READY, SET…GO! (A little early, in fact…)
Did I say preorders start July 1st? I jumped the gun a tiny bit and The Third Warrior is available for preorder RIGHT NOW on Amazon and Barnes and Noble! <– Just click the links. I’m working on your other favorite sites to buy books as we speak and will update when they are ready. Just FYI, Chapter One of the next book in the series–Spirit Daughters–is available exclusively in The Third Warrior ebook.
As a bonus, here is a snippet of The Third Warrior you won’t read in the preview. And thanks for your interest in this book.
From her home in Bernalillo, Nicky zipped north onto I-25, on her way to work for more Saturday overtime hours. Her commute to the border of the reservation—the freeway crossed through tribal land—took about twenty minutes.
An old boundary sign caught her eye:
Welcome to the Fire-Sky pueblo
no wood xauling
no xiking no sxooting no fisxing
no trespassing except
by permission of txe
governor of txe pueblo
violators will be prosecuted
do not litter
No one could tell her why only some of the h’s were replaced with x’s. Or why the tribal governor would give permission for trespassing.
She flipped a switch on the console.
“Two-thirteen,” a flat, feminine voice replied.
“Good morning, ma’am. Ten-eight in district, I-25 at the two-five-eight exit.”
“Ten-four, zero-seven hundred hours. Good morning, Sergeant. Following Captain and Chief to the meeting with the governor?”
“No, ma’am. Overtime shift and paperwork.”
“Never ends. You see the fire over on the left side after the turnoff?”
“Fire?” Nicky answered sharply. With the late monsoons and everything tinder-dry, a wildfire across the reservation would be devastating. She accelerated down the off-ramp and sped under the freeway bridge, heading west. Her unit crossed the railroad tracks on the other side with a rapid double thump.
Smoke snaked above the scrub brush to gather in an opaque brown-black haze above. It pulled into a smeared contrail higher in the air. The fire had obviously burned for quite some time.
Dammit. Hair prickled on her arms.
“Copy, Dispatch. Has FER been notified?” she asked.
“Yes, two-thirteen. Fire, EMS, and Rescue notified. Both Chief and Captain called it in separately a few minutes ago. ETA ten minutes.”
“Are Captain and Chief on scene?”
“Nope. Couldn’t be bothered,” came the flippant reply.
Her jaw clenched. “Two-one-three en route. I’ll wait for FER arrival. Dispatch, and out.”
Nicky yanked the truck left onto a paved side road that quickly turned to dirt as it wove in and out of the flat, scrubby lands. Her unit surged, pressing her back in her seat as she hit the accelerator. She was pretty sure she knew where the fire had originated.
Green Meadow Springs was an unincorporated area that in no way, shape, or definition resembled meadows, springs, or green. Surrounded on three sides by reservation land, it was filled with old trailers, junked cars, and individuals who didn’t want anything to do with law enforcement. Cockfights, nonpermitted structures, and potential meth labs abounded. It wasn’t unusual for tires and other piles of debris to be set alight, resulting in the greasy black smoke Nicky could see in the distance.
But as she topped a hill, the smoke suddenly resolved into a trailer fire. Her unit slithered to a stop on a wide dirt clearing in front of the structure. She set her brake and quickly studied the scene.
A small shed to the left of the actual fire was already a black husk of twisted aluminum—probably the origin. But flames had jumped to the larger structure, a mobile home attached to more permanent construction that ran its length.
Two men futilely sprayed the fire with a garden hose. About a dozen people, some still in pajamas, cups of coffee in hand, gathered nearby to watch. Large swaths of desiccated grass and weeds blanketed the ground between the hodgepodge of derelict residences, the perfect tinder to spread the fire to the rest of the community.
Nicky radioed Dispatch, then stepped out of her unit. Not yet eight in the morning and it was already hot. Sweat prickled under her light body armor and across her forehead, only to be instantly dried by the start of a wind kicking up. Not good.
One of the men dropped the hose and ran up to her. About fifty, stocky, and bowlegged, he had a face creased by hard living, his brown eyes bloodshot. He reeked of stale beer and turpentine and wore a wrinkled chambray shirt, jeans, and work boots splotched with white paint. A cigarette hung between his lips.
“Is everyone out?” She hurried toward the fire, the scent of smoke acrid and heavy.
He took a long drag on the cigarette and threw it on the ground. Nicky stopped and stared at him. He blinked back, then glanced at the still-smoking butt before he mashed it into the dirt.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “We think so, but…”
“But?” Her heart raced. They were close enough that the heat watered her eyes. Nicky circled around to the far side, away from the fire. “Who lives there? What happened?”
“Luna and DeLeon Guerra, ’cept he’s up in Santa Fe Main. They got a couple of kids. Luna paid me—I’m Larry Chris—and Buddy, er, Milton Trelivas over there”—he gestured to the man with the garden hose—“to paint the house and trailer. We were mixin’ the paint in the shed, and it caught fire.” His paint-spattered fingers burrowed into a breast pocket for a crumpled pack of cigarettes. “Don’t know how.” He lit one up, cupping his hand to shield his lighter against the gusting wind.
“Really?” Her response was clipped. She couldn’t help it. “You’re sure the mom and kids are out?” Nicky walked along one side. The windows were barred, a precaution against theft in a potentially lawless region. Thick black smoke billowed over the top of the house, but the fire didn’t seem to be spreading that rapidly along the structure.
“She left before”—he waved the cigarette—“to drive her niece somewhere. Pretty sure she had the boy.” A curtain moved, and a child’s sleepy face peeked over the sill, his cap of straight black hair mashed up on one side. He patted a fat little hand against the glass. Larry Chris stiffened beside Nicky, cigarette stuck to his upper lip. “Jesus. Guess not.”