With great pleasure, we can announce today that Walking the Labyrinth by Lois Cloarec Hart will be available as an e-book next weekend.
This book is special in many ways. Walking the Labyrinth is not only Lois’ long-awaited new novel and her first book published by Ylva Publishing, but it’s also the first time ever that one of Lois’ books is available as an e-book. It will be available as a DRM-free e-book (USD 9.99) and as a paperback later on in July (USD 14.99).
To celebrate this special occasion, we want to give you a glimpse of the story by posting a scene from chapter three:
* * *
Lee glanced over at her brooding passenger, who was plugged in and tuned out. Since they’d left Calgary hours earlier, Britten had barely uttered ten words beyond complaining about her smart-phone connectivity. She’d spent the last couple of hours listening to music turned up so high that Lee could hear it leaking around her passenger’s earbuds.
With a small shrug, Lee returned her attention to the road. It wasn’t her problem if Britten needed hearing aids before she was forty.
An hour later, Lee felt the still unfamiliar stirrings of hunger. Over the past year of ignoring her body’s basic needs, she’d almost forgotten what it was like to look forward to her next meal. It was a welcome reminder that she had officially rejoined the human race.
Britten ignored Lee, gazing out the side window and beating out the rhythm of the music on her thigh.
When her passenger still ignored her, Lee reached over and tugged an earbud out.
Lee ignored the indignation. “I need some guidance here. We’re just about to your old stomping grounds. Where’s a good place to stop for a bite to eat?”
“I haven’t been here in almost fifteen years. It’s probably completely changed.”
“You’re the one who said things never change around here. Gophers, grasshoppers, and grain elevators, remember?”
Britten huffed but appeared to give it some thought. “Well, there used to be a café just west of Donegal, the Four Corners Café. We’re about forty minutes from it.”
“Good enough. We’ll stop there.”
Britten popped her earbud back in, and Lee resumed perusing the landscape. It was clearly farming and ranching territory, though too early in the year for crops to be growing. They had passed a lot of cattle, with an abundance of calves in the herds. Lee wondered if Britten’s family was involved in growing wheat or raising cattle, but she didn’t feel like trying to start a conversation.
Half an hour later, Britten’s voice jolted Lee from her reverie.
“There, ahead on the left. See it?”
A cluster of pickups was parked next to an old but neatly kept restaurant. A sign advertised the Four Corners Café, and Lee slowed to make her turn.
“Watch out. This is Dysfunction Junction. I can’t begin to tell you how many accidents have happened at these crossroads over the years.”
Lee was surprised at the almost friendly tone in Britten’s voice and glanced over at her passenger. Britten had a look of suppressed anticipation, and Lee wondered if she was genuinely excited about returning home after all the years away. Certainly nothing in her previous manner had suggested the possibility, but Lee remembered how it had always felt returning to her grandparents’ home after long absences. Possibly her client wasn’t immune after all.
Lee pulled into the parking lot and took a spot between a blue F-150 and another pickup that was too covered with mud to detect a colour.
Britten was out of the SUV almost as soon as it stopped. Lee followed at a slower pace, her body feeling the ache of long hours on the road.
They seated themselves, and before they’d even had time to open the menus on the table, a heavy-set, middle-aged waitress was at their side with a pot of coffee. Looking at Lee, she said, “You look like you could use a cup, hon.”
Lee nodded gratefully as her cup was filled before the waitress turned to Britten. “What about you, hon?” Then the waitress did such a classic double-take that Lee almost laughed aloud. “Well, turn me over like a turtle! Heather Ann, is that you?”
“It’s Britten, Aunt Eileen. Heather Ann left here long ago.”
“Huh. Well, I changed more of Heather Ann’s diapers than I could ever count, and I’ve never met this Britten you speak of.”
Lee watched the two glare at each other, then the waitress broke the stalemate. “It’s real good to see you again, hon, by whatever name you want to use. I’m surprised, though. We had a family get-together last weekend, and Gaëlle never said one word about you coming home. Of course, your mother can be more close-mouthed than a priest when she wants to be.”
“Mom doesn’t know.”
That got Lee’s attention. When they’d finalized their plans, Britten said she’d called her mother and everything was in order for their arrival. Obviously, that had been a lie, so Lee began making back-up plans in the event Britten’s mother refused to welcome her prodigal daughter home.
“Well, that won’t matter. Gaëlle never turned a soul from her door in her life, and she’s certainly not going to start with her baby.”
Lee relaxed a little on hearing Eileen’s assessment but still calculated where they might find a night’s lodging, just in case.
“So, what’ll you two have?”
They placed their orders, and Eileen left.
Britten fidgeted, but Lee ignored her. She wasn’t about to give her client absolution for the blatant lie, so she gazed out the window instead.
Suddenly, Lee blinked and stared. The strangest creature was riding by on a bicycle pulling a homemade cart, loaded to unbelievable heights with bags, boxes, wheels, pieces of wood, metal, and glass, and clothes stuffed into every crevice. Abruptly, the man stopped and looked through the café window at Lee.
“Oh, for God’s sake. Is that loon still around?”
Lee ignored Britten’s disparaging comment and examined the apparition. It was impossible to determine his age. A floppy, weather-beaten hat shadowed his deeply lined face. An unkempt grey beard hung to his chest, and his thin frame was dwarfed by an oversized, tattered greatcoat. Most startlingly, ribbons of every colour were pinned all over the coat. The steady prairie breezes caught the ribbons and lifted them in an illusion of multi-coloured feathers. Lee half expected the man to take flight, but he only stared at her with intense, light-coloured eyes. Finally, he nodded at her, pushed his bike into motion, and pedalled away as his treasures clanged and swayed dangerously on the cart.
* * *
Walking the Labyrinth will be available for the Kindle via Amazon and as pdf, mobi, and epub via Smashwords and Bella Books.
Next Sunday, we’ll be giving away two e-book copies of Walking the Labyrinth on this blog, so check back on June 16th.
The Ylva team