Blast to the Past: .38 Caliber Cover-Up

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Working Experience into a Story 
 Plano Balloon Festival

While at the 2010 Plano Balloon Festival, my husband took pictures and I took notes. The balloons were great, but all I could think about was how to work the entire scene into a book. That’s my world. To some all the world is a stage…to me the world belongs in my books. Fortunately for me I was writing an “on the run” story in Dallas. When your hero and heroine are on the run, it’s very difficult to give them opportunities for the romance. So a balloon festival was a perfect fit.

Excerpt from .38 CALIBER COVER-UP

        “Time to move. The balloon’s up and the Sergeant Major will be headed to the john.” She got out of the car and he followed around the parked trucks into a crowd of people.
        “Balloon? And who is this Sergeant Major?” What the Sam Hill was she leading him into? A brother is one thing, but a Sergeant Major of what exactly? 
        “Yeah, it’s the Plano Balloon Festival.” 
        “And your brother is working here?” His confidence slipped a notch with the nervousness he recognized in his voice. Things lifting off the ground always made him edgy.
        “They’re amateur balloonists. He and my dad own their own rig. It’s the Young Blades balloon.”
        Did she know she was talking in code? They wove in and out of busy people, half-inflated balloons and giant baskets lying on their sides. No one questioned them and a few people even waved at Darby. It was obvious that she was at home and in her element.
        “You might want to keep your head down. Someone might have heard about your disappearance,” he advised.
        “It’s not much further.” She ignored his advice and waved at another couple. 
        Erren watched her stride through the bedlam. Clearly these people were crazy to inflate objects to carry them where only birds were meant to go. Hot air balloons ranked just below hang-gliding and parasailing. Skydiving would never be on the list since he’d never be in an airplane. 
        Give him a knife fight in a dark alley any day.

        “Sean’s not alone yet.” She came to an abrupt halt. “Hold on.”
        Turning her back on an inflated balloon and the two men securing ropes, she brushed off imaginary lint from his shoulders. Definitely hiding her face from the men. 
        The balloon was huge, dwarfing the trees, with markings like gold blades or sabers against an array of Army drab. 
      “Keys please.” 
        Darby held out her hand and her brother dug in his pocket, pulling out keys. The words being spoken didn’t reflect their actions, but he couldn’t relate. He hadn’t experienced this type of relationship. No brothers or sisters and no family since high school. If they weren’t in a hurry, he’d want to examine their actions more.
        “Anything else?”
        “Well, if you could let the Sergeant Major know I’m working undercover and haven’t been abducted.” 
        “Is that all?” Sean scrubbed his face with both hands, clearly exasperated.
        “Time to go, Darby. Cop at ten o’clock.” Erren placed himself between Darby and the Sergeant Major, who was headed their way with a police officer. 
        “If they find you here, you won’t make it past the perimeter gate,” Sean warned.
        Darby looked at Erren. “Quick. Into the basket.” 
        “We can’t hide in a basket.” Was she crazy? He wasn’t getting in that death trap. Not even to escape. His gut tightened, tying knots on top of the knots already there.
        “We’ll go up,” Darby insisted. “Tell him Richard’s proposing.”
        “You know he’ll never--”
        “We’ll already be in the air. Tell him the guy paid you five hundred.”
        Sean shook his head. “He’s going to be mega pissed.”
        Erren heard the conversation, but it didn’t register. The cop was closing in and the thought of going up had his blood pounding in his ears. “Nothing short of a gun to my head will make me get in that thing.”
        “How about cuffs around your wrists? And this time, they won’t be mine.”
        “Not happening.” He searched the crowd for another option.
        “We’ve spent all night avoiding the police because you believed there’s a conspiracy. If we’re going to retrieve Pike’s package, we have to be free of the authorities.” With an exasperated huff, she grabbed his arm and tugged him forward. “Get in the basket. Now.”
        She was right. The cop advanced. There was one way out. Up.
        He hated...up.
        “I’ve got it, Sean. Thanks. This should work.” 
        There wasn’t a step, so he hopped over the side, trying not to think about the consequences. 
        “Yeah, but you’ll have to deal with the Sergeant Major when you come down,” her brother said.
        “I know,” Darby’s voice was softer, less authoritative than when she’d ordered him into the balloon.
        Erren stayed on the floor of the basket. Maybe if he couldn’t see the dang thing floating in the air, he wouldn’t lose yesterday’s lunch. Maybe he wouldn’t shake right out of his shoes. Maybe. Just maybe.
        Concentrate on the weave of the wicker. It was only a bigger version of the baskets his grandmother made. He could do this. They couldn’t get caught. It was the only way to avoid days of sorting out the truth or being thrown off the case entirely. Nothing to it.
        Darby climbed in, opened a valve and the smell of propane filled the air. She immediately used a striker to spark a flame. The swoosh of the gas springing to life shot through him with an image of the stupid air sack going up in flames like the Hindenburg. 
        The balloon rose and Erren kept his butt firmly glued to the bottom of the basket.  
        “What are you doing down there? You need to stand up. It’s a real clear morning. You can see for several miles. Besides, you’re supposed to be proposing.”
        “Proposing?” He tilted his head and watched the wind whip her hair from her face. She really was lovely. “Why would I be proposing?”
        “You really weren’t paying attention, were you?” She quirked an eyebrow at him before returning her attention to the heater. “It’s the only reason the Sergeant Major lets the balloon go up without him. He can’t stand the mushy stuff.”
        “Got it.” There was no way in hell he was standing up. “But I’m not the type of guy to go down on one knee.”
        “Are you at least the kind who can stand up? It’s hard to sell a proposal if the Sergeant Major can’t see you do it.” 
       “Not really, Darby.”
        “Are you kidding me? What’s wrong with you?” Her forehead scrunched up with her questions. “You’re as white as a sheet.”
        “No descriptions necessary. I’m--”
        “They’re here,” she whispered strongly. “Stand up.”
        “Can’t do it.”
        “This has happened before?”
        “Every time.” Every rooftop. Every tree climbed on a dare. “As long as I can’t see where I am, I can still imagine we’re on the ground.” The basket swung back and forth like a swing. His body flinched, totally beyond his control. “Except when that happens.”
        “Where’s the big secret agent man saving my life when I need him?”
        Not in this death trap. 
        “The Sergeant Major will bring us down immediately if he thinks something’s wrong. Sorry, tough guy, pull it together. Stand up.”
        Her hands were under his arms, tugging, before he could fight it. So he was the big secret agent man? He could play that role. Right? Just another cover. He inched his way to a standing position. His chest tightened to a not breathing level.
The basket swayed a little, but seemed steady enough. They were still tethered to the ground by ropes. He’d seen them before hopping inside. 
        “So what do couples do up here when the guy proposes?” His hands shook against the basket’s leather rail. His abdomen clenched giving him more than his normal workout. 
        “They definitely look more excited than you at the moment.” She took a step closer to him. The basket swayed more. “Erren, look at me.”
        He did. Straight into dark green pools sparkling in the morning sun. It was easy to concentrate on them. To see nothing else as they grew closer and blocked out the treetops serving as their backdrop. 
         “Don’t freak out,” she whispered, dusting the top of his shoulders with her fingers. Letting her hands linger on his upper arms wasn’t his choice, but definitely kept her close enough so he couldn’t see his surroundings. 
        She drew closer and closer. Each second was imprinted in his mind like a frame of a film. Her actions ticked away like a silent movie. Then her lips touched his. Nature conquered fear. 
        His hands were on her slim, firm waist instead of the cool leather trimming the top of the basket. He couldn’t close his eyes completely. He watched her reaction, felt her body relax. She anchored them to the center brace in the basket, but arched her body toward him. 
Up next in the story…their first kiss.

My puppy, DALLAS
“Have you ever wished you could read a book filled with passion, intrigue, action, drama and gripping suspense all rolled into one, well I am here to tell you I found it!! .38 Caliber Cover-Up by Angi Morgan had me gripping the edge of my seat all the way. It was like being inside a movie only so much better and a lot more exciting.

Come along with Angi as she takes you on the heroic adventures of both a hero (that will capture your heart) and heroine (who just gets more and more interesting throughout the book). They will let nothing stop them in proving what is right from wrong and finding love along the way. There is no way you will want to put this one down!" 
~D. Steenberg, South Africa~


USA Today Bestselling author ANGI MORGAN's work is a multiple contest finalist and Publishers Weekly best-seller. She drags her dogs –and husband– around Texas for research road trips so she can write off her camera. They now have a map with highlighted roads they’ve traveled. Every detour somehow makes it into a book.

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Do you like local facts 
and locales thrown into the story?


  1. Local facts and locales all help to round out a story. Always most welcome.


  2. sure
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  3. I love local facts and locales, it adds to the story.


  4. Absolutely!!!
    OMG ..This is brilliant! On my TBR pile!

    1. WOW !! Thank you !! I hope you enjoy it.

      Please contact me at AngiMorganAuthor @ gmail.com (no spaces)

  5. I loved the excerpt and now want to read it now! Yes, I love when a story includes local facts and locales into a story. They make the story more "real" while I'm reading. I sometimes go look up those locales or events so I can read more about them.

    1. .38 CALIBER COVER-UP is still available as a digital download in any format you want!
      I'm so excited!! Hope you enjoy Erren's character. I look things up too. Especially if it's in Texas.

  6. Yes I do! greenshamrock atcox dotnet:)

  7. I sure do as I think it adds a lot to the story and makes it more interesting! Peggy Clayton

  8. I definitely do, being from Texas I love when I get to read about Texas locations and Texas history and facts. Nothing like a story about a strong Texas cowboy getting his fiery Texas gal.