I hope you're having a great summer. Things have been busy around the Cooper household, but Book 4, "Presidential Shift", is still underway.
Thought you might like to get a little taste.
Here's the first slightly edited chapter for your reading pleasure:
7:04am, December 15th
The runner sped past a woman pushing a lime green jogging stroller. Despite his fast pace, the jogger didn’t look winded. Adjusting his white Adidas cap as he turned into the public park, he scanned the area from behind Oakley running glasses. His brown hair could barely be seen peeking out.
There was a hidden alcove of trees off to the right and he ran that way. Headed toward a row of park benches he waved to a thin man seated wearing a heavy parka. The dark-complexioned man looked up from his Arabic newspaper at the sound of the man’s footfalls and returned the wave with a smile.
The runner floated to a halt in front of the bench surrounded by a tight copse of pine.
“Morning, Mansoor!” the runner offered with a smile.
“And a good morning to you, Richard,” the Middle Easterner replied, in slightly accented English. “Are you finished with your exercise already?”
The man nodded. “Yeah, just a quick run today. Probably head to the gym after work. Mind if I stretch while we chat?”
“Not at all. May I offer you some of my tea?” Mansoor asked.
“Is it that stuff your cook makes?”
“That stuff is great. Much better than the crap you get at Starbucks.”
Mansoor nodded. “It is one of the many things I miss about my country.”
Pouring tea from a silver thermos, the young runner Mansoor knew as Richard stretched. He glanced up casually to see his friend pouring a second cup. Without taking his eyes off Mansoor, he reached down and looked to be adjusting the sock around his ankle.
“Funny I keep bumping into you like this.”
Mansoor looked up from his tea. “If I was a suspicious man I would think you might be following me Richard,” he responded playfully.
His companion shrugged. “What can I say? I guess I’m into good-looking Arabs with hot tea.”
Blood rose to Mansoor’s face as he waved away the compliment. They’d only met days earlier, but had quickly found they believed in many of the same things. Most importantly, they’d spoken at length about the wars still being waged in the Middle East. Mansoor had found it comforting to meet such an enlightened, and handsome, American. It hadn’t taken long to figure out that Richard was probably gay, although his last comment was the most overt flirting either one had yet attempted.
“Why don’t you come have your tea?”
Richard nodded and sat down next to his friend. He took the paper cup and held it up in toast. “To new friends.”
The two men tapped their cups together and took sips of their tea. Mansoor savored the taste of his past. Soon he would be able to return to his country. He smiled at the thought.
Richard looked up from his tea and cocked his head. “What are you thinking about?”
Mansoor shook away his thoughts and focused on his prize. “I was thinking that maybe we should do dinner sometime. What do you think?”
Richard’s light complexion flushed slightly as he took another sip of his tea.
“What is it, my friend?” asked Mansoor, stroking his slick goatee carefully.
Richard shook his head as if to say he was too embarrassed to respond.
“Come, Richard. You know you can tell me anything. What is the matter?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s…it’s kind of a secret.”
Richard took another hurried sip of his tea. Mansoor placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Please tell me,” he whispered. His oversized obsidian eyes glinted with excitement.
Richard nodded and leaned in as if to whisper in his ear. Mansoor shuddered involuntarily and moved in closer. Richard used his left hand to bring Mansoor’s head closer. It was an almost intimate gesture. His lips were right next to Mansoor’s ear.
Richard whispered, “I have to kill you now.”
Mansoor’s eyes widened as the killer inserted a double-edged blade into his throat. He struggled against the pull, but the executioner held on to his head and twisted the knife forcing the man’s lifeblood out in a steady flow.
The Middle Easterner’s eyes glazed and his movement stopped. Moving quickly, the assassin laid the dead man down on the bench and covered him with the open newspaper. Next he wiped his blade on the man’s jacket and returned it to its sheath.
He heard a rustling from the woods and turned to see another man dressed in running gear walking toward him.
“You okay?” asked the blonde man with the ponytail.
“I’m good,” Cal Stokes answered. He looked down at his watch and exhaled. “Let’s get back to the hotel and get cleaned up. We’ve gotta be at the Oval office in two hours.”
"Presidential Shift" coming early Fall 2013