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ES COVER ebook 2Hello, everyone! I’m settling down at my new house and don’t have the Internet yet. Presently, sitting at the nearby Starbucks and catching up on things. As soon as I get my Internet connection back, I’ll again be my usual social self. Till then, please enjoy an excerpt from THE EARTH SHIFTER. Chapter 6 is one of the pivotal parts of the book, where the NWO conspiracy gets first hinted at and the spy intrigue starts gathering steam. This is also the chapter where the metaphysical mystery of the Key is tantalizingly dangled before an evil power seeker, who’ll stop at nothing to accomplish his clandestine goals. Will he succeed? This is a trillion-and-a-half dollar question!

One of my wonderful readers, Patricia Tilton of the Children’s Books Heal blog, has recently remarked that she enjoys my “cliffhanger writing style.” What can I say, I love to create a twist here and a turn there, which no one would expect. Many such twisty turns are woven into the fabric of THE EARTH SHIFTER – promise!

Enjoy your weekend and read on, dear friends!

 Chapter Image 6

Sir, there is a Chinese woman from New York on the phone, who swears she knows a secret that will make America the most powerful nation on the planet forever, if we spare her son.”

“What son?” replied Assistant CIA Director, Aloysius Drakley, irritably. He wasn’t having the best of days and had no time to listen to some old woman’s rantings. “Tejay, how many times do I have to tell you not to bother me with this kind of crap?”

“I apologize, sir. I wouldn’t, except her name is Yuun Lin and she is the mother of the suspected Chinese spy, Hao Lin. She says that it’s about some sort of key…”

This singular word made Drakley sit up and listen. She knows about the Key? But that can’t be… or can it?

“Perhaps, she is crazy, sir,” the assistant went on. “Perhaps the trauma of having her son accused of espionage has been too much for the old woman to bear?”

Drakley heard a note of compassion in his assistant’s voice, and didn’t like it. He made a mental note to get rid of him as soon as possible. Compassion? Humanity? This guy was definitely in the wrong business.

“She says…”

“I’ve heard what she says,” interrupted Drakley sharply. “Okay, write down everything she says and give me the transcript.”

“She says, sir, she’ll only talk to you—alone.”

Drakley frowned. Such confident forcefulness from an old woman, a spy’s mother, and a nobody, could only mean that she was either also a Chinese spy… or else, that she really had something. He silently mulled over all this information. Bring her in? Not very wise. No one at the agency was supposed to find out about the existence of the Key. Even if he was absolutely discreet, there were just too many people around. The woman’s presence at the agency was bound to leave a trace, and his conversation with her would leak out one way or the other. It always did.

See her at her place? But what if it’s a trap? What if his assistant was right and the aggrieved woman really lost it? What if she decided that taking Assistant CIA Chief hostage would be a good move? What if she felt she could negotiate for her son’s life this way? No, that didn’t seem probable. You’d expect something like this from an American. But Chinese… they were so much more pragmatic. And she did say the word. If she knows about the Key, then…

Drakley made a decision. “Where is she located?”

“New York Chinatown. She has a small business near Canal Street and she lives behind her store.”

“Locate snipers on roofs and several sharp agents on the ground. Surround her residence. Report of any activity in and out of her place.”

“Consider it done, sir.”

“Very well, get me the helicopter.”

 ******

 It was almost seven. As Chinatown’s incessant traffic and frantic daily activity died down and streets became deserted, Yuun got up from a tiny kitchen table where she was having a lonely dinner: a small bowl of fried rice and a cup of tea. The bowl of rice remained practically untouched. She had no appetite.

Yuun’s entire life revolved around her feng shui business, as well as the Lee family. She had neither time nor the desire to have a life of her own. The only indulgence she allowed herself, if you could call that indulgence, was her son Hao. She loved his father, who had never promised to marry her. But she had wanted a child so badly! So, when she became pregnant, she kept the baby. Sure enough, his father disappeared into thin air as soon as he heard the news, and she was left to fend for herself. Only Dao-ming and Chang Lee were always there for her.

They were always her best friends, in actuality, her only real friends, since others only came when everything was wonderful, promptly disappearing when things became dicey. Like now, when her son had been arrested for espionage, again, only the Lees had been there for her, inviting her over, visiting her all the time and trying to cheer her up. So naturally, when Dao-ming had the twins, Yuun had repaid the kindness by nursing her back to health and watching over the boys.

Hao was already eight at the time the twins were born. He was a good boy, respectful and helpful, but he became jealous of all the time Yuun spent with the Lee brothers. He felt neglected and there was never any love lost between him and the twins. When he was eighteen, he enlisted in the army. As many Chinese, he was good at science, math, and computers. He was quickly assigned to the Army Intelligence unit, which serviced the U.S. advance weapons technology. Yuun was very proud of her son, telling everyone she knew how the U.S. army trusted him with state secrets.

And that’s when disaster struck. Hao downloaded secret information and sold it to the Chinese government. At least, that’s what the U.S. government was saying. Whether it was true or not… He was accused of spying and was now in jail, awaiting trial. Yuun hired an attorney, who spent a whole month researching the case and talking to officials. The verdict he presented to her was crushing. The attorney advised her that the United States still practiced the death penalty for espionage. There was a strong chance Hao could be executed as traitor.

Yuun felt that it was all her fault. She had neglected her baby, while spending so much time with other people’s kids. She made her son feel unwanted and unwelcome. She never saw the signs. And now it was too late. Or was it? She had to do something, she had to bargain for her son’s life. That’s what the Chinese did: they bargained. She was as good a bargainer as any of her compatriots, but what could she offer in exchange for her son’s life? She didn’t know any important foreign government secrets; she wasn’t privy to any information of that magnitude. Despite her big title—Famous Feng Shui Master—she was just a humble Chinatown merchant, with a modest income and small nest egg. She had nothing to offer in exchange for her son’s life.

But then she remembered! Yes, there was something she could offer. Something very big! In fact, something much bigger than just a mere government secret! It was the secret that affected life on Earth as we know it!

It was something she was never supposed to know. But when she was nursing Dao-ming back to health after the difficult delivery of the twins, she overheard her speak in her sleep. At first, Yuun dismissed these strange, feverish utterings of the sick woman, but after she kept hearing the words Key, karma, and the future of mankind over and over again, she started listening. That’s how she learned the secret of the Key. Dao-ming soon got better, but Yuun never mentioned to anyone what she overheard, having solemnly promised herself to take her friends’ secret with her to the grave. Yet, the circumstances changed and now she was ready to betray them in order to save her son’s life.

The sound of tires coming to a halt outside interrupted her train of thought. She glanced at the wall clock. Seven. To make sure, she opened a curtain just a notch and peered outside. In the lengthening shadows, on the other side of the street, stopped a tank-like, very official-looking black car with dark tint. That was him.

A knock on the store’s back door made her jump. A stocky man stepped through the threshold wearing a trench coat, hat and dark shades that partially concealed his face.

He took off his shades and hat to reveal a balding head with an oversized forehead and sharp eyes. Then, he hung his coat on a coat hanger in the corner, remaining in a gray jacket with white shirt, white-red-and-blue tie and an American flag pin in his lapel.

“I was expecting you, Mr. Drakley,” uttered Yuun.

“What was it that you wanted to share, Ms. Yuun?” said Drakley without preamble, depositing his large body into the kitchen chair. The old chair made a pitiful screech.

“I have important information which I want to exchange for my son’s life and freedom. It is something that affects not only the United States, but life on Earth as we know it.”

Drakley scanned the surroundings skeptically. Somehow, he still doubted that this woman could have such earth-shattering information. But on the slim chance that she did, it was worth the visit.

“I can tell you all about a special person that will serve as the Key to open the new era of human civilization… in exchange for my son’s life and freedom.”

Drakley observed the Asian woman intently, trying to figure out whether this was a ploy, and whether he was dealing with another Chinese agent. His eyes drifted to Yuun’s hands. They were trembling, as her fingers nervously crumpled the hem of her red Chinese jacket. That convinced him more than anything else did that she was for real.

“I am listening,” he said.

“First, I need assurance that my son will be released.”

“Ms. Lin,” said Drakley impatiently. “If your information proves to be of value, I will do everything in my power…”

“This is not good enough!” The poor woman almost shrieked. “You have no idea what it cost me to make this step! What I had to sacrifice…” She stopped, her breathing heavy.

Drakley observed the woman with surprise. What if his assessment was incorrect and she was really losing it? What if she decided to take him hostage, if he wasn’t too cooperative? He surreptitiously felt for his gun.

Should she make the wrong move, I’ll shoot her, he decided. But that was his very last option. He’d only do it if there were no alternative left. He would much prefer to leave here discretely, and without any unnecessary complications. Besides, if she really knew something about the Key, then this woman was invaluable; therefore, he needed to appease her. It was imperative to find out whatever he could. The Society knew miserably little about this subject of utmost importance.

He took a steadying breath and said in the most calming tone he could muster, “Please understand, Ms. Lin, I cannot guarantee anything until I know that you really have the goods.”

“No,” stubbornly repeated Yuun. “I will not tell you anything until you promise me that my son is safe.”

“Fine,” said Drakley, shrugging his shoulders. “I promise. Your son will be safe, if your information proves valuable.” He made this promise lightly. It was nothing off his back. After all, it was a verbal promise, the one no one heard but this woman and himself. It would be his word against hers. And who would believe this silly old woman…

“No,” Yuun shook her head. “Not like that.” She took out a clean sheet of paper and pen. “Write: I, Assistant Director of the CIA, Aloysius Drakley, guarantee that Hao Lin will be exonerated from all charges of espionage against him and set free in exchange for the valuable information provided by Yuun Lin.”

Drakley wrote everything down obediently, but in the end, instead of: “in exchange for the valuable information provided by Yuun Lin,” he put down: “if the information provided by Yuun Lin proves valuable enough to warrant such actions.”

“Look, Ms. Lin,” he said in his most soothing voice. “I want to work with you, I really do. But you have to understand my position. I can’t just promise something like this out of the blue. This is a matter of American National Security! I can’t throw around such promises. I have to be sure first that the information is really worth it.”

“Trust me, it is.” Yuun carefully folded the piece of paper containing the promise of her son’s life. She opened a Chinese box with painted dragons on the lid, which was displayed on the nearby shelf, and hid the paper inside. She closed the box, which made a very distinct clicking sound as it locked in place.

Drakley observed her movements with avid interest. If need be, later he could always raid the place and retrieve this compromising piece of paper. But for now, he wanted his information. That’s what he came for. He had to make this woman trust him.

“Fair enough,” he said soothingly. “And now, why don’t you start from the beginning, Ms. Lin.”

Yuun took a deep breath. “When I was nursing Dao-ming Lee back to health after her delivery of the twins Kei and Win, she kept talking about the Key and the future of the Earth in her sleep. I didn’t listen at first, but the more she repeated these words, the more I became interested. According to her, there are two very special children, who were born exactly thirty days apart, and who would open a door into the new era of unbelievable achievement for mankind. They must come together, because however powerful each of them is, together their power multiplies so that it can either propel the Earth forward or destroy it. That’s why together they are called The Earth Shifter.”

“So, who are these children?”

“I believe that one of them is a Lee boy.”

“But you said they were twins. Which one is it?”

“Of that I cannot be one hundred percent sure,” replied Yuun evasively.

“Are you saying that you don’t know which one?”

“No,” repeated Yuun, averting her eyes, “you would have to discover that for yourself. However, if you follow the twins, I am confident you’ll eventually find out, because the other half of the Key will have to make contact. As soon as it happens, you’ll know.”

“That’s not good enough, I’m afraid.” Drakley got up. “I really need to know which one of them is the one. Otherwise, I can’t help you.”

Yuun looked at Drakley, her eyes slowly filling with tears. She had already gone so far! In her self-deception, she was so hoping she wouldn’t have to go to the very end, as if stopping at this point would make her betrayal of her best friends not as real. With all her heart, she really didn’t want to say the name! But this man was in no mood for half-truths, and as her only son’s life hung in the balance, she had no choice but to go all the way.

She looked straight into Drakley’s steel eyes and whispered the name.

“Very well,” said Drakley, getting up with a satisfied smile and heading for the door. “I will see what I can do for your son.”

“When will he be set free?” Yuun flew to the door and, despite her fear of this powerful and ruthless man, she blocked his way. “I must know when he will be set free!”

Drakley stared at this annoying woman. Who did she think she was? Blocking his way out? She was really playing with fire! But he contained himself. He was famous for his ability to control his emotions and act in a levelheaded way even in the most strenuous of circumstances.

“Ms. Lin,” he said calmly, “I promise you, I will personally deal with your son’s situation first thing tomorrow morning. And now, if you’ll excuse me…” He took the woman by the shoulders and shifted her aside. Then he opened the door and stepped out of her apartment.

He had no intention of letting Hao Lin go. But she didn’t need to know that.

Just a short while ago, Aloysius Drakley would have used the earth-shattering information he just extracted from Yuun Lin for the good of the United States of America. But things had changed—he had changed. Now he understood that he had achieved everything he could in this country, and there was no point in banging his head against a glass ceiling. So, going forward, his eyes were set on a much bigger prize, and with this new bargaining chip, he was confident the prize was his. He knew exactly who should be made aware of these incredible developments—those who possessed real power. It wasn’t the CIA, nor even the United States President. The power was concentrated elsewhere, and that’s where he was heading.

Read more about THE EARTH SHIFTER

THE EARTH SHIFTER, as well as all my other books (both paperbacks and ebooks) can now be purchased from multiple sources, including Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc. Profits from my book sales go to America’s oldest no-kill animal shelter, Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, NY; and to Siberian Tiger rescue project in Russia. Read more about that here!

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