Lowell Strudemeyer had a death wish. Then, he runs head-on into the bad attitude of Jasmine Chandler. Now he has a project.
Forty-three-year-old archaeologist, Jasmine Chandler, is decimated by an abruptly failed marriage and throws herself obsessively into her work. Meanwhile, several hundred miles away on the California coast, retired oncologist, Lowell Strudemeyer, struggles against his own demons by drinking and surfing with an apparent death wish. With help from her friend, Barbara Sullivan, their worlds collide over an ancient burial site and it takes a little magic for these two people, Sweetpea and The Strude, to confess their obvious attraction.
EXCERPT: Beware the Bones
Becoming concerned that the trip may have been wasted time, she backed away and thought,now what?
The only thing left to do was walk around to the back of the house and check there. But before she could take a single step the front door swung open with a jerk and whoosh. There, swaying side to side, was a man who appeared drunk, just past middle age, sporting a scruffy five or six-day growth of salt and pepper whiskers, red eyes framed in dark circles and thick shoulder length unruly silver hair. Sort of a James Brolin meets W. C. Fields look. But that silly smile is Clark Gable for sure.
Straightening to a formal posture, “I’m here to see Mister Strudemeyer. Is he in?”
The man grinned and swayed.
This guy may have broken into the Strudemeyer home and, maybe, even harmed the doctor. She took a tentative backward step.
“I’m sho shorry. The doctor is dead.” He dropped his head with a pitiful sad look.
She took another step back becoming out-right scared. “When...did he die?”
“A few sheconds after I told the hospital board I was retiring.” He snickered, blowing spit from between pursed lips. He stabbed the air with an emphatic finger. “I am a phoenix. From Doctor Strudemeyer’s ashes rose MishterStrudemeyer.”
Jasmine flushed with anger. “Doctor...Mister Strudemeyer—”
“Call me Lowell.”
Ignoring the request, “Mister Strudemeyer, I’m here as a representative of the archaeology department from the University of Southern California. I have a release form—”
“What’s your name, darlin’?”
“My name is Jasmine Chandler and I prefer you not call me darling.” Like most men, he was rude, arrogant and, on top of that, soused. Suddenly, it occurred to her, an angry response might jeopardize getting his signature. Taking measured breaths, she closed her eyes and recomposed. “Look, all I need is for you to sign this release form. “Would you please read it and—”
“Jasmine is shuch a beautiful name.” He stared off into space over her head and leaned against the door jamb. “Jasmine...shuch a shweet smellin’ flower.” He sucked in a large breath, as if smelling the blossom.
“Mister Strudemeyer, please. I need you to hear and understand what I’m saying.”
He shook a finger at her. “Do you know what shmells better than jasmine, though? Shwee’pea...the most divine of all fragrances.”
“Sweetpea...you’re trying to say sweetpea.” Like it or not, she was drawn into an unwanted conversation. She folded her arms in the first challenge to his less-than-courteous attitude.
“That’s what I shaid. Shwee’pea.” With a finger that seemed to float unattached, he pointed toward the unkempt mass of blossoms around the fountain. “If you don’t believe me go shmell for yourself.”
She glanced back. “I just came from over there and I know what it smells like. I’ll not be sniffing it again.” She took an aggressive step forward to press her cause but his liquored breath hit her in the face before she could speak. “Maybe the stench of the fountain wasn’t so bad after all,” she muttered twisting her head to the side and returning to her beginning spot on the porch. “Mister Strudemeyer, I’ve driven over an hour to get here for a simple signature. Would you pleaseextend me the courtesy of just one minute to explain why we need it?”
Swimming eyes that couldn’t focus was all she saw. He probably didn’t comprehend the question.
Jasmine’s rosy cheeks darkened. She bristled, moving closer to losing control. Lack of alternatives propelled a worsening attitude.
The drunkard responded out of synch. “May I call you Shwee’pea?” He leaned his head against the door jamb in a mock show of adoration.
Inevitably, it happened. She redlined and hit that point of no return, barreling toward an angry explosion.
“No sir! You sure as hell may not call me Sweetpea, or darlin’, or—or any other pet name that tumbles out of that liquored-up brain! My name is Jasmine Chandler and you, sir, are a drunken, arrogant ass!” She leaned in and got in his face. “Care for me to repeat that? You’re a drunken arrogant ass!”
A lifelong Texan, Daniel Lance Wright is a freelance fiction writer and novelist born in Lubbock, Texas now residing in Clifton, Texas. He lives with Rickie, his wife of 46 years, has two children, and four grandchildren. Having spent the first nineteen years of his life on a cotton farm on the South Plains of Texas and the next thirty-two in the television industry, he has seen the world from two distinctly different angles. Daniel has received recognition for writing skills from The Oklahoma Writers Federation in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011; from Art Affair in 2008; from Frontiers in Writing in 2004; from Canis Latran of Weatherford College in 2011; and from The Indie Excellence Book Awards in 2013.
paranormal romance, spirit possession, spirit animal, Olmecs, archaeology, alcoholic
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