Friday, February 15, 2013

Coyote's Flute

by JoEllen Conger
Paranormal, 222 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud

Recently widowed, Barbara Livingston flies to New Mexico to stay with longtime friends for the summer. However, instead of her friends, a sexy, Spanish cowboy meets her at the airport. While awaiting her friends to retrieve her, he takes her home to his working ranch. Trini Montoya tells her about Kokopelli, the shape-shifter in local Navajo legends and folklore. When she hears Coyote's mystical flute music drifting on the wind, she understands there is to be a 'Promise of Change' in her life.

Trini has no idea just how much he wants her until she and his favorite horse suddenly disappear into the devastating heat wave on the New Mexican desert. The search begins to find her.

Anxiety chewed at her confidence as Barbara Livingston searched the crowded Albuquerque airline terminal, anticipating to locate her longtime friends at any moment. Other deplaning passengers pushed and bumped against her. She stepped aside, feeling her irritation rising.

Her friends should have been with the crush of people waiting at the crowded debarkation gate. But they weren't. In fact, no one had stepped forward to meet her. A quaver of anxiety rippled through her stomach. She suddenly felt like a little girl, lost in a frighteningly strange and unfriendly city. Her heart fluttered, pounding against her ribcage. Barbara pressed a splayed hand across her heart. She had a hard time catching her breath.

She pivoted in her search, eyes darting to detect someone she recognized. Anyone. She could feel her throat constricting, her heart pumping wildly. It wasn't just the unexpected heat wave that made perspiration trickle down her temples. With instant clarity filling her mind, she realized her anxiety medication was right there in her suitcase, just for such a possible attack of nerves, but she didn't want to rip open her bag in front of God and everybody, just to get to it.

It was her first excursion away from home-alone, since her late husband's passing. She was used to his reassurances when she fretted about unexpected changes. I can do this, she assured herself. After all, I am a mature adult. She drew in a deep breath.

She searched again for her missing friends. Then gulped. Her mouth felt as dry as New Mexico's desert outside.

Did I remember to send them the correct flight information? Do I have the right day? Sheesh, Barbara, come on! You managed to get yourself to the ticket counter. They took your ticket in San Jose, didn't they? Today is the right day.

Could Annah and Gerod have forgotten? She drew in a quick breath to calm her frantic thoughts. Don't panic! There could be good, logical reasons why they've been detained. Possibly they've gotten held up in traffic. Or...had trouble finding a parking place. So keep your cool, Barbara! Just take another deep breath.
Her carry-on seemed to grow heavier, the leather strap cutting into her palm. Her camera bag jabbed her back at every step. You're hyperventilating, Barbara. Get control!-Take another deep breath and hold it.
She rearranged her hold on her luggage as she labored to control her racing heart. The shoulder strap holding her camera equipment: a small Digital camera, and a Olympus with a flash attachment and all her lenses, macro, wide angle and telephoto, cut deeply into her shoulder. In the same hand she juggled her weighty, suitcase-sized hard-pack video case. She had never given up the full-sized camcorder for the smaller 8mm. When she had tried one, she hadn't cared for the dizzying-film produced by her wrist action.
Although heavier, the full-sized camera at least sat solidly on her right shoulder and steadied the videography. Resigned, she settled her bags by her feet. Then as she searched the area again, she scrubbed her sweating palms against the knobby texture of her raw silk skirt. She was soaked in sweat; her matching jersey clung to her.

With a shuddering in-breath, she slowly placed her heavy camera bag on top of her laptop and fastened them to the handlebars on top of her wheeled suitcase. She wound the camera cases' straps tightly around the pull handle. Now all she had to worry about were her carry-on bag and camcorder case. She'd heard the sad story about her friends losing their photo equipment when they had been traveling, so she'd become extra vigilant of her surroundings. Someone had nabbed their equipment when they had been distracted and looked away for only a moment. It won't happen to me, she declared emphatically, hoping her declaration would calm her inner trembling.

Even her brother-in-law had lost his briefcase in Japan. He'd set it down between his feet to talk to an airline agent and some deft robber had swiped it. She wanted to make sure that didn't happen to her, here. Her livelihood depended upon her cameras and her laptop. Even backed-up before coming on the trip, she couldn't afford to lose all her research material...reels of video-film and proposed plots she hadn't written yet, and photographs of every place she and Jed had ever traveled. Her heart jerked at the very thought of losing them.

She studied everyone in the terminal. Everyone seemed to be dashing for their intended destination with no one showing any particular interest in her expensive equipment...or her, for that matter.

Her misgivings tumbled crazily in her mind as she scanned the airport's vast expanse one more time. Where could they be? Surely I'll recognize them. They couldn't have changed that much since I last saw Jed's funeral. She scowled, feeling very alone without Jed holding her arm. He had no right to go on without me. He said we'd be together forever. How am I supposed to manage without him?

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