers who knew each other once upon a time. But fate has a strange way of bringing people together. Sophie and Mateo are held hostage in a bank robbery, their lives are at stake and they need to put their differences aside to make it out alive. The more time they spend with each other, the more they realize that they never got over each other. Mateo and Sophie still love each other, but now is not the time to think about feelings. Can they survive this situation?
Disturbance: The Gathering Storm by Marlow Kelly is very interesting. I enjoyed how both Sophie and Mateo reacted in serious situations. I loved how mature they were, how they allowed the other person to share their thoughts and worked together to make it out safe. I enjoyed Mateo’s reactions the most. He is a smart man, one that understands the situation first and then takes action. He and Sophie work brilliantly as a team, they complement each other and make sure the other is grounded. The narrative itself very well-written, the pace is good and the characters get plenty of time to grow. This is a good novella; one that will keep you entertained and wanting to know more about them.
These are hard times. COVID 19 had meant the closing of many libraries and bookstores and I know many of you are home with nothing to do and feeling the loss of income
Here are some ideas that might help. If you don’t have an e-reader, and can’t afford one, Amazon has a free app that allows you to read books on your smartphone or tablet.
Another alternative is Overdrive.
I use this app in conjunction with my library membership. You can download ebooks and audiobooks from your local library onto your device. This service has always been free for me, and I highly recommend it.
Standby for news on promotions. I’m working on having some freebies and specials available in the next month. My books are exclusive to Amazon, and they only let me do a price promotion once every three months, so it will take a bit of planning.
In the meantime, if you want a free book, you can sign up for my newsletter. The link is at the top of the page.
I'll send you two stories featuring FBI Agent Finn Callaghan. These stories are prequels to The Gathering Storm Series.
You can unsubscribe at any time.
It's Valentines Day, a time when we celebrate all things romantic. I thought it would be cool to do another free promotion so from today until the 16th February Sun Storm with be free at Amazon.
"Sun Storm is a fast-paced and exciting read that was impossible to put down." Readers' Favorite.
Hunted by a gunman and a corrupt police force... in a blizzard.
In Montana to prove her portable solar panel can solve the world's energy problems, naïve scientist, Dr. Marie Wilson must first fight to survive and then expose the powerful businessman intent on destroying her life's work.
Ex-special forces soldier, David Quinn is haunted by the horrors of combat, and yearns to be left alone with his beehives, but agrees to do one last job for his old mentor.
When the scariest man she's ever met becomes her savior, Marie discovers a heart of gold beats beneath his surly demeanor.
This iconic poem epitomizes the Christmas season and how we picture Santa. Rumor has it Moore based his image of St. Nick on the sleigh driver who drove Moore to Greenwich Village to buy his holiday turkey on Christmas Eve.
Twas the Night Before Christmas