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Intro & Excerpt From The Novel
I began writing The Missing within days of having seen a music video by 3 Doors Down (see that video below). The song title of the video "It's Not My Time" actually formed images in my mind's eye of the main characters; I named them Laura Gracy and Shaun Suthern. I created the initial situation for my main character's first encounter while I was piecing together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the terrace and lily pond garden of Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire, England. Surely one of the most romantic castle gardens.
As the story unfolded I was reminded of a friend who suggested that the tragedy of human trafficking might not be the choice subject for a relationship novel. I took that as a personal challenge. I prefer to write around difficult topics in a relationship. All my novels are like this. This particular one had me watching a lot of Parkour (freerunners) videos. I even wrote a hub about Parkour which features a few of my favorites ~games, film and music videos.
See the hub Le Parkour
The Suthern Club - Just Imagine
Imagine that a section of the main lobby leading to one of three pavilions looks like the Spa Utopia in Vancouver, B.C. Like a fairytale place where everything looks and feels good.
Theme & Environment Matters
With these survival maneuvers called Parkour, the possibility of gapping roof tops and the ability to jump, run and cat leap over, around and through obstacles to avoid deadly situations is inspired. The speed and flow of the movements, breathtaking. A perfect way for hostage rescue teams to save lives while protecting their own.
I created a beautiful and comfortable environment in which each of these characters relate, communicate, fight and celebrate. The Suthern Club, where the entire Suthern family is involved: It's the ultimate Club with dance, aerobics and fitness studios, a gymnasium, kids playroom, cafeteria, Internet library, and various sports and game rooms. Showers and locker rooms, indoor outdoor swimming pools, weeping willows, gardens, and a pond decked with a bridge. I love spending the day there, even fictitiously.
Set In Montreal
The Missing is a family-oriented romantic drama set in Montreal. Laura Gracy (28) is the new dance instructor at the famous, family owned and operated Suthern Club; a vast multi-pavilion sports and fitness establishment. The founders, Henri and Ruth Suthern have 3 sons, Joel, Shaun, and Danny in the same age group as Laura.
The story revolves around these characters and this Club. Shaun is the only one who doesn't work at the Club and he is the brother Laura is attracted to. After a couple of confrontations Shaun becomes aware of Laura's attention and can't resist temptation, but Danny gets involved to put an end to it. It isn't a conflict of interest. It's the danger that lurks around his brother that could threaten the security of Club members, as well as the staff and owners.
The Spa Tower - Designed by Eric Cohler
I found this amazing Spa Tower and descriptively incorporated it in my novel. I made my characters, Shaun and Laura, dance in it. And I must say, I took a turn myself when they weren't looking. And now you can take a turn, too, by seeing how beautiful and innovative it is in the following video. Kudos to Eric Cohler.
The Spa Tower
The Trademaster and The Dancer
Parkour & Flamenco
Because of his hazardous job as a trademaster Shaun Suthern does not fair well in his relationships. Laura has never heard of human trafficking, but when she discovers what it is it's too late, she is already falling in love with Shaun.
Throughout the story Shaun is called upon to fight roof top battles against sex-pushers and slave-drivers, and so rescuing children and women. He is a parkour practitioner and a specialist in flight floor warfare, though his work doesn't end there. He must also rescue his brother Danny from a failed marriage, find Joel's missing children, and always be on guard to protect his life and loved ones.
He is elusive and Laura's love interest is always last on his list because he is skeptical that their relationship will last. Yet Laura is patient, forgiving and supportive because she understands that Shaun doesn't want to get hurt, or be rejected and abandoned yet again.
The turning point takes place on a romantic romp where Shaun tells Laura all about his teens and early twenties as a musician and music video producer ~just before they are confronted and arrested by slave-drivers who want their quarry back in exchange for Laura.
Trademaster - Flight Floor Warfare
It's Not My Time
Short Excerpt From The Novel
Laura gulped down some bitter chlorinated pool water before she could breathe again. Then by the nearest under water light she perceived that he wore no swim trunks.
“If you scream I will make you swallow a lot more.”
“Why? Why would I scream?” she asked, trying to clear her throat.
“You’re not going to like what I’m going to do to you.”
Laura shook her head with wide eyes. “You’re not doing anything to me! What are you saying?”
“You’re watching me,” he half whispered through his teeth even as Laura kept shaking her head. “You’re following me.”
“No. I did, once,” she quickly amended. Icy fingers touched her spine and sent shivers coursing over her entire body and scalp. “I just wanted to see where you live,” she quietly admitted.
“I saw you at Christmas. And you saw me. Remember? I work here with your family, Sh_Shaun.”
He moved closer still as he placed his hands on the concrete cement edge above her head. “Why are you watching me?” he insisted with wide eyes boring into hers. “Answer me.”
A pained utterance sounded in her throat. “I don’t know why I’m attracted to you. You seem mean.”
Shaun straightened his stance again and let his arms drop back into the water. His tight features slackened and the fierceness left his eyes in a blink.
“You’re attracted to me. Is that so?”
He asked this like he didn’t believe her, yet Laura could tell by his changed appearance that this possibility had never occurred to him until now. And still, he seemed unconvinced as he scraped his teeth over his bottom lip and continued to observe her with narrowed eyes.
“I’m to believe that you’re watching and following me because you want me?”
Laura couldn’t have picked a more timely moment to smile at him, but it didn’t happen. She just barely managed to let her breath out enough to sound one word. “Yes.”
He smirked, scoffed and shook his head in utter disbelief. His hands came up and simultaneously drew both her shoulder straps off her shoulders. He peeled the bodice of her swim suit down to her waist under water then brushed his fingers up the sides of her breasts.
Startled, Laura’s breath caught, her eyes widened and her lips parted. A ripple of pure sensation tightened her nipples and his own stunned expression was a sight to behold.
Shaun’s heart pounded. His erratic pulse penetrated his groin and took root. “Why don’t you react?”
“I am. Just like you.”
A glass door slid on its track and its echo in the silent pool hall created havoc in the tense atmosphere. Shaun slipped down into the darkest water and disappeared while Laura quickly readjusted the top of her swim suit.
“Laura? Are you in here?” Danny asked, snapping on the overhead lights near the doors.
“I’m here.” She kicked off the bottom of the pool and lifted herself out of the water with her arms. “Are you waiting to close up? I’m sorry.”
“Not a problem. I’d leave you to it all night, knowing how much you enjoy the pool.”
“It wouldn’t be responsible for you to knowingly leave anyone unattended in the Club’s pool,” Laura told him, wrapping her towel around her chilled back and shoulders.
“Yes, and the word knowingly is duly noted, Missy.”
She laughed. “I’ll just rinse down and dress. Be out in five minutes.”
“Take your time. I’m in no hurry to get home.”
Laura quickly showered then changed in the women’s locker room, worried all the while that Shaun might surprise her again. She realized that he was letting her leave without further incident when she entered the lobby and found Danny and Martin, the night watchman, near the building’s security system panel. They said goodnight and Martin clicked them out of the front doors.
Laura was quiet as they walked around to the parking lot at the side of the building. Her Civic was just one car space away from Danny’s brand new black Lincoln MKX, but after saying goodnight and unlocking her door she turned back again.
“Do you always make sure that no one is left in the building?” Danny spun around so quickly she swallowed the second part of her question and squinted to read his expression in the half darkness.
“How do you know he’s in there?” he lashed out at her. “You’ve been seeking him out, haven’t you? That’s why he’s in there.”
Laura was taken aback by this sudden attack. “I saw him. So what? He’s your brother. I’m pretty sure he grew up here as you all did.”
Danny inhaled sharply then pointed to the black 4x4 stationed at the far corner of the parking, away from the building. “See where his truck is? That’s as close as he may come to this building. Now suddenly, today, he’s in the building with you. He was with you, wasn’t he?”
“I’d never met him until today, and that for one whole minute!”
“Laura, if your presence incites his presence I will put a stop to it.”
When he turned to get into his car Laura was seething with indignation. “Christ, you make it sound like he’s a terrorist.”
Danny froze with one hand on the door handle the other on the ignition, then slowly turned his head to look back at her. “I will gather up your personal effects and send them to your home by courier in the morning.” His door closed, the engine started and he pulled out immediately.
Laura was on fire! Security alarms be damned. She knew the code to get into the building through one of the doors in the maintenance area.
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© 2013 Carol Houle