My second novel is on its way to seeing print! Today I’m sharing an excerpt from the novel. It introduces Calvin and Cleo Forsyth, my main characters who are twins.
I’m also unveiling Forecast’s beautiful front cover to you, my blog readers, before the greater world-at-large gets to see it.
“The drawer needed breaking,” Calvin assured Cleo as he spread its contents across the desk. “I’m sure everyone who would’ve cared about what’s inside this is dead now.”
The drawer’s innards included: scraps of fabric tied to the ends of trinkets, keys, rings, coins with holes punched through them, several sealed envelopes, sheaves of yellowed paper covered with elegant handwriting, a piece of graph paper hand-printed with Greek-ish symbols, a bundle of laminated ivory-colored cardstock, leaves torn from books, photographs, faded sales receipts and a box of more silver business cards like the one Calvin had found earlier.
As he spread the assortment across the desk, Cleo whispered,
“What’s that?” Her finger stroked the edge of a laminated sheet.
“Looks like a set of rules.” Calvin read one out loud, “Client may only inquire for personal details as to his/her own future death. Insight for matters of future decisions, tragedies, wealth, etc, shall not be given.”
“And this one looks like a translation, maybe?” Cleo tapped the graph paper.
It bore three lines of symbols that looked like Greek to Calvin, and below this, three rows of English words. The English translation, at least what Calvin assumed was a translation, read:
Enter and see what cannot be unseen
Know and know what cannot be unknown
The future lies within
“Why don’t you ask Mrs. Seabrook to make us some lunch?” Calvin offered. He doubted Cleo would take the bait and let him explore on his own.
Sure enough, her eyes had already caught on a news clipping that had slid from under a sloping stack of letters. She unbent its folds and a brittle corner crumbled. “This article is about him.” She read,
“March 15, 1969
NEW ‘SIGHT-SEEING’ BUSINESS TAKES CLIENTS “WHERE THEY’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE”
Two weeks ago, Mr. Percival Humboldt opened a new private enterprise, best described as a branch of psychic services.
Rumor and gossip claim that Humboldt sees the future, but only a small section of it. He does not consult, advise, or hinder the choices of his clients, according to his literature. He, to quote the entrepreneur himself, “merely says what he sees.”
So far, Humboldt’s uncharacteristic endeavor has met with huge success. Hugo Remington, a colleague from Humboldt’s stock market days, commented that he “never in a million years saw this sort of thing brewing” in Humboldt during their work together. Humboldt’s wife, Ingrid Humboldt, declined an interview but said that she “sincerely hoped” this new business would give Humboldt the “chance to impact lives for the good.”
Cleo gently flipped the sheet over, then replaced it on the desk. “The next page isn’t here.” She brought her nose close to the black and white photograph at the top of the article. “Sheesh, Cal. You really do look just like him.”
Calvin walked around the desk to stand beside her. The photo of Percy portrayed a man with thinning hair and the start of a plump belly, posing jauntily before an oil painting that Calvin recognized as the one hanging over the living room mantle. One hand gripped a full glass of something with a sprig of mint stuck in it. Percy was smiling, but not at the camera, looking off into the distance.
“I hope you mean only our faces look alike,” Calvin muttered, “because I don’t have a beer belly.” He silently re-read the news blurb. “A psychic, huh? I haven’t changed my mind about calling them crooks and freaks.”
Cleo smoothed the clipping again, as if stroking someone’s face. “He’s dead. Be respectful. And don’t you think it’s possible that some people could be gifted in that sort of thing?”
“Assuming your belief is correct, which I don’t think it is, what really matters here is whether Percy was honest. I want to know if he was running a shady business, telling people their fortunes—what they wanted to hear, like Mrs. Seabrook said—and then making butt-loads of cash off them for it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Why do you instantly assume it was shady?”
“Why did he keep all of this stuff locked up and tell nobody to touch it?”
“Maybe he was trying to protect people. He had clients, and I bet he kept files on them. If any of those clients are still alive, that would be a good reason for privacy.” She looked around as if expecting the client files to be sitting in plain sight.
Calvin jabbed a triumphant finger. “And now you’re finally curious about other people’s business. I knew you’d come around.”