Danni Sobieski, small firm lawyer and ex-FBI agent agrees to help an elderly Lebanese couple find the men who torched their store and home in rural Florida, crippling the old man and financially destroying the family. She embarks on a hunt that not only endangers her life but the lives of millions of Americans. Danni must discover and stop the couple’s sons from building a biological weapon to launch a new, obscure and deadly virus to obtain revenge for their parents.
In FAILURE TO MELT, Danni moved to Florida after she became disillusioned with the incompetence at FBI headquarters in preventing 9/11. Still mourning the death of her fiancé in Tower 1, she enlists help from Jack Stackhouse, an Aussie-American, ex-MP and private investigator.
While Danni and Jack investigate, Abbas Nasser, younger son and microbiologist, along with his older brother, plan to mete out justice to the rednecks that hurt their parents. The brothers have different motivations for revenge and when it becomes apparent Danni could succeed in bringing the perpetrators to justice, Abbas has second thoughts. Danni must discover that the shy, college educated Abbas may not be what he seems before he launches a virus that could kill half the people it touches.
Rural Florida, June 2004
Safi sat quietly at the kitchen table and looked up at the wall clock. It’s late, after eleven PM. I pray there will be no more graffiti tonight.
The air conditioner droned rhythmically in the window, alternating in volume as the compressor cycled on again in its attempt to keep the temperature and humidity bearable. One of the two bulbs in the ceiling fixture had been out for weeks. The remaining light cast eye-straining glare on the worn vinyl table cloth. The brown-skinned woman pushed graying hair from her damp forehead and picked at the laptop computer. Still dressed in dark slacks, and a white blouse, her blue store apron draped on the table, she was determined to finish entering the day’s transactions before bed. She frowned and entered the invoice for painting over the obscenities.
The distant sound of breaking glass made her look up sharply from the computer. The hair on her arms stood up and her pulse quickened. Most likely an accident on the highway, but something felt wrong.
She eased out of the chair to silently cross the kitchen of the clapboard house, home to her and her husband. The sound drew her past the recliner in the darkened living room, toward the front window. Was that a glint of light?
She parted the dark brown curtain with trembling fingers and sucked in her breath. The window faced the highway. Across the road, yellow flames shot from the roof of the convenience store they’d worked thirty years of their lives to build. Her horrified gaze fell on the three gasoline pumps.
Men, oblivious to the danger stood next to the Quick-Stop sign. One pumped his fist in the air. Others simply stood and watched the spectacle.
“Jabbar wake up!” she shouted to her husband. After last prayers he had dropped into bed, exhausted. He’d opened the store at four this morning and worked all day when the useless boy they hired as a clerk failed to show up again. “They’re back. They’re burning the store!”
She hurried across the faded maroon Persian carpet, a treasured wedding gift so many years ago, toward the bedroom door, when the light turned on.
“Call the police,” he shouted from the bedroom.
Jabbar Nasser staggered into the living room in his blue and white striped pajamas. In one hand, he held a .357 revolver, in the other exercise pants, he struggled to put on. When he pulled the pants up, he stared in disbelief, his face contorted with rage at the fiery glow that radiated from the window behind his wife. “They can’t do this. We are not in Lebanon. This is America.”
Safi picked up the phone and watched her husband start for the front door.
“Jabbar, stay here. We will call the police and fire department. They will handle it. We have insurance and Allah will protect us.”
“And the police will catch no one. No. I will find out who is responsible while they are still here.” He rushed outside, leaving the door wide open.
Safi composed her thoughts as she dialed 911. She began calmly, “This is Saffiyah Nasser in Brookland. Our store is the Quick-Stop at 15678 Highway 54. It is on fire. We need the fire department and the police. The fire was started by men who have been harassing us and they are still on our property.”
It was then she heard the booming explosion of a gun. She recoiled as the sharp sound of two more shots with a different pitch, ripped through the still night.
“Please tell the police to hurry, there is shooting.”
She rushed to the open door with the phone at her ear trying to answer the operator’s questions. A black pickup truck with two men in the back roared across the highway in the direction of her driveway. Safi watched the others in the parking lot climb into cars and trucks but she saw no sign of Jabbar.
“I have to go. I must find my husband. Please hurry!”
A link to my Amazon site with a photo, is: http://www.amazon.com/R.-F.-Moltzon/e/B006H8VFBW
Failure to Melt placed as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough novel contest.