Michael bound to the village chief and his soldiers by nanotechnology that provides a unique mental link. With it, he commands a military force divided into Marks, and inherited the duty of Protector. Ten years ago, he helped his community fight free of its township and become nomads so they could survive the depredations of fierce raiders. Ten years ago, he was forced to choose between duty to his people, and love for Caroline, his wife-to-be. When he left the city with his daughter, Caroline refused to go with them. Once a year, when their migration takes them close, he takes watch above the town, leaving a white flower at its edge. Every year, Caroline dances through the streets—for him. Every year, he watches from the hills, hoping she will join him. This year, the raiders attack, and everything changes.
Jalaya is a story of battle, family, and sacrifice. It is a story of heroes, fire-fights, wits and courage. And it is the story of a last battle in a ten-year war.
Jalaya is available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kindle, Nook and at the iTunes Store.
First Page: Jalaya
Michael looked down at the town in the sand. Red, flat roofs of clay interspersed by the elegant, wooden gables of buildings from northern climes, still stood in a basin of protective hills. From where he stood, the rotting boards were invisible, as was the sand that swirled along the unkempt streets.
He tried to see the town as it had been ten years before. There had been trees standing inside walled islands of stone dotting the center of the main streets, and the sweetly scented jalaya flowered beneath them. There had been window boxes full of color clinging to the walls and the town had been white, the color of snow and light-hearted purity, not red, the color of old blood and war.
Caroline had danced in the streets with him on the first day of the new year, and the unseen rains had made the river roar with pride as it rushed between the white stone walls of the canal. That had been ten years ago when the Scorpions had first attacked, and the town had emptied shortly thereafter.
Caroline’s family had disappeared in the melee, along with his son, but Caroline had refused to grieve them. They were safe, she insisted. His son was safe, but he had to take their daughter. Michael had had no time to argue or grieve and clung to her promise. His son was safe. His daughter would be safe with him, but of his bride-to-be…
Caroline had refused to go. She said she had duties that must be attended. She had asked him to stay. Michael had possessed other duties, other responsibilities that forced him to leave her behind, so she said she would dance the streets on the first day of every new year in his memory. When he had protested that the day was no longer safe, she had promised to dance at night.
Michael had begged her to come with him, to wed him in the desert. Caroline’s eyes had glistened with tears when she said she had to stay, the reasons secret until they married and united as family. She had said she would not take him from his duties, hugged him fiercely tight, and then fled swiftly away.
Caroline would dance again tonight, without his arms to hold her as she wound her way through the streets. She would raise her voice in bittersweet song, her body clad in the white of a bridal gown that had never seen a wedding day. And Michael would watch her from his place upon the hill.
Once, during all her dancing and serenade, Caroline’s steps would bring her to the edge of the town. She would stretch her arms towards where he sat, folding back towards herself as she waved to him, beckoning him with her body and her hands. She would pause there, the song momentarily silent, as she waited for his response.
END FIRST PAGE