Here’s a sample of one of my upcoming books, Jo Fuentes: Project Sleep,coming later this year. 🙂
Jo stood to the side of the boxing ring, watching the two young women sparring. Only one of them was wearing a pair of gloves. The other was wearing focus pads on her hands, while coaching the other woman on how and where to hit. They moved about in a circle, in the center of the ring. The trainer kept encouraging the woman to hit the focus pads harder and harder. Finally, they stopped, and took deep breaths.
“You did much better today,” the trainer said. She was a petite Black woman with short brown hair, dressed in a pair of tights and a cut-off t-shirt, with the Pittsburgh Steelers logo on it. “Okay girl, take a break. Get some water.” The other woman nodded, and climbed out of the ring.
Jo lifted her head. “Hey, Ruthless.”
The trainer looked over at her in wide-eyed surprise. She approached Jo’s side of the ring, and cocked her head to one side. “Fuentes?” she said. She removed the focus pads and let them drop onto the floor of the ring. “Jo Fuentes. Well, I’ll be damned. What are you doing here?”
“Ruthless Ruthie Henshaw,” Jo said. “I’m here to see you.”
Ruthie climbed down from the ring. When she stood in front of Jo, Jo was suddenly reminded of just how short she was, compared to herself. “Damn, you’re short.”
Ruthie smirked at her. “Everybody’s short next to you, you freak’n Amazon,” she said. “So, what are you doing here? I get the feeling this isn’t a social call.”
Jo shrugged. “You always had good instincts,” she said. “I came to check on you. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good,” Ruthie said. “I’ve been working at this gym for about two years now. The Corps let me go, and I needed to do something, so I came here.”
“Yeah, they let me go, too,” Jo said.
“So, what are you doing now?” Ruthie asked.
I guess you can say, I’m doing what they trained me to do,” Jo said.
Ruthie stared at her for a moment. “What do you mean?”
Jo looked around before she answered her. The other people in the gym seemed occupied with their own activities: jumping rope, sparring with one another, lifting weights, etc. Jo leaned forward slightly, and said, “You know. Our training?”
Ruthie shook her head curiously. “Our Marine training?”
Jo sighed softly and shook her head. “The other training.”
Ruthie’s shoulders seemed to stiffen. “I try not to think about that,” she said, in a low voice.
“But you do remember?” Jo whispered.
Ruthie looked around, then gestured for Jo o follow her. They walked off of the floor down a hallway, and into a cramped office on the right. Once inside, Ruthie closed the door. “I don’t think about any of that,” she said. “I don’t talk about it, either. I don’t want any trouble.”
“Ruthie, they did something to us,” Jo said. “They trained us to be assassins, then must have tried to erase our memories. But I remembered some of it. In fact, I used what I learned to kill eight men in under sixty seconds in Iraq.”
Ruthie took a step back. “After the training?”
“After they tried to erase my memory,” Jo said. “But they didn’t get rid of everything. I can still remember being in a classroom with you and other soldiers. I can remember being trained to do some pretty horrible things.”
“What brought you here, Jo?” Ruthie asked.
“I need answers,” Jo said. “And someone doesn’t want me or anyone else from our class to remember anything.”
“I’ve been trying to keep things quiet,” Ruthie said. “But the truth is, I remember all of it. I woke up one morning, and came in here to work. While I was training this guy in the ring, I started having flashbacks. Hand to hand combat training. I had to stop, and step out of the ring, because I suddenly realized, I could have killed the guy I was training. I mean, I knew how to.I could have killed him with my bare hands, and that scared me.”
Jo sighed heavily. “You’ve got to watch your back,” she said. “If they’re keeping an eye on me, they’re gonna keep one on you, too.”