Today’s Sneak Peek is Identity by Christine Mazurkone of four novellas in the lovely and lyrical Sisters of Spirit Anthology (Lachesis Publishing). The anthology features four stories about four very special friends. Written by four real life friends: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk (Lachesis Publishing author of Passion’s Race) and Jeanine Duval Spikes (also known as J.D. Spikes Lachesis Publishing author of The Possession).
What It’s About:
Four life-long friends face the biggest changes of their lives.
Four sisters—not related by blood—but by spirit, each embark on a quest
Four women find out what they’re truly made of, and what love really means.
In “Identity” by Christine Mazurk, a young woman embarks on a complete life-change after losing more than 100 pounds, and through a twist of fate finds herself training for a marathon under the guidance of a super sexy coach. But when she starts falling for the hunky trainer, can she trust her new-found confidence to take her to the finish line?
Bryce Evans and her three friends separated on the beach, their laughter dying on the breeze. A supportive silence descended as they each meandered to a different area among the sand and rocks. Bryce wandered toward the water, drawn as always by the solace of the ocean’s rhythmic swell.
She stood staring out, pensive, reflecting on her future, when out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of sunlight on a tiny buckle. She bent down, and noticing a small red leather strap, reached to dislodge it from the sand.
A luggage tag. She brushed off the sand, the texture of engraved words and a symbol rough against her fingertips. The symbol looked familiar, but she couldn’t remember where she’d seen it, and next to the symbol, the name John Connery.
A wave of sadness washed over her as she pressed the tag to her heart. A weight settled in her chest, and she wondered if the feeling connected to Mr. Connery, or to her own unrest?
She turned, eager to share her find with her friends, and noticed they each studied an item they held in their hands. Marina, a smile cresting, held a pair of sunglasses, small and red, probably belonged to a little girl. Anastasia fumbled with a crusty old camera, battered beyond use, but she opened the case and removed the chip, studying it with a dreamy expression on her face. And Clara, she cradled a small turtle shell on a rope, her fingers gentle as she tried to dislodge something from within.
The girls hiked back toward the car with thoughtful expressions playing across their faces. Bryce watched her footing on the rocky, rutted path, but once again smoothed her thumb over the silver luggage tag.
How odd that on their first visit to this particular beach, they each found something other than unique shells, cool rocks, or colored glass? A hidden cove, Marina called it, a beach protected by a reef and used only by the residents of the few houses standing yards away from the marsh grass and milkweed.
Privately owned, but closed for the winter, she said the owners would return to the island after the first of June.
Strange, too, that Bryce found an ID tag.
Just last night, she told her friends that though she’d lost close to one hundred pounds and had reshaped her body, her soul felt empty. Or lost. Her small boutique thrived. She even signed an exclusive with two new, young and talented designers, but that defined her as a business woman, not as an individual. Who was Bryce Evans? What would fulfill her?
Marina’s impromptu modeling of her treasure had the girls giggling. She still wore the heart-shaped sunglasses she found, the lenses smudged with sand and salt. Bryce laughed. “Can you even see through those things?”
“A bit blurry, but then that’s how my life’s been lately.” That brought on a fresh wave of laughter.
“You’ll be the fashion plate once they’re cleaned up,” Bryce added with a chuckle.
“Well, at least you guys have jobs,” Anastasia shrugged her shoulders, the beat-up waterproof camera hanging from her wrist.
“So, you’re the one who sent the SOS.” Clara turned to Anastasia. Her fingers stroked the turtle shell that held her artifact, carefully wrapped in weatherproof material, and cradled within the shell.
Anastasia shook her head, the sunlight highlighting the teal streaks in her curly blonde hair. “No, it wasn’t me. I’ve been too busy searching for work.”
Clara looked at Bryce. “Not me,” she replied. “But like I said last night, I needed this. Marina?”
“Nope, I’ve been suffering in silence, trying to figure out what to do.” Her eyes looked sad, though she smiled. “It’s like the Universe sent it, brought us together in our time of need. As connected as we are, it shouldn’t surprise us that we’re dealing with personal issues at the same time.”
The other girls nodded.
Last night, they shared their problems, and though no solutions appeared, their spiritual bond eased the loneliness of dealing with them. Maybe this SOS was the Universe speaking to them. Could their journey—the search for what they most wanted in life—have begun?
* * *
Back at the house, after a few glasses of wine and an outstanding dinner, they sat around the large dining room table, studying the unique treasures set before them. Bryce picked up the tag and flipped it over. The business card inside was water-stained and illegible, except for a small logo and the words: John’s Gym.
“I felt such sadness when I touched it,” Bryce said. “And get this, it’s engraved: John Connery—my hero, and under that, the name Mike. Mike’s hero; such a sentiment, makes me want to return it to its rightful owner, but how did John Connery’s luggage tag end up on that beach?”
“Leave it to Bryce to feel her item,” Clara said.
“A true empath,” Anastasia added.
Marina nodded, the small sunglasses now worn like a headband, holding her blonde hair off her face.
“I’ve seen this symbol somewhere.” She passed the tag around to the girls. “But I can’t remember where or what it stands for.”
Both Clara and Marina shook their heads.
Anastasia studied it a second, and then said, “I’ve seen it on the back window of several SUVs. But what does a thick M with a dot over it mean?”
Clara burst out laughing, “Anastasia, you amaze me. You never miss a thing, do you? If it had an aura, you’d see that, too.”
That got a smug ‘that’s how I roll’ look from their friend.
“So, Marina, what are you going to do with those?” Bryce asked as she opened her iPad to search the symbol and the location of John’s Gym.
Marina plucked them off her head, and stared at them with intent. “There’s a story in these.”
Marina worked at a preschool, one she wasn’t too happy with at the moment, but because she loved the kids so much, she fought the urge to quit. Even though her dream was to write fulltime. She was a writer, not yet published, but trying, and though they all had active imaginations, Marina constantly searched for her next story. She was by far the most prolific of the group, and she also was the glue that cemented the Sisters.
Their bond ran deep, a universal connection they recognized the instant they met, and over the years, intensified.
“It’s an Ironman symbol,” she said when the link opened. “I watched one once. It’s an intense, all day triathlon. I remember thinking never in a million years. Why someone would choose to put their body through that is beyond me. Running a few miles a day is grueling enough.”
“Never say never,” Marina said. “Two years ago, could you fathom losing this much weight?”
“No,” she replied as she clicked the link for the gym. When it opened, she gasped. “Oh, good God, John’s Gym is three blocks from my boutique!”
* * *
Instead of eating breakfast, Bryce went for a run. She ran along the water’s edge, past Marina’s mom’s memorial rock, and up the steep road that led to the golf course and South Beach.
They were heading back to the mainland on the evening ferry, and as she ran, she decided to stop at the gym on her way home. She turned and sprinted back to the house.
After sipping a protein shake, she showered and put on her ‘skinny jeans’ and a bright purple polo, which enhanced the green of her eyes, then she took her backpack downstairs and set it by the door. She dropped her high-heeled sandals next to it, and went to help the girls close up the house.
The ferry ride, as usual, was filled with laughter and chatter as they highlighted moments from their weekend. After a flurry of hugs, and kisses, and goodbyes, Bryce headed for the Long Island ferry, anticipating a much quieter ride.
She used the time to once again reflect upon what she searched for. What was missing?
Bryce parked her Jeep behind the boutique and walked to John’s Gym. She hesitated for a split second before pushing open the door. The first thing she noticed was the hunk lifting weights with a petite blonde, a tall guy with broad shoulders and well developed, toned muscles, his dark hair clinging to his neck. He grabbed a towel, said something to the girl, then turned and walked in her direction. He gave her the once over, his gaze traveled from the top of her head, down to her toes, and back up again.
Her breath caught in her throat.
As he approached, she noticed his light-colored eyes and warm smile. He extended his hand. “Hi, I’m Mike Connery. How can I help you?”
When she gripped it, electricity shot up her arm. She let go, her heart now beating twice as fast. She opened the front pocket of her backpack and extracted the tag. “I think this belongs to someone you know.”
His eyes welled and a look of devastation crossed his face, and her heart somersaulted in her chest. The muscle beneath his jaw pulsed as he reached out to take it from her.
“Where did you get this?”
Like what you’ve read? Check out “Identity” by Christine Mazurk in the Sisters of Spirit Anthology. You can purchase it at Lachesis Publishing and on Amazon.com.
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