I’m headed off to Colorado Springs tomorrow, to my first writers confab, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Double thrilling because I will also get to pick up an award for my urban fantasy novel, Ragnarök Willie.
When an archeologist unearths Valhalla, thirteen valkyries, a pagan cult, and Lasse Nordberg all head north. The valkyries are vying for global domination. The pagans are searching for a horn of mass destruction. Lasse is looking for a job, a girlfriend who doesn’t cheat, and a latte. But he has the horn, and Ragnarök is nigh.
Chapter 6: Skål—Skull
Ragnarök Willie dragged me outside into a stiff fall breeze, another cigarette lit before the door closed behind us. A ten-minute walk past the gourmet café I had stopped at earlier, past the fishmongers hawking their pungent catches. We ended up at a seedy pub near the wharves, filled with inebriated sailors of diverse nationalities.
He ordered two beers, coffee forgotten. “Now tell me why the ‘ell you’re here.”
I launched into a refrain of the reporter spiel, but he gripped my collar, pulled my face close to his, coughed, and repeated, “Why the bloody ‘ell are you here?”
“I’m just a reporter for Corren. I do what Mist asks.”
“Not so bloody far from the truth. Let’s try again. Why would Mist be sending you?” he asked, the gravel in his voice more like rocks in a shovel now.
“She wants a story on your dig. In Abisko.” I couldn’t quite bring myself to say in Valhalla.
“Not exactly. She wants to know what I’ve found. Are you her spy?”
“Spy? I’m a reporter.” My first journalistic righteous indignation. If he hadn’t been breathing into my nose I would have been pleased with myself.
“You flunked out of the Chalmers archeology program; you read just a wee semester of journalism.” I blinked; he smiled. “I may be an old fart, but I do know how to use the internet. You’re being manipulated by the woman who put Franco in power.” A grimace. “I need to take a slash.”
He headed for the back door, a cigarette already in hand, before I could ask Franco who?
I wandered to the bar and ordered another round. When the bartender brought back the beers, he also set a chartreuse drink with a tiny umbrella in it before me.
“I didn’t order this.”
“Lady in the corner,” the bartender said, with a nod.
“Tack.” I tossed him a krona.
He left the coin on the bar.
A mane of white-blond hair and a pair of toned legs curving out from an illegally short skirt approached the bar.
“Uh, thanks for the umbrella, er, drink.”
“I am called Brynhildr,” she said, separated each syllable with Teutonic precision, her blue eyes fixed on me. She could have passed for Mist’s younger sister.
“Cool name. Like one of Wagner’s Valkyries,” I said, remembering Willie’s playlist. My eyes drifted down to her neon pink bandeau.
“Will you with me dance?”
“He cannae dance. Gimpy leg.” A cold hand fell on my shoulder as a shoe slammed into my bum ankle. Willie grabbed the beers in one hand and dragged me back to our table with the other. “Waltz with her and you’ll be missing some private parts come morning.”
I turned to say goodbye, but she was already surrounded by half of the Latvian navy.