In just one week, I hope for all of you reading this to come back here and download the first issue of Marvellous Adventure. Due to unforeseen circumstances, there will be only one short story in this first issue instead of the intended two. But there’s still plenty to be excited about because that story begins The Adventures of Emily Monroe, my new series of stories featuring a wealthy businesswoman in the 1930s who finds herself being pulled into a worldwide crime fighting organization — and the secret her father took to his grave.
And here to bring you back for more is a sneak peek at “The Whitehawk Legion”, appearing in the first issue of Marvellous Adventure.
She sat on the other side of the large oak desk and breathed in apprehension along with his cigar smoke.
Miss Lydia Sparks was a dumpy young blonde with her hair tied back in a tight bun. Thick glasses rested on a nose that was a bit too big for her face. He just stared at her for a minute, and she stared back.
Her voice caught in her throat for a moment before she got out, “I was told you wanted to see me, sir?”
He waited an equal moment before saying, “As my secretary, you handle a great deal of privileged information.” Another blow of smoke and he watched her throat pulsate with a gulp. “A certain envelope has gone missing.”
“An envelope?” She was so quiet he almost couldn’t hear what she said.
“A few photographs inside. I was wondering if you knew what had happened to it.”
“I’m afraid I don’t remember any pictures, Mr. Brynn. What were they of?”
Joseph Brynn had spent many hours in front of the mirror getting to know his own face. It had just the right bone structure, just the right amount of fat hanging from its cheeks, so that depending on how he manipulated his mouth and his brow and his jaw, he could either be an intimidating pitbull or a department store Santa Clause. He became the pitbull and leaned forward.
“Those pictures are important to my business, Miss Sparks. If anything were to happen to them, it would cause a great deal of trouble. I can’t afford trouble in my line of work.” It was a pleasure watching her try to sit motionless when it was obvious her instinct was to squirm under his gaze.
“Mr. Brynn, I’m sorry if I’ve misplaced anything. Are you going to fire me?”
That was when he knew for certain he had made no mistake. She had put too much theatrical submission in her voice, overplaying her role, and a second later she knew it too. Brynn called out to the men on the other side of the door. “Lee!”
Three vultures in the shape of men entered. They circled around Miss Sparks in her chair. Between them and Brynn at his desk, she was caught like a spider in a jar.
“Tell me where the pictures are,” said Brynn, “and nothing more has to happen here.”
Miss Sparks held out for several more moments than Brynn had been expecting. But it didn’t matter once she admitted they were under her typewriter. Brynn nodded to the thin one named Lee, who went to the outer office to find out if Miss Sparks was telling the truth.
The envelope was right where she said it would be.
Lee placed the plain brown business envelope carefully on Brynn’s desk and returned to where he had been standing. Brynn opened it and took out a collection of a dozen photographs. As he thumbed through them, he noticed how it was almost like reading the funny papers one panel at a time. They told the story of how a well-dressed, middle-aged man met a young flirt (hired for thirty dollars) at a cocktail party Brynn had thrown two months ago. With each picture they got friendlier. The last few were blurry, badly lit, and from farther away, but you could tell what was happening and who was doing it. What a punchline.
Brynn neatly slipped the pictures back into the envelope, opened a desk drawer, placed the envelope inside, shut the drawer, and folded his hands on his desk. He looked directly at the trapped animal in front of him. “Now, Miss Sparks, I wonder just how much Councilman Harris is paying you to retrieve these pictures.”
Her face became implacable. She said nothing.
“Not that it matters much anymore. You’re going to give him a message for me. I would call him myself, but I think if it comes from you, he might give it slightly more weight.” He turned his attention to the thugs around her. “The dumpster behind city hall,” he ordered.
Two of the men gripped her upper arms and pulled her to her feet. “What are you doing?” she asked in a shaky voice.
“Sending Councilman Harris a message. When he sees a bullet hole in your forehead, he should get it loud and clear.”
Miss Sparks struggled against their grasp, but the two men holding her got her out the door, with Lee leading the way.
Be here next week to download your copy of Marvellous Adventure!