CRYSTAL Moore drove slowly along the sandy road that curved through the
property she had roamed as a child. Her grandparents had christened it
“The Park” when they purchased it over fifty years ago. To Crystal,
they could have named it Serenity. The tall, stately Southern pines, the
oak and hickory trees, the mirror-still lake, the peaceful quiet, all
worked to cast a spell of tranquility over her.
Crystal's maroon LeSabre crested the hill. Two hundred feet ahead, her
grandmother stood under a maple tree, its autumn foliage creating a
golden halo above her grey hair. Eula Moore was staring at the small
storage shed about twenty feet behind her cedar-shake house. She aimed a
double-barreled shotgun at the door of the building.
Fifty feet from Eula, Crystal switched off the ignition, eased out of
the car, and moved forward, careful not to crack a twig or crunch a
dried leaf. Now she saw her grandmother's right index finger curled
around the trigger. Whatever was going on, she did not want to distract
Eula Moore pointed the shotgun at the shed, her wrinkled hands as steady
as those of an eye surgeon. “Don’t make no sudden moves. I got a
nervous trigger finger. I might just blow your head off.”
“Now, very slowly, come on out in the open, and keep them hands over
your head where I can see ‘em.”
Experience told Crystal her grandmother had heard the car, but Eula’s
attention never left the shed. The elderly woman stooped down, gaze
still fixed on the building, picked up a rock with her left hand and
made a sweeping, underhanded throw. As the chunk of limestone arched
skyward, Eula pulled the ancient shotgun up and once more trained it on
The rock struck the tin roof with a satisfying bang. No animal came
bolting out the door. The noise echoed and died away. The birds stopped
their chirping. All was quiet.
Crystal crept up beside her grandmother. “What’s in there, Nana?”
“Animal. Person. Beats me. But I didn’t git to seventy-five being
Eula Moore, five feet two inches tall, ninety-five pounds with
short-cropped grey hair, held a strategic position. No one could leave
the shed without coming into her gun’s sight. And no one could see her
without first revealing himself. Eula looked frail, but her voice was
strong, her will stronger. “Better come out ‘fore I start
A slight breeze wiggled the leaves on a towering oak tree shading the
area. A squirrel sat motionless. The scene was as peaceful as a painting
of a country lane. Except for the shotgun.
A few moments passed. Then a single finger came into view. Gradually, it
turned into a whole hand, waving in a small arc. “Por favor, no
dispare.” The tiny brown hand fluttered again. The voice quavered
slightly. “Please. No shoot. No shoot.”
Eula didn’t lower the gun or take her gaze off the shed. “Por favor?
Spanish?” Eula said to Crystal. Then to the tiny hand, “Manos
Now, two hands waved. But no body appeared.
“You need to work on your Spanish, Nana. He may not know what you’re
Eula snorted. “Pardon me. I didn’t go to S.M.U. Or Stanford. Maybe
you can do better.”
Crystal turned toward the shed. “Salga con las manos arriba. Come out
with your hands up.”
A foot materialized in the opening. “Hands up.” Then a body began to
emerge. “Hands up.”
Was it a child? Little more than five feet tall and slender as
broomcorn, she could have been a girl of fourteen. Her uncombed hair,
nearly reaching her waist, appeared as black and shiny as obsidian. Pink
and blue embroidery decorated the rough-woven, white dress hanging from
her shoulders and stopping just short of her scratched knees. Well-worn
leather sandals revealed feet accustomed to no shoes at all.
The small hands trembled slightly as the young Mexican edged forward,
but she held her head high and her back ramrod straight.
Eula waggled the barrel of the shotgun at the girl. “Far enough. Hold
it right there. Alto.” Eula focused on the girl, but spoke to Crystal.
“Okay. So I don’t remember my Spanish good enough to find out what I
got here. See what you can do. But don’t get in my line of fire.”
A cloud drifted away, allowing the sun to play fully on the girl’s
face. This was not a child. Those large eyes could not develop such
sadness, such pain, in such a short life.
“¿Como se llama?” Crystal asked.
The thin young woman maintained her focus on the gun. “Rosa. Rosa
“Hablo Español un poco. Vamos probando con Ingles. Let’s try
English,” said Crystal. The young woman’s expression did not change,
nor did her attention waiver from the shotgun. “Okay. Your name is
“And what were you doing in the shed?”
The Mexican woman’s forehead wrinkled and she tilted her head slightly
to one side. Is she puzzled by the English or by what kind of an answer
to give? Crystal tried Spanish again. “¿Que hacias en el
After several seconds, Rosa looked at Crystal. “Food.”
“You were looking for food?”
“Are you hungry?”
Eula made a small grunt. "Dumb question.”
“When did you eat last? ¿Cuándo comiste por última vez?"
“Ayer en la mañana.”
“Yesterday morning!” Crystal turned to her grandmother. “She’s
probably starving. Let’s take her in and give her something to eat.
Then we can find out why she’s here.”
Eula didn’t move or lower the shotgun but Crystal walked over,
smiling, took the young woman’s hand and led her into the house.
Inside Eula's large country kitchen, Crystal gave Rosa a tall glass of
orange juice while Eula put the finishing touches on a chicken and rice
meal she'd been preparing for her granddaughter’s arrival. Rosa drank
the juice without stopping and her dark, wary eyes remained focused on
the chicken as Eula moved it from pan to serving dish.
“Why haven’t you eaten?” Crystal asked.
“Where do you live?”
“No casa. No casa.”
“No home?” Crystal glanced at Eula, then back at the Mexican girl.
“I run away.”
“From your husband? ¿Esposo?”
“No.” Her sad eyes closed for a moment, then softly, “No.”
“No. From hombre malo.”
“¿Quien? Who is the bad man?”
“Señor Blackwood.” Rosa scrunched her mouth and eyes as if she had
bitten into a piece of spoiled fruit.
“Who is he? What is your relationship to him? A relative? ¿Un
The Mexican woman shook her head violently from side to side. “No. No
familiar. I am ... his ...” She furrowed her brows and cocked her head
to one side. “How to say esclava?”
Crystal looked down for a moment as she searched her limited Spanish
vocabulary for a translation. Finally, she looked up at Rosa. “The
only English word I can think of for esclava is ... slave.”
Rosa’s head bobbed up and down. “Si. Si. Slave. I am his slave.”
Excerpted from "A Silver Medallion (A Crystal Moore Suspense Book 2)" by James R. Callan. Copyright © 2016 by James R. Callan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.