Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fight The Good Fight

This story is particularly close to my heart because while writing it I tended to get fired up.  There are many things I love, a great story, good, hot sex, and people falling in love.  But I hate injustice and intolerance.  This story has all of them and The Good Fight is about fighting for what's right regardless of the odds.  This story will take you on a journey with Jerry and John (Akecheta) that will lead you across South Dakota as well as into the hearts of some amazing characters.
There were times when I was editing this manuscript that I got completely immersed in the story and forgot what I was supposed to be doing.  For the weeks as I was writing it, I got carried away into to a different place and a world and a way of living that's so foreign from  my own.  A world of richness, color, family, community, hope, hopelessness, and yes poverty that is America's Native American reservations.

I have been asked if this is the start of a series and I can say that it is.  I have already finished The Fight Within and there may be a third book.  We'll have to see what the muse (Oscar) has to say.  Here's the blurb and an excerpt explaining how John and Jerry meet.    Enjoy!

Jerry Lincoln has a problem: his Sioux Falls IT consulting business has more work than one man can handle. Luckily, that means he can hire some help. Jerry just hopes his new employee, John Black Raven, ends up being more helpful than distracting—but John’s deep eyes and long hair are very distracting.
John came to town for an education and a chance at a life he couldn’t have on the reservation, but what’s important to him now is getting a job and keeping it. Six months ago, his sister died, and now her children are in foster care. Despite having the law on his side, John can’t get custody—can’t even see his niece and nephew.

As Jerry and John grow closer, John discovers he doesn’t have to struggle alone. Jerry helps him win visitation rights and provides much-needed support. Yet their victories aren’t without setbacks. Child Services is tangled up with money, politics, and red tape, and Native American children are their bread and butter. But John and Jerry are determined to fight the good fight and to win—in more ways than one.

“Yes. He’s shutting down his computer,” John said, and I was about to get up when I heard what sounded like sniffles. Cracking my eyes open, I saw a kid in shorts and a T-shirt shuffling down the sidewalk, looking all around, sniffing.

“Mama,” he called, and I watched as he continued walking closer to the house. “Mama,” he called again. The sniffles got louder, and as he came closer I could see tears running down his cheeks. I stood up, walked down the steps, and went slowly out toward the sidewalk, where I knelt down in front of him as I heard thunder sound in the distance. I saw him jump. “Mama!” he yelled, and I touched his arm to calm him.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him, looking into huge dark eyes and a dark, round face framed by jet-black hair. I heard the door of one of the neighbors’ houses snap closed.

“That’s one of them injun kids. Just leave him alone.” I turned and glared at old Mr. Hooper, anger boiling inside me. He’d been a grouch and a certified pain in the ass for as long as I could remember, but this was the first time in my life that I contemplated hitting the old bastard. Instead I ignored him.
“Are you lost?” I asked him, and the kid sniffled and nodded. “What’s your name?”

“Keyan,” he answered, and I looked at John and then back at the boy.
“It’s going to be all right. I’m Jerry and this is—” I was about to say “John” when he interrupted me.

“Akecheta,” John said, and the boy sniffed once, and his eyes widened as if he were seeing John for the first time. Thunder sounded again, and the breeze, which had been blowing softly, picked up, whistling through the trees and around the house.
“Why don’t you sit with us on the porch,” I told Keyan. “Your mother is probably trying to find you.” I figured she was probably looking frantically, and Keyan’s wandering wasn’t helping. If she didn’t show up soon, I’d call the police. He nodded as lightning flashed, followed by more thunder. Keyan jumped and squeaked before hurrying up onto the porch. He stood near one of the front railings looking up and down the street, eyes scanning for his mother. Bryce came out, and I saw him and John talking before both of them sat down.

“You two can head home. I’ll take care of things,” I told them. Bryce peered toward the west, and I knew he was wondering whether he was going to get home before the storm hit. “Go on, Bryce. We’ll review things in the morning.” He nodded and said good night to both of us before hurrying to the driveway and into his car.
The first drops of rain hit the sidewalk as Bryce’s taillights faded from view. The wind picked up, and I gently moved Keyan further back on the porch as the sky opened up. “I’d better call the police,” I told John, and he placed his hand on my arm to stop me from going inside, shaking his head.

“Don’t,” John said. “She’ll be here soon.”
I was beginning to have doubts about that, but agreed to wait a few more minutes. As I was digging into my pocket for the phone, I heard a cry from the street, and the boy raced toward the edge of the porch. John stopped him, and a few seconds later a woman had the boy in her arms. He was crying, and she looked soaked to the skin as she rocked her son back and forth. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she scolded nervously before crushing him into a hug once more.

The rain came down harder, pounding the ground and pavement. “Please have a seat until the rain stops,” I told her, and she nodded, sitting on one of the wooden chairs with her son close by.
“He wandered off and I’ve been looking for him all over,” she explained, and I wanted to ask what had happened, but like any mother, she just seemed relieved to have found him. I turned to John and then went inside and returned with a towel that I handed to her. She dried her face and hands before handing the towel back.

“Thank you for the towel, and for helping Keyan,” she said, and I took a minute to really look at her. She was a striking woman with pronounced cheekbones and huge eyes, with black hair pulled back into braids that hung down her back. She could have been a movie star, she was so striking.
“You’re welcome. We found him fifteen minutes ago, and he’d just had a bit of a fright,” I said, and she smiled, staring out into the rain. We didn’t talk much, and when the rain let up, she lifted Keyan into her arms, and after saying thank you once again, she hurried off down the street.

“That was a nice thing you did. Thank you,” John told me, and I turned to look at him, confused. “You helped her.” John looked toward the neighboring porch where old man Hooper looked back at us. “Too many people are like him.” John inclined his head, and I felt my righteous indignation rising.
“Dumb old fuck,” I muttered. I usually don’t swear, but I couldn’t stop it this time. “John, do you mind if I ask a few questions? I don’t mean anything by them, but they may not sound politically correct.”

“You may ask anything,” John said a bit warily. The rain picked up a bit, and the sky darkened once more. It was early evening, but it seemed later in the darkness.
“Is everyone from your tribe beautiful?” I realized how that sounded and shook my head. “Not that I’ve met many Native Americans, but the lady, her son… you.” I knew I sounded like an idiot and wished I’d simply kept my mouth shut.

“You think I’m beautiful?” John asked, and I saw him move closer, a smile on his face, as I nodded. My heart beat a staccato rhythm in my chest, and John’s rich scent mixed with the fresh smell of the rain. John moved still closer. “I think you’re very handsome,” John told me, our gazes meeting. I could have lost myself in the soul-deep eyes that stared back at me.
I shook my head slowly. “I’m pale and scrawny,” I whispered, not wanting to break the spell his eyes held me under. “You’re dark and strong.” I wanted to touch and find out if his cheek was as soft and smooth as it looked and if his lips tasted as rich and earthy as the scent on his breath and the muskiness that flowed off him like the rainwater. I could feel my body being pulled toward him, my fantasies and longing overriding my brain. John drew closer, and I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, but I wanted to kiss him more than anything.

“Did that injun kid find its mother?”
I backed away from John with a stifled groan and glared across at the other front porch. I could feel John tense next to me, like he was getting ready to launch himself at my neighbor. “You know, Mr. Hooper,” I began calmly, “it’s better to remain quiet and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!” By the end, my words snapped out of my mouth, and I think the old fart got the message, because he stood up, shaking, his eyes trying to burn a hole through me. With a grunt, he pulled open his front door and went inside, the screen slapping closed behind him. When I turned back to John, I caught a glimpse of a shocked look that quickly morphed into a smile.


Tina Donahue said...

I'm with you on injustice and intolerance. God, some people make me want to spit. I don't care what their opinions are when they infringe upon the rights of others. Just lead your own life and leave everyone else alone. As long as the people involved are of age and what they do is consenting, it's no one's business.

Your books sounds great!

jean hart stewart said...

Sounds like you tackled one of my favorite peeves, branding people without any attempt to know them or their story. Injustice of any kind makes me furious.

Fiona McGier said...

I love the line about "I'm thin and scrawny, you're big and strong"...sounds like a relationship that's meant to be! And mixing in social commentary with romance is something I like to do when I write, and like to read also.
Good luck with sales!