Setting aside her fear of the motorcycle, Luna embraced Nico, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist as if to prevent him from unraveling. When he pulled to a stop, she dismounted too quickly, and Nico caught the bike as it became unstable. Instantly, his eyes blazed and she noticed the momentary glare of admonition, but uncharacteristically, he didn’t scold her. Killing the engine, he inhaled deeply and his body uncoiled with the sound of the waves. Luna took off her helmet, releasing her hair into the cool mist blowing off the ocean. Closing her eyes, she could taste the salt on her tongue. All her previous attempts to get through to him had been abruptly curtailed. Ranting, he had called her an idiot and crazy, or he’d just hung up on her. Alone with him now, she hoped he would confide in her.
Holding hands, they walked silently along the deserted beach until Nico began to speak. His words spilled out like a confession, the way they did when he was in church with her. “I did a lot of shit, Luna, and I’ve distorted myself…I don’t even recognize who I am anymore. I’m more depressed than ever.”
“Please, Nico. You are a medicine man. A shaman. Great healers are often wounded. This is who you are, but you don’t have to destroy yourself.”
“Luna, I let everyone down. I fucked up. But I’ll get myself back together…and I will earn their respect back.”
Luna kissed the back of his hand, knowing the intimacy of an embrace would make him uncomfortable. “I’m here for you, Nico—whatever you need.”
When he turned to face her, there were tears in his eyes. “Luna, she’s a liar and she played me…she broke my heart.”
Luna understood he meant Élodie, and she could feel the weight of his sadness. There weren’t any words to say that would make it better. This time, she held him close, her cold nose against the warm skin of his neck.
PRAISE FOR THE SLEEPING SERPENT
Luna Saint Claire delivers a gripping debut of compelling prose so powerful it will ingrain its web of deceit and narcissism into the deepest, most precious and sacred parts of your soul. --- Read & Share Book Reviews
A suspenseful seduction that begins in the mind of a sociopath and ends with an exploration of love and humanity. --- McWood Publishing
Great storytelling with richly written and exposed characters. You won't forget this book. --- Melissa's Delicious Books
Other books in this genre:
The next evening, Carissa stood outside and beat her flashlight against the palm of her hand. Really? Why did the batteries have to die now? She cursed under her breath and fished her phone out of her back pocket, second-guessing her aversion to smartphones. Her little flip phone didn’t have a flashlight, and the camera flash didn’t last long enough to get anything done. Frustrated, she straightened up and turned to Aden. He’d shown up a few minutes earlier, wondering what she was doing, and even offered to help. He said he could see everything as clear as day.
She looked back at her malfunctioning flashlight, and then back to the man on the sidewalk. She huffed out a breath.
“Okay, Mr. I-Can-See-Perfectly-In-The-Dark, come over here and find the darn thing for me,” Carissa said, rolling her eyes.
His grin wolfish, Aden sprinted up her walkway. “You have to admit it, first.”
Carissa snorted. “Admit what? That you’re a creeper who only comes out at night and likes to spy on me whenever you get the chance?”
He winced. “I haven’t been spying on you. I live across the street. Do you expect me to never look out my windows?”
Carissa laughed, wrinkling her nose at him. His sentiment was oddly close to hers. “Okay, I’ll give you that, but you’re still a creeper.”
Aden stepped closer, closing the distance until she had to look up to see his eyes. She sucked in a breath. He didn’t look socially awkward tonight. “That’s not what you really think. Admit it. You have a crush on me.”
“Pfft. That’s what you think. I’ve said no such thing,” Carissa said, pushing on his chest. “I barely know your stubborn ass.”
Aden didn’t budge. His mouth turned up. “For now.” He looked down at the ground. “How badly do you need that key?”
Carissa slapped her hands on her hips. “Very. I can’t get into work without it.”
Aden reached out and gently tugged on her ponytail. “So, just admit the truth, and I’ll get it for you.”
Carissa rolled her eyes, her mouth twitching. “I’ll just wait until morning.”
Aden chuckled. “Ah, yes, the enviable day. And just how many of those have you had since you lost it?”
Carissa narrowed her eyes. “Two,” she muttered.
He raised an eyebrow at her. Damn the man. He knew she couldn’t find it without his help. “Fine!” she grumbled, “You’re not the most unattractive man I’ve ever seen.”
He stared at her for a moment, blinking, then his deep laugh flooded out, wrapping her in the resonating warmth of his amusement. Aden touched his finger gently to her chin. “You are the most contrary woman I’ve ever met.”
Carissa crossed her arms over her chest and tried not to think about the spark that ignited at his lightest touch. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Aden chuckled again, and turned away, bending down to look on the ground underneath the vibrant orange flowers in her flowerbed. He stood up almost immediately, the tiny metal key in the palm of his hand.
“It looks like it was in your garden the whole time.”
She tilted her head to the side. He was hiding something. “You knew it was there, didn’t you?”
Aden dusted his fingers off and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He flashed her a wicked grin. “If I did, are you going to punish me?”
Carissa smacked his arm, eying his large muscles. “I doubt I would succeed if I tried. No, I think I might be better off running.”
His grin widened, showing a hint of teeth. “I could tackle you before you ever reached the driveway.”
Carissa gulped. The driveway was a fair distance away from where they stood. How could he be that fast? She shook her head, more confused over the fact that she wasn’t scared. Aden was mysterious, and as she noticed the first night she saw him, magnificent. And he also looked a little sheepish. Maybe he wasn’t as cocky as he was trying to seem. Carissa pulled the sunglasses off the top of her head – they’d been there since she started looking...during the day – and hooked them into the front of her shirt to give her hands something to do, something to keep from touching him again.
She wasn’t used to all this attraction bombarding her senses. He was obviously flirting, and she didn’t know how to handle it. He reached out and gently rubbed his thumb over her cheek.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Carissa. I couldn’t,” he said softly.
Her breath hitched, the mental plug in her heart shifting. Her eyes met his, the deep blue of his gaze more shocking than the zap she’d received from the cable box a few hours prior. His thumb left her cheek, slowly tracing the outline of her mouth. Her knees went weak, and she instinctively grabbed his biceps to keep from falling. His other arm encircled her waist, pulling her firmly against his hard chest. His fingers trailed her spine, ending with the lightest of touches to the back of her neck. She gulped again.
His face lowered toward her, his lips moving ever closer to her own. Her heartbeat sounded like jungle drums in her ears, buzzing with the fire of her intense attraction. He stopped, eyes on hers, a breath away from her mouth. His eyes grew brighter the longer she looked. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips, and his eyes flashed, the light illuminating his face.
Carissa jumped back with a squeak, stumbling backward up her stairs while Aden stared, mouth wide in shock. She shook her head. “I-I’m sorry, Aden. I have to, uh, do laundry.” She turned and ran inside, locking the door behind her with a snap.
She leaned against the wall, her hand over her wildly beating heart. His eyes glowed. Glowing eyes. Carissa closed her own. That was not possible. She’d wanted to know more about him and who he was, but now she had a more important question:
What was Aden?
“To what do I owe this very great honor?”
She shut the bedroom door. Mitchell Killgower sat at his easel in the window—the window that overlooked the courtyard. So it probably was an honor. Not only could she not allow her calm to break again as it had earlier when she’d got upset about her nails, for days he’d wanted her to help him. This was her chance to capitalise.
“Christian has sent more servants. Now, before you say anything, as is probably your intention, I know it is my fault. Here is what I propose.”
“Hmm. Servants? So that’s who that man was you were trying to kiss?”
Despite his fiddling with a brush stroke as if this was God and the universe, she held her poise.
“I wasn’t trying to kiss him exactly. I just wanted him to do something for me.”
He hovered the brush over a blue spot. “And you thought that was how to go about it?”
She shrugged. “I never thought anything.”
She bent her head. The surprise would have been if he hadn’t seen her. Now, she knew he had, she also knew how to deal with this.
“While it must give you the greatest of pleasures to insult me—small minds and all
that.” The pause was as deliberate as was the way she fixed her gaze on him. “Only a fool can see that with this amount of servants about the place, it’s only a question of time before Christian knows we’re not married.”
“And you somehow think this bothers me?”
“Oh don’t pretend.” She glided closer. “Pretending is really very unbecoming. Killaine House is—”
“I’ll tell you what’s unbecoming. You coming in here because you’ve been seen, in all probability by half the house, myself included, and thinking you can somehow sort this out to your satisfaction, that’s unbecoming.”
“Your lack of understanding is breath-taking.”
"Not half as much as your effrontery."
This from a man whose inability to keep it zipped had landed him in this mess? He placed another blob on the canvas.
“Unless, of course, you were wheedling our way around him, offering your favors? I’m not sending him back to Christian’s if that’s what you’re after.”
THE MANCINI SAGA. A family of six close Italian siblings each has a compelling story of romance, danger and mystery that could tear them apart or bring them together.
What if the woman you love is kidnapped from your vehicle during a traffic accident?
When famous actor Antonio Mancini meets famous paparazzi Candace Moore, he doesn’t expect to fall in love with the beautiful, passionate photographer of the rich and famous. Candace is thrilled when Antonio embraces her and the demons in her closet.
On the night that Antonio proposes to Candace, their car is involved in a massive car accident. When Antonio wakes in the hospital the following morning, the investigator tells him that he was alone in the car at the time of the accident. Against medical advice, Antonio flees the hospital and starts to search for the woman who accepted his proposal. One clue after another brings him closer to discovering the truth and proving his sanity.
Dharius, a combat seasoned warrior, has lived a life of sheer adventure and excitement. In combat, he survived by having successfully negotiated and dealt with the elements of “the fog of war” which makes combat so confusing and deadly. His adventurous life became much more exciting the day he met Eva. Their romantic journey leads them through interesting twists and turns along their joint path. Suddenly, Eva stirs their passionate pot by teaching him life’s altering lessons. Unable to successfully negotiate and deal with the elements of “the fog of love,” Dharius finds himself fighting emotional uphill battles and under frightening unfamiliar conditions. However challenging, Dharius’ struggles lead him into a world of unimaginable transformations..
One night Aaron Tyler has his world interrupted by a knock at his front door. He finds himself confronted by a broken and bloody girl unconscious on his doorstep; he makes the snap decision to help her, something that goes against his reclusive behaviour – a decision that will transform his life.
What ensues is an unlikely friendship between two people, but why is Sophie there? Over the course of several weeks Aaron’s life is reawakened by the seductive powers of Sophie. She realises early on that her hidden agenda could ruin everything, her family are manipulating her for their own gains, dysfunctional at best, violent and abusive at worst. She is torn between doing what they want and her new found loyalty to Aaron – and what roll does the mystery man play in the scheme.
At fifteen Sophie has no business living in the home of a forty year old man, but she convinces him that she has no family, nowhere to live and no other options. Aaron for his part only wants to help the poor girl.
Sophie brings out a side of Aaron that even those closest to him didn’t know existed. For twenty years he has not left his house, as he gets to know her he realises that he would do anything for her, even die for her. As her seduction progresses she uses his infatuation with her to entice him out of the house, baby steps at first before breaking his tether from Sotherby House.
Happy with her new found life, she decides to abandon her families plan for her. The plan was that after they placed her in the midst of Aaron’s universe she was supposed to manipulate him into sleeping with her which would then trigger their scheme of blackmail.
Before she undertook the task she had been warned that Aaron Tyler was a pervert who likes underage girls, what she discovered was the sweetest man she had ever met. For the first time in her life she feels like part of a family.
While she deviates from the plan the friction between her family increases. The pressure and strain on her parent’s relationship results in a violent split and her dad taking things into his own hands having realised they put their daughter in harm’s way. He decides that he will do anything to get her back and to punish anyone that gets in his way.
With her dad prepared to do anything, things get eventful at Aaron’s house when he turns up to retrieve his daughter, a man on a mission who will stop at nothing to protect his family.
The story highlights society’s stereotypical ideas about love and life, how a married couple with a fifteen year old child would appear to be the idyll. While a man living a lonely existence of exclusion from the world seems to be living a wasted life. At its heart ‘Hard Candy’ is a forbidden love story between Aaron and Sophie – a love that turns out to be pure, and the abusive marriage of her parents which on the surface is good and wholesome but below is toxic to the core.
Society’s need for material possessions is a driving factor for why Sophie’s family do what they do as well as the mystery man. Elements of jealousy and a sense of being owed by the world are also highlighted.
As the sunset over the headland at Kings Beach, an elderly couple watched as the passenger liner “Sun Beauty” sailed out to sea on its next voyage. The couple were in the twilight of their lives, and they had shared a beautiful life together. They had earlier that day, spent time with their children, grandchildren, and their great granddaughter while they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary.
They shared a bottle of Muscadean, a white wine produced from white Muscat grapes grown in Ballandean, hence the name. A light, easy drinking aromatic semi-sweet white makes it perfect served chilled for that warm summer day picnic. They discovered the wine on a weekend visiting Queensland’s Granite Belt wine region and, at once it became “their wine.” Later on, the owners of the winery opened an outlet at nearby Mooloolaba, and while he could still drive, he managed to call in about once a month.
When the sun had set, he dozed off in his favourite chair, placed to take in the picturesque outlook over the entrance to Moreton Bay. She was comfortable with him dozing off, and she knew he was at peace. Although now in his eighties, they both liked to look back at the uncertain times, at the peak of World War two when they first met, and how over time, their love grew.
Although the population considered Australia to be safe at the start of the war, as Europe and Germany were on the other side of the world. Attitudes changed with Japan entering the war. Japan shared the same Ocean as Australia. Although Japan and Australia were successful trading parties before the war, with Japan attacking Pearl Harbour and making menacing overtures towards Singapore, Australia was now at war with Japan.
When Darwin was bombed for the first time in February 1942, the government played down the damage to the public. The general population knew nothing of other bombing raids at Broome, Mossman, Derby and even Katherine.
After the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in May, it had become impossible to disguise that an impending threat became real. This became even serious when rumours began the spread about “The Brisbane Line.”
When it became seriously believed by the government and military that Japan would attack Australia, it needed to be quickly decided what areas should be protected. Because Australia was a vast island with the majority of the population confined to the southeast, in February 1942 General Ivan Mackay drew a line on the map of Australia. This line stretched from the coast north of Brisbane to west of Melbourne. Although no record of the “Brisbane Line” was being activated, many believed, (and some still do) that the line was implemented and all of the country north and west of the line was to be abandoned.
The other item kept from the public, concerned that during the twelve months between May 1942 and May 1943, 25 ships were attacked within forty miles of the New South Wales coast.
The government began to realise that unless they could control panic, large numbers of the population may abandon the major cities like Brisbane.
Because of its proximity to the Pacific battlefronts, Brisbane was the crucial point for resupplying the troops in battle. The Americans developed it as a Major Naval base, including a vast submarine base. In 1942, General McArthur set up his headquarters for the Pacific in Brisbane. Brisbane needed a civilian population to make sure the smooth running of so many essential services.
The government and the military were in a “catch 22” situation. Secrecy needed to be maintained for security, and yet, the population needed to be reassured of their safety. This, compounded by the military distrust of elected politicians, as well as the parliamentarian’s need to placate their constituents. A unique approach obviously was needed.
The member for Port Macquarie and now the defence minister, David Millar called an urgent meeting of his department heads to see if a solution could be found. Because of some of the difficulties, the meeting was held in Sydney. As it happened, in the same hotel that the defence department rented rooms, the senior media lecturer at Queensland University was with colleagues in a get together of their own. Tom Walker was the former editor of a major newspaper who also had extensive experience producing newsreel films. Tom and David were friends from the University of New South Wales, where they both studied. When the defence Minister ran into the media lecturer in the hallway, they made time to have a few drinks and reminisce about their university days.
It was during this time that the Minister started to conceive the basis of how Tom may be able to offer a solution to his problem.
Although they realised, the invasion of these cities by the Japanese would be remote; a specialist public relations unit still should be instigated. It could give reassurance through movies (newsreels) and newspaper articles that would show to the civilian population the defences were in place.
With Brisbane is becoming the headquarters for the allies command for the war in the Pacific, it would become necessary to play down the military importance of Brisbane as a target.
A by-product of these films would be to discourage a Japanese invasion, as they would show the Japanese Brisbane was too difficult a city to invade.
They finished their talk with Tom agreeing to put a concrete proposal together. He needed to show how it would also work including the resources needed. This plan was required to be able to be presented to the War Cabinet by the end of the week.
Being the driven person that he was, Tom was able to put the basis of his proposal together in just two days.
He approached the task as if preparing a lecture for his students. He defined exactly the end achievement needed. What would be the best way of achieving the result? What resources are needed? He was able to present a written proposal two days later.
To reassure the residents of Australia that there was no need to evacuate their homes and thus maintain a steady civilian population to enhance the war effort, I propose to set up the following civilian unit.
1. Reporting directly to, the Defence Minister, this unit will work, in conjunction with the military authorities, but the military shall have no control over the activities of the unit.
2. The unit would make newsreel motion pictures depicting the defence efforts of an area without divulging crucial information that the enemy may not know of.
3. The movies are to be processed and scripted before handing over to the distributors, who will then add the scripted soundtrack using their staff.
4. Regular newspaper and magazine articles are also to be produced.
5. Staff required would be
a. A General Manager to oversee operations and report to the Minister
b. A Cinematographer, who would produce the movies and supervising a cameraman. He would also act as the second cameraman.
c. A Journalist to write articles and the scripts for the movies.
d. A personal assistant to the General Manager who would also act as a secretary and other duties when needed.
e. A driver who must be competent in small boats and all types of motor vehicles. Would also be an aid in labouring and any other tasks as required?
6. The budget would be set by the Minister and vehicles, camera and other equipment to be supplied by the military where available. But the unit would buy directly when needed.
7. The Military are to supply accommodation including living, office and workshop space independently from the military accommodation. The Military is required to provide security for this area.
To his surprise, Tom received a call from the minister that afternoon is telling him it had been approved without alteration. A meeting was set up the next day with the minister and his senior staff. The chief of the defence forces would also be attending.
David told him the cabinet wanted this unit to be operating within a fortnight.
David arranged for Tom to use a parliamentary office in Canberra to enable him to get the ball rolling. Some of the minister’s staff members were allocated to generate all the legal and performance documents needed so that Tom could start with the recruitment. His first need would be for a personal assistant.
David suggested Jill Robertson, 32-year-old, a career public servant with the defence department. She had previously worked for David Millar before he entered politics.
She was married to Colonel Bob Robertson, an Australian military liaison officer attached to the British Air Ministry in London.
Her knowledge of the public service, politics and military protocols would make her invaluable in dealings with government and defence personnel. Not having any ties would enable her to travel as required.
David assured Tom that, as he would be operating a division of the Ministry of Defence and all members of his unit would be paid by the department, so would all expenses. In fact, even though there were shortages of materials and other supplies, Jill would order everything under the auspices of the department. Therefore, all suppliers would, under the wartime regulations, have no alternative than to supply the unit in preference to all others. This would also mean that the unit had priority over the three military branches.
All accounts would be forwarded to the department for payment. This also meant that all the unit’s civilian staff would be treated as Commonwealth Public Servants.
Tom was relieved that he would have no supply problems to hinder the operation.
Ministry Communications Unit
David arranged for an interview and within two minutes, Tom decided that she was ideal, and she wanted the job. Jill transferred to Tom’s unit that afternoon. Jill was an extremely good-looking woman. She stood about six feet tall with a body would make most Australian women envious.
Tom, hearing that the famed Australian filmmaker, Charles Chauvel, was in Canberra that afternoon, had one of his staff arrange for them to meet at the Canberra Hotel.
Although Tom couldn’t reveal much about the unit, he told Charles enough, so it was possible to ask if Charles knew of any suitable candidates for the Cinematographer's role. Charles had no hesitation in recommending Bill Munro, who had worked as an undergraduate cinematography assistant to Charles.
Bill, raised up, on his parent’s farm in central Queensland near Roma, went to boarding school at Toowoomba Grammar and a cinematography graduate from Queensland University. Being 22 years old and single would also be helpful.
As Bill was in Sydney, Tom met with him on Monday morning at an office that Jill acquired near Victoria Barracks.
In two short days, Jill arranged for working offices in Sydney and Brisbane, while the Army provided living and working accommodation near the Eagle Farm racecourse. The army also supplied a car in Brisbane and when required in Sydney and Canberra.
Over the weekend, Jill moved into the Brisbane accommodation while Tom, taking advantage of being in Sydney, met up with his two daughters. Both were staff car drivers at Victoria Barracks, which made it easy to catch up when he was in Sydney.
The meeting with Bill concluded remarkably successful, although he advised Tom that he needed a week to tidy up his current projects. He did, however, know of a young cameraman who would be ideal for them. Tom agreed to give Bill the week to tidy up and then, he was to join him at Eagle Farm the following Monday.
Tom also gave Bill the approval to employ the Cameraman, who lived in Clayfield, the next suburb to Eagle Farm.
On Tuesday when Tom arrived at the Eagle Farm property, he was impressed with what Jill had been able to organise, on such short notice.
She heard of an experienced journalist, Joe Grady. Joe, a feature journalist for the last ten years with the Brisbane Sun, had resigned from the paper with the intention to join the army.
Joe was thirty- years old and married to Joan, a nurse working in the burns unit at Royal Brisbane Hospital. Ninety percent of her patients were R.A.N. and RAAF personnel, injured while on duty in the Pacific. Both were career orientated although, Joe wanted to join the army. Jill met Joan several years ago at a conference, so on Saturday when she arrived in Brisbane, Jill gave her a call. She heard about Joe resigning, and she asked if he would see Tom before he enlisted. They made an appointment to meet with Tom on a Tuesday afternoon. Tom, being familiar with Joe’s work, looked forward to meeting him.
Joe and Tom hit it off at once. Joe could see the importance of the role and, even if he wasn’t to add a by-line to each article he wrote, he was allowed to keep copies for his resume after the war.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Minister arrived in Brisbane and called on Tom. He was impressed with the speed the unit set up. Tom explained that they could not arrange for film equipment until Bill came on board, the following Monday. He explained to David that the only position not filled was the driver.
David suggested that Alf Watson may be suitable.
Alf, a 23-year-old single man, grew up in Port Macquarie and worked on fishing boats. He had driven semi-trailers to market and is a good 'bush mechanic.'
When Alf was rejected by the army on medical grounds, because of his flat feet, he appealed to his local Member of Parliament and family friend (David Millar.)
As David had known Alf as the son of a friend, he never hesitated in recommending him to Tom. “Alf will be an ideal member of his team because of his driving ability, knowledge of the sea and his mechanical ability as well.”
When Tom called Alf, he jumped at the opportunity as he realised, it would be far more interesting than in the army, and he would still be contributing to the war effort.
Alf was on the next train north.
During the first week, Jill set up important meetings with the local Military commanders, where the Minister explained what was about to happen. He instructed them to brief Tom on the entire military (army, naval and air force) tasks surrounding Brisbane. They all agreed the first movies would centre on the sea approaches to Brisbane.
They felt most of the strategy for the defence of Brisbane seaways would be known to the Japanese anyway. There is only one shipping channel into Brisbane, and they were sure that the Japanese would have extensive charts. These would’ve been gathered before the war while Japanese cargo ships regularly carried cargo in and out of Brisbane.
Knowing the shipping routes, it would be a simple exercise for the Japanese intelligence to estimate where shore defences would most likely be located. Tom arranged for the Navy to take him on board for a journey between where they met incoming convoys and the Brisbane River.
This survey journey took place on Tuesday after Bill arrived. The first task he needed Bill for was to make a list of the photographic equipment he needed.
Jill would use her talents to make sure it was all available within days. Tom become amazed at what Jill could organise. He often wondered if Jill knew there was a war on and led to equipment being in short supply. If Jill asked for material, Jill got equipment. The acquisition of a truck and small boat created no problems for Jill.
The rest of that week the unit worked together and settled into their new roles. It was decided that they should wear army style work wear, and they were given “All Area” passes. This allowed them to enter restricted areas at any time. The unit was given the imposing name of “Ministry Communications Unit.”
They all now signed the Official Secrets Act and to make their job easier when moving around they were given talks on a broad range of military subjects covering all three services. They needed to be able to recognise all badges of rank for both Australian forces as well as American forces. They also needed to know operational requirements of the Navy as well as the army.
Their quarters at Eagle Farm consisted of a separate room for each person with shared toilets and showers except for Jill, who had her own. Joe had a room, although he usually stayed at home when not required. In the office block, they all had their workspace.
Alf was allocated an area allotted for his truck. This would be where he parked it, and could do any services that the army didn’t do. He also used a general store room that he stored any timber or other supplies that may be needed.
Bill had a comprehensive workshop where he could store all his equipment and prepare the film stock. All the processing of the film would be carried out at the Milton Kodak Laboratories.
The film, by its inflammable nature, was required to be stored in a special fireproof vault that somehow Jill found.
An American Air Force unit, being next to the Eagle Farm compound was ideal for meals. Jill arranged for breakfast and dinner to be taken at their Officers Mess while, lunch was sandwiches that Alf would collect after breakfast. They often joked about Alf being probably the only driver who ate in an Officer’s mess anywhere in the world. Jill had also arranged for tea making facilities to be available at their compound.
They started the day that they were to have their first journey with the Navy, by having the whole unit being assembled on the Hamilton wharf.
This was the same day that their cameraman, Fred Williams, joined them from the south coast. He signed the “Official Secrets Act” paperwork on the dock. Their vessel, a harbour tug, usually travelled through the channel with every convoy in the case of an incident.
As they departed the port, they looked at Fort Lytton on the southern side of the river. The fort had been erected to protect Brisbane from the Russians in the 1870s. The tugs captain pointed that the North West shipping channel ran from the Brisbane River to Caloundra. After leaving the river, the channel runs northeast to around Cowan Cowan on Moreton Island, and then it turns North West to Bribie Island where it then rounds Wickham Point at Caloundra and heads out to sea.
They saw defences at Cowan Cowan and again at Skirmish point on the Southern end of Bribie Island, and again towards the northern end of Bribie.
At the high points of Caloundra, they could see lots of activity and undoubtedly, a lookout or two. The tug captain told them of the trenches, barbed wire and other measures that extent to well past Currimundi.
On the return journey, they observed the tight formation of the ships in the convoy, and how the escorts weaved in front of the convoy. This was to make sure that no submarines were amongst them. The same procedure took place at the rear of the convoy.
Tom thought that the journey well worthwhile, but he knew a lot more knowledge of the defences would be needed. Before the planning of the projects could start he needed to be more familiar with all the activities around the Caloundra and Bribie Island regions.
A two-day fact-finding mission was arranged to take place on the Wednesday and Thursday of that week.
Tom wanted to have the cameras rolling by the following Tuesday. Meanwhile, there were meetings to be had with the printed press, as well as with the two newsreel companies.
Tuesday morning Tom met with the editors of the two local newspapers and explained his mission to them. They both agreed they would take and publish the articles Joe would write and give them by-lines of a staff journalist. They also knew that being a War Cabinet mission, secrecy of the source along with the need not to alter the transcripts were vital.
After lunch, Tom arranged for the team to meet at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. This was a “getting to know you” exercise. Tom stressed the importance of their job and he could take the luxury of relaxing for the first time since he had run into David. In only eighteen days the unit developed from a concept into a fully functional branch of the defence ministry. Jill commented that, in all her years in public service, she had seen nothing happen so fast.
At the beginning of a semester at the University, Tom had used the following exercise many times. It involved getting everyone to tell their life story to the group. They adjourned to a private room that Jill had organised and with jugs of beer on the table and a supply of nibbles Tom started the ball rolling.
“After I gained my degree at the University of New South Wales, I started out my working career as a cadet journalist with the Cumberland group in Parramatta. As a young man I met my wife, and we had two lovely daughters within two years. I became a feature editor for the whole group in less than ten years. When I was preparing an article to focus on the benefits of the new Harbour Bridge, I happened to stand right in front of the official party. I was amazed at the audacity of Captain de-Grout in cutting the ribbon. This led me to think words could never adequately describe the mood and reactions of the Premier and all the official party. The looks of amazement mixed with anger could not be captured in words alone. This led me to think about exploring the possibilities of working with film.”
“The following year I became editor of the Daily Telegraph and even though I enjoyed the work, I still had this nagging feeling about the inadequacy of the printed word.”
“I stayed there for three years before I joined the Cinesound Company as a journalist working on the scripts for newsreels. This led me to become a producer supervising the story choice and managing the film crews for them.”
“It was about this time that my marriage collapsed, probably because of the long and odd hours I worked, and it left me with the task of raising two teenage daughters by myself.”
“I realised that to bring up the girls, my life needed to be more organised, and I needed to be home far more than in the past. It was around this time that the media studies faculty at the University of New South Wales was put into place. I applied to join this faculty and became the first media lecturer.”
“War came along, and the girls were now young women. They both joined the WRAAC on the same day and now drive staff cars around Sydney.”
“About a month ago I was in Sydney for a meeting when I ran into David Millar, whom I had known from my student days. David suggested we have a few drinks, and it was during this time that the formation of this unit developed. David went back to Canberra and asked me to put a proposal together. Within two days David had presented my proposal to the Cabinet and Cabinet approved it unanimously.”
Jill was next to telling her story. She was apprehensive at first being acutely aware of her husband’s position and careful not to infer that her position in the public service had anything to do with her husband’s station in life.
“I was born in Sydney and spent most of my teenage years at the beach. I love the surf, and I am extremely motivated to be the best of whatever endeavour I undertake.”
“I went straight from high school into the public service as a clerk. I noticed those around me who sought a career in the public service had university degrees. This led me to enrol in a business studies program with a major in government studies.”
“An opportunity arose to transfer to Canberra that I jumped at. After all, Canberra was the place for an ambitious public servant to be.
Canberra was good for me as I started to get promotions even though still studying for my degree.”
“Canberra was also good for me as this is where I met my husband, Bob, a cadet at the Duntroon Military College. We married later that year and made a firm commitment not to start a family until later on.”
“Bob was more of an administrative officer and as it turned out the army is short of young administrators. They had plenty of leaders and field officers but, short of those with highly developed administrative skills. This was good for us as it meant Lieutenant, and then Captain and finally Major Robertson worked at Army Headquarters in Canberra.”
The ship anchored beyond the wide mouth of the fjord as sailors lowered a native canoe filled with supplies. Reggie gazed down at the small craft and shuddered. The tiny craft bobbed alongside the schooner, which already rocked too much to suit him. A heavy woolen coat hung to his knees but it barely kept him warm against the icy breeze. How would he manage to camp inside the glacial straits of the fjord?
“We’ll return in two weeks, sir,” the captain said and broke Reggie’s reverie. “We can’t afford to set here with them icebergs floatin’ past.”
“Yes, I understand.” He stiffened his shoulders and held out his gloved hand. “Thank you, Captain Jefferies. I appreciate your taking on this commission.”
Reggie winced under the vice-like grip of Jefferies and the captain grinned. “Your financial inducement was substantial, sir. I’d hate to lose my best customer so take a care! If you’re not here upon our return, we’ll launch a rescue party to search you out.”
Laughter erupted from behind Reggie. He turned to see a grinning native face surrounded by shaggy black hair. “No need to risk lives of crew, Captain Jeffries. We come back when moon is full and wait for ship.” Scottie, a Tlingit guide from the village of Hoonah, scampered down the rope ladder and jumped into the rocking canoe.
“He’s a highly recommended guide, and I’m certain we’ll be here on time,” Reggie said, more to reassure himself than the captain.
“We’ll collect supplies in Skagway, so the ship will be ready for the next stop on your excursion.”
“Mind that you collect my new shipment of paint and canvas.” Reggie peered down into the canoe. “I’m keen to get that shipment as I’ll run out of proper supplies soon enough.”
“We could slice up one of our small sails to make canvas. No need to waste gold shipping it from Europe when there’s plenty of sailcloth right here. A vigorous wash would make it clean enough to slap paint on.”
Indulgently Reggie smiled, having heard the offer before. “Don’t cut up your sails, Captain. My supplies will be waiting in Skagway. I’m sure of it.”
His stiff boots slipped on a wet rung of the rope ladder as he descended toward the deep blue water. He tightened his grip on the ropes and sucked in a breath to calm his nerves.
“Come on, boss. It’s just a few more steps!” Scottie shouted.
Reggie inched closer to the water and stretched his foot out to touch the canoe. A firm hand steadied his boot until he connected with the canoe bottom. The small craft teetered. “Got you, boss,” Scottie said, and the Hoonah propelled him toward a solid bench. “You sit safe here.”
Feeling grateful to avoid the icy-black water, Reggie sighed as his butt plopped onto the flat board stretched across the canoe. He stretched his arms out to grip both sides of the craft as a wave crashed against the boat. Water penetrated the fingertips of his thick gloves. As Reggie shivered Scottie untied the canoe and scrambled over bundles to reach his own perch. Soon the native paddled the homebuilt craft toward rocky cliffs jutting above the mouth of the inlet. Droplets from the paddles pelted Reggie’s face.
He saw a paddle resting against his right foot. “Should I help you row?” he shouted.
“Not yet! First you watch, see how I make strokes. We reach smooth water and then you help,” Scottie shouted back.
Relief washed over Reggie, since he feared releasing his death-grip on the canoe. The streamlined craft rolled over ocean waves that moved toward the mouth of the fjord. Sea water mixed with fresh water as the river current flowed steadily out to sea. Large chunks of ice floated past, and Reggie wondered how long it might take to reach the glacier.
When the canoe entered the mouth of the fjord, the water calmed and Scottie’s paddle strokes slowed. He cheerfully announced, “Eagle totem help us cross into Raven territory.” Scottie stroked the stylized eagle pendant hanging from his neck.
Tlingit natives divided themselves into two clans, and apparently Scottie belonged to the Eagle clan. “Does the Raven clan claim this fjord?” Reggie asked.
Scottie nodded. “In long time past, Raven clan live at foot of big ice wall. Foolish woman make glacier much angry by singing too loud. It push Raven clan out of canyon into ocean. Be much quiet so we don’t make glacier angry.”
“I plan to be very careful of the glacier.” Reggie stared at the steep rock walls of the fjord and marveled at the glacial force needed to carve through solid granite. Before the trip he studied scientific writings and knew the ice gouged out the valley over thousands of years. Greenish blue water filled the valley floor in a flood of pure glacier water that melded with brackish ocean tidewater.
With an artist’s eye, he studied the color and wondered how to mix that particular shade. His fingers itched to open his paint satchel and search through the oils, but fright kept his fingers clamped to the canoe’s sides. He mentally painted the picture. Dark brown rock and emerald green trees rose in a near vertical slant from the jade green water. No. It was not jade green. He must combine blue, green, and brown pigments until he matched the true color.
An icy breeze brushed his cheek. He glanced up just as the boat rounded a bend and gasped with delight. High in the V of the shaded canyon walls, a vision of brilliant white gleamed in the sunshine. Excited, Reggie nearly stood to get a better view. The canoe rocked and he froze, clutching the canoe tighter. As he enjoyed the tantalizing glimpse of ice, the canoe skimmed silently across the water. Reggie kept quiet, almost afraid to break the spell of the glacier. He understood why natives believed the glacier was alive. It snaked down the canyon like a living thing that waited for them to approach in their tiny craft.
“A simple vow for a complicated fate. Life and love proven through blood and flame. Choices changing destinies on a dime.”
After slaying the dragon and “rescuing” Olivia, Crown Prince Magnus will settle for no one but her as his bride - his final challenge to overcome before becoming King Magnus, Dragon Slayer.
Through trials of blood, fire, and death, Kaden has broken the curse confining him to a dragon’s form for over a century. With fire brewing inside him, he struggles to reach his beloved Olivia in time to save her - and his own sanity.
Unsure of the fate of her dragon, Olivia is consumed with grief. She consents to wed the prince in order to save the lives of her family. His advances push her to take her destiny into her own hands.
But deep in the woods trouble stirs, as an old enemy seeks to rectify a curse broken. The prize of a life earned must be stripped away again… permanently.
“All right, so the nightgown isn’t the best.”
It wasn’t. It was some old gown that had belonged to one of his sisters. But he wasn’t going to tell her how badly conflicted he’d been about this, any more than he was going to let her give the game away, as her squawking threatened to do. “But I’ll take you out tomorrow and get you something better. I swear I’ll get you whatever you want. Clothes. Jewels. Shoes.”
Shoes? Shoes were agreeable to her. At least, out of all the mouthing and biting, the squirming like a sea serpent against him, shoes got the loudest squeak.
“You think I want shoes?”
So, he was mistaken? Shoes weren’t agreeable. Shoes ignited her, made her incandescent. And not with joy, he realized as she spat the words in his face.
“Jewels? What do you think I am? Do you have any idea what I want—”
Pressing his fingers harder against her mouth, he tipped her back on the mattress. Just when Snotra would be listening this hissing, spitting troll was going to ruin this.
“I don’t care what you want,” he gritted. “Shoes are what you can have. And jewels and whatever…”
Actually tipping her back onto the mattress so her flailing body was underneath him, wasn’t the smartest, although if Snotra had crept up the ladder and was staring through the drape, this tussle with the troll would certainly look convincing. On the surface anyway. He didn’t know how much muster it would pass if Snotra looked closer. He could and would make this Saxon she-wolf obey him now.
“Do you understand?” He seized her wrists, dragging them above her head so she couldn’t move. “You’re in no position to bargain here. If you can’t moan, I’ll get someone who can.”
She stuck her chin in the air. “So you say.”
“And they can have the damned dress, the troll toothed shoes too.”
“Viking shoes. Oh fortunate them.”
“Start doing it now.”
“So Snotra can tear my eyes out?” Her face was set in the blandest lines. “You know? I think not.”
“Well I do.”
A sudden shift in the physical world plucks me from a pretty dream and hurls me into the land of the waking. Caught in the drugged haze of a sleeping pill, I struggle to grasp where I am. Oh yes, I’m on a plane. But where, geographically, am I now? In a proper place or still hovering somewhere over the Atlantic? I raise the shade on my window and am met by the sharp light of morning. It burns. When my eyes finally adjust, I see land. Runways. Terminal buildings. A gray world, slicked and shimmering. Heathrow. London. Home. Funny, the last bit I remember was the flight attendant going through safety procedures and thinking that I wouldn’t mind at all if the plane went down and killed us all.
Chat with Authors
I cherish a video-like memory of my mother helping me with creative writing homework given by my beloved elementary school teacher, Mrs. Johnson. A half-dozen...
When I had my son in 2010, he had severe reflux. For those parents with reflux babies, they know it is a very traumatic and...
I always have stories to tell. Far fetched, crazy stories that need to find a way out. Ideas for specific works come in different ways...
The inspiration for 'The Worst Man on Mars' came after a chance meeting with top British scientist and author Mark Roman.
I was once arrested by the KGB in the Soviet Union for smuggling banned books to dissidents. As I left the country one said, "We...
A stranger and occasional customer handed me a library book one day in 1983 while I was selling burritos in the streets of Juneau, Alaska....
For the next few weeks, I will be featuring the work of fellow members of the Rave Writers-International Society of Authors (RWISA). Please check back
Utopia by Thomas More Narrator: Douglas McDonald Published by Cornerstone Studio on 06-23-17 Genres: Classics Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins Format: Audiobook Source: Publisher