Here is the Prologue from my upcoming novel, “Watercolor Dreams,” set to be released December 1. It’s the first in a series based on the exploits of Jake Moriarity, a lost soul whose business it is to find lost things.
by R.G. Ryan
©2015 Dreamchasers Media Group
From her hiding place inside the dumpster, burrowed deeply beneath stinking, rotting refuse, the young girl listened intently for any sound of continuing pursuit. Involuntary shudders shook her slender, athletic frame. Short brown hair, courtesy of a hasty, ragged shearing in the restroom of a fast-food restaurant, hung in damp strands framing a beautiful face whose skin seemed stretched too tightly over high cheekbones. Under haunted, dark and darting eyes, her mouth formed silent words of petition hoping against hope that the God of her childhood was still in business.
Just ten minutes ago she had been walking along a deserted stretch of the Pacific Beach Boardwalk in the city locals claimed was “America’s finest.” She had kept her vision focused straight ahead, looking neither to the left nor right, because her mother had always told her, “If you look like you know where you’re going, there is less of a chance that someone will try to mess with you.”
At least that’s what she thought she’d said.
It was getting hard to remember things like that.
Harder still to even remember her face.
Another hundred feet and she could have spent the night in the relative safety of Wayne’s skate shop, although at a price she was certain would one day bankrupt her soul.
It was hard to believe how easily she’d been found.
The two big guys with shaved heads had come literally out of nowhere, emerging from the fog-shrouded beach like twin specters floating across the sand. At first she thought that they were just a couple of guys out for a midnight stroll along the shoreline, whistling a nonsensical tune and seemingly in no hurry to get to where they were going. Neither one had seemed to pay her the slightest bit of attention so she quickened her pace in an effort to get by where they stood out on the sand. But then one had whispered her name and the chase was on.
Drawing from the same athleticism that had made her a high school track star and an award-winning dancer, there were fifty yards between them before they could even fully react. As she ran she felt as though the fog absorbed her presence like a living thing providing just enough concealment to keep her pursuers from making up the ground they had lost. Though she didn’t know their names, she knew quite well why they were here and who had sent them. She also knew that were she to be caught, her life would be over.
As to how she’d managed to tumble down the days landing so ingloriously inside such an unlikely sanctuary was a long, sad tale; just one of many in a life whose only distinction seemed to be its ability to constantly invent new forms of misery. She thought about her previous grand design—the one about dancing for some august company in San Francisco or New York, making decent money and living the dream. How foolish it all seemed.
Banishing the thought to a well-used box hidden away in the canyons of her soul—where it sat out of sight along with the rest of her memories—she lifted the dumpster’s lid slightly and risked a peek. They were there in the parking lot barely a hundred feet from her hiding place. One held a cell phone to his ear, gesturing animatedly as he talked. When the call had ended, he shoved the phone into the pocket of his long coat and cursed loudly. Then with one last fleeting look around the area, and a shouted, “You can’t run forever, kid!” they stalked away, shouting threats and obscenities obviously meant for her ears.
Letting the lid down with as much care as if it were resting on eggshells, she fell back into the bed of garbage. Without warning a sob escaped her throat. Clamping both hands over her mouth she desperately tried to stifle the emotion, but it was no use. Her shoulders shaking violently, she opened her mouth in a silent scream, took a deep breath, and then she cried. It was a child’s cry, for at that moment she was nothing if not a frightened child who wanted only the simple comfort of a parent’s loving arms.
She fell asleep there, surrounded by the putrefying stench of decay, but it seemed a far better fate than that which awaited her outside.