I'm so excited to share the news of the next Jo Naylor adventure.
Cover reveal Today - March 25/2022!
Due for publication in May/June 2022.
Shattered Dreams is a follow up to the first two novellas in Jo Naylor's life.
The following is Chapter One from Shattered Dreams
Copyright is held by the author.
Chapter 1 January 11, Orly Airport, Paris.
Arriving from the tropical weather in Thailand, Jo Naylor doesn’t care for the icy rain falling outside. She’s not going to let it bother her though, except she’s not dressed for the cooler weather. She saw the Eiffel Tower from the plane as they approached the airport and the excitement of the city has already gripped her. She feels giddy thinking of seeing the famous city. She remembers going to her first birthday party when she was five and the anticipation feels the same.
When she passes through customs, she tries to remain aloof even though her nerves are on edge, her palms sweaty. Authorities have an interest in Jo Naylor back in Canada. This is the first time she’s used this passport and memorizes, Jane Taylor, Jane Taylor. Looks used, perfect forgery. Thankfully, this morning, there is a lineup twenty deep at each customs wicket and the agents seem to be rushing people through. The older agent barely glances at it, pecks at her keyboard. No flags. Stamps an empty page and waves Jo through with a head motion, already concentrating on the next in line.
Yesterday morning, in Kiri Kahn, she said goodbye to her former partner from Canada where they worked the streets as detectives. She and Adam Thorne put a lot of bad people behind bars. He wanted her to return with him. Hoping to bring her home to clear her name, he ended up helping her and a PI put an end to a child kidnapping ring when he finally found her in Thailand. He was the last person she expected to see. Thorne always brought out Naylor’s good nature. Their personalities were comfortable together. She remembers his remark when they parted at the airport.
“Try and stay out of trouble this time, Jo. I’m not always going to be around to cover your back. When I get home, I’ll tell them I couldn’t find you.”
She had loved her job. Until they had to arrest her father, the prime suspect in a killing spree that she and Thorne had been investigating. The horror of what she discovered still clutches her heart and makes her angry. Questioning her own response to his madness, she sometimes regrets what she did before she fled the country. Giving it all up.
She can’t go back. At least, not yet. Not until she can live with the past. It’s inconvenient to travel under a false name and yet she loves the drama, like the spy novels she’s read. For the right money, with forged documents, you get a new life. In the real world and the web world, at least in all the right places nosy people might look. She’s ready for whatever the future brings.
Right now, she has to buy a winter jacket before she leaves the airport. She’s wearing jeans, a tee and a blouse under a zippered fleece and a pair of running shoes all a similar shade of black and grey. She didn’t take a winter coat or boots to Thailand, which would be like inviting your vegan friends to a barbecue. Climbing the stairs back to the departure level, she searches for a clothing store. She knows whatever she finds will be a lot more than what a department store in the city would charge for the same garment. People like her are their bread and butter.
Thank goodness most of the store staff speak English, her high school French is shaky. Forty-five minutes later she’s wearing a ski jacket by some designer she’s not familiar with but it reminds her of her Mountain Coop jacket she had at one time. Charcoal with black accents. Hair tucked under a black baseball hat bearing the French Football Federation logo. Leather boots, over the ankles, lace up front. She’s good. Tugging along her suitcase and a backpack, she looks for the exit.
Waiting for her bus at the periphery of the exit doors under an overhang, she watches and listens to all the people around her. The chatter level in the airport is loud and there are so many languages that it all blends into a cacophony of noises with babies crying, people yelling for attention, happy greetings and long goodbyes. So many people. The odour of sweet colognes, wet clothes and vehicle exhaust wanders with the crowd. People are in a hurry. She’s glad to be here but looking forward to the quiet of the bed and breakfast she has reserved close to the airport, five or six kilometers away. She can take a bus to a terminal in Creteil and someone is picking her up there. The inn is on the rim of the village, an older building, formerly a home for nuns.
It's shortly after lunch hour when she arrives at the inn. The gentleman who picked her up was a slight man, bent back, a warm smile. He had to keep pushing his glasses back up his thin nose. The inn is a square set of buildings with cloisters on the inside facing a garth. The stone architecture is an older design with brick and slate. It looks like the grandfather of nearby structures. Checking in takes a few minutes, and soon she’s unpacking in what was formerly a nun’s cell. It’s decorated with frilly lace and sunshine, pictures of mountains and streams. Paying a week’s advance, she wants to plan the rest of her week but right now she’s starving. The owner showed her where the dining room is. A buffet of cold cuts, cheeses and bread, along with salads is offered. Taking her note pad, she hurries off to eat.
Sitting at the table with her lunch, a plate of prosciutto, brie, parmesan, genoa salami and fresh baked bread. Her stomach growls at the feast. There are three other people in the dining room even though it’s later than the usual lunch hour. Making a sandwich of meats and cheese, she pulls her note book closer and grabs her pen. She jots down things she wants to do. Today she just wants to rest, get over the jet lag.
1. Bus to Paris – walk the streets.
2. Find room for budget of 250 euros a month. If not possible, stay here.
3. A painting class?
4. Buy long johns (or is it long janes???)
5. Find bank to deal with and make withdrawal.
When she takes the last bite of her second sandwich, she finishes her coffee and nods at her list.
“Enough for today.”
Startled by the voice behind her, she turns to see a man sitting at the table behind her. She can’t stop looking at his cobalt eyes, guarded, with a glint of curiosity on the edges, shadowed by life lines at the temples. Jo reddens, caught talking to herself and tries her high school French.
“J’ai regret Monsieur, je ne parle pas français.”
“Ah, oui, une Anglaise. Excuse me, Miss, but you commented a moment ago and I was wondering if you were speaking to me.”
A softening of the eyes accompanies a wide smile.
“At least, I was hoping such a pretty lady was talking to me.”
Jo’s cheeks blossom. She’s used to compliments as she’s an attractive woman but this man is definitely flirting with her. He’s old enough to be her father.
“I was actually talking to myself, but thank you.”
“Oui, it is good to have an audience that listens to our comments with interest.”
He’s quite cheerful and the hardness she noticed before disappears with his light laughter. A row of white straight teeth and smooth cheeks make him appear younger, but the thinning grey hair, she guesses he’s in his sixties.
“Yes, I suppose it is.”
She likes the man. Something about his demeanour attracts her. She stretches backward to offer her hand.
“Name’s Jane, Jane Taylor. And you are?”
“Maxime, but my English friends call me Max.”
She raises her brows at his hint of familiarity.
“Are we friends?”
“I think we can be. Are you Canadian? I noticed the maple leaf on your lapel pin.”
Jo is leery of divesting too much personal information to strangers but he seems harmless enough. Still, she lies to him.
“Yes, from Winnipeg. On holidays.”
He pushes his empty plate aside and stands with his mug in his hand.
“May I join you?”
Before she can reply, she can’t stifle a yawn.
“Excuse me. I must warn you, Max, I arrived here on a red-eye from Thailand and I’m beat. Not sure if I’ll be good company. But please sit and we can finish our coffee together.”
Max sweeps around Jo the table to sit across from her. She thinks him jaunty with his cheerful expression, the form fitting white shirt and houndstooth sport coat, a black silk scarf knotted at his neck. The only thing missing is a beret.
“So, Jane Taylor, what will you do on your first day in our lovely city?”
She turns her notepad so he can read it. Leaning ahead, he smiles when he reaches number four.
“I can help you with number five. If you are walking, turn left off the driveway and five minutes later you will be at a stop sign, turn right and second building. Number two on your list, you won’t find a room in the city for two-fifty. You could stay here for two hundred euros a month. It is their off season and they welcome longer stays. I know the owner well, you must bargain with him, he loves it. The buses are cheap. The metro is close. The food is delicious.”
He waves his hands as if to say what more could you want. She yawns.
“Ah Jane, I can see you are tired. Let me be quick. I don’t know the word long janes but I think you mean calecons, so, when you leave the bank, turn right a few stores further and there is a lingerie shop. As for paint classes, my dear friend Aurora is an artist, she will know these things. And lastly, may I offer myself as your guide after you are settled in? Tomorrow I am off to Amsterdam until Monday, two days away. Nothing would please me more than to introduce you to our beautiful city.”
Jo sits up a little straighter, caught off guard with the offer. Jo looks at him directly. She’s familiar with reading people from her work as a cop. She doesn’t see any deceit nor mischief. But she’s only known him for twenty minutes. She’s startled from her indecision by a honeyed female voice.
“If you’re thinking, can you trust him, I can assure you, Monsieur Maxime Brisbois is a perfect gentleman. Plus, he knows the heart of the city. Pardon my intrusion.”
Jo turns to the voice to see a woman in her early thirties, close to her age, clad in jeans and black tee shirt and an apron with the inn’s logo on it. She is clearing up Max’s table. She winks at Jo and carries on. He voices what his hands said earlier.
“What more could you ask for?”
Jo’s laughing at his silly grin.
“Ok then, Max. You’re on. I’ll do those errands first thing in the morning and get settled. Shall we meet here for breakfast Tuesday morning, say around nine?”
“Non, non, my dear. If we are off to the city, let us get a full day. If you are an early riser, meet me in the foyer at seven. I know a quaint spot where we can dine of fresh croissants and fruit. Make your arrangements and purchase what you need but there are many fashionable shops where you will have much more fun. I’ll point out the attractions you can see on your own. The Louvre, you need a whole day. And better yet, we may run into my artist friend, Aurora. Bon! It is done. I must leave you to your rest. Here, Tuesday morning at seven.”
With that, he leaves Jo dizzy with his last comments, he was speaking so fast. Gathering her shoulder bag and notepad, she proceeds to the stairway, her eyelids heavy thinking how nice her bed is going to feel. Remembering the glee on his face when she said she would join him; she expects her day with Max will be anything but boring.
.......to be continued...........
I'd be happy to know what you think. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
I'd be happy to know what you think. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.