Welcoming a previous guest back to my blog is always fun, especially when she has an exciting new novel that was just released. My guest today is M. S. Spencer.
The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, established in 1945 on the Eastern shore of Virginia, is the agency’s premier location for conducting research using suborbital vehicles – aircraft, scientific balloons and sounding rockets. Wallops welcomes visiting scientists from all over the world, including some from less than friendly nations like Belarus.
Belarus—a land-locked country surrounded by Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia—is the last Communist country remaining from the USSR. It is run by a dictator-for-life, Alexander Lukashenkov. It is understandable that in The Wishing Tree, the Belarusian biologists are met with some suspicion.
Here's the blurb of The Wishing Tree, followed by an excerpt from the book:
Will the wind whip her token from the Wishing Tree and make her wish come true?
Addison Steele dreams of the day her husband—lost at sea—returns to her. Instead, she meets Nick Savage, whose every word may be a lie. She is soon embroiled in mystery, all related to the top secret science station at Wallops Island, Virginia.
After a Belarusian scientist at Wallops is murdered, the questions multiply. Was it because he caught the person stealing classified documents or because he wanted to defect? Is Nick the spy—or is it his brother? How can she trust the man who is slowly claiming her heart when his story keeps shifting?
Excerpt: Peel’s suspicions
She pulled into her driveway behind a white sedan. The ever-lovable Agent Peel emerged from it. “Do you have a minute, Ms. Steele?”
This is turning into a stellar day. “Sure.” Hoping Nick hadn’t come after her—or do I?—she led the way up the steps. Peel followed her into the living room. She sat on the sofa and, ignoring the massage chair, indicated the wooden desk chair. He remained standing.
She sighed. “What can I do for you?”
“We understand you visited the Wallops facility and tried to force your way in.”
“What! I did nothing of the sort. What a ridiculous thing to say.”
Peel stared down at her, his eyes expressionless. “I have fairly decent sources.”
“Well, they’re wrong,” Addison said crossly. “If they’d bothered to check with Walter Pope, the security guard on duty”—ha! It pays to be on a first-name basis with the staff—“they’d know that I was there with my cousin’s kindergarten class for a special tour. We were stopped because we’d forgotten to bring our guide. It was all perfectly innocent.”
“I heard there was a fracas. Can you explain that?”
A fracas? This G-man has an unusual grasp of vocabulary. “No.” Wait a minute. “Your source may have been confused. A group of foreign scientists had a bit of a dustup at the same time that we were trying to enter through the gate. I’m not sure what the problem was, but the director had to come out and take them in personally.”
“Foreign? Were they by any chance from Belarus?”
Addison’s retort died on her lips. “I don’t know, but I heard them say something about Daniel Savage.”
Peel jerked, his eyes alert. “They did? What did they say?”
“I only heard the name. They were speaking some Slavic tongue. Very harsh.”
The agent rose. “That is very helpful, Ms. Steele. The FBI appreciates your continued vigilance.”
So now I’m a snitch? Addison rose too. “His brother says Daniel fell off a boat, Agent Peel. Do you think he’s still alive?”
Peel’s eyes closed to slits. “We don’t know, Ms. Steele, but if he is, he’d better not be looking forward to a long and happy life.”
She accompanied him to the door. “You mentioned stolen documents. Is he a foreign spy?”
He didn’t look at her. “That information is not yet verified.”
Typical closed-mouth bureaucrat. “This is a small town, Mr. Peel. Very little goes unnoticed, and us locals are quite good at ferreting out news of what goes on in the facility. If Savage wasn’t under suspicion, you wouldn’t be after him, would you?” She put a hand on his arm. “But what do you want with his brother? Even if Nick Savage knew about Daniel’s activities, that doesn’t make him complicit.”
“On the contrary. We have reason to believe he was instrumental in Daniel’s escape.”
To learn what happens next, here are the buy links for M. S. Spencer's The Wishing Tree, followed by her contact information.