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Summon the Tiger

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MARKET INTELLIGENCE ... The Original Work

Wendy Sura Thomson

The Third Order

Synopsis: 

Maggie Fraser met the man of her dreams one day in New York City. She had never been happier - until tragedy struck, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Her recovery was rudely interrupted by her accidental possession of a mysterious and ancient amulet. 

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Maggie pushed open the apartment door, kicked her Ferragamos unceremoniously under the hall table, and dropped her briefcase and purse on the table. She took off her coffee-stained coat and threw it on the chair as she closed and locked the door. 

Stupid fucking jerkWho brings an open coffee on the subway, anyway?Stupid fucking people in general

She stopped to rub the back of her neck with a little groan. It had been one hell of a long day.

Ben came up behind her, gave her a little hug, and moved her long, mahogany hair to the side so he could rub her shoulders. Maggie’s first reaction was to pull away; at this particular moment, she wanted nothing to do with the human race. She stiffened at his initial touch but then relaxed. Ben – sweet, gentle Ben. He was not the problem. He was stalwart and patient with her. None of this was his fault. She sighed and stretched her neck appreciatively. After a minute, she turned to him, placed her arms around his waist, and smiled as she looked into his warm brown eyes. “Thanks, hun. You always have a knack for calming me down.” 

He kissed the tip of her nose, smiled, and said, “I take it we are ordering in tonight?” 

“Not until we break open a bottle of wine and my blood pressure drops a hundred points or so,” she replied, heading for the kitchen. “Red or white?”

She returned with a nice bottle of Cabernet and two wine glasses. She tucked her leg under her as she descended into the sofa in one fluid movement, glasses in her left hand, bottle in her right. Ben watched in fascination; he still had a hard time taking his eyes off of her. Maggie’s slightly wavy hair framed her perfectly oval, porcelain face. Her arresting storm-gray eyes, fringed in thick, dark lashes, immediately commanded attention, if only for their alternating piercing and laughing personalities. Maggie was of average height, but she was sinewy and strong, a remnant of years spent in ballet, and had a catlike grace that was entrancing just to watch. And that was what had caught Ben’s eyes in the first place – how she moved.

~

One wintry Saturday in February, over a year earlier, and quite new to the city, Maggie decided to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA.) She had been so wrapped up in her new position and had been working such long hours that she had developed absolutely no social life. 

I have got to get out and see where I now live. She had checked the New York Timesfor events and settled on the MOMA. It was somewhere she could go by herself, and she could go during the day. New York was still a bit intimidating. 

As Maggie approached the museum, she was struck by the modern architecture. 

This is certainly not old, solid stone and arches. The building itself was just as interesting as the art and was so very unlike those found in Fife, Scotland, where Maggie had grown up. She was struck by the openness, the glass, the relative sparseness of the place. She spent the first several minutes simply staring at the building.

As she went up a flight of stairs, she saw a banner at the entrance of a gallery: “Lilly Reich: Designer and Architect.” She paused and made a note of the location of the gallery, and after a quick walk through the rest of the museum, she started down a staircase to return to the Reich exhibit. She was forced to move to the left side to get around an arguing couple who had simply stopped on the stairs. Just as Maggie was abreast of the two of them, the woman turned to leave and tumbled into her. Maggie managed to keep her balance, deflecting the falling force while recovering in time to catch the woman and right her. 

“Are you okay?” 

Flustered, the woman brushed Maggie off with a curt, “Yes, thank you. Damn boots.” Her face flushed a bit as she turned to her companion. “George, why is it that this woman had the presence of mind to help me, while you just stood there?” George stammered something and moved past Maggie as if she didn’t even exist. Maggie watched as the two continued down the stairs, totally unaware of anyone but themselves. 

So rude.This is the New York I heard about.

Her thoughts were interrupted when a man came up beside her and touched her elbow. “Are you all right? You were kind to make sure that woman didn’t hurt herself.”

“Oh, I’m fine,” she replied. “Growing up with three brothers teaches a little sister to always be ready for mischief.” 

He grinned. “Do I detect a brogue? You wouldn’t be Irish, now, would you?” Maggie flashed a quick grin back and then, appearing as indignant as she could manage, retorted in her broadest brogue, “Nae, laddie! I’m as Scottish as the dee is lang!” She laughed. 

“I-I am so s-sorry!” he stammered. “I hope I didn’t just deliver the worst insult imaginable.” 

“Och, nae. Happens all the time. I dinna mind. Dinna fash yersel.” The man’s brow furrowed, so Maggie said, “And now I will revert back to the King’s English. Thank you for your concern.”

“I was just worried there was going to be a jumble of people at the bottom of the staircase,” replied the stranger. “I’m glad you didn’t get hurt.”

“You cannotbe from New York,” she said, her lingering irritation with the rude couple filtering into her tone. “From what I have seen, manners and New York have been separated for a very long time.” She looked down and, with both hands, smoothed out her clothing.

The man grinned. “I was behind the three of you and saw the entire incident. No, I am not originally from New York, and no, not everyone in this city is as self-absorbed and rude as that couple was. Please don’t be too hard on the rest of us.”

Maggie turned and settled her gaze on this man, studying him a bit. He had a gentle and open face. He was a good six feet tall, of slender build, with straight brown hair, neatly trimmed, and brown eyes the color of hot chocolate. There seemed to be a layer of amusement behind those eyes and just a hint of a grin in his lips. He was casually dressed in a leather jacket over a button-down shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of brown leather laced-upshort boots. His entire aura spoke comfortable: comfortable with people, comfortable with himself…just comfortable. Maggie could feel her irritation start to melt away.

“So, where did you grow up?” she asked and then abruptly caught herself. “I am so sorry. I shouldn’t be so direct.” 

“I’m not offended,” replied the man. “Ann Arbor, Michigan. And you?”

“I grew up near St. Andrew’s in Fife,” she replied, extending her hand. “I’m Maggie.” 

The man took her hand and shook it somewhat ceremoniously. “And I am Ben, fairlady. Very pleased to make your acquaintance.” His flirty affectation made Maggie grin. “How did you end up in New York?” 

He’s just as direct as I am.

“Half from spite, I think,” she answered with a quirky grin. “It was either New York or London. My parents expected London, so here I am.” 

Ben laughed. “Should I infer you might be just a tad bit headstrong?” he ventured. 

Press Reviews: 

... the pacing is quick, and the element of travel provides rich backdrops and description. Readers will find the unfolding story charming and ultimately affirming... a satisfying synthesis of mystery, history, and emotion. - Kirkus Review

The Third Order is a well-written and fast-paced tale about a young Scotswoman’s romance and marriage to an Ann Arbor, Michigan native, and the tragic accident that would forever change their lives. I was fascinated by the author’s creation of The Third Order, and found Maggie’s struggle to stay free of their clutches to be an enthralling exercise. Thomson’s heroine is a grand character with internal reserves of strength and resilience, and her plot has everything a suspense or action fan could wish for. Travel fiction fans will also love vicariously experiencing Ann Arbor, Fife and Assisi along with Maggie. The Third Order is most highly recommended. - Readers' Favorite, 5 stars