Welcome back! In my earlier blog, I talked about the road to publication. Now I figure you might like to get a sense of what On Her Trail is about.
Laura, whose adventures as a fearless reporter have led her all over Eastern Europe, covering the seamier side of politics, has moved back to Canada and settled in Montreal. That’s when trouble finds her in the form of a crime boss who can’t allow her to publish a story unmasking him.
What’s a girl to do? Run home, of course. Home to the Yukon, to the house on the cliff overlooking the Yukon River, to her estranged mother and their difficult relationship.
Please visit my web site at www.marcelledube.com to read the first chapter, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt of On Her Trail:
They walked in a crouch to the alley side of the building, then lay down flat to peer over the edge of the roof. From that vantage point they could clearly see the length of the alley between Tutshi Street and Duke. Laura noted the red dumpster with its open lid, the back of the white brick building on the other side of the alley, even the potholes that could swallow a small car. What she didn’t see was the truck. She stuck a hand in her pocket and felt the hard outline of the truck keys.
“Where is it?” asked Jason.
Laura scooted back from the edge and sat up. Sharp stones dug through the tough fabric of her jeans to bite her tender flesh. She shivered as the wind found the gap between sweatshirt and jeans.
“It’s gone,” she replied. “Jason, I’m so sorry I got you into this!”
He inched his way back and sat up too. Then he slapped her shoulder playfully. “Don’t start with me, Thorsen. You couldn’t keep me away from a story this good. Come on, we have to get off this roof.”
The neighboring building was three feet higher than the roof on which they stood, but since it abutted theirs, they were able to scramble onto it easily. There was still no sign of life from the newspaper office.
The door to the darkroom stayed shut, and as there were no windows on that side of the building, they couldn’t even tell if someone was wandering around with a flashlight.
It occurred to Laura that a short circuit might have caused the power outage. What if they were skulking around the roofs of Whitehorse because a mouse had nibbled through the wrong wire?
“Now what?” said Laura, having inched her way to the far side of the building.
The next building over was too far and too low for them to jump. Besides, they would soon run out of buildings. If someone was looking for them in the newspaper office, it was only a matter of time before they found the darkroom door. She wanted to get down.
Jason had been examining the roof’s edge. “Over here,” he called softly. Laura ran over, shivering. A narrow metal ladder was latched to the brick wall on the alley side, leading to within six feet of the ground.
She closed her eyes, trying to decide if she could jump six feet without breaking a bone.
“Come on,” said Jason, nudging her. “You go first.”
With a muffled curse, she turned around and set foot gingerly on the first rung. When it didn’t collapse, she tried the second one. By the time she was midway, Jason had stepped on the first rung. As he swung his foot down again, something pinged on the cement ledge next to the ladder. Jason started and looked around the roof.
“Get down, you idiot!” shouted Laura when she realized what was happening. Jason ducked below the roofline just as another bullet pinged past where he’d been standing.
“Jesus!” he cried, practically sliding down the ladder, “they’re shooting at us!”
Laura reached the final rung and flung herself into empty air. She landed in a crouch with a jarring thud, lost her balance and rocked onto her hams just as Jason landed next to her. He lost his balance, too, and fell on top of her. After a mad scramble of limbs, they disentangled themselves and rose to their feet.
“Let’s go!” cried Jason. They ran down the alley, heading for Tutshi Street as fast as they could.
A shout behind them warned them they’d been seen. Something kicked up asphalt at their feet. The gunman was using a silencer.
“Don’t stop!” called Laura. They emerged onto the street and turned right, toward the more populated restaurant and movie district. The sound of feet pounding in the alley behind them spurred them on.
The envelope in her waistband worked its way free and Laura clutched it against her body as she ran. Her feet hit the asphalt like a hand slapping a cheek. Jason kept pace with her, although he was breathing hard. Something whizzed above her head and she automatically hunched her shoulders, expecting a bullet in her back.
“We have to split up,” she gasped as they turned yet another corner in an effort to elude their pursuers.
“Go…police!” Jason’s words came out staccato.
“No!” She grabbed his hand, ducked into an alley and pulled him into a recessed doorway about halfway down. “No police,” she whispered, trying to get her breathing under control. Next to her, Jason breathed like a bellows, and she wished he could be quieter.
Then she placed her hand over his mouth and he nodded. Running footsteps came nearer as their pursuer approached the alley. He paused at the mouth of the alley, and Laura controlled an impulse to peek and see who it was. Apparently satisfied that the alley was empty, the pursuer began running again.
Jason relaxed and would have spoken, but Laura kept her hand on his mouth. A soft scrape at the other end of the alley told them someone else was listening. After a long time they heard the regular thud of someone in soft shoes running away from them.
Only then did Laura remove her hand.
“Why not the cops?” demanded Jason in a barely audible whisper.
“Could be on the take.” At his skeptical snort she elaborated. “Tucker’s got informants everywhere.”
It was dark in the alley. The light from street lamps on the streets at either end didn’t reach this far in. Laura couldn’t see his face, but she could well imagine it. “I’m so sorry, Jase.”
After a moment he shook his head. “Don’t sweat it, Laura. But you’re right—we have to split up. I don’t think we should meet again until we’re sure the story is out. Can I keep the flash drive?”
“How? You can’t just walk into an internet café…”
“If you don’t know where I’m going, you can’t tell anyone else.”
Laura shut her mouth and nodded. She had a hard copy of the article hidden in Fay’s house. “Go for it, tiger.”
“Where are you going to go?” he asked.
“If you don’t know…” she began, and grinned when he poked her in the ribs.
“Okay, smart ass. You ready?”
She wasn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was step out of the alley and expose herself to two hired killers. But Jason seemed to think she was braver than she actually was, and she’d be damned if she’d disappoint him. Especially now that she’d dragged him into this mess.
“Let’s go,” she whispered.
They left the protection of the doorway and stepped into the alley. Without a word, Jason turned left and walked away. She watched him for a moment, wishing safety on him. Then she turned right and headed for the street.
She was only a few blocks from the movie theater. Even on a Thursday night there’d be people on Main Street, going in and out of bars and restaurants, heading for the bookstore, coming out of the movies. She’d be safer there.
Where the hell was Mack’s truck?
As she approached the well-lit street, her steps became more hesitant. She didn’t want to leave the alley. But she couldn’t stay here all night—she had to get home to Fay. Besides, the alley wasn’t safe. When they didn’t find her and Jason, the killers would double back.
Flattening herself against the wall of the building, Laura listened. All she could hear was the distant sound of a truck a couple of streets over. Taking a deep breath, she stepped onto the sidewalk.
“Got you!” growled a man, and a heavy hand grabbed her arm.
Talk to you later!
1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.