Turn of the Tide (excerpt)

Turn of the Tide should be released in October, hopefully, if all goes well…Hmm…we all know how that goes. hehe In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt. Will Demetri figure out where Candy is and come after her?

Setting: 1970, Baltimore, MD

Candy checked constantly for Demetri but thankfully did not see him. In case he came in, she formulated a plan to sneak into the kitchen and from there, call police or run for her life out the back door of the hotel.

“He’s not here, Candy. He wasn’t at the track, either.”

“Rachel, I’m telling you, he’s probably figured it out by now and knows we’re going to Preakness. He’ll show up. I know it. I can feel it.”

“Get some coffee or tea or something. Get a drink. Relax.”

“Cwoffee?” Erick joked, regarding her Long Island pronunciation of the word. “Does it have a W in it?”

She smacked his arm. “Country bumpkin. Yeehaw.”

“Want some bud-ah with that toast?” He couldn’t stop himself.

“Do you see how he treats me?” Rachel asked Candy.

Candy couldn’t help laughing at their exchange. She was glad for the distraction and tried her own joke. “Did you used to round up the little dogies on the farm down home?”

Rachel gasped and then high-fived Candy.

“Farm?” Erick was mortified. “It was a ranch. And I bet you don’t even know what a dogie is.”

Rachel and Candy froze as they thought about it. Not a hint of recognition flickered in either of them.

Erick roared, gaining the attention from a man at the bar. “I knew it!”

Rachel shook her head at him while Candy raised her hands in expectation. “Well?” she asked.

“It’s a calf. Baby cow, for you city folk. But without a mother.”

“Aww,” Rachel and Candy whined in unison.

Candy’s eyes drifted to the television at the bar. The news was on and they were talking about NASA’s last mission, Apollo 13, which had nearly ended in tragedy. Rachel and Erick watched as well.

“That was so scary,” Rachel said once the story was over. “Mission thirteen, it happened on April thirteenth, I mean how unlucky can you get? Why did they pick that date and why didn’t they skip that number for their missions? Kind of like skipping floors in a hotel. Nobody has a thirteenth floor. Why would they make an Apollo thirteen too?” Rachel’s hands bounced up and down and her voice rose as the ridiculousness of choosing the number thirteen washed over her.

“I thought you weren’t superstitious,” Candy replied, then sipped her water. She opted not to tell them that Demetri had not allowed her to watch the news about the mission because it wasn’t something a woman should be interested in.

“I’m not.”

Erick snorted.

“Well, I’m not.” Rachel tapped his arm, then turned to Candy. “Erick’s the anti-superstitious one. He laughs at all the jocks doing their rituals and prayers and stuff. He’s not into that.”

“Are you?” Erick asked Candy.

Candy shrugged and thought for a second. She’d never put much thought into it. “I guess not. But I tell ya, if I could put a garlic chain around my neck to keep Demetri away from me, I’d do it. Whatever worked.” Mentioning his name aloud made her so sick she nearly vomited on her salad. She put one hand on her stomach and one over her mouth.

Rachel tilted her head and dropped her shoulders as if to say, “Why’d you have to bring his name up? You ruined all the fun.”

Candy lowered her head and apologized. “Sorry. I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”

Rachel touched Candy’s hand. “It’s okay, Candy. Don’t worry about it. I know how you feel. I probably thought about that jerk that kidnapped me too much for a while, too. It took a few months to catch him. I was worried about him getting to me again.”

“That must have been terrifying.” Must have been? Candy knew it was, for she was going through that right now.

Erick nodded as Rachel responded. “It was. So, I get it. I do.”

“At Preakness, all those cameras…I know he’ll see me. I’ll be on television like you guys and he’ll see me. It doesn’t even matter where he is. He’ll see me.”

“So what happens if he sees you?” Erick asked her. “He’ll know you’re at the track, maybe he’ll arrange a trip here, fly up, and then what? He can’t hit you in front of everyone.”

“He’ll wait until I’m alone, then hit me over the head, knock me out, which he has done before, by the way, and then carry me somewhere.”

“Then someone will see a man carrying an unconscious woman and call police. They’d never let him leave the backside like that.”

“He’d hide me until it got dark.”

“Where?”

“Erick…” Rachel put her hand on Erick’s arm.

Erick readjusted his arm to hold her hand instead. “No, wait. First, we’re not going to leave you alone, anyway. But if you are alone, let’s say he finds you, he can’t just take you like that. There’s so much security at the track, it’s ridiculous. I honestly think you’d be fine at the track. No sense in being bored in your room all week.” Erick stabbed his fork into his salad and picked up a piece of chicken.

Rachel lowered her gaze, knowing Erick was right, but then glanced at Candy, who glared at the table. Erick leaned into Candy’s line of sight and she raised her head again.

“You know we’ll never let him get to you. This is all if he’s even figured out where you are. He might not have. He might still be in Miami, busy with his stable.”

Candy shrugged and fought the urge to appear rude and shake her head in disagreement. She was sure Demetri had figured it out by now. It had only been a few days, but where else would she go but back home to New York? Maybe Demetri had even figured out that Rachel was alive. Candy wished she had thought of a better plan. Again, acting before thinking. This time, she did shake her head, only at herself. She mixed up her salad with her fork and spoke. “I guess.”

“I’m not trying to put you in danger, Candy. I’m trying to help you to overcome some of that fear. Don’t let him paralyze you.”

“He might literally paralyze me.” She shuddered at the thought and believed it to be true.

“He won’t. I promise.”

Rachel nodded in agreement with her husband.

“Okay, fine. I’ll go with you guys tomorrow.”

Erick nodded and Rachel cheered.

 

 

“Candy, can you find me a hoof pick for Chiv?” Willy asked. “I can’t find one.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Candy glanced at Rachel, who was talking with a reporter. She’d been talking with them all day and Candy wished she would take a break. She hadn’t even had time for lunch. Erick was seated on a bale of hay, talking with someone. Her stomach growled as she headed for the tack room.

Before walking inside, her heart skipped a beat. Alone. She was alone. Erick and Rachel promised her she wouldn’t be alone. Demetri could grab her right now and stuff her in that tack room. He could hold her hostage. He could hold a knife to her throat. What if he…

“I got it, Candy. Never mind. I found it,” Willy called.

Lightheaded and panicked now, Candy spun on her heels and headed back for Chivalry’s stall. She ducked under the rope and went inside, then wrapped her arms around Chivalry’s neck.

“Aw, miss Candy, what’s wrong?” Willy picked up Chivalry’s front left hoof.

“Nothing. Nervous, I guess.”

“Don’t you worry about that race none. He’s got this. He’ll win no problem.”

“Yeah.” Her mind was elsewhere, though. She was paralyzed with fear, like Erick had mentioned last night at dinner. Demetri had her trapped. But she could do nothing about it. His hold was too strong, even from Miami, if that’s where he actually was.

 

“Candy, can you find me a hoof pick for Chiv?” Willy asked. “I can’t find one.”

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Candy glanced at Rachel, who was talking to a reporter. She’d been talking to them all day and Candy wished she would take a break. She hadn’t even had time for lunch. Erick was seated on a bale of hay, talking with someone. Her stomach growled as she headed for the tack room.

Before walking inside, her heart skipped a beat. Alone. She was alone. Erick and Rachel promised her she wouldn’t be alone. Demetri could grab her right now and stuff her in that tack room. He could hold her hostage. He could hold a knife to her throat. What if he…

“I got it, Candy. Never mind. I found it,” Willy called.

Lightheaded and panicked now, Candy spun on her heels and headed back for Chivalry’s stall. She ducked under the rope and went inside, then wrapped her arms around Chivalry’s neck.

“Aw, miss Candy, what’s wrong?” Willy picked up Chivalry’s front left hoof.

“Nothing. Nervous, I guess.”

“Don’t you worry about that race none. He’s got this. He’ll win no problem.”

“Yeah.” Her mind was elsewhere, though. She was paralyzed with fear, like Erick had mentioned last night at dinner. Demetri had her trapped. But she could do nothing about it. His hold was too strong, even from Miami, if that’s where he actually was.

 

****

Below the airplane, clouds hid the ground from Demetri and he could not tell how far from Baltimore’s Friendship International Airport he was. Though, he had been in the air for a few hours now and he knew they had to be close. As Demetri sipped his rum and Coke in his first-class seat, he was glad he was not driving. Instead, he had arranged for a small crew to drive one of his horses up for a stakes race. The owner of the horse was excited that he would be running a race the same day as the Preakness. The owner had hoped the horse would win and get a mention on television, which would raise his value and subsequently, his stud fee.

Demetri had a room at a Holiday Inn near the airport and planned to take a taxi in to Pimlico the next morning. He had a car but it was still at Pimlico, if they hadn’t towed it by now. It had been a year since he was there last. This was the place where he met the love of his life, Candy. He hoped to see her again here. He hoped she would be coming with her Hanover Farms crew from New York. He was so excited that he could hardly sleep.

 

(end)

Contact me if you’d like to be a beta reader for me before it’s published. Thanks!

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