The Price of Sanctuary
by Gaylon Greer
Accustomed to a life of privilege, Shelby Cervosier new finds herself running for her life. Accused of killing an American Immigration agent, Shelby has undertaken a mission on behalf of a secretive American espionage agency in exchange for a promise of legal amnesty and political asylum in America. Now, however, the agent who coerced her into accepting the assignment wants her dead to cover up the bungled mission. Two hit men compete for the bounty that has been placed on her head.
Shelby and her younger sister flee into America’s heartland in search of a safe haven. They find only fear and danger, however, when they are captured by one of the assassins, Hank.
Prepared to do whatever it takes to keep her sister safe, Shelby cooperates with her capturer. Deciding that his feelings for them are more important than bounty money, Hank takes the sisters under his wing and secrets then away to his hideout: a farm in a remote corner of Colorado. They become a part of his extended family; they have finally found sanctuary.
Their safe new world is shattered when the second hit man, a relentless psychopath, captures Shelby’s little sister and uses her to lure Shelby and her lover into a middle-of-the-night showdown on an isolated Rocky Mountain battleground.
With Carmen’s legs wrapped around her waist, Shelby held the child close and caressed her back and shoulders. “You remember Hank, don’t you, sweetheart?”
Carmen clung tighter, pressing her face against Shelby’s neck. “I don’t like him. He hurt you.”
Shelby stroked her little sister’s hair. “Things were mixed up. He was trying to help us.”
“He’s mean. He took you away.”
“He brought me back, though. He wants us to be together.”
Carmen loosened her grip and sneaked a look at Hank.
Shelby reached out and stroked the side of his face. “We hurt him too. He just wants to help us. To love us.”
Hank smiled at Carmen and asked, “Is Snaggly still with you?”
She leveled her grave, shiny black eyes on him and nodded.
“Do you suppose I could say hello to him? I’ve missed him a lot.”
Carmen turned her gaze back on Shelby.
Shelby set the little girl on her feet. “Go get him. It’s all right.”
Mounting the stairs slowly, Carmen seemed to question the wisdom of the move, but she must have reached a decision upstairs. She bounded back down cradling the snaggletoothed, clown-faced rag doll in her arms. As she approached Hank, she slowed but kept moving until she was close enough to pass the doll to him.
Squatting, he turned it one way and then another to examine it. “Looks like he’s doing okay.” He twisted the doll to face him. “You having a good time here, Snaggly?” As if he were listening, he nodded and wrinkled his brow. “I’m sorry I acted so mean when I first met you. There was danger, and I needed to get you away from that place.”
Eyes carefully focused on the doll, he nodded again. “Uh-huh. Yes, I liked you more and more as we traveled together. I really hated taking Shelby away, but it was the only way to keep you guys safe. We came back as soon as we could. Shelby loves her little sister more than anything in the whole world, and I love Shelby.”
He shifted his gaze to Carmen. “I’m having trouble understanding what Snaggly says.”
Carmen giggled. Hank held the doll out to her, and she edged closer to accept it.
“Do you think he understands why we left him with Jason and Linda?” Hank rested a knee on the carpet. “Why we had to stay away so long?”
“He kind of understands.” Carmen hugged the doll.
“How do you think he feels about it?”
“It’s okay. He likes you a little bit.”
“That’s good.” Reaching out, Hank caressed the doll’s face. “I like him a lot.”
How Do Characters Get Their Names?
Picking names for characters can be a major distraction for novelists. Approaches range from casually plucking a name out of the ether when needed to obsessively researching alternatives and pondering them endlessly—a great excuse to put off the hard work of actual writing. But characters’ names can affect how readers perceive them: Betsy Calvin is probably a nice woman, Remington Steele is nobody’s pushover. Names can suggest locale and class: Clarington David Harrowsmith III is English or upper crust New England, Billy Bob Dees most likely has no pedigree and hails from below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Mythology and ancient history can be entertaining sources of names that match characters’ personalities. I used this technique twice in The Price of Sanctuary:
- Krystal Erinyes, a shadowy member of the American intelligence community, sets in motion everything bad that happens to the protagonist. In Greek mythology the Erinyes (the Furies) were inexorable and merciless in pursuit of those they deemed to be evil, until they were tamed by the goddess Athena. Krystal was chosen as a first name because I needed a hard consonant to depict the character’s personality.
- Vlad is the principle bad guy. He makes his living by killing people and very much enjoys his work. His namesake lived in Romania during the fifteenth Century and was noted for excessive cruelty.
In my second novel, The Descent From Truth, I dipped into mythology again to name my principal villain, Theo Faust. Once the protagonist’s hero, Faust becomes a man who will do anything for money. His name comes from the German legend of a scholar who makes a pact with the devil, selling his soul for personal gain.
~ Gaylon Greer ~
Working with traveling carnivals and itinerant farm labor gangs during his teen and early adult years took Gaylon Greer up, down, and across the United States and introduced him to a plethora of colorful individuals who serve as models for his fictional characters. A return to school in pursuit of a high school diploma while serving in the Air Force led to three university degrees, including a Ph.D. in economics, and a stint as a university professor. After publishing several books on real estate and personal financial planning, as well as lecturing on these subjects to nationwide audiences, he shifted his energy to writing fiction. Gaylon lives near Austin, Texas.
Gaylon’s Web Site: http://gaylongreer.com/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Gaylon-E.-Greer/e/B000APV4BE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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