Friday, February 26, 2010

A Way Advance Excerpt for Close Quarters

More stuff to entertain you while I'm away this weekend...

Close Quarters
Book 5 in The Goddard Project series
Trade Paperback
Kensington Brava - September 2010
ISBN-10: 0758242018
ISBN-13: 978-0758242013

(c) 2010 Lucy Monroe

“So, did Ibeamaka leave the compound?”
“Yes. I do not believe he likes the Americans. He thinks he has shown them some sort of petty slight by not offering to stay and take the evening meal with them.”
Tanya laughed. “I’m sure they’ll be horribly disappointed.”
“Without doubt.” Fleur’s voice dripped with a sarcasm that more than matched Tanya’s.
Both women smiled in understanding.
“Disappointment is not the word I would use,” a deep male voice said from the doorway.
Tanya jerked her head around to look. “I didn’t hear you come in.” The wood floor in the medical hut did not make for silent entry into the building.
“I walk quietly.”
“Don’t tell me, you’re not just a soldier, you’re some kind of dark ops trained assassin,” she joked.
For a fraction of a second, a strange expression showed on Roman’s face before his features slipped back into impassivity. “Soldiers are all trained for a certain level of stealth.”
Maybe he’d been offended by her little tease. His words were right, but she felt like something was missing from his explanation. No surprise there, not with Mr. Congenial Communication not.
“Even lab rats?”
“I think it’s obvious I don’t spend all my time in a lab.” He stepped back into the hall. “The tour?”
Arrogant, much?
“Sure.” She turned to Fleur. “I’ll finish this up later.”
“I will have our newest med tech finish them for you, but you’ll have to check them over for accuracy.”
Sympa-Med sent them new interns every six months to be trained before being assigned elsewhere. Fleur wasn't just the compound directro and lead doctor, she ran the training program for workers stationed all over Africa and the Middle East.
“No problem.”
“Don’t look so pleased with yourself. We all know how much you hate paperwork. Maybe Mr. Taylor will turn out to enjoy the chore.”
The trainees never got on first name basis with Fleur. Tanya hadn't either, until a good three months after she'd been assigned permanently to the Zimbabwe team.
"Sounds like a plan." Six months with truncated amounts of paperwork sounded more like Heaven than a plan, but Fleur would understand that without Tanya having to say it.
“Go on, show the soldier around.” Fleur waved her hand in dismissal.
Tanya smirked at Fleur's less than awed description of Roman as she led Roman out of the Medical Hut. “I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but this is the main building in the compound. It houses our exam rooms, the clean room for procedures, Fleur and my office and inventory storage for medical supplies.”
“I did not notice a guard on premise.”
“He must be on his meal break. We do keep a guard on premises at all times, and Mabu sleeps in a room beside the storage area.”
“He does not have anyone cover the guard’s meal breaks?”
“That is sloppy security.”
“We’re safer here than we are on most of our routes.”
“That isn’t saying much.”
She agreed, but it was a condition you either learned to live with, or you gave up and went home. She wasn’t leaving the people who needed her, so that left learning to live with the constant danger from thieves, human traffickers and the violence always on the verge of erupting in some of the places their traveling clinic took them.
“I find it hard to believe you spend any time at all in a lab.” It didn’t make sense for a scientist to be called in on a protection detail. Nor did his attitude about and knowledge of security protocols coincide with a man who worked as a scientist even part-time.
Roman shrugged. “It pleases my family to believe that is where I spend my time.”
So, at least her new sister-in-law hadn’t lied to Tanya. Unfortunately, for their family anyway, Roman was clearly lying to the other Chernichenkos.
“Do any of your siblings know what you really do?”
“He’s the only one?” she asked as they walked by the hut that housed the rest of Mabu’s staff and his office.
“Yes, and I would prefer it stay that way.”
She pointed out the security hut before asking, “Is that why you didn’t tell Elle you were going to be seeing me?”
“What is that building?” he asked, pointing to one of the larger structures in the compound. Once again asking a question rather than answering hers.
That could get really annoying after a while. “Do you always ignore questions you don’t want to answer?”
“That’s rude.”
And clearly he didn’t care.
“All right then. This building was the original clinic. We now use it as sort of a long stay building for people who cannot make it to the hospital in Harrere, but who absolutely require supervised care.”
“Is there anyone in there now?”
“The better question would be if it is ever empty. Most of the beds are full, which is pretty common despite Sympa-Med’s policy on the matter.” Which wasn’t all that tolerant of long-term treatment of the locals. “It’s less crowded than last week when we had a local village chieftain staying with his entourage.”
“He couldn’t go to Harare?”
“More like he refused.”
“What was wrong with him?”
“Migraines. He feared he had a brain tumor, but it turned out he was allergic to expensive French cologne a trader had given as a thank you gift for being allowed to peddle his wares in the village.”
“I bet he doesn’t get that opportunity again.”
“If he shows up in the village again, he’ll be lucky to leave with his life.”
“Harsh justice.” Roman gave her a cynical smile. “The government doesn’t mention that in their tourism brochures.”
“They do their best to keep information about the rampant human trafficking going on in Zimbabwe out of the media as well, but it’s big and growing problem in this part of Africa despite what PR people for tourism want you to believe.”
“I’m surprised you’d be willing to work in such a risky location.”
SympaMed took measures to protect their employees, but it wasn’t something she was supposed to talk about. “Medical workers aren’t as at risk as the tens of thousands of displaced and poverty stricken Zimbabweans.”
“Being less at risk is not the same as not being at risk at all.”
“Some things are worth it.”
“Things like?”
“Helping people who need it.”
“There are plenty of people who need help in the U.S..”
“Yes, there are, but there are also a lot more people trained to do the helping back home.”
“So, you’re here because you think the Zimbabweans need you more than anyone back in the States?”
“There’s that, and then there’s having have half a world between me and my parents.”
It was her turn to shrug. “They’re not bad people, they just define success and happiness really differently than either Beau or I do.”
“I bet they just love your current occupation.”
“Is that sarcasm, Roman?”
“Could be. Is that the mess hall?”
“Yes. Meals are served twice a day, but there is always something in the pot for people who can’t make it to official meal times and who get hungry in between them.” Positions within the compound were highly coveted because living conditions were so much better than most. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to the cook and her helper.”
They spent a short time in the dining hall and introducing Roman to the kitchen staff, who did most of their cooking in an open air lean-to situated behind the one room hut where everyone in the compound took their meals. The rest of the cooking happened in and on the fire pits situated far enough from the buildings to minimize the risk of an errant spark sending the compound up in flames.
"The fence does not look too hard to breach," Roman said as they walked past the staff living quarters and Tanya made no effort to point out where she slept.
No matter how tempting the thought of him joining her there.
"It's meant to discourage small animals and petty thieves. Serious threats wouldn't be deterred by anything less than an electric fence with barbed wire. We can't afford the power to run one, much less get Sympa-Med to fund the cost.
"Where do you and Dr. Andikan sleep?"
"We share that hut with her daughter, Johari."
"She has a daughter?" he asked, sounding both annoyed and suprised.
"There is no record of that."
"You read our personnel records?" Tanya asked, taking her own turn at shocked disclosure.
"Bennet Vincent's safety is in our hands. His job is not popular with the Zimbabwean government, no matter how much lip serviec they give to being glad he is here. Assessing any potential threats in his domicile is standard procedure."
"Oh. Well, Johari isn't Fleur's natural child. She adopted the girl when she was orphaned in the Congolese Wars."
"That is commendable."
"Yes, it is. An Johari is a wonderful child."
"You sound whistful."
"Part of me longs to do the same thing."
"But you haven't."
"I'm on the road a lot more than Fleur. Since my arrival, she's pretty much limited herself to running the stationary clinic."
"I imagine it's a big enough job."
"Yes, and I don't mind taking team lead with the travelling clinic, but being gone for weeks at a time doesn't led itself to good parenting."
"No, it doesn't."
She stopped outside the medical hut as they finished their tour. "You sound like it's something you've thought about too."
"Not being a parent, but relationships require time that constant and prolonged travel does not give."
"Is that why you're single? You travel to much for your job, the one that isn't in a lab?" As the words left her mouth, she felt heat climb her skin, unable to believe she'd asked something so personal from the standoffish man.
"Wow, you actually answered."
He gave her a look that probably should have chastised her, but insteand just made her toes curl.
"You're certainly not single because you're ugly."
"You sound like Myk's new wife."
"She thinks you're hot too?" She couldn't see that going over well with a Chernichenko male.
"No. She doesn' thave any filters between her brain an dher mouth either."
"Oh, I have filters, I just don't choose to exercise them all the time. I don't see a reason to pretend an indifference I'll never be able to sustain for the length of your stay."
"We're only supposed to be here a couple of weeks."
"I was wrong. You'r enot like Lana, you're a lot like your brother Beau. Very forthright."
"Yep." She blew out a noisy breath. "Most of the time, I don't see a reason for being any other way."
"But you do make exceptions."
"Of course. I'm not about to tell Mr. Ibeamak I think he's a slimy toad and that he has more chance with Paris Hilton than he does with Fleur."
"He did seem taken with her."
"Much to her disgust."
"What about you?"
"Me and Ibeamaka?"
"You and anyone."
"There's no one." And hadn't been since before she started working with Sympa-Med.


Stacy~ said...

Great excerpt Lucy! Can't wait for more. Have a great weekend!

Judy said...

What an enticing way to start the day! The only thing wrong is that September is too far away!! Looks like this one is going to be a page-turner like all the others.

Lucy Monroe said...

Awww...smooches to you both! I'm off in a bit and just checking in before going no computer - acck, will I survive? I'm even leaving the laptop at home!

gigi said...

Reads like a winner. Thanks for the tidbit.

Jane said...

Thanks for the teaser, Lucy.

lidia said...

You have me hooked! keep posting excerpts and I'll keep reading! :-)

Lady_Graeye said...

Great excerpt! You're such a tease! Don't play to hard to get over the weekend! Have a great time!

Judy F said...

Oh I can't wait to read the rest of the story. Have a super weekend. Hugs

Melissa said...

I loved the excerpt, Lucy!! Thanks for sharing...and OMG, is it awful to wish my year away in books??? LOL.

flchen1 said...

Oh boy, Lucy!!! Thanks for the heads up! As others have said, another seven long months.... ;)

erahime said...

Thank you for the book excerpt!

Lucy Monroe said...

Very nice to come home to all these warm comments! Thank you!!! Hugs!

Amy said...

Loved the excerpt. Can hardly wait to read the entire book