When the Curlews Call release

To celebrate the release of When the Curlews Call five other authors and myself have teamed together to write a serial novel such as you’d have found in the magazines my heroine loved to read in the early 1940s. We wrote in tag-team style, with each author writing their installment and passing the baton on to the next. It’s been fun to see where the story goes each time it gets passed along, and now we get to share it with you! Buckle up and enjoy the ride as we bring you…

The pitter-patter of steadily falling raindrops could be somewhat calming in the right setting. A little hut on the beach, perhaps, with gently-lapping waves rolling against the shore as the rain falls on the tin roof over the verandah. Or maybe a cabin buried deep in the woods with raindrops splashing off the leaves of the trees spreading their branches high overhead. But not this busy sidewalk with people rushing hither and yon, barely dodging me in their attempt to reach their destination before the rain started falling in earnest.

However, as I had already gotten a good soaking from an earlier run in with a different set of clouds bent on unleashing the full force of their wetness upon me, the fear of looking like a drowned rat was so far in the past I couldn’t remember what it had been like to be dry.

Okay, maybe I could, but what use was there in wasting mental energy on an outcome I couldn’t change? One rainstorm more wouldn’t change anything for me.

Other than clearing what had previously been a busy sidewalk. I could now see as far along the street as the increasingly heavy rain would allow and before long, there were only a few of the more adventurous passersby to contend with.

A car rushed by, music blaring. The sound pulsed through me, but it was the added water being splashed up by the tires that drew my gaze. I may have been wet, but they needn’t have added insult to injury.

Another vehicle drove by, this one going a little slower than the first, but it still managed to spray water across my feet. The driver stuck his head out the window to yell something—presumably at me—but a loud rumble of thunder drowned his voice out. And by the time I could hear we’ll enough to comprehend, he was long gone and I was alone on the sidewalk once again.

Or not exactly alone. Every once in a while I’d see a head stick out of a doorway. Almost as though the person it belonged to had to experience the storm from the wrong side of the sheltering glass in person before they’d believe it was coming down worse than ever.

I nodded at those I made accidental eye contact with, tugged my jacket even tighter around my middle, ducked my head, and hurried my pace. The note hadn’t said much, but the time had been underlined twice. Ten o’clock sharp.

If I didn’t make it by then, the opportunity would be gone. They’d look for another buyer and I’d be back to square one, searching high and low for something I wasn’t even certain was real.

I quickened my pace even more, although I was certain I’d be able to travel two city blocks in far less than the forty-five minutes I had left. It wasn’t just the item itself I was eager to see. It was the knowing.

Especially the knowing. So many people had accused my father of twisting the truth all these years. It would be a relief—to myself, but also to my mom and the rest of our family—to know he hadn’t fabricated anything. Hadn’t carried a lie all the way to his grave. It was just a pity that the knowing had to come at a time when I’d be squishing and sloshing my way wherever I went.

I could only hope my contact didn’t mind a few drops of water on his floor. Or her floor. The note hadn’t been signed so I had no knowledge of who I’d be meeting.

Another vehicle sped by, sending a wave of water across the lower half of my legs. I could have been annoyed, but that was to be expected when one was crazy enough to brave the streets of an unfamiliar city on foot.

An involuntary shiver ran down my spine at the thought of the alternative. Going by car would have been worse. Much, much worse. I couldn’t see myself trying to drive in a city of this size. The traffic. Parking. I had enough trouble with those things back home where we might run into a half dozen cars at the traffic light during rush hour. Here…

Another tug on my jacket—this time thanks to a gust of wind—was enough to remind me to hurry things along. I could see the building up ahead. I’d cased the joint—wasn’t that what they did in the movies?—over the weekend so I’d know where to go when the time came.

And now the time had come. It was Monday morning.

I pushed my jacket sleeve up enough to be able to see my watch. 9:48am. I’d made it with time to spare. And now…

One push let me know the harsh reality standing in front of me. The door was locked.

Holding my hands to the sides of my face, I peered through the glass, looking first one way, and then the other. Nothing but darkness stared back. A darkness that shrouded the sight of any furniture or people who may have been lurking within. A darkness that told me whoever I was supposed to meet had not yet arrived.

A darkness that—

“Not needing to go in there, are you?” a deep voice called from the edge of the sidewalk. I turned, not certain of what to expect, and found a cab had pulled to the curb. The driver, not seeming to kind the rain, had the top half of his body stuck out the window. When I looked, he motioned to the building behind me. “Been empty these ten years,” he called, and then, “Rain’s getting worse. Hop in and I’ll get you where you need to go.”

I looked at the building again. And then at my watch that now read ten o’clock sharp.

Had I really been standing here that long? It felt as though I’d only just arrived, but I had spent some time looking in the window by the door. Nothing that felt like twelve minutes, but I had lost track of time before and the rain was coming down even harder now and I was wet and disappointed and…

“I’m wet,” I called, but the cabbie waved that off with a flick of his wrist. And then I was inside, staring out the window at the building where my hopes and dreams had come crashing to an end. I named my hotel and settled in my seat, fighting back tears as we threaded our way through traffic.

I’d thought the mystery would finally be cleared up. That we’d have the answers we were looking for regarding Dad’s claims. That we’d finally be able to put the rumors to rest and restore Dad’s reputation. That we’d—

Around us, horns honked, the wipers swished hard and with all the starting and stopping due to traffic I don’t know how long it was before a building flashed by the window that I felt as though I should recognize. We didn’t stop, but I glanced back anyway.

My hotel. Receding into the distance and quickly hidden by the driving rain.

“Where are we—?” I broke off. Water trickled down the side of my neck and I shivered as I encountered a fierce set of eyes glaring back at me in the mirror.

My friendly cabbie looked… decidedly less than friendly.


Stop by Kathleen Robison’s blog tomorrow for part two in this exciting story of mystery and intrigue. However, before you go…

Here’s a giveaway to help celebrate the release of When the Curlews Call.