Excerpt Reveal: Valley of Refuge by John Teschner - Tor/Forge Blog
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Excerpt Reveal: Valley of Refuge by John Teschner

Valley of RefugeIn this high-stakes, character-driven thriller, a Hawaiian family must decide the future of their ancestral land when a tech billionaire decides he wants it for himself, and won’t take no for an answer.

What would you do if you. . .

. . .were offered an obscene amount of money for your family’s ancestral land? For Nalani and her mother, the money that could change their lives—at the sacrifice of everything they believe—is a double edged blade, and they’re not sure they can trust the secretive tech billionaire holding it out to them as if it were an olive branch. But what happens when a man with unlimited wealth is given an answer he doesn’t want to hear?

. . .woke up on a plane en route to a tiny Hawaiian island, with no memory of who you are or why you’re there? Janice, whose only clues are the passport in her pocket, and a locked phone with increasingly alarming text alerts about a situation she may or may not be part of, barely knows where to start. Navigating an unfamiliar place, and her own unfamiliar mind, Janice seeks to discover who she is, and answer the question of why she is here, and exactly whose side is she on?

As plans are set in motion that carry them down dangerous and unexpected paths, all involved must decide just how far they are willing to go to reach their goals, before turning back is no longer an option.

Valley of Refuge will be available on October 3rd, 2023. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


CHAPTER ONE

The bassline vibrated the walls of the hallway. She was leaving the bathroom, adjusting the hem of her shirt self-consciously. Had she forgotten a zipper? How much had she had to drink?

Why was it so bright?

She had to shoulder her way through the crowd. People gave her dirty looks. They weren’t dressed for the club. They wore uniforms, or joggers with hoodies, or shorts with ugly patterned shirts. But beyond them, she could see the oval doorway that led to the wide-open space of the dance floor.

They were talking about her, their voices barely audible above the noise. It would feel so good, to make it to that high, bright space and have room to move.

And to be with her, the woman dancing with her eyes shut.

She was in a dream, she knew that. But she wanted so badly to be back on the dance floor. No reality could be more important than that. She was pushing more frantically now. But the harder she pushed, the more they pushed back. Someone was shouting in her face. She craned her head to find the exit, to be anywhere but in this bright, narrow hallway.

She opened her eyes.

“Ma’am!” A wild-eyed woman was practically in her lap. She tried to kick but hit something hard, and pain exploded in her shin.

“Ms. Diaz!”

Her name?

The woman was wearing a uniform. A cop? A nurse?

She looked up and saw two circles dancing in and out of focus in an oddly low and curving ceiling. To her left, a portal, beyond it, blue.

She was on an airplane.

There were two other flight attendants standing in the aisle. And two men, one Black, one white. Big men.

She was on an airplane. And there was a problem. She was the problem.

She closed her eyes and held up her hands. “Okay,” she said. “Okay.”

“Ma’am, there is a team of emergency responders waiting for us at the airport. They want to know, have you taken any drugs or medications?”

She began to answer. Opened her mouth. Shut it. Tried again.

“What’s my name?”

The flight attendant glanced back at her colleagues.

“Your name is Janice. Janice Diaz. According to your boarding pass.”

“How did I get here?”

“Just like everyone else, ma’am. You boarded in Seattle.”

“And where are we landing?”

“LIH. Lihue Airport. Hawaii.”

Janice Diaz leaned back. “That sounds nice.”

The flight attendant stepped back into the aisle, whispered to her coworkers.

“Ms. Diaz, what is the last thing you remember?”

She almost told her about the woman on the dance floor. Then she pictured the Seattle airport. Escalators and empty glass hallways. She knew it well. She tried filling it with people. Faceless, hurrying bodies. She tried to remember the bench she’d chosen at the gate, where she’d bought coffee, the line for security. There was nothing there. Her mind was clear and bright.

She took a deep breath, waited for the never-ending stream of images and mental chatter that constituted who she was.

She took another breath.

“Ma’am?” The flight attendant was in the seat beside her. “I’m going to sit right here until we land.”

Without thinking, Janice Diaz clasped the flight attendant’s hand. “Am I all right?”

“Oh, honey.” The woman lifted a strand of hair from her face. One fingertip brushed her forehead, and the full arc of her skull fluoresced with pain. “I don’t think so.”


Click below to pre-order your copy of Valley of Refuge, available October 3rd, 2023!

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