About the book:
In the Yukon, nothing is more important than family. Loyalty to her family is what Mona must face when her Grandfather, who rescued her from death as a child and raised her as his own tells her she must return to the Yukon from New York to go into the mountains and search for the ancient village of gold that is her legacy.
Convinced that the ancient village exists, her grandfather sent his team on ATV’s to find it while commissioning his adopted son Jonas to lead the others, including his cherished granddaughter.
Jonas is happy to lead the expedition while planning on somehow getting Mona alone. His plan goes astray when they are forced to team with four other unexpected seekers, including Bryan, a geologist who immediately falls for Mona and becomes an interference for Jonas. The team overcomes severe obstacles, setbacks, and loss of lives while traveling through water filled caves and treacherous mountain passages.
Tricks Upon the Mind
After the meal they rested, and at least for now everyone appeared calm. Mona was glad for that. While they sat around a small fire burning in the hibachi, an enchantment she could not explain had seized her. “This area has always been known for its abundance of caves and caverns. That is why my people settled here in the first place my Gee-pa told me; the grottos were great protection and shelter for the women and children,” she said, tranquility and peace with her surroundings satiated her.
“Yes, I read that too,” Bryan replied. “I am assuming these caverns were once safe havens in the rock cliffs. They said the village buried itself beneath the ground when it disappeared.”
“Yes, we were cliff dwellers,” she said smiling.
Bryan smiled back at her, reached over, and took her hand in his; she moved closer to him.
“What are cliff dwellers?” asked Sean.
“Well, my Gee-pa told me, in the village of Goldum all the houses were built within the cliffs; the only way out was through passages built within the mountains,” she answered.
“Oh I bet that was fun to live in,” giggled Tracy, she felt lightheaded and blithe; she leaned her head against Willie’s shoulder.
“Oh this is very exciting I am sure,” Willie said, his words reeking with sarcasm, “but I didn’t come all this way for a history lesson. Did he tell you how much gold was there?”
“That what I want to know too Willie,” Sean laughed.
“Oh Willie, you are so funny,” Tracy giggled playfully throwing her arms around his neck. “It does not hurt to know about the mountains, after all, we are beneath them.”
“Anything for you baby,” Willie replied and kissed Tracy on the nose. “Anyone want a drink?” Willie asked holding up a bottle of brown Bacardi rum.
“I do,” answered Sean.
The blue haze surrounding the stalactites hanging from the ceiling gave him migraines. The intimacy of the room had a different reality and made Jonas feel confined; his only point of sanity was the sound of rushing water running through the river behind him. The mugginess of the cavern, accompanied by the feeling of being trapped and the presence of more people than he was accustomed to, created an uneasiness within him. Jonas’ recluse lifestyle never afforded him much socialization with others, and except for the occasional chat with his prey, and the dinners at Hattie’s, he never spent time listening to others. Jonas made it a point to isolate himself; he found people, and their pathetic ways uninteresting and superfluous.
The redhead’s playful giggling taunts and the girly man’s unintelligible slang made no sense to Jonas; they seemed to speak in a language he did not understand. For her obnoxious silliness all Jonas could think of was stuffing her mouth with one of the ball gags he kept in his workroom. Jonas rarely gave his prey the ability to communicate. He glared scornfully at Mona then Bryan; watching the two of them chat like old friends made him angry.
Jonas rubbed his temples with the tips of his fingers trying to ease the thudding within his head; breathing in deeply, the rich smell of metal excited his senses, relaxing him. Jonas gave in to the pull of the cavern’s life force. The intoxicating smell electrified him and Jonas breathed in a second time, immediately experiencing a euphoric intoxication within his mind, giving him a high beyond any he had ever experienced from drugs or his sexual games. Its metallic aroma eased his headache and he said, “Pass that bottle over here Willie.” Willie threw the bottle to him and Jonas poured a generous amount into his cold coffee and took a big gulp. The flavor made his head swell and gave him a momentary rush. “Damn that’s rough,” he commented.
Willie and Sean laughed.
“Yeah, Gi-I-Joe, that stuff ain’t for no titty slurpers,” Sean cried out; chuckling hysterically. He pushed his fist toward Willie and his buddy fist bumped him back.
Willie saw the bewildered look on Jonas’ face and realized the man did not understand Sean. He laughed and said, “Sean means it’s not for babies.”
“What, you don’t know what that means? You are lame Jonas,” Sean whooped.
Jonas ignored the young man and allowed the rum and the cavern’s natural attributes to mellow him. As if he were dreaming, Jonas watched the flames blazing into the heavens leaking out through the open roof. Jonas admired the long spirals of red and blue flame dancing upward releasing smoldering smoky wisps into the darkness. The sky was full of twinkling stars and the bright spots created a silvery shimmer against its thick blackness.
Darkness filled the cave and shadowed the rest of the group, hiding them from his sight. The flames still roaring, Jonas gazed as if hypnotized into the burning fire; he watched as Mona walked into the midst of the flames and stopped. The hostile flames licked at her beautiful golden brown body. She stood still, her hands clasped before her submissively. She was illuminated before him like a seductive temptress. Immune from the heat of the fire, her lovely body did not burn or scorch. Most of her skin was exposed and she wore a golden bustier with dangling tassels. Her nipples stuck out through the glittery material and each held golden rings. Mona moved towards him, her advances beguiling, each purposeful sway in her hips enticed him to leer greedily at her, inspecting every curve of her shapely body. Tassels across the top of her golden G-string panties swung back and forth allowing him to see the curves of her shapely thighs and he felt himself growing excited.
Her long black hair spun around her pirouetting body, alluring him further and intensifying his longing to touch her. Jonas grew weak as she moved, his body beyond desiring her now. Calling out to him, she urged him forward with her finger, indicating she was offering herself to him. His lust for her overwhelming him, Jonas jumped from the foldout chair. The chair toppled over, spilling his drink on the ground. Mona reached out for him, her small hands grabbing his. She pulled him forward and pressed her body against him. Jonas reached for her breasts and fondled them roughly, pulling at the rings in her nipples. Suddenly her movements grew wild and exhilarating. She pirouetted around him like a feral cat, throwing her legs and arms around his body. She bounded onto his waist, holding his body between her legs while clawing passionately at his chest. Jonas grabbed her silky hair and forced her to kiss him as he breathed in her metallic scent. Mona forcefully shoved him away from her, stepped back and took off her top exposing her small, firm breasts. Jonas reached for them and the rings turned into eyes where her nipples should have been. They winked at him. Come take us, Jonas, the eyes beckoned to him.
Willie had noticed Jonas behaving weirdly but when he got up and walked toward the fire with his eyes wide open and arms out as if he were embracing someone, he asked, “What’s going on Jonas?”
Jonas did not answer.
“Jonas, you alright?” Willie asked again.
Sean began to snicker and laughed, “Willie he’s had too much rum.”
Tracy giggled with him.
Jonas stepped forward. Mona waited for him; she wanted him, all this time she had wanted him too. She smiled at him, opening her arms to receive his embrace and the small eyes on her breasts looked at him.
“Stop what are you doing man.” Willie held on to Jonas, snatching him back just as he stepped into the open flames and knocked over the small grill.
Willie’s voice resonated within his head, Mona disappeared, floating away, her beautiful brown body fading into the darkness. Momentarily, Jonas stared into the face of the little girl he had murdered long ago. Screaming, he leaped backward and the confused faces of the group materialized around him. Realizing the illusion he felt disturbed and bewildered.
“What’s wrong Jonas?” asked Wayne.
Jonas could only assume he must have fallen asleep. “I must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare, I better not have any more to drink,” he chuckled, shrugging off their concern as he picked his chair up and sat back down.
“Yeah I had a dream last night too,” Sean said. “I was like in Las Vegas; they treated me like a king, all the VIP services, free champagne and everything. Taylor Swift gave me a free lap dance, and all the hot babes were around me wanting a piece of me.”
“What? I want that dream,” chuckled Willie.
“I don’t think so Willie.” Tracy slapped him on the shoulder, teasingly.
“I was only joking babe, you know you got me all to yourself,” he chuckled, embracing Tracy in his arms.
“Hey, I am not saying we are going to find it, but let me just waste some time here. What would everyone buy with their gold?” Willie asked the others. He could see Mona glaring at him and wondered what her problem was. They had helped the bitch get down there and now she was going to create problems for herself because of her selfishness.
“The gold goes to the village,” remarked Mona indifferently, “so there is no reason to speak of useless dreams.”
“I know that. You have already said the gold belongs to ‘your people’,” Willie smirked and continued, “but just humor me for a moment; it gives us something to talk about.”
“I am going to get me a Maserati, with custom leather seats and the crown on the head rest,” Sean said laughing, “blue with all the extras.”
“A blue car; blue is for babies Sean,” giggled Tracy.
“Shut up Pipi, I bet you will get a dog or something stupid like that,” laughed Sean.
“No I would not get a dog,” Tracy replied, “I would get a show stallion. A black mare with white eyes, and a long white mane and tail.”
Sean laughed at Tracy, only she would want a horse, but he liked horses. “You’re alright Tracy,” Sean told her.
The Gold Claims Even the Stoutest as Victims
The cavern had calming properties for Bryan. It stimulated his senses and increased his awareness. Mona was writing in a small notebook she carried, probably taking notes for her next best seller, Bryan presumed. The notion that she liked him, and they could possibly have a relationship elicited emotions unfamiliar to him. He wanted to protect her, keep her happy and comfortable on the journey. Bryan imagined one day the two of them could explore their love for each other while receiving notoriety for the discovery of the village. The wealth of the gold was nothing in comparison to the pure paragon of finding the lost village. Only he appreciated the quest the party undertook; finding the lost village would uncover a civilization long lost, providing an abundance of hidden knowledge, and he would be the one to find it.
Bryan drifted off into his thoughts, conjuring up the life he envisioned finding the village would impart to him. The image growing in his mind, Bryan’s heart beat quickly as he absorbed himself in the hallucination. He stood outside the door of the long black limousine, waiting for Mona to step out while the driver opened the door for her. Dressed in formal attire, he held his hand out to her to assist her. Her soft, delicate hand was smooth in his hands, and her long pink nails were perfectly manicured for the special event. As always, and especially since their marriage, she was beautiful. Her black hair was combed into a stylish updo with bangs falling delicately into her lovely face and highlighting her beautiful brown eyes. She smiled at him, her lips turned slightly upward. Even from a distance she could make him desire her. Bryan helped her out of the car and when she drew nearer he breathed in her tart, metallic perfume.
Bryan pulled her body close to his and the embrace made his heart beat faster. Her lovely blue gown hugged her curved body wondrously and his hands travelled along the silky smooth material.
The geological community, friends, and family hailed him, shaking his hand and congratulating him as he and Mona strolled through the packed ballroom towards the table of honor. His mother and her new husband approached him. Bryan’s mom smiled at him and he saw her pride radiating across her beautiful face. The bright lights in the banquet room shimmered down upon his mother, removing the wrinkles from her aging body and making her just as beautiful as she was when he was a child. Her dark brown hair, free of gray now, glimmered softly. Bryan kissed his mother’s cheek softly; her perfume smelled of lavender with a hint of metal, reminding him of the days of his youth, when she grew lavender plants in pots around the house. Harold, her husband, shook his hand proudly, and as if Bryan were his own son, pulled him forward into a big bear hug.
An elegant table covered in a golden tablecloth was set for six and contained plates of gold. The silverware was wrapped in white silk napkins and tall crystal stem glasses sparkled under the bright lights. A centerpiece of white lilies and yellow daffodils caught his attention; his favorite flowers. A black Cherrywood table marker, Bryan Lawless Party etched across a gold plaque attached to it, welcomed him. Mona, his mother and her husband, Tracy, and some new guy she had just met cheered as he sat down.
The six-course meal included lobster briquettes, prime rib, and a creamy ice cream soufflé. The evening grew better as the night went on. Mona held his hand and fed him her unwanted desert spiritedly.
“Bryan, can you please come up here,” the director of the International Geological Society called to him.
Mona kissed him and her lips tasted like metal. “I love you, Bryan,” she whispered letting his hand go.
Bryan walked onto the stage and stood behind the podium looking at the clapping audience under the bright lights of the golden chandeliers.
“Well I think spending money on anything but chicks and four-bangers is just stupid,” Sean cried out.
The shouts awakened Bryan from his dream. Had he fallen asleep? He flinched. The skin on the back of his neck crawled as an eerie feeling developed within him. “Was I asleep?” he asked himself and the odor of metal filled his nostrils. “None of them understand, only you,” the voice told him.
Mona was looking at him. “There you are, I thought I lost you for a moment,” she grinned at him, “you were lost in your thoughts.”
“I am sorry,” he told her, embarrassment flooding over him.
“Were they about me?” Mona asked touching his hand gently.
Startled by the dream and its vivid images, he questioned their current reality. It did not feel like a dream, so he must have been hallucinating. Bryan needed to make sure this Mona was not some extension of the vivid hallucination. “Possibly,” he said and reached for her hand and held it to make sure she was real.
“So Willie what will you buy with the gold?” Tracy asked him, grabbing his hand in hers, “and you better be nice,” she instructed.
Willie had dreamed about an upscale carwash gentleman’s club with only the hottest babes to serve his clientele and wash their Bentleys, Mercedes or Jaguars topless. He would never tell Tracy about this dream, though if things worked out between the two of them, and she took good care of him, he’d eventually let her know. Until then only he and Sean had shared the dream. The gold they were going to find, was going to make his dream come true. “If I could get the gold,” Willie emphasized, “I would buy me a yacht. I want one of those big suckers like 100 feet long. It would be like a world on the water that belongs to me.”
Sean stuck his fist out at Willie, and the two of them knuckled butted each other.
Willie continued, “It would have three kinds of restaurants—Mexican, Chinese, and soul food—and a casino, dancing, singing. Everything.” His mood ecstatic his arms moved through the air and he spoke with his hands as he shared his elaborate fantasy. “Mmmmm, soul food, I have not had that for years.”
Tracy giggled, “I must try it.”
“You will love it baby girl,” he told her. “Anyway, it’s gonna have three pools, tennis court, golf course, and everything I can think about putting in it!”
“Awesome Willie, make sure you don’t forget all the hot babes laying around in bikinis!” Sean exclaimed. “It’s a big boat, yeah a big boat.”
“Yeah that’s right,” Willie replied and thoughts of gorgeous women laying before him filled his mind.
Tracy nudged him.
“Ah no, I mean, only Tracy laying out on the deck of it in a teenee wenee bikini,” he grinned.
“Okay, then Tracy can be up front and the other hot girls in the back for me,” Sean exclaimed laughing hysterically.
“Sean,” said Tracy laughing, she gave him the finger.
“Damn straight, and keep the finger away from me;” Sean pushed his hand against her finger, hiding it from his view. He saw Mona staring at him and her cold gaze made him freeze. “She thinks you are stupid,” a voice told him. She was like other people he hated who felt the world should revolve around them. “So what would you buy if we get the gold Dora?” he asked laughing.
Jonas and Willie chuckled.
“My name is not Dora. Dora is Latino and I am First Nations so at least get your nationalities correct,” smirked Mona. “But to answer your question, I don’t believe in dreams or ‘what ifs’, they are for mindless people that can’t do anything,” Mona replied, growing weary of Sean’s persistent belittling.
“Are you calling me brainless?” asked Sean.
“No, I called you mindless,” Mona replied.
“Hey you think you are better than us,” Sean yelled back angrily. She had watched him and Willie with her mocking stare all night, now she was calling him stupid in front of everyone. “The bitch is laughing at you,” the voice told him. Laughter grew within Sean’s head. “She is laughing at you,” the voice kept repeating. Sean thought he saw a grin on her face and remembered the arrow she almost hit him with. His head starting to pound and fury enveloped him. He hurled himself from his seat and cried out, “You stop laughing at me.”
“No one is laughing at your Sean,” Bryan told him. “Calm down.”
If Bryan wanted to protect her, Sean was all right with that as well. Punching him would satisfy him as much as hitting the woman. “Bryan, what are you going to do?” Sean said weaving about on his toes and punching at the air with his fists, mocking Bryan. The geologist was weak, and Sean was sure he could hurt him with one punch.
Bryan saw Sean approaching and acting erratically. Releasing Mona’s hand he stood in front of her. “Sit down Sean, and calm down,” he commanded.
“You make me sit down,” Sean cried out. He stormed over to Bryan and pushed him backward. The palms of his hand hurt from a fist balled up so tightly his fingernails dug into the already raw skin. “You make me Bryan, you make me sit.”
“Be careful Bryan!” Mona exclaimed and moved out of the way so she would not be pummeled during the young man’s fit.
“Sean I don’t want to hurt you. Back off,” Bryan said trying to reason with him.
It was clear Sean was not listening. His listless, vacant eyes were glassy like he was in some type of daze. Blue veins popped out over Sean’s face and arms and he began to growl at Bryan. “Grrrrr, grrrr, fight me, Bryan,” Sean mocked. Stepping back from Bryan he started to bounce on his toes like a boxer. “I am like a Doberman Pincher, quick and agile and I am gonna pounce on you, Bryan. Growl,” Sean continued.
“More like a Chihuahua,” Jonas chuckled.
“You shut up, this is between Bryan and me,” Sean growled.
Blood was dripping from his palms and talking was not going to stop Sean this time, Bryan realized, nevertheless he was not going to let him bhurt Mona.
“Sean sit down,” Tracy screamed loudly and her voice echoed through the cavern. Tracy held on to Willie as she watched Sean bounce around.
“Make me, make me,” he cried continuing to taunt Bryan.
“Sean stop,” Tracy screamed again, “stop Sean don’t.”
Willie pulled her closer to him and whispered, “It will be okay babe girl. Sean just needs to get rid of some of his energy.” Willie smiled at her.
Bryan stepped up to Sean, grabbed him by the shoulders before he could react, spun him around and kicked his feet from beneath him. Sean fell face down onto the ground and Bryan held his arms behind his back and pushed Sean’s face into the mossy ground. Sean struggled to free himself.
“Get off me Bryan,” Sean’s muffled voice cried out.
His knee, now securely holding Sean’s arms in place behind his back, Bryan wrapped his arm around the young man’s neck and pulled his head backward, choking him. Gurgling sounds came from his throat, as he struggled, but Bryan ignored Sean’s suffering and squeezed harder against his neck.
The pressure from Bryan’s arm around his neck made it hard to breathe. “I can’t brea…,” Sean gurgled.
“I won’t let you up until you calm down,” Bryan said. Sean’s Adam’s apple moved against his arm, and his gurgles grew desperate while a reddish tint developed over his face.
“Bryan let him go,” Mona said. Taking him by the arms, she pulled at him.
Bryan felt Mona trying to lift him off Sean and let go. He glared down at Sean, watching him gasp for air. Bryan backed away from him, while Willie helped Sean to stand.
“You tried to kill me,” Sean wheezed; he coughed trying to catch his breath.
“I didn’t try to kill you. If you remember correctly, you attacked me,” Bryan said and sat down, his body suddenly growing weary. He was also afraid of himself as he had not wanted to let Sean go until he stopped moving. Mona placed her hand on his shoulder and he held it with his own.
“That’s right Sean started it,” agreed Mona.
“You shut up,” Sean cried back at Mona.
Bryan exhaled, releasing the tension his body. “Sean, I think everyone has had enough of you,” he told him.
“Bryan you tried to kill me, I won’t forget that,” Sean scowled and angrily paced the ground near the side of the cavern.
“Sean,” Willie reached out to grab Sean’s shoulder and tried to settle him down.
Sean snatched away from him and continued pacing angrily.
“Sean,” he called loudly but his friend ignored him.
“I am not going to be able to rest with him like that,” Mona cried out.
Sean stopped his pacing and yelled at Mona furiously, “You shut up, I told you.”
“I am scared,” Tracy cried out, tears falling from her face. She wrapped her arms around herself and stood against the back wall.
“We should tie him up,” Wayne told them.
“I agree,” remarked Jonas, “with him acting like that, who knows what he will do.”
“No,” Tracy murmured.
“I thought you were scared?” Jonas asked, “we need to tie him up to keep everybody safe, as well as to keep him from hurting his self.”
Sean was not about to allow them to tie him down. As the First Nations’ raced toward him, he darted throughout the cave he tried avoiding capture. As if playing tag with Jonas and Wayne, he moved from side to side and chuckled at the two of them as his thin, nimble body dodged their outstretched arms. Sean realized he had the upper edge; the two of them were too slow and he was Superman. Confidence satiating within him, Sean moved freely around the cavern until Bryan stuck out his foot and he stumbled to the ground. Before he could stand completely, Wayne had grabbed him in a tight bear grip and whisked Sean off his feet. Wayne’s massive arms encircled Sean’s chest and he felt like a child struggling in the big man’s arms.
“Help me, Willie,” Sean cried out struggling as Wayne held him suspended above the ground. Willie glared crossly at him, his arms folded and Sean realized Willie was not going to help. “Let me go,” he cried loudly.
“Drop him, Wayne, let’s tie him up,” smirked Jonas.
Wayne put Sean on the ground and held his arms behind him. Sean struggled to free himself, but he could not; Wayne constrained his face against the mossy ground and he breathed in the smell of metal. “Calm down, you will get your chance,” the voice reassured Sean and finally he gave in and allowed Wayne and Jonas to tie him up.
Later that night, Willie went to speak to Sean. His buddy had been acting strangely and this latest episode was just weird, even compared to Sean’s natural exasperating behavior. He gazed down and was mumbling to himself when Willie approached him. “Hey buddy what got into you; did you lose your mind?” Willie scolded Sean. Helping him against the others right now, meant him becoming an outcast as well, and he was not about to have that. Sean had brought this on himself.
“No,” replied Sean.
“I told you not to start anything, didn’t I?” Willie reprimanded him.
“Yep,” answered Sean; he’d upset Willie and did not mean to, however he did not feel like talking. “I am good, just leave me alone Willie.”
“You sure you’re good?” Willie asked punching Sean in the shoulder with his fist genially. “You know it’s just you and me, right?”
“Ya I know,” answered Sean.
“Alright I am going back over there,” Willie said to Sean walking off.
Sean watched Willie walk over and sit next to Tracy. They were all over there laughing at him; the gold was right, he was alone.
The Gold Promises Love
After all the excitement died down, and Sean fell asleep in the corner, Mona grew tired. All the hiking, the fights and long days were taking their toll on her; she found a place near the opposite wall from Sean, and laid down to get some rest.
In her sleeping bag, she snuggled herself in the thick quilted bag on top of the mossy ground. The thick bushy moss was soft and Mona felt as if she were floating when she closed her eyes, and the serene tranquility, shattered by the fight, was returning. She thought of Wolfdog; she missed him, but it was not possible for him to travel any further. Mona knew when he found the ATVs he would return home or wander the woods waiting for her to return.
Bryan was here now; he was prepared to fight Sean to protect her and this pleased her immensely. She was also sure Bryan had released his grip on Sean because she’d asked him to. Sean’s bulging eyes had scared her and it did seem as if Bryan had tried to kill him. She didn’t blame him of course, but she did not want him to do something he would regret later as he was a good man. Mona blushed as she thought about how he made her feel. Bryan promised her he would make sure Sean remained tied up so she had a peaceful sleep; with him around, she felt secure, even with Jonas around. Thinking of Bryan, Mona closed her eyes.
The darkness of the cavern eliminated everything but his image as he approached her. Mona sat up and gazed at Bryan as he walked over to her. His brown hair was mussed and sweat beaded on his forehead. She wondered what had caused this upheaval in his appearance. Bryan’s disheveled appearance made her heart beat faster. Reaching down, he took her hand and lifted her out of the sleeping bag. Mona ran her fingers through the sparse brown hairs on his shirtless chest. He pulled her close to him, embracing her. His lips pressed against hers and as he kissed her passionately, a longing built within her to make love to him. Slipping out of her night shirt, she looked down as it fluttered down to the mossy floor of the cavern. Naked and unashamed she smiled as Bryan gazed at her.
“You are beautiful,” Bryan whispered to her.
Moments later, pulling her back into his strong arms, his hand stroked her body. Gently nudging her down, she lay atop the soft fibers, and Bryan laid on top of her; his soft lips did not release her from their kiss and he caressed her passionately while she nibbled on his bottom lip. Bryan’s kisses tasted of metal.
Jonas’ cackles awakened Mona. She opened her eyes and the blue glow from the ceiling exposed the lighted cavern, removing the darkness she saw earlier. Still snugly tucked in the sleeping bag, her arms cuddling her body, she continued to feel Bryan’s caresses. Mona sat up looking for Bryan and observed him sitting around the fire talking with Jonas and Wayne. An awareness seeped into her conscious and she was surprised to find she was fully dressed and it was all a dream. “It felt so real,” Mona told herself giggling as mortification flooded her because of the sensuality of the dream and its vivid impressions. Mona rolled over onto her side and stared at the cave’s wall, hoping she could fall asleep again.