Archive for September 30th, 2013


I want to try something different.  For the rest of the year (only three months away!), my posts will be from Layla’s perspective.

You know Layla from my book.  The daring antiquities hunter.  Penthouse in Dublin.  Travels Europe and the Middle East.  Scholar.  Young and gorgeous. More than enough money to do what she wants.  So not like me.  But for a while she has to live as plain old Helena Soister in Denver.  See, she’s undercover while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact.  This means she records her life as “Helena” in this blog, but underneath the mundane surface lie details about her mission…

I saw Nikolai today.

His cover as my sports massage therapist appears to be working.  So far federal agents haven’t linked him to my search for the Gold of the Sangre de Cristos.  My plan is to find the trail to it before the snows keep me out of the mountains in southern Colorado.  If the snows come before I can get down there, I’ll have to fall back on Plan B—to be revealed here only if necessary.

While Nikolai pummeled my body, we talked.  He got his hand under my scapula and I tried not to scream.  He told me the muscles around it are tight from fencing.  Can’t be helped, I said.  My fencing lessons with Maciek, the volatile Polish Olympian, are too valuable to stop now.  He’s teaching me speed, tactics, precision.  Everything I can use in a duel.  If I could add a Zen-like in-the-moment presence of mind while I fence, I will truly become deadly with a blade.

I talk this over with Nikolai as he removed knots in my neck. For a Ukrainian, he has a surprising depth of knowledge of oriental mysticism.  Like breath control.  Meditative states.  I may follow his lead and study Reiki, which has clearly made hims sensitive to energies in his clients’ bodies.  Come to think of it, Slavic and Oriental mysticism might be a natural mix.

After leaving Nikolai (my body is already working better, my old injuries are healing), I decided against grocery shopping.  There’s only so much dull detail of this cover life I can handle.  Besides, it was a beautiful day to be outside.  The streets were strangely quiet because the Broncos were at that very moment pummeling the Phillie Eagles (52-20).  I could have pulled off a secret, quickie theft of an artifact at a local mansion and no one would have noticed.  Ah well, c’est la vie.  La vie I’m leading these days, that is.

So I went home and sat on the roof’s terrace and examined maps of the mountain terrain I’ll soon be crossing, if I dare…

So do you think I should stick with this approach for now? Kinda fun? Give it up as too hokey? Be honest, please.  But not brutal.