Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Excerpt from Where there's Smoke

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
published by Cindy Spencer Pape

I'm cheating today. This story isn't paranormal at all, but I'm so excited about it, I'm sharing it here anyway. A while ago I was asked to be in an anthology with some incredible authors, but the stories all had to feature firefighter. Not knowing anything about the business of firefighting, I dove into some research and found that a lot of our modern firefighting techniques originated in the 1920s. I'd been kicking around the idea of a story set in that era anyway, so boom! Where there's Smoke was born. 

I had a fabulous time with this novella, and I hope you enjoy this little excerpt. The anthology releases on Sept. 29.

Where there's Smoke
by Cindy Spencer Pape
in the boxed set, Into the Flames
coming Sept. 29, 2015 

Elias Andrew Lawson III whistled as he walked down Main Street to the bookstore and newsstand where he always picked up his morning papers. Sure, he could’ve had the local news delivered right to his doorstep, but this was better. It meant that almost every morning of the week, he got to start the day with Annette Price’s smile.

He ducked in the door and tipped his hat—a dashing new tan fedora he’d bought in Chicago last week. “Beautiful day, Nettie.”

“Good morning, Mr. Lawson.” The pretty young clerk looked up at him with eyes as blue as Lake Michigan on a summer afternoon. There was no smile today, though, and the eyes were quickly shuttered by her long dark lashes. “Which papers will it be today, sir?”

“The Chronicle, of course.” Eli always picked up the Carstairs, Michigan paper. As one of the town’s three attorneys, it didn’t pay to be behind on local knowledge. “And the Chicago Tribune, I think. I had the New York Times yesterday.”

“And the Boston Herald the day before that.” She plucked the papers from their racks behind the sales counter. “Can I get you anything else?”

“You could call me Eli, like I’ve asked you to a hundred times.” She blushed and he relented, as usual. “Any other news I should know about?” He knew she scanned the headlines as she set out the papers in the morning so she could make recommendations.

She shrugged. “President Coolidge is sending troops to control the looting in Miami after the hurricane. They’re saying there could be thousands of people dead by the time the numbers are all in. I’m sure glad we don’t get those here on Lake Michigan.”

“No, just tornados, blizzards, and ice storms.” He laughed lightly, noting that today she didn’t chuckle with him. He watched her hands, noting a small bruise that circled her left wrist. Damn it, her father had been knocking her around again. Why didn’t she move away? He knew she was of age. She’d gone to grade school with his younger sister Diana.“And fires.” 

She gave him a polite, professional smile and tugged down the sleeve of her prim white blouse. “We should have the new Conan Doyle novel, The Mists of Time in sometime next week. I’ll be sure to save you a copy.”

“You do that.” After paying, he gave her a wave and left the shop, having come up with no more reasons to linger. What did it say about him that picking up his newspapers was the highlight of his day?

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