In the next few months, WHISTLER HOUSE PUBLISHING will be releasing Novel 2 in my TRILOGY OF TREASON. For my readers who have been waiting far too long to see this book, I am beginning a series of weekly excerpts to start you reading this story that is very close to my heart. Not only does it follow up to THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR with a plot related to those original characters, it deals with a heartless drug scandal that has already affected too many lives, both military and civilian.
PROLOGUE FROM "COVERT DENIAL"
Kigali, Rwanda, January 7, 1994
Rhys Jamieson froze. His heart hammered. Each thump threatened to pound through his chest. He sucked in a breath to control the adrenaline rush and held it. Two steps above, Jean-Pierre paused.
Again the shrill howl spiked the night air.
That’s all we need – a stray dog to give us away.
Rhys peered through the moonlit shadows of treetops crisscrossing the red-clay laneway and scanned down the terraces of bougainvillea and exotic orchids leading away from the villa. Their sweet fragrances drifted uphill toward them, along with Rwanda’s milky mist. Searching for the dog, he strained to see through the meandering vapors. A trickle of sweat rolled down his brow. Ten minutes. That’s all he needed to see the proof he was ordered to confirm.
Another yelp but less sharp and urgent. Rhys glanced around at nearby houses for signs of movement. No lights flashed on. The dog hadn’t disturbed the neighbors. He relaxed and released his breath. Jean-Pierre beckoned him to continue up the porch steps as he unlocked the front door. Rhys followed him inside.
The shuttered living room reeked of cigar smoke. As Rhys let his eyes adjust to the darkness, he pulled a kit from his hip pocket, removed a penlight and swept its pinhole beam around the room, panning over colonial furniture and Belgian tapestries. At the far end, he could see a door ajar. Jean-Pierre pointed to it. Rhys nodded and motioned for him to proceed in front.
The two men crossed the living room to the open doorway and looked down the cellar steps. “Ces armes sont toute neuves,” Jean-Pierre whispered.
Brand new guns. Rhys nodded he understood. These were Jean Pierre’s first words. Since their meeting at the Hotel Meridien, he had said nothing; neither had he spoken while they walked through the hilled streets of Kigali to the Gendarmerie general’s villa.
Jean-Pierre headed down the cellar stairs. Rhys followed.
Shit! The oath exploded from Rhys’ mouth as the smell of rotting bananas assaulted his nose. He pressed his lips together before continuing down. From the bottom step, he paused and rotated the penlight beam around the cellar. Stacked crates lined the windowless walls. He stepped onto the dirt floor and headed toward a wooden bench in the middle, while Jean-Pierre pulled the long string attached to a dangling bulb overhead. Yellow light bathed the cellar. Rhys snapped off his penlight and returned it to his pocket, before motioning to Jean-Pierre to help him carry one crate to the bench.
Up close, the stench seeping through its wooden slats nearly overcame them. They laid the crate down on the bench. Rhys reached for a crowbar lying nearby on the floor and held his breath as he pried open the lid. Hordes of fruit flies blanketed the sticky straw lying on top of the blackened bananas beneath. Poking through the putrid packing, he found and lifted out one AK-47 assault rifle. The tiny pests instantly broke free and swarmed above his head. He batted at them with his free hand, but they scattered and rejoined like gunpowder drawn to a magnet in a thick cloud just below the light. Forced to breathe, the rank smell seized Rhys and he wretched with dry coughs. After they passed, he straightened to his full six feet. With renewed determination, he squinted, his focus on the AK-47. The manufacturer’s mark was scratched off the metal magazine. He raised the rifle closer to the light and slapped the gun barrel. “Regarde!”