Okay, I am not the most avid soccer/football fan, although I like to watch the game. But I have a little confession to make. Whenever my children played soccer, I was always faithfully there, well, in body only. As a writer, I often took I writing with me on the road, and during the lulls in the games, I would edit my current manuscript. During that time, my kids would be sitting on the bench waiting to play, and I would look up occasionally from my manuscript and stop what I was doing if my kids were on the field.
But hey, at least I watched them play and paid attention! Not quite like when my son played American football, and I cheered when the other team scored a touchdown because I had been busy writing. (Not one of my more glowing memories, I can assure you, but afterward we went out for ice cream. My treat. It was the least I could do.)
But what has drawn me back to the game is watching the Olympics. Recently, the Canadian women's team squared off against the US team, and it was a tight game. And I actually was very interested. And although the Canadians lost in overtime, all people around the world can be proud of their efforts. They've come a long way, and though another team may be your favorite, you have to admit the Canadians played well.
European football/soccer is the most popular sport in the world. When I visited Bolivia the first time, the World Cup was on and Bolivia was supporting their neighbor, Brazil. Neon yellow jerseys abounded. I was in Bolivia for mission work, but at the same time I was also gathering fodder for another story.
Hard Target came out of that trip, and although they don't play soccer/football in the story, whenever I hear a football or Brazil with their bold neon yellow colors, or think of European rules football, my mind doesn't always go to my kids' games, but instead takes me back to Bolivia and onto a winding trail that leads to Hard Target.
And sometimes, we would stop for ice cream.
Sgt. Dawna Atkinson has worked hard for her South American
embassy posting. She'd also taken the blame for a shared indiscretion with her
instructor, Tay Hastings.
But when her embassy is bombed, she comes under the
microscope all the more. Worse still, her unit sends Tay to search for any
mistakes she's making.
Things go from bad to worse when a sniper tries to eliminate
both Dawna and Tay within hours of Tay's arrival.
Tay had tried to take the blame for that one night of
passion, but when that failed, he quit his instructor's post. But circumstances
force him not to reveal any of this.
Dawna has her own secrets. She inwardly questions if Tay is
somehow linked to the sniper, who later is discovered murdered. Did Tay panic
when the sniper called Dawna and promised to reveal all to her?
As the investigation heats up, and danger lurks around every
crowded corner, Dawna and Tay find their relationship is also heating up. And
with a killer who can create bombs, use a sniper rifle, and poison the embassy
staff, Dawna must set aside her hurt or risk many lives. And Tay must set aside
the distrust deep within him.
What Dawna and Tay can't set aside is their growing
attraction. And that may just get them both killed.
The bomb exploded at precisely six-oh-four in the morning. Its blast rocked through Sergeant Dawna Atkinson's beat-up Fiat just as she entered the city's largest square. Ahead, despite the early hour, the block hummed with people, people who were not all running away from the old school which housed the embassy.
No, a few were running toward the large building.
Her grip tight on the steering wheel, Dawna shook her head. Those civilians were either incredibly foolish or incredibly brave.
Or members of a drug cartel determined to undermine the strengthening democracy here in Bolivia. They'd already ruined the capital of La Paz for many foreign nationals and displaced ambassadors to other cities like Cochabamba.
She gritted her teeth. Tramping her foot down on the accelerator, she darted into the early morning traffic, now thick with post-explosion chaos.
Smoke spewed into the smoggy morning sky in a single, ugly belch, its source a black, burning mound in front of the doors that led into the embassy's enclosed courtyard. Snapping her attention back to her driving, Dawna steered the car into a narrow alley across the square from the embassy and jumped out. No time for her locking bar, normally a must in most South American cities. With any luck, someone would steal the old rust bucket and inherit all of its mechanical woes.
She threaded through the noisy crowd, her long, quick strides carrying her over the numerous cracks in the sidewalk that sliced through the park-like square. Loud Spanish voices bounced around her as she hurried past the white monument of some long-dead dignitary on horseback. Already, the acrid smell of burning metal and ancient building materials penetrated the growing warmth of the early July morning.
She pushed past an old native man, who coughed out something in Spanish. Charging through the rest of the square, she reached the area in front of the embassy. There, she stopped Miguel Ramos, one of the vigilantes, a security guard, just as he raced away from the small door that led to the courtyard, the one used for foot traffic only. He'd worked the night shift and must have been leaving when the blast occurred. Surely he would know something.