What would you do if somebody stole the thing you love most on this earth?Jesse and Raven had reached a delightful and celebratory time in their lives. Good friends, healthy children, strong incomes and happily married. Despite losing a beloved canine, they felt they were at the top of the pinnacle. Bodie and Christopher are developing into first-rate children and doing well scholastically.Horror strikes in the most unexpected manner from the most unexpected source, sending the Hardner family reeling in despair. A tortured soul with no regard for life has taken one of their members, trying to right a wrong cast upon him years before. Self-righteous indignation caused him to disregard the truth in his quest.A decision needed to be made, one that could put the whole family at risk. The wrong decision would mean Bodie and Christopher would be orphaned and raised by relatives, forever questioning that decision. With his childhood friend by his side, facing a relentlessly deflating experience with insurmountable odds, a last-ditch effort is made to recover the love of his life.
Targeted Age Group:: 14 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is a continuation of a series that I have written. I keep coming up with ideas to further enhance the story, the characters lives and their relationships with one another.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most of the characters are carry overs from the previous 5 books in the series. The new characters are a combination of people I have met and fillers to make the story exciting.
Blue sky shimmered through the pine and spruce needle canopy above, running and stumbling over rocks and yuccas, through the sparsely populated forest, trying to escape the gurgling, diminishing scream. Finally fading under his heavy breathing, pounding heart, and the roar of the Arkansas River below, he could no longer hear the tormented shrieking and decided to stop for a short rest. Stuffing the wallet he had acquired into his front pocket, then stepping to the cliff’s edge, overlooking the blueish-green ribbon with white water rushing around rocks, he gauged it to be nearly one hundred feet down to the surface.
Standing tall, taking in a deep breath and calming his nerves, he admired the beauty of Browns Canyon National Monument in south-central Colorado. Granite outcroppings and smaller tributary drainages led high into the snowcapped Rocky Mountains where dense aspen groves were surrounded by Douglas fir and Limber pine. Lining the riparian corridor were willows and large rocks among cactus, pinion pines, and cedar trees. This area was unique, starting with rattlesnakes and lizards near the river, and rising steeply to mountains jutting well above the treeline where the elk would summer.
Spotting a herd of Bighorn Sheep on the ridge directly across the river, his drawn attention caused him to misstep. He stumbled near the edge of the cliff, grabbing hold of a stout sagebrush limb, mumbling, “Dang, that was close!”
Feeling his weight shift even further toward the cliff, he looked at his hand to see it clutching the branch which had broken free from the stump. He tried to stop his slide down the sand-covered rock and retreat to safety, but there were no other handholds to grasp, and over the side he flipped. Fear had stifled the cry stuck in his throat as he plunged toward the river. Grunting as he hit a rock, ribcage first before gravity, the lack of handholds and gravel helping him slide off and continue his fall, was the only sound that had escaped him on his descent.
The caddis hatch along the Arkansas River is world-famous among fly-fishing enthusiasts and can be a premier destination for trout fishing. After a long winter, caddisflies are one of the first larger insects to become active enough to break the surface of the water and fly, driving the trout into a frenzy and sometimes hopping out of the water nearly a foot to gulp down the dark moth-like creature. Designated a Gold Medal Fishing area by the Colorado Wildlife Commission meant there were a significant number of larger trout as well as an abundance of total numbers of fish.
Managing to escape the hustle and bustle of Denver, Colorado for a day, John Rodney and Jesse Hardner stood side by side gauging the river at the Stone Bridge access point, fly rods in hand. Some of the best fishing of the year could be had before the snowpack melt runoff muddied the rivers and rose them to an unfishable, even dangerous level. This event generally lasted a month before the rivers would calm down and become fishable once again, pushing anglers to smaller streams and lakes.
The water had just warmed up to the right temperature to bring out the bugs in droves, with trout circling around them, engorging. With so many of the natural bugs on the water, Jesse learned to tie a version of the elk hair caddis which was a little darker and bigger. Also, it had a red wrap on the hook to act as an egg layer and a yellow parachute to help identify his imitation over the thousands of real caddis swarming around it.
Spreading apart and wading out to where they could cast unhindered from the shrubbery lining the bank, Jesse and his childhood friend, John, began catching fish after fish, simultaneously reviving them and graciously returning them to their home. It seemed every cast would draw a strike, whether or not the fish was hooked, depended upon the fisherman’s skill.
“Hey John, what’s that?”
John looked at Jesse, pointing further upstream, then turning back upstream to see what looked like a green jacket floating precariously toward them in the current. Taking a few steps further upstream, thinking it was trash or an item lost by another fisherman, he grabbed the coat then felt the dead weight as he began to pull.
“Jesse, we got an issue here!”
John threw his rod toward the shore, landing on the pebble beach, then reached down, finding the person’s arms, wrapping his arms under and around the floater’s chest and lifting as he backed to the bank. Being a large, powerful man, this was easy for him. Jesse had met John on the river’s edge, where he laid the blond-haired man on the ground face up.
Jesse said as he started chest compressions, “He’s still got a pulse. Call 9-1-1!”
Retreating up the hill to his 1978 Ford Bronco and the phone on its dash, John asked, “What’s with the sagebrush branch?”
Jesse peered around while continuing to push on the man’s chest, dressed in camouflage fatigues, a like patterned jacket and brown hiking boots. He also noticed a white-knuckled hand wrapped around a sagebrush branch, and wondered, was this guy performing some kind of ancient ritual?
Suddenly, the guy coughed and turned to the side, then spit out a bunch of water. Jesse stopped to lift the man’s head further so he could spit up more water. He was breathing on his own again, still clutching the branch. His left eye fluttered open, “Who are you? Where the hell am I?”
Before Jesse could answer, he let out a big sigh and dropped his head back to the ground, passing out. After checking his pulse and making sure he was breathing, Jesse sat on the bank next to him, awaiting the cavalry.
Feeling like he was at the bottom of a well, noises and voices echoed above him as he stared through a dark circular tube at a bright white light. There was a throbbing pain in his head and side that seemed to vibrate throughout his body. Keeping his breathing shallow to ward off the stifling pain each breath produced in his ribcage area, he inhaled a slight amount of air. Shadows were moving about, cutting off the intense light here and there.
Realizing his eyelids were closed tight, he focused on slowly opening them. Only his left eye would respond. The light started to reveal a large white appendage floating above his head and then behind him out of sight. A few seconds later, the white appendage again crossed his field of vision above him, lightly brushing the side of his cheek this time. It felt so light, like a feather. Is this an angel? Am I in heaven?
Staring at the beautiful woman angel standing next to him, leaning over his chest, placing something on his arm, dressed in white with long black hair and vibrant emerald eyes.
Mumbling more to himself, “I thought angels were supposed to be blonde?”
The angel asked, “Excuse me?”
He felt himself lowering back down into the well as everything became dark and distorted.
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