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Unfettering Orion
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-247-8
Genre: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 216 Pages
Published: June 2015

From inside the flap

Ellie Savelle is a well-respected archeologist working at the job of her dreams at an ancient Sumerian site in Ah Samawah Iraq. While on a break from the field she returns to her home in Minnesota to spend some time with Sean the love of her life, who is also an archeologist working to track down illegal sales of artifacts out of Lebanon. A sudden twist of fate occurs when Seanís flight back to the US goes down in the Atlantic. Ellie finds herself alone and heartbroken by the sudden tragedy, and also perplexed by a small package sent from Sean just before he had boarded the plane.

Ellie absorbs herself in her work, and takes a new job in Lebanon as she struggles to cope with Seanís loss. She starts working for Anthony Graves, Seanís old boss and is surprised when he has her researching fallen angels, and Giants. After a mysterious find in Lebanon, Ellie discerns that the site she is now working at is part of a black market operation that Sean may have been on to. Realizing that things donít add up she becomes suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Seanís death. What Ellie uncovers next not only raises more questions about Anthonyís authenticity, and Seanís death but also her preconceptions about the past. She learns that though history may be carved in stone it is subject to interpretation and sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.

Unfettering Orion (Excerpt)

Chapter One

The morning was cold and bleak as Ellie sat out on the back porch transfixed by the early spring storm. The dull bitterness of the cold was hardly noticeable compared to the crushing grief that held an icy grip on her heart. Dead grass and bare trees framed in the short trail to the wooden dock on the lake out behind the cottage. Ellie watched as the wind swept the surface of the dark, frigid waters. Winter still had a firm hold on her world and the depth of the misery she felt engulfed her very soul.

"Why did you have to go away?" Ellie asked, her face lifted toward the restless grey clouds.

A raindrop fell on her cheek, its cold kiss in sharp contrast to the warmth of her tears. Ellie searched the expanse of grey clouds down to the point where they met the rough, churning waters for a glimpse of the thin dark line of the opposite shore, but there was nothing, no break in the tumult, no hope. Large chunks of ice still floated across the lake, materializing out of the darkness of the distant waters.

Sean would have been here today, Ellie thought, grasping the small coin on the necklace he had given her. Why did it have to be his plane? He had always had a fear of flying, as if he had known somehow that this would happen. His plane had gone down two days ago over the Atlantic Ocean. Now he was as far away and unreachable as the distant lakeshore somewhere out beyond the storm.

Ellie thought of the email she had received from him the same day his plane had crashed; he had been planning to come over as soon as he landed. His tone in the email seemed normal. He had talked about work and about being happy to leave Lebanon and get back to the states. He said how much he was looking forward to seeing her again, and how difficult it was to love someone so much and yet have to be so far apart for so long.

"How could you leave me?" Ellie asked as she looked out on at the brewing storm, "Don't you know that I love you? You can't be gone."

The clouds swirled and thunder grumbled from somewhere deep within the grey abyss. Ellie looked down at the growing dark spots appearing on the wooden stairs as the rain increased. She rose from her perch atop the stairs then went in through the sliding glass door. The interior of the house was dark. She noticed her jacket still lay in a crumpled heap by the front door where she had dropped it two days ago. Ellie glanced at the clock then hurried to the closet in her room.

She searched through the hangers until she came across the black pair of slacks folded neatly over a wooden hanger. A strap on the floor illuminated by the single bulb at the top of the closet caught her attention as she changed. It was the corner of her backpack peeking out from under the hanging clothes.

The sight of it froze her momentarily as she remembered the last backpacking trip she and Sean had gone on together along a trail through the north woods just outside of Walker. That's when Sean had told her about being called to work in Lebanon for six months. He had given her the necklace with the coin and promised to try to get her a field job through the museum so that they could be closer together.

Her work in ancient Samaria had kept them near enough to meet up here and there, but their relationship was becoming more serious and they had talked of marriage. She reached for the coin hanging from the thin gold chain. Her fingers felt over the familiar bumps and ridges of the three gathered heads of wheat imprinted on the coins surface.

It was a Roman Prutah from the reign of Herod Agrippa Ifrom around 37 A.D. Sean had found it and had a jeweler mount it as a pendant on this necklace for her. Ellie liked to hold it and picture how many places this coin had been over the centuries and who had held it. Could it have possibly passed through the hands of Herod himself? Now she only cared for the knowledge that the last set of hands this ancient coin had passed through had been Sean's. She tore her thoughts away from the coin and finished dressing quickly.

It would be nice to be out of the house, Ellie thought, even though she dreaded going to the funeral. It seemed that everything she saw contained memories here, where they had been together, things they had done. He may be gone now, but the fingerprint of his existence left an enduring mark upon her life.

She went to the bathroom and checked the reflection of the despairing individual staring back at her from the mirror. Her hazel eyes held none of their former sparkle. It was as if they had turned a dull dark brown. Grief had a way of changing a person, as if death itself stole away even the life of those still living. She brushed her tangled curls out then used a hairband to pull the dark blond hair back into a loose bun.

Ellie checked the computer for the driving directions to the cemetery. The email from Sean still sat near the top of the list, reminding her how close she had been to being with him again. She printed out the small map telling her where to go when she reached St. Cloud, which was about two hours south of her home on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota.

There by the computer keypad sat the small clay vessel Sean had sent only days ago from Lebanon. A gift he had picked up at a tiny shop in one of the villages in the south. He had been working for the Archeological Museum of Beirut. He was helping to recover artifacts being sold on the black market and smuggled out of the country. The small earthen vase was nothing of special significance; it looked like one of millions she had seen in nearby villages while working at an archeological site near As-Samawah, Iraq.

The small vase-like container was about six inches tall and three inches in diameter. It wasn't even old. It seemed like such a strange gift coming from him. She had checked with a flashlight down into the small container, wondering if she had missed something, but it remained a mystery.

She picked up the vessel, wondering again why he had sent it in the mail just days before he had flown home. He could have just brought it on the plane and given it to her in person. She choked back another round of tears at the thought. This was the last item she had from him, and he had held it only days before his death. She held it close, wishing she could somehow pull some warmth or feeling of him from the pottery, but it was just a cold, lifeless thing in her hand. She set it back on the desk and grabbed her jacket off the floor as she walked to the door and out.