Authors: Charlotte Boyett-Compo
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
Dancing on the Wind
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
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-
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
: Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd.
Uzi: Israel Military Industries Ltd
Wizard of Oz
: Turner Entertainment Co.
Dancing on the Wind
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
“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.”
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
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.
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