Sample Sunday: Fragment from Peccadillo, work in progress, second novel in Amsterdam Assassin Series.Posted: November 18, 2012
This is a fragment from Peccadillo – A Katla Novel, the second novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series, to be published before the 2012 Holiday Season.
Katla switched on the grinder, listening to the coffee beans getting caught and chewed up between the grindstones. Over the noise she could hear Zeph climb on a barstool behind her and asked without turning, “Cappuccino?”
Zeph was silent until she turned around with the two cups of coffee. “What you go to do now, sista?”
“Drink my coffee and have a shower,” she replied. “Why?”
He folded his arms. “About them people in the harbour, sista.”
“Bram told you about my adventures?”
“He tell me Chinese people threaten you, want you company.”
Katla met his grave eyes over the rim of her cup. He tried to meet her stare, succeeding for twenty seconds before looking away.
She drained her cup. “They’re my problem, Zeph.”
“I’m a friend, sista.” He spread his hands. “Friends help each other.”
She twirled the warm stainless steel cup around her finger. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Commendable,” Bram spoke from the doorway. “You two are at it early.”
Katla turned to the Gaggia to make herself a fresh espresso. “It’s not that early.”
The blind man shrugged. “It’s always too early for altercations.”
“We’re conversing, not altercating.” She whacked the coffee grounds from the porta-filter and wiped the basket dry. “You want tea, Bram?”
“Lapsang.” Bram sat at the bar. “It didn’t sound like a conversation.”
She filled the basket with freshly-ground coffee, tamped it down and screwed the porta-filter back on the machine. While the machine filled her cup with fresh espresso, Katla lit the gas ring and placed the kettle on the stove. She switched off the espresso machine, reached into the cupboard for a glass, a tea clamp and Bram’s jar of Lapsang Souchon and placed it before the blind man.
“So what’s it about?” Bram fingered his tea paraphernalia. “Your ‘conversation’?”
“Katla won’t let I-man help her.”
She placed the cup of espresso on its saucer. “I don’t need help.”
“You offered, bro.” The blind man measured off the loose tea leaves and closed the clamp. “If she needs help, she’ll remember.”
“Can I get straight answer?” The Rastafarian leant forward, his amber eyes fixed on hers. “This about trust?”
“No.” She took a sip from her espresso. “Responsibility.”
“I don’t want to be responsible for involving you in anything that might be dangerous. These people wouldn’t hesitate to kill you.”
“You no think I know, sista?”
“My money’s tied up in this business. If I don’t do something, years of hard work are flushed down the drain. Those are my stakes. What is your stake?”
“You’d die for me? That’s not friendship. That’s dumb.”
“I have to hand it to you, Katla.” Bram walked around her to the stove. “You have this uncanny ability to make someone feel useful and appreciated.”
She ignored him. “I know why you want to come along, Zeph, but if you lack excitement in your life, go play laser games or take up bungee jumping.”
“Paintball,” Bram put in, taking the kettle from the stove. “Skydiving.”
“Skydiving is expensive, Bram.” Katla rinsed her cup. “Material, air fare, courses. Parasailing is cheaper, more like a cross between parachuting and hang gliding.”
“What’s the difference between parachuting and skydiving?”
“The time elapsing before opening your parachute,” Katla replied. “Skydivers delay opening as long as possible.”
The Rastafarian tapped his spoon against his cup to draw her attention. “I scare easy, that it?”
“You handle yourself well, Zeph, but I might have to do… illegal things.”
“You think I care about the law? I’m a criminal too.”
“You grow weed. Real criminals don’t bother with misdemeanors.” She pointed her index finger to the Rastafarian. “You want to get shot, Zeph? I don’t recommend it. Even with the reconstructive surgery my leg might never regain its former strength and agility.”
“I could drive you. Stand watch. Things like that, sista.”
“Zeph is right,” Bram said. “You might want someone to watch your back.”
She pulled him close and whispered, “Don’t interfere.”
“You can trust him,” the blind man whispered back. “Just don’t kill anyone.”
She turned back to the Rastafarian. “I can watch my own back, Zeph. Like Bram says, if I need help, I know where to find you.”
He shrugged and finished his coffee. “I go home, feed Shaitan.”
“Pat her for me,” Bram said, removing the strainer from his tea and adding sugar.
Katla waited until the door closed behind Zeph and put her arms around the blind man’s neck, burying her nose in his hair and breathing his scent.
“You smell good, Bram. Didn’t take a shower yet, did you?”
“I wanted to take a bath and figured you might want to share it.”
“You figured right,” Katla replied and leant against him, listening to his heartbeat while he drank his tea.
If you like this fragment from my work in progress, check my ‘About’ page for a link to Reprobate – A Katla Novel, the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. You can download a sample with the first few chapters for free from Amazon, or the whole novel (113,000 words or 380 pages) for only $4.99. If you follow my blog, you will be notified about the exact publication date of Peccadillo – A Katla Novel. And, of course, be able to read more fragments and snippets from the work in progress. If you’d like to become a beta reader for the Amsterdam Assassin Series, email Martyn V. Halm at email@example.com and put ‘beta reader’ in the subject line. Thanks for your support.