Heroines in my books are up against problems but take care of themselves by eating healthy. Readers tell me they enjoy the food choices these story people make. Today in my work-in-progress, Deadly Alliance, heroine Amy Kintyre leads hikers up a mountainous ridge with water, almonds and a tangerine in her backpack. I “pepper in” these real life items. Amy faces danger on the trail. The day before she’d witnessed a gang fight in a hotel through a vent in the mezzanine bathroom. She runs smack into a member but escapes this time. Later she’s with the hero, a former army ranger. He grills Filet Mignon, and she makes corn-on-the-cob and a tossed salad. Below Amy is an excerpt from her experience in the bathroom:
Sweet! Amy entered the bathroom and faced an exit door labeled Harp Hotel-on-the Lake. No wonder this bathroom was elegant. Waffle towels and an assortment of fragrance mists, lotions, and a milk-glass soap pump sat on a marble counter next to a vintage-looking faucet. If she weren’t in a hurry, she’d spray herself with Vanilla Sugar Cologne or Moonlight Path.
There were two large stalls, and she peeked under the shiny white painted doors to make sure she wouldn’t intrude upon someone. Seeing it empty, she headed in and hung her little handbag on a hook. About to use the toilet, she heard muffled voices. Was she not alone?
Glancing upward, she spotted a vent. The voices came from a room in the hotel. To ease her mind, she stepped up on the toilet seat. On tip-toe, she strained to raise herself higher. As she peered through the vent, she looked over a balcony and onto a large ballroom. The bathroom, where she was on the second level of the parking structure, was on the hotel’s mezzanine.
About twenty feet below, the waxed ballroom floor gleamed up at her, but the scene below wasn’t dancing. About a half dozen men wore flowing robes extending half-way below their shins. Amy didn’t recognized the head cover and robe style from her Survey of Desert Wear class.
The robed men surrounded four men seated with their hands on a round table. Held captive, she was certain. The two facing her with Claddagh rings on their third fingers had visited Les. That day they’d dressed in Levis instead of the suits they wore today.
She knew the mafioso understated appearance. In her hometown of Long Beach, the Waterfront Roaches, went about their infamous business in match-match suits. The Irish Kings of Cocaine ruled the warehouse district. After scrutinizing the backs of the other two suits, she zeroed in on the man with the short cropped white hair. He’d joined the other two at her condo as well. Was one mob infringing on the other’s territory?
Fearing they’d see her, Amy cringed, but the hoodlums were far below. Concentrating, she tried to make out what was happening down there. She looked through the vent. They were talking again.
One of the robes said, “You failed, Rourke.”
Where had she heard that name?
She concentrated on the robed leader. He contorted his face in anger, but he didn’t appear to be Arab.
“Let me impress upon you,” came words from Rourke, “we can both win.”
“Nada,” the robed leader continued. “This is our territory now. You’re in our way.”
“Wait! Hold on!” stammered a young suited man facing her direction.
Hold onto what? When Amy watched the leader gesture toward his guard, she feared something bad was about to happen.
The guard raised his arms in the air. Coming from under his robe, light reflected on a long sword. He wrapped both hands around it and whipped the sword through the air. Like lightning, his arms and body made a complete circle. Amy gasped. The sword was aiming for the seated guy’s neck.
Rourke whipped out a blade at thigh level and threw it, striking the robed man in the shoulder. The sword thudded onto the floor.
She focused on a robed man bringing up a pistol. Rourke was in its cross-hairs. The gun discharged and ripped through Rourke’s shoulder and out the other side.
Another robed man picked up the sword, tried to use it, but a suited man shot him twice. Three times in the chest. He crashed to the floor. A puddle of blood seeped through his robe.
In all her twenty-eight years, nothing prepared her for this horror.
Amy shivered from fright but steadied herself against the stall wall. After a few frozen seconds passed, she told herself she must serve justice. Take photos! Pulling out her iPhone, she touched camera and held it at several different angles. Could the click-click-click heard below?
Again, she glanced through the vent. Running his hand through his blood-spattered white hair, Rourke stumbled. His companions supported him through the ballroom’s double doors.
The robed leader looked up at her. A coincidence? She ducked. No, he couldn’t have seen me. She snapped two more photos of the gruesome scene. Enough evidence. Time to scram. Leaping off the toilet, she darted through the door to the parking structure. The cold air brushed her skin.
She charged down the ramp. Around and around, she sped with all her might. She took a quick glance over her shoulder. A shadow from a careening SUV. She dove behind a parked car. As the SUV passed, the tinted windows rolled down. The barrel of a rifle appeared. Tires squealed, and the SUV zoomed off.