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Excerpt From Stranger Back Home:

“Hello, Sparrow.” I spun around to see a strikingly attractive lady with rich auburn hair. She was slim, but curvaceous, and wore a form-fitting leather outfit. “You’re looking… tall.”

 

“Skip the small talk, Jane-Lindsay, and stay three paces away from me.” On stage behind me, Dame Azaria wrapped up her speeches and told the crowds around us to welcome the next entertainment of tonight’s ball. Everyone began cheering as a band came to the stage, six mustachioed musicians who did kinda resemble waiters, now that I was looking at their costumes from the outside. 

 

Despite the raucous applause that erupted, Jane-Lindsay’s voice was still clear—either because I was so focused on her, or because the voice was so sexy. In fact, many of the people around us were actually starting to pay attention to her more than the upcoming musicians.

 

“Oh, Sparrow, that’s no way to talk to an old friend. Why, I haven’t seen you since…”

 

“Since the last time we talked,” I finished for her. “Which probably should have been the last time we talked. You handcuffed me to a bathtub and tried to sell me to bounty hunters. I’m really not sure why you think we could be friends.”

 

She smiled, seductively, and took a step closer. I raised my mandolin menacingly in between us, as if to warn her that it was a deadly instrument and I wasn’t afraid to play it. Where was Dante? I couldn’t afford to take my eyes off of the femme fatale in front of me to look for him. To be honest, my eyes were quite comfortable staying where they were.

 

“I only wanted to talk,” Jane-Lindsay insisted.

 

“I’m not interested in talking with you.”

 

She winked. “Perhaps I can make the conversation more interesting.” Several people around us were beginning to take an interest, that was for sure. She turned her head down and to the side, demurely, and clasped her hands behind her back. The net effect of this combo prominently displayed her rather attention-grabbing breasts as she took another slinking step closer.

 

Perhaps only because I’ve practiced misdirection so much in my own past, I could immediately tell when it was being used against me. I couldn’t see her hands, and that was a clear warning bell. I casually dropped the mandolin case to my side, freeing up both of my hands.

 

She lunged forward for the last step, and her right hand swung in an arc that would have terminated at my neck, if I hadn’t caught her wrist in mid-air. I arrested her motion and her face came to an abrupt halt scant inches away from my own, with a half-wicked, half-suggestive snarl on her face. I sacrificed a quick glance at her right hand, where I saw a short blade, easily concealable yet perfectly adequate for close-up murder. Or attempted murder, hopefully. We were still undecided which it would turn out to be.

 

Those innocent witnesses around us, who had been entranced by her captivating voice and sensual body, failed to notice the small dagger, and instead just gaped at our sudden and dramatic contact.

 

That’s when the six musicians on stage struck up their tune.

*****