As some of you know, the BJ Vinson mystery novels have been picked up by DSP Publications, an imprint of Dreamspinner Press. The first book, THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT is due out this fall. A specific date hasn’t been set but is anticipated to be in September. THE BISTI BUSINESS and THE CITY OF ROCKS will follow one after the other approximately four months apart. Having recently completed the second edit of ZOZOBRA with Dreamspinner’s editorial staff, I’d like to post a particular scene from that novel. What follows occurs at the beginning of Chapter 3, and is the first time our confidential investigator meets Paul Barton, a young man who will become intimately involved with both BJ, personally, and the difficult and deadly case he is working on.
The following is from the second draft of the novel, which is a "Track Changes" document. Some of the edited changes show up as blue text. I thought that might be interesting for some of you, so it remains in the post.
THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT
I relaxed on a chaise lounge amid the clashing odors of chlorine from the pool and the summer roses climbing the whitewashed adobe walls as I eyed the North Valley Country Club’s new lifeguard. Lean, loose-limbed, and broad shouldered, he had the ideal swimmer’s build, reminding me somewhat of Del, even though Del was a Teutonic blue-eyed blond, whereas this young man was bronzed and brunette, and his eyes were likely brown. Up close, the dark shape on the left pec would probably morph into a small tattoo. Spandex seldom did anything for me, but his thigh-hugging, well-filled trunks were… interesting.
As the place was deserted at this early hour except for the two of us, the lifeguard turned pool boy and policed the area, scooping fallen leaves and debris from the water with one of those baskets mounted on a long aluminum pole. He worked his way to my side and netted a soggy candy wrapper.
“Kids,” he observed in a pleasant baritone.
Seized by an unexpected need that was 90 percent loneliness, I did something I had not done in twelve long months—reacted to the good-looking guy. Flustered, I fumbled for the orange juice on a table beside me and overturned my glass.
He knelt to recover the tumbler, holding it up and offering to get me another.
Yep, brown eyes, deep and soulful. Dangerous eyes on one so young. He couldn’t be more than twenty. The dark spot above the nipple was a small dragon.
“No, thanks. Nothing left but ice cubes, anyway. But I appreciate your offer, uh….”
“Paul. Paul Barton.”
“Paul.” I was surprised by the family name. There was a strong Latin look about him. Must be the mother’s blood.
He rose, our eyes locked—and the penny dropped. This was the young man I had seen dancing so energetically at the C&W last night. He broke first, raking me with his intense gaze. His lips twitched as he zeroed in on a two-inch scar on my inner right thigh. My body looked pretty good except for that purple, puckered blemish. At first I’d been spooked by Del’s reaction to the pockmark and tried to hide it from the world. But after putting up with that foolishness for six months, I said to hell with it. The world was full of imperfections, and it could deal with this one too.
“Bullet wound,” I said.
“Damn, I’ll bet that hurt.”
My throat closed up at his casual treatment of the wound. Maybe I wasn’t as blasé as I thought. “Like you wouldn’t believe. That’s why I swim early in the morning. Therapy.”
“Swimming’s the best exercise in the world,” he declared like a true water bug. “And you were really going at it a few minutes ago. Looked pretty good out there.”
As Paul turned back to the pool, a cell phone on a nearby table piped the first line of “Dixie.” The conversation was short. He admitted to someone named Jill that he got off work at five but said he’d decided to cool it this evening, turning down what was obviously an offer of some sort. Was it coincidental he was watching me throughout the entire brief conversation?
There's definitely something going on here. It'll be nice to become better acquainted with this hunky Latin guy.
The cover art of the new release will be different, and there are a few tweaks in the prose (as you can see from the blue text above), so I’m really anxious to see the final product.
Thanks for being readers… and keep up the good work. Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.