Friday, August 11, 2017

Excerpt from Midnight in Mongolia

Midnight in Mongolia
A Blenders Mystery, Book 4
By Veronica Hart
Champagne Books:

Can Doll find two kidnapped friends before they disappear into the wilds of the Gobi Desert?


I itched to get started doing something. For all his talk, I was beginning to have my doubts about Howard’s expertise. So far, we had accomplished nothing in the way of recovering Larry and Al. Midnight had come and gone with no further messages.

By two in the morning, my eyes felt gritty. Everything blurred when I tried to focus on a face or a glass. No messages arrived, and no one had a fresh idea. Exhausted from the day’s activities, I needed my bed. Creepy Munk, Sara, Howard, and I remained slouched in overstuffed, leather armchairs in the bar as we waited. By now I figured Munk and Sara to be villains in our drama, yet without anything to pin on them, I had no recourse—they were our only Mongolian acquaintances. We had to accept them at their word. They wanted to help us.

I finally begged off and headed upstairs to my room. Munk stood like a gentleman when I rose. Howard slept soundly in his chair. After debating whether to wake him or not, I decided the hotel staff could watch over him. He’d probably slept in more uncomfortable places.

I could see them in the dimly lit bar as I waited for the elevator. They gently prodded Howard, and then Munk helped him to his feet. Sara hovered nearby. I stepped into the elevator, exhausted, exasperated, and thoroughly irritated. Maybe things would look better in the morning. As the door slid closed, Howard ran his fingers through his hair, shook himself like a wet dog, and came toward the elevators.

I entered my room feeling like I stepped into my personal safe haven of calm and tranquility. Quickly sloughing off my clothes, I wiped my face with a washcloth, slipped into my pajamas, and as fast as I turned out the light, I fell asleep.

A ringing phone jolted me. Sunlight blinded me when I opened my eyes to search for the source of the ringing. I couldn’t tell if it was my cell or the hotel phone. Turning away from the glaring light, I reached for the phone on the bedside table.

“Yes?” I said into the receiver as I stretched to reach the draperies to shut out the light. With the phone attached by a cord, I couldn’t manage. My head pounded. Too much wine and too late a night had taken their toll. I hoped the boys were faring better than I was.

Al and Larry had to be all right. I wouldn’t allow any other thought to enter my head. Just a mess of miscommunications, that’s all. I leaned into the phone as if for an intimate conversation. “Yes?” I repeated.

“You never came with the money,” a husky voice whispered.

I sat bolt upright. “You never sent directions,” I shouted, refraining from adding, “You idiot.”

“We sent the directions by special courier.”

“Well, if you paid him, you just lost your money. Nothing arrived at the hotel.”

“Whose ear do you want to receive first, Mr. Rogers’ or Mr. Combs’?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear as my scalp tingled with fear. After a pause, I put it back. “You can’t blame them for your courier’s mistake.”

“We can do whatever we please. You have no choice. Shall we start over?”

“How do I know you have them? You could have overheard them talking on the bus.” Any port in a storm, I thought. Delay the inevitable. I didn’t want to face this situation.

“How do you suppose I knew to call you?”

“You sound like an American. I don’t need the local police. I’m going straight to the American Embassy. They’ll track the phone and find you. You can forget about any money.” I hoped all those television shows I watched were right about finding people stranded in the middle of nowhere by blips on their cell phones.

“Then they will die.” He disconnected.

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