Monday, September 20, 2010

Excerpt Monday: No Greater Sacrifice

No Greater Sacrifice

When terminally-ill archaeologist Renée d’Arcadia is summoned to France to take part in the reading of a will, she is plunged into a maelstrom of deceit and destruction to solve a 100-year-old mystery originating from a sinister church where nothing is as it seems. Renée joins forces with David Arturo, an ex-helicopter pilot with a troubled past, to interpret clues cleverly hidden in tombstones and classic works of literature to find artifacts scattered across Europe. Racing against time, Renée and David must overcome their inner demons to outmaneuver a network of evil bent on destroying them. What they find in each other just might provide answers to some of mankind’s oldest myths.

Working in silence, they continued their probing until David’s knuckles scraped something hard. He peeled back layers of sod and soon uncovered a circle of stones about four feet in diameter.

“Renée, come here, I’ve found it.” He illuminated the area.

“Where are my tools when I need them?” she said.

“Kinda tough getting a crossbow through airport security,” he said, removing enough dirt to reveal the central stone. “Bingo. One Ninnion Tablet.”

The words had barely left his mouth when spotlights all around them torched the night. Blaring sirens deafened their ears followed by dogs barking and approaching footsteps.

A deep voice boomed from the darkness. “RESTEZ OÙ VOUS ÊTES. STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”

Two uniformed guards appeared from behind the glare of the spotlights, each struggling to restrain a Doberman pinscher barking ferociously and straining against a leather leash. “Put your hands in the air.”

Renée raised her arms. “Shit.”

Like a squirrel caught in oncoming traffic, David flinched in several directions at once, feverishly playing his light about.

“What are you doing?” she said. “We’re caught.”

“Renée, why are Polish security guards yelling at us in French? And check out their uniforms and shoes. They’re not here to arrest us.”

The shirts looked authentic at first glance, but they were actually just generic button-downs. “We can’t rush them,” Renée said through clenched teeth. “The dogs will rip us apart.” She glanced at the circle of stones below them. Maybe… “Hey, do you trust me?”


“When I count to three, jump in the air and land as heavy as you can. Got it?”


“Just do it, David. Been here before.”

As the guards reached down to untether the snarling dogs, Renée counted. “One, two, three!”

In unison, they jumped high in the air and crashed to the ground. There was a dull cracking sound, then…THOOM!

Renée and David disappeared from sight.

John C. Stipa is a marketing analyst by day who crams a hectic family life and writing into a few precious hours every night. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, he admits that a childhood spent ignoring No Trespassing signs planted ideas for future story telling. At first, he spun bedtime yarns to his children that were comical romps and reprises of tales told by his father. During a summer beach vacation, John’s wife challenged him to share his creativity with the world. And thus No Greater Sacrifice burst through his fingertips as if written by the characters themselves. He has also published short stories in anthologies developed through his writing group: The Writers of Chantilly. Currently, John lives with his family in Virginia, working on his next project.

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