Wanderlust, Wonder, and Bayou Teche

Last week I participated in a Facebook Launch Party for a book called Uprooting Ernie. One of the things “Ernie” and my books have in common is that they both take place in small towns and so one of the questions I asked the attendees is what some of their favorite small towns were. There were so many great answers that spanned the country, from Washington to Maine, that it gave me a severe case of wanderlust.

I have to hold tight for another week and a half before we’re off on some summer travels but the party made me want to revisit some of my favorite areas, of which there are many. For no other reason than to add some order to my thoughts, I decided to write today about Bayou Teche in Louisiana (since I wrote about the Aegean last week, I figured I could start working my way through the alphabet of places I love).

Now, anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for swamps, or really, I suppose I should say I have a thing for the landscape of the southern waterways because the bayous have just about the same effect on me as the swamps. (And if you’re curious about the difference between a bayou and a swamp, generally speaking, a bayou will have some water flow through it whereas a swamp will not.) In short order, Bayou Teche was stunning. Of course I didn’t see all of it, but below are some pictures I took from my boat ride outside Breaux Bridges as well as some from Avery Island which sits a bit further down the bayou and is home to the Tabasco factory.

 

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I think a lot happens in these quiet groves

Cool, not cool. So it *is* kind of interesting to see snakes just hanging out on trees. But, well, snakes....

Cool, not cool. So it *is* kind of interesting to see snakes just hanging out on trees. But, well, snakes….

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Avery Island. I kind of want to drape my room in Spanish Moss. Or at least my driveway.

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One of the members of the family who started the Tabasco dynasty was very involved in working to preserve egrets – their numbers had been severely depleted by the use of feathers in hats way back in the day and so he built these nesting platforms and offered a protected place for them to thrive again.

Much like the orchid in Croatia, the bayou was a place that made me wonder. But unlike the orchid, that made me ask why it was sitting there in the window, the bayou made me think about just what this waterway has seen in its thousands of years of existence…Native Americans, the arrival of the French, the Civil War, the birth (and sort of death) of the sugar empires, the evolution and growth of the creole culture, and now, hopefully, preservation of some of the most beautiful and unique land/waterscapes in the US. The possibilities are nearly endless.

I love visiting the south, I really do, and I think visiting that part of our country is something that more people need to do if they have the chance. There is a lot of history, both good and bad, that is deeply and irrevocably a part of those states, and thus, part of our history regardless of where we live. Aside from that, it is also just an area of the country that effortlessly takes my breath away with its natural beauty and grace—from the silent gator making its way through water, to the Spanish Moss swaying in the breeze, to the stately oaks that have seen more of life than you or I, there is a lot about the south, and about the mystique of the Bayou Teche, that can make you wonder.

Thursday Round Up

So I’ve decided to try and get a little more consistent with blogging. But the thing is, between writing, working, blogging on Mondays, being a mom, a wife, a daughter, and you know, having a life, I decided that one more blog to write on Thursdays was just a little much. BUT, I read. I read a ton. Mostly books, but I do read articles that come across my FB feed or that friends send me. I’ll also scan the news and various journals when I have a spare few minutes here and there. So, I decided to take advantage of that and create a Thursday Round Up series. On Thursdays, I’ll post some articles or images that caught my attention during the prior week. I come from a good, solid liberal arts background, so I’ll try to hit a broad cross section of topics, but you’ll likely see at least something having to do with nature, science, and literature. You may or may not find them interesting, but I do hope, on occasion, that you find something you like. If you do, let me know!

Nature – Someone posted pictures of these monkey orchids this week, right after I posted a blog about the white orchid I spied while traveling in Croatia last summer. I love my white orchid, but these are pretty fun.

Literature – I had no idea so many people studied romance literature. One of the things I especially liked about this article (written in response to a critique of the genre) was the recognition that the romance genre is one of the few that consistently acknowledges emotions and the emotional life of men.

Science – Venice is getting ready to install flood controlling gates. I was reading about them and came across these interesting images of past floods. People who love England are called Anglophiles, I love Italy but not sure what I’d call myself—Italophile? That just doesn’t sound right though…regardless these pictures are both fascinating and heartbreaking when you think of all the damage over the years.

Music – So next week we’re headed out to see Dustbowl Revival. Some friends invited us and I have to admit, I’d never heard of them. And then in true coincidental fashion, right after I bought the tickets it seemed everyone was posting about them. Here’s a fun video they did with none other than the famous Dick Van Dyke. Enjoy!

History – This was news last month, but I’m a sucker for lost treasure stories. I didn’t realize that William Kidd seemed to think himself innocent of piracy nor did I know he had to be hanged twice. I know pirates were generally nasty and cruel, but there is still some romantic allure to the freedom of the seas.

 

 

Aegean Orchids Whispering a Story – Summer Travels

As we head into the summer, thoughts (or at least my thoughts) often turn to travel. Last year, we took a fabulous trip to Rome and Croatia. While in Croatia, we spent a week sailing the Aegean Sea, visiting large towns, like Hvar and Korcula but also several smaller ones like Sucuraj.

Mark Twain once wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

I happen to agree with Twain, but I also have a more selfish view of the benefits of travel. Travel isn’t just about killing prejudice or bigotry or even about opening one’s views. I happen to think it’s also one of the most powerful instigators of awe and wonder, feelings too little valued or encouraged in this day and age.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a writer or if it’s just part of my make-up (or both since being a writer is part of my make-up), but there is a magic to exploring somewhere new (or newly exploring somewhere familiar) that can, in rare, quiet moments of the soul, be breathtaking. I’m not talking about the majesty of a castle or a world wonder. I’m referring to the little things, the tiny moments that make you wonder about who, what, and why. And even if we never learn the answers to those questions, as we often don’t, just simply asking them has a way of connecting us—perhaps to others, but certainly to our own imagination and creativity.

On our second night in Croatia, we docked at a small town that had maybe a handful of restaurants. After dinner, the kids went back to the boat to drink coke and play cards and my husband and I walked around town. We wound our way through tiny alleys as we walked up a few hills and down again. We past empty lots and houses hundreds of years old—houses untouched by the war of two decades ago.

After walking for about thirty minutes, we came around a corner and I was quite taken with a small balcony that appeared romantically medieval. I was snapping a few pictures the sounds of a little boy caught my attention. We both turned around to see this church. So small and unassuming, it’s possible we might have walked right by it had it not been for the family that had stopped to eat their ice cream and play in the (very) small cobblestone area before the entrance.

Lily

In size, it was probably no bigger than twenty feet across and in all honesty, I’m not even sure how it could have been used for any service attended by more than ten or twelve people. But what really caught my attention was the orchid. Can you see it? At first, I wasn’t sure what it was, but as I zoomed my lens in, it became clear that a single, white orchid had been placed in the darkened window.

Who placed it there? When? And Why? Was there a nun in charge of ensuring the visible flower stayed in bloom? Did the flower, or the fact that it was a white orchid, have a meaning? Was it even real?

I know it probably seems strange, but a year later, I still think about this orchid. I still wonder if it had a meaning, if it was there for a reason, or if maybe, I’m just over thinking it. And this is why I love to travel—while I adore all the flowers in my own garden, I can honestly say that I don’t find myself thinking about them at odd hours of the day. I don’t find myself building stories around them, or wondering if they are still there. But I do think about that orchid and on some of my quieter nights I can feel the whispers of a story beginning to vibrate softly in my mind—not yet strong enough to have its own voice.

But I think it will one day. I don’t know what that story will be or when it will come to me but the curiosity and wonder sparked by that single flower in a church window thousands of miles from home isn’t something that will stay silent forever.

And that is why I love to travel, whether near or far from home—because when we’re open to the subtlies of real life, it can open our eyes, and our minds to endless wonder.

Reflections on Raising Boys

I have two boys and I love raising them. They are fun and challenging and funny and sometimes sweet. When I get together with some of my other mom-of-boys friends we often have those moments where we ask each other “what is that all about” when talking about some of our boys’ activities. So to bring some levity to your day, below are some of those moments highlighted for your entertainment. If you have boys, or know boys, or spend any time with boys, let me know if I missed anything 🙂

1)      You do not have a single clean door jam in the house. For some reason, as soon as they are able, boys have a compulsive need to slap the top of every door jam they ever walk through.

2)      You cannot get through a family dinner without bodily functions being brought into the conversation in some way – usually farts. Or burping.

3)      You never have a ball, any kind of ball (though not the personal kind), that has not been tossed, thrown, juggled, kicked, hit, pelted, rolled or bounced. It’s just not possible to have boys and balls in the same vicinity without one of these things happening.

4)      Your house is never quiet when they are home. It just isn’t.

5)      You still feel shocked that the 18 inch little baby you held in one hand now towers over you and calls you “little mommy.” (And you kind of like it.)

6)      You don’t wonder if caveman tendencies, like eating with hands or bathing, are nature or nurture.

7)      You realize that there are some things you will just never understand. Like why long pants are treated as if Rumpelstiltskin hired Satan to sew them and they are the product of the devil and should thus never be worn.

8)      You always feel that little kernel of happiness in your chest – that little feeling of maybe you’ve done something right – every time you hear your sons having a real conversation like the friends you hope they will continue to be into their adulthood

9)      You never know exactly how that cabinet or cupboard or front door got opened. Again. It’s probably some boy-superpower that just opens doors as they walk by. But you’ll never know for sure.

10)   You never get asked a question once. You get asked at least seventeen times because they are practicing their selective hearing skills so they can excel at it later in life.

11)   That “aha” moment when your boys realize the truth of cause-and-effect? That never happens. Unless it involves fire.

12)   You never feel anything that feels quite as special as a hug from your son.

Blog Tour for The Frailty of Things

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So I’m touring now and I’ll be going all sorts of interesting places, if only on the interweb:) There will be interviews, reviews, and giveaways (yay, giveaways!), so stop by and visit if you have a chance. Here are the dates and locations:

February 12th Hogwash
February 13th Inspire to Read
February 15th my name is Sage
February 16th A Readers Review Blog
February 17th View from the Birdhouse
February 19th Boom Baby Reviews
February 21st Room With Books
February 21st Reading to Distraction
February 24th Deb Sanders
February 26th Relaxed Reads
March 1st The Book Adventures of Emily
March 4th Reecaspieces
March 5th Pinky’s Favorite Reads

Knives, Chickens, and Knitting – All in a Day’s Lesson

My kids go to a Waldorf school and I like it, I really do. But there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a different experience than other public or main-stream college prep schools. In the spirit of good fun, here are some observations based on our experience.

You know you’re a Waldorf parent when:

  1. The conversation during carpool is about seaweed snacks and what’s new at the co-op
  2. You know the difference between eurhythmy and The Eurythmics
  3. MLB has nothing to do with baseball
  4. Everyone hugs everyone all the time
  5. Your kids have chickens at school
  6. At any given time during the school day there will be about a half a dozen kids in trees
  7. Your seven year old knows how to use a knife
  8. The basketball team has to delay their practice until the fiddlers are done
  9. Your kids listen to/sing along with Eminem while they knit

It’s almost as eclectic as I am.

“That’s a Good Pick Up Line, Isn’t It?” And Other Things I’m Grateful For

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. It just is. Even when we know we have a lot to be grateful/thankful for. But other times it’s easy, incredibly easy – and that’s probably something I should be grateful for, too. So in no particular order, and because it’s the season, here are twelve things I am grateful for (because you know, the twelve days of Christmas and all that. Or really, because I just like that number):

  1. I am grateful that I have a 14 year old son who willingly hangs out with my friend’s 5 year old so she and I can have a peaceful dinner
  2. I am grateful I have an 11 year old who makes me laugh with his imagination. My two favorite quotes from him this week were:
    1. (singing) “He knows if you been bad or good” (pause) “well, let’s just not think about that”
    2. (eyeing a biscuit that kind of unfolded as it cooked and so looked like it had two arms) “I’d hug you but you’re too hot.” Then to me, “Hey Mom, that’s a good pick up line isn’t it?”
  3. I am grateful that I have a husband who I can still imagine growing old with (hey, we’re still young (ish))
  4. I am grateful for being back in California and close to family and for friends with whom distance does not matter
  5. I am grateful for the wild turkeys around here, because there is nothing like a flock of wild turkeys to remind you how lucky you are to have a brain
  6. I am grateful for the rain, because it’s California and to not be thankful for the rain could get you kicked out
  7. I am grateful for all the characters in my books because they let me live out a fantasy life without causing too much harm in my real life
  8. I am grateful for my trainer, oh wait, no I’m not (okay, I am, but don’t tell her because I won’t be able to walk for a week after she hears)
  9. I am grateful for all the people I work with because somehow, someone managed to gather a group of people with the same, somewhat twisted sense of humor, and throw us all together
  10. I am grateful for books, books, and more books
  11. I am grateful for wine, wine, and more wine
  12. I am grateful that I have the life I do that makes writing this list easy

Happy Holidays everyone.

All Kinds of Gifts

Last Fourth of July a fire was started not far from our house – someone illegally lighting fireworks back in the dry, hot hills near Lake Berryessa in the middle of one of the worst droughts the state has experienced in decades. The fire ultimately consumed about 6500 acres of wild land – nothing compared to the fires that hit the Sierras but still, so close to where we lived, it was nothing to laugh about.

It started in the evening, when others were legally setting off fireworks in other parts of the county, and around 4am, we received a visit from the sheriff with a request to evacuate. It was voluntary at first but with the smell of smoke thick in the air and ash and soot falling all over our property we opted to take their advice. The winds where we live typically come from the north and blow fast and hot in the summer. Those winds were blessedly quiet on that night, but had mother nature changed her mind and stuck with her routine, there was no doubt the flames would sweep through our neighborhood – we left hoping for the best and, to be honest, expecting the best, but cautious nonetheless.

As it turned out mother nature was kind and the winds, unusually, blew up from the delta that entire week rather than down from the north. The fire came close to where we live, but not a single structure was effected other than the clean-up we all had to do to get rid of the ashes that seemed to be everywhere.

It might seem strange to be writing about this now, five months after the fact, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been on my mind because Christmas is coming up and whether we want to or not (if you celebrate it, that is), thoughts turn to gifts and presents and boxes under trees. We’ve certainly consumed our fair share of “stuff” over the years, but as we get older, and the kids do, too, we’re definitely moving away from this trend. And now, now when my inbox seems to be flooded with ads and offers every day, I find myself asking, “Would we have taken this with us when we evacuated?” If the answer is “no” then I’m more likely to pass on it. That’s not to say we’re not going to enjoy some frivolous things as I’m a big believer in being able to enjoy things you want not just what you need, but am I going to spend a lot of money on something that might hold our attention for just a short while? Probably not. Because when it came down to it, the only things I took with me when we left that morning were a few changes of clothes, some heirloom jewelry, our passports (we had a trip scheduled in less than a month), and my computer (and only because it had my book drafts on it!). But I think what’s most telling is what my younger son put in his bag: A souvenir knife he got when we were in Roatan (Honduras), his “cold blanket” (a baby quilt that was once my brother’s that he’s had his whole life), and the tennis racket my mother-in-law had given him along with a pillow he’d adopted from her bed after she’d died. If we had to evacuate again next year, what would he take? My guess is probably a lot of the same stuff and maybe the hat he got when we were in Italy this summer with our good friends.

I love the Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When he packed his bag, not knowing if he would ever be able to come back to his home as he knew it, what he most wanted to preserve, what he most wanted to keep and protect, were memories and physical things that evoked those memories – things that reminded him of time spent with family in a special place, the feeling of being tucked in and safe, and of course, his loving grandmother.

I think that’s probably what we all want in the end of the day – memories worth holding onto and keeping safe because of how they make us feel. Physical things are good, too but if you had to leave your home tonight, what would take and why? If it’s things that remind you of people you love or places or things you’ve done or feelings you’ve had, maybe those are the kinds of gifts we should giving, too?

I won’t tell you what the boys are getting for Christmas this year just yet, but I can promise you it isn’t another laptop or iPhone or sport icon poster. I’m hoping to find something that makes them feel.

Another little glimpse….

Ready for more from The Frailty of Things?  I posted a sneak peek last week and now here is the cover!

TFOT Final Cover

We debated a long time between two primary images and I love where we landed! Will keep you posted on the launch date.

Sneak Peek Time!

We are SOOO close to the release of The Frailty of Things and I want to celebrate. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2!

Chapter 2

 Lying in his bed upstairs, Garret could hear Caleb rummaging around in the kitchen. Caleb wasn’t much of a rummager, and when he moved around a room, he was naturally quiet as a mouse. That Garret could hear him up a flight of stairs, down a hall, and through a closed door said more about his friend’s state of mind than Caleb would ever actually say himself.

A bird flying by the massive window caught Garret’s attention. He had the same kind of floor-to-ceiling windows in his room that Kit had in hers, and he turned his head and took in the snowy scene.

Sort of.

He did let his eyes take in the sweeping landscape—he and Caleb had spent the majority of the past few months moving in and out of South America’s jungles and crowded cities, so he had to adjust to the expansive views—but mostly, as his eyes adjusted, his mind was on Kit.

She was right, of course. Not about not being together. In that, he knew she was very wrong, and he could work on that. What she had been right about was his love at first sight comment—it was true that the “at first sight” was the easy part; it wasn’t as though either of them had had to work at or even think about the instant attraction they had felt. But sticking with it over years and decades—through the good and bad times—took a lot more effort and said a lot more about a couple and their love for each other than what they had felt in the first seconds after they’d met.

But even knowing that it was only with time that they would ever really discover if they were good together, he was hard pressed to forget the day, the instant, he’d met Kit. Caleb hadn’t wanted him to stay at her house five months ago when they’d come to help a friend of hers, so he had camped on her property instead. But somehow she’d found him—or his camp, rather, while he was in town picking up supplies. And the moment he’d come upon her, sitting on a log near his tent as if she had been waiting for him, was indelibly seared into his memory.

He remembered coming to an abrupt stop, gripping his backpack of supplies, and simply staring. It hadn’t been so much the surprise of finding someone at his camp as the shock he had felt reverberate through his body when she’d looked up at him with her golden eyes. For a moment, he’d actually contemplated going down on his knees to thank god, or whomever, for sending her.

He hadn’t, of course. Instead he’d walked slowly toward her. Her eyes had been wary but curious, following his movement. He’d told her his name and held out his hand; she had taken it in her own and offered him a tentative smile—as if to seal a deal neither of them had yet understood.

Down in the kitchen, a drawer slammed and Caleb cursed, bringing Garret back to the present. He smiled. Kit’s brother rarely swore out loud; it just wasn’t his thing. It seemed that being in the presence of Kit had affected them both.

Then Kit’s question from the night before echoed through his mind: What are you doing here? His smile turned to a frown. What were they doing there? And did it have anything to do with how Caleb was acting?

Jackknifing off the bed, he rested his feet on the cold floor as he dug in his bag for a pair of socks. He was already dressed, and had been since he’d heard Kit leave earlier that morning, but he hated socks. That said, even though the house was well heated, coming from the South American summertime to a North American winter required some adjustment, even for him.

Tugging a sock onto one foot, he let his eyes trail back to the windows. Again, Kit’s voice echoed in his ears: It’s almost enough to make me believe in magic. He could almost see that too. The morning light was just barely starting to make its appearance and, from Kit’s southwestern views, the shadows were shortening and the snow was starting to glisten and sparkle. It reminded him of a Christmas years ago, when some relative or another had tried to expose him to a little bit of culture by dragging him, aged eight, and his four-year-old sister, to The Nutcracker.

He didn’t have many memories of the dancers, but he did remember the set—a snowy forest. As an adult, he’d seen his fair share of snow, but back then—back when he was eight and living in the bayous of southern Louisiana outside Baton Rouge—snow was about as foreign to him as ballet. He’d been captivated.

Now, looking out Kit’s window, a tiny bit of that awe crept back into his soul, because it was stunning. Pristine and clean. And quiet. Too quiet, at the moment.

After pulling on his other sock, he ventured down to the kitchen, unsure of what he would find. What he did find when he walked into the room was Caleb sitting at the kitchen island, glaring at the cabinetry, resting his chin in his palm.

“There a problem?” Garret asked, not bothering to stop the grin that tugged at his mouth.

Caleb turned his glare on Garret for a full ten seconds, then finally threw his hands up.

“I can’t find the fucking coffee,” he growled.

Garret studied his friend for a long moment before turning to the freezer, opening it, and pulling out a bag of ground beans. After holding it up on display for a moment, just to needle Caleb, he went to the coffee maker on the counter and started making a pot. A big one.

“How the hell did you know that?” Caleb finally demanded once the water had started to perk in the machine.

Garret kept his back to Caleb as he shrugged. “It was just a guess.” Only it wasn’t, not really. Caleb knew nothing about Garret’s meeting with Kit last fall, and Garret had no desire to enlighten him. Thinking back on those three days he’d spent with her, during which they’d mostly just talked, he didn’t remember her drinking any coffee—though she’d had quite a few cups of tea. But even if Kit herself preferred tea, she was too conscientious not to have coffee available for visitors or friends, so in his mind, it made sense that she would have some coffee stored somewhere, and the freezer seemed to be the most common spot.

When the coffeemaker beeped, Garret poured two cups, handed one to Caleb, then leaned back against the counter and studied his partner over the island. They’d been working together for nearly seven years and he had never seen Caleb so clearly agitated and tense.

“What’s going on, Forrester?” Garret asked.

Caleb took a sip of his coffee, then another, before he spoke. “I can’t find Kit.”

Garret’s stomach dropped a bit. “What do you mean, you can’t find Kit?”

“I’ve called her four times and every time it goes straight to voicemail,” he said, gesturing to his cell phone in disgust—as if it were the phone’s fault. “And I have no idea what time she left.”

That settled Garret somewhat. He remembered she had mentioned errands, so it wasn’t as though her being away from the house was completely unexpected. “She left around six-thirty,” Garret supplied. “I heard her get up around six and get ready and then leave about thirty minutes later,” he added.

“And you didn’t stop her?” Caleb demanded.

Again, Garret studied his friend before speaking. “Why would I have stopped her, Forrester? What’s going on and why, exactly, are we here?”

Caleb opened his mouth, shut it, and after a beat, responded. “I didn’t exactly invite you,” he pointed out.

Garret’s curiosity increased tenfold at that comment. “You’re right. You didn’t. But you also didn’t tell me not to come. And since the only times we’ve ever not been together during the past six plus years was when we’d specifically scheduled R & R, and because this most definitely isn’t R & R, even though we’re at your sister’s, I’m thinking it’s a good thing I’m here, so why don’t you just tell me what’s going on?”

He crossed an arm over his chest and took a sip of the hot, strong coffee. He should have paid more attention and asked more questions when Caleb had said he was coming to visit Kit, but the thought of seeing her again had pretty much overwhelmed what little sense he’d had.

“Forrester.” Garret added. His demand for information was implied, and thankfully, it worked. Caleb shot him a glare, but he didn’t leave the room.

“You’re a nosy bastard this morning,” Caleb commented.

“I’m always a nosy bastard, but I can usually read your mind or at least see the logic in what we’re doing, but this is different. Not that I mind coming here,” he said, gesturing to the luxurious surroundings with his coffee cup.

Caleb took another sip of his coffee, then drummed his fingers on the island’s granite. Twice, he took a breath as if preparing to speak, but said nothing. When he finally looked up, Garret saw something in his friend’s eyes he’d never seen there before: worry.

“That last deal we worked on, not Heinlach in Argentina,” he said, referring to the job that had so abruptly pulled them away from Windsor five months ago, “but the arms transfer we documented in Venezuela.”

Garret nodded, remembering the last-minute favor they’d done for a friend, running surveillance on a transfer of illegal arms. It had been a quick and easy job because documentation was all their friend had needed—images, details on the cargo, transfer times, and those sorts of things.

“Well, two of the people on the tarmac that day were faces I knew,” Caleb continued, ignoring Garret’s raised eyebrow. Caleb hadn’t said a thing as the transfer was going down, and that didn’t give Garret the warm fuzzies now.

“One is a guy I had my eye on years ago. He showed up in an investigation I was running on the trafficking and transfer of arms and humans. Circumstances,” Caleb paused, and for a moment, his gaze seemed to take him back in time—a look of regret flashed across his face. Then he cleared his throat and continued. “Circumstances changed and I never had a chance to follow up on him, but from what I had gathered, he wasn’t a good guy.”

This wasn’t surprising to Garret. They didn’t meet a lot of good guys in their business. “And the second guy?” he pressed.

Again, Caleb looked away, and by the tensing of his jaw, Garret could tell it was this man whose presence really bothered Caleb.

“He’s someone I knew growing up. Someone Kit knew. His name is Henry Michaels,” was all Caleb said.

Garret took another sip of his coffee as he mulled over what Caleb had said, and what he hadn’t. In their line of work, it wasn’t unusual to see the same people crop up in different places at different times—it wasn’t like they were targeting dime-a-dozen petty thieves. No, in Garret’s experience, once a person had crossed the line far enough to come onto his and Caleb’s radar, they were already the kind of person who would pretty much do anything for anyone for the right price.

And so it was the second person, the new guy, Michaels, who also caught Garret’s attention.

“Tell me about Michaels,” Garret said.

But Caleb shook his head. “I’m not going to get into it until I talk to Kit. Which is why I’m so pissed off that I can’t find her. I need answers.”

Garret blinked and then very carefully picked his words. “Just what do you think Kit might be able to tell you? What kind ‘answers’ do you think she’ll have?”

Caleb’s eyes shot to his, no doubt responding to the measured, careful tone in his question. For a split second, Garret saw a question flash across his friend’s face. And then it went neutral.

“I’m not sure,” Caleb said after a beat.