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Authors: Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Dancing on the Wind

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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

Dancing on the Wind

ISBN 9781419915178

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dancing on the Wind Copyright © 2008 Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Edited by Mary Moran.

Cover art by Syneca.

Electronic book Publication April 2008

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in

part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing,

Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal

copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is

punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/)

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales

is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

DANCING ON THE WIND

Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the

following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Band-Aid: Johnson & Johnson Corporation

BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft

Bugs Bunny: Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.

“Demolition Man”: Words and Music by Sting

Desert Eagle XIX: Israel Military Industries Ltd

Doctors Without Borders: Bureau International de Medecins sans Frontieres Not-

For-Profit Corporation

Glock 19: Glock, Inc.

GPS: Randazzo, William Salvator

Harley-Davidsons: H-D Michigan, Inc

Ka-Bar: Alcas Corporation

Knights of Columbus: Knights of Columbus Corporation

Lear: Lear Corporation

M1: Aero Development & Engineering, Inc.

M3 Trench Knife: Camillus Cutlery, Inc.

McDonald’s: McDonald’s Corporation

Pepsi: Pepsico, Inc.

Porsche Boxster: Dy. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft

Ray-Bans: Bausch & Lomb Inc.

Ritz: Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C

“Soul and Inspiration”: Words and Music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

Star Wars
: Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd.

Uzi: Israel Military Industries Ltd

Wizard of Oz
: Turner Entertainment Co.

Dancing on the Wind

Prologue
Present Day

The bitter Iowa wind blowing across the grassy expanse chilled bone-deep as it

skirled through the black walnut trees. Rain plinked hollowly upon a small sea of black

umbrellas to stream ceaselessly to the already spongy ground. Hanging low in the

sodden gray sky, the clouds looked as bruised and battered as he felt—bereft of

warmth, saturated with despair. Looking up at the harsh winter heavens, blinking

against the cold invasion of the falling rain striking his upturned face and splattering

the dark glasses he was wearing, he thought it an appropriate day for what was

happening in front of him. Lowering his head, he stared dully at the tall, cadaverously

thin man dressed in white who was officiating. With detachment, he looked around

him at the others who had gathered at this gloomy, freezing hour but never quite met

the eyes of his fellow mourners. He was too numb, too dazed, too tired to tolerate either

the pitying gazes or the pointed glares aimed his way. He had refused the place offered

him beneath the protection of the canopy, preferring to stand alone in the rain—an

outsider, a looker-on—alienating himself from the inner circle.

Despite his better judgment, his attention wandered to the flag-draped casket and

he felt once again the force of that humbling sight to the very marrow of his bones, to

the depths of his aching heart, and he jerked his gaze away again. He wanted this

obligatory ceremony over and done with. He wanted to leave this wretched hilltop

upon which rows of white marble markers with their small bronze emblems of faith

above the name of the dead stretched out like dragon teeth tearing through the earth.

He wanted to drink himself into oblivion to blot out the memories that kept assailing

him at every turn.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,” the priest intoned.

“And let perpetual light shine upon her,” those gathered who were of the Catholic

faith responded.

“May she rest in peace,” the priest said.

“Amen,” replied almost every one of the assembled.

Everyone except him, he thought as his vision drifted to the mound of dirt barely

covered by the tacky green carpet. His stomach roiled at the sight and bile raced up his

gullet. He had to forcefully swallow to keep it down.

The priest closed the book he carried. “May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful

departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.”

“Amen.”

5

Charlotte Boyett-Compo

Backing away, the priest joined the two acolytes who had flanked him as the

NCOIC stepped forward. “Present arms!” he called out.

The seven militiamen standing to one side snapped to attention in perfect

synchronized union then shouldered their M1 carbines.

The first of the three volleys made him flinch even though he knew the sound was

coming. The second doubled his fist inside the pocket of his raincoat so that he drove

his nails brutally into his palms. The third started a sting behind his eyes, and as the

echo died down, thirty yards away the bugler brought up his instrument and the first

three notes skirled over the mourners, he began to tremble—jaw clenched tightly, teeth

grinding. Throughout the hauntingly beautiful final tribute to a fallen comrade, he

stood rigid at attention, his eyes never wavering from her casket. It wasn’t until the

casket team leader stepped forward and he and his men began the folding of the flag

that he completely lost it.

Pain such as he could never have imagined ran through his entire body, nearly

driving him to his knees. He spun around—staggering as the cane in his right hand dug

deep into the soft earth. Leaning heavily on the silver dragon-head handle, he hobbled

as fast as he could toward his parked car, the coattail of his raincoat flapping behind

him. He could not stay to see that flag presented to a woman he despised and who

loathed him just as deeply. He could not stay to see the casket lowered into the ground,

the last memory of her presence in his world the dirt being tossed into the grave, the

last sound to remember that of the dull thud as the soil hit the casket lid.

There was a bar calling to him, a bottle and glass with his name on it. Hell, why

even bother with the glass? he thought as he snatched open the car door and slid behind

the wheel, tossing the cane onto the floorboard of the passenger side. And why stop at

one bottle when two would do the job more effectively? Vaguely he heard his name

being called as he slammed the door shut, but he ignored it, jamming the key into the

ignition—though it took some doing since his hand shook so badly—and gunned the

powerful motor. He worked the gears of the Basalt Black Metallic Porsche Boxster S like

a maniac, a low, keening sound accompanying his movements. With the 295 hp engine

roaring, the sleek sports car leapt out of the line of the lesser cars of the funeral cortege

and took to the gravel road like a hot knife through butter.

Jerking the wheel, he shot out of the cemetery gates and took the highway

eastward—rear tires fishtailing and squealing as rubber gripped asphalt—barely

missing an oncoming semi. To the shrill blast of the truck’s air horn, the Boxster picked

up speed, soon vanishing in the gloom, its taillights bright red glittering in the slashing

rain. Darting recklessly between slower-moving cars and passing dangerously across

double yellow lines, he finally found open highway ahead of him and pushed down

hard on the accelerator, hitting the one hundred sixty mark without so much as a blink

of his pale amber eyes.

At that moment he didn’t care if he lived or died, though he would just as soon not

take an innocent family with him when he checked out. He finally eased up on the gas

but maintained a speed far exceeding the posted fifty-five mile per hour limit. He paid

6

Dancing on the Wind

no attention at all to the scenery through which he sped, the occasional slide of the tires

on the wet payment, but the sports car tracked securely to keep him on the highway.

Apparently his guardian angel was working overtime.

The piercing sound of a siren caught his attention and he glanced in the rearview

mirror where revolving lights had appeared suddenly as a state patrol car streaked

toward him. He considered flooring it, trying to outrun the trooper, then thought better

of it. Why endanger the officer’s life needlessly? With a sigh, he took his foot off the gas

and began braking, sliding smoothly over onto the soggy shoulder of the road. When

the car rolled to a stop, he hit the button to lower the window despite the rain blowing

in, switched off the engine, took off his sunglasses, tossed them to the passenger seat

then sat with his hands in plain sight, gripping the wheel, eyes on the rearview mirror.

Though he couldn’t see through the rear windshield of the patrol car, he knew the

trooper was calling in the stop. He sighed again, resisting the urge to hang his head.

He wasn’t armed although there was a fully loaded Desert Eagle XIX strapped

beneath the dash, a Glock 19 with a 33-round extended magazine in the glove

compartment and a 50-round Uzi tucked under the seat. Even if he didn’t count the two

Ka-Bar knives with their seven-inch carbon steel killing blades and the double-edged

M3 fighting knife in the console, he was screwed on a concealed weapons charge—

especially if he counted the brace of hand grenades he kept for no other purpose than

just to have them at hand. With the entire System on high alert, he’d felt he needed the

protection but his overzealous approach to self-preservation might prove to be his

undoing. He could feel the handcuffs clicking into place around his wrists.

“Afternoon, sir.”

The voice was young, shaky and feminine—which surprised him—and he slowly

turned his head toward her.

Though her eyes were hard and her mouth tight as she stood there with her hand

on the butt of her service revolver, he could read her like a book. She’d already called in

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