SERVED COLD, by Chuck Waldron, WriteByMe Books, 290 pp., $12.99 (Kindle $3.99).
For two families, revenge served cold is not on the menu. Fuelled by a long-standing feud between the clan patriarchs, nothing less than hot-blooded vengeance will do… Called to the bedside of his dying father in Atlanta, a young man never expects what is waiting for him. In a hospital room the man who raised him, isn’t his father. Instead, he learns about his true parents and a feud that went horribly wrong. For years an uneasy balance of power between two powerful businessmen remained intact. But when one discovers his daughter is pregnant and the father is the son of his hated enemy, a deadly game tips the balance. In a violent power play, he orders her lover killed, sending a clear signal to his nemesis. In hot-blooded retaliation, his adversary arranges punishment, a hit on the other family, drawing a special target on the head of the most prized possession: the young daughter. A trusted bodyguard and driver – with a few shady connections of his own – escape with the mother-to-be to the presumed safety and anonymity to await a birth, a new beginning. But no place on Earth is safe from all-out revenge. As assassins close in, Rocky narrowly escapes with newborn baby Sean and goes into hiding, creating a new identity. Disappearing into another world, he is able to raise Sean in peace for many years. Hearing this incredible story, a young man is drawn to the truth about his family roots and a growing need for some act of revenge, to seek atonement for the parents he never knew. What he discovers when he gets there will force him to make a choice: to succumb to a path set before him by the fate of his heritage, or turn away and forego the desire for vengeance pulsing in his veins?
Sean Marshall Parker, at age 27, discovered he wasn’t Sean, Marshall, or Parker – a life event similar to a volcanic eruption, an earthquake, or a shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates. It was a life-changing experience happening as quickly and surely as refracted light deflects off facets of a prism, changing direction and color. He tried to make sense of it all, of what he had just heard at a dying man’s bedside, a dying man laying waste to Sean’s personal history with the words, “I have a terrible truth to tell you.” How was he to make sense of all he had just heard at the bedside of a man he had always known as his father?
* * *
Much earlier, before ever hearing those disturbing words that would twist his life and pull him apart like a rope of taffy, Sean was basking in a typical weather day for Tucson; in other words, near Arizona-perfect. Feeling satisfied, more than that even, about the wheel turning in his hands, forming a fusion of glass and clay into a unique piece. He was creating a gift for Seffie. Taking care not to disturb her sleep, he crept out of the bedroom before the sun’s rising. The living area was an apartment attached to his studio, once a garage or stable in a former life.
Sitting back from his pottery wheel, he rolled his shoulders and looked through the open door. A gentle desert breeze brushed the leaves on the mesquite tree in the courtyard. He glanced up; the sky was cloudless except one stray wispy cloud drifting lazily over the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north.
The morning began with the desert weather predictably rain-free, like so many days before. Wearing jeans, an artistically scruffy t-shirt and sandals, Sean had pedaled to his favored coffee café, a short bike ride away…
…Sean was a nervous flier and grimaced as the plane banked. If he bothered to look, he could see the high-rise buildings of Atlanta to the north, but this wasn’t about seeing the sights. The plane bumped through turbulence until the tires screeched, protesting the sudden deceleration. The time it took for the plane to taxi to the gate was agonizing to Sean.
The underground tram ride from the concourse to the main entrance was another leg in this journey. He exited the train, gliding up the long escalator, and walked through the automatic door, looking up at the sign for ground transportation. He stepped into humidity that blanketed the Georgia night, turned and waved his hand to a waiting taxi.
Sean willed the cabbie to step on it, to go faster. It was taking far too long and traffic on the downtown Atlanta connecter was throttled to the usual rush-hour stop. Sean knew his anxiety was making it seem worse as his eyes absorbed the cityscape images of houses and buildings flashing by like a kaleidoscope. At least this driver is not a man of talk, he thought. When the taxi stopped at the hospital entrance, Sean paid, adding a tip that was far too generous in his own opinion. He didn’t have the mental strength to be bothered.
“Walter Parker, he was just admitted yesterday?” he asked the volunteer behind the patient desk. For some reason, it seemed important to memorize her name – Tamara, according to her name tag.
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