Sampler: The Drop by John Anthony Miller

It’s Havana in 1958. It is the perfect kidnapping until the moment they learn no one will pay the ransom.

Ariana Rojas is alluring, intelligent, sophisticated, and wealthy – at least until a brutal dictator steals the family fortune.

Determined to get back what she lost; she joins the revolution. It isn’t long before she hatches a clever scheme, the perfect crime, to recover what she once had while getting revenge at the same time.

She arranges the kidnapping of Jimmy Foster, a wealthy American who spends weekends in Havana with his gorgeous wife Darlene.

Even with meticulous planning, Ariana makes one crucial mistake.

She never dreams that Darlene Foster won’t pay the ransom.

But with a missing husband and a huge inheritance, Darlene has options she likes a whole lot more.

The Drop has a unique cast of characters: a Mafia casino manager, an unbearable wife, a mysterious detective, and revolutionaries in name only.

Ariana manipulates all involved to affect an outcome few can predict, none can imagine, and all will enjoy.

John Anthony Miller

Sampler: The Drop

July 26, 1958 at 07:11 a.m.

Six Miles East of Havana, Cuba

 

The concrete walls were twenty feet high, broad at the bottom but slim at the top and capped by barbed wire. Towers sprouted from each corner, manned by guards with machine guns who watched the barren ground that stretched from the walls to the trees in the distance. The fortress was imposing. It would discourage an enemy, defeat an attacker, deter the most formidable foe—if that was its purpose. But it wasn’t designed to keep people out. It was built to keep them in.

They were political prisoners. Those brave enough to disagree, offer opposing views, challenge conventional wisdom. If nothing else, they expressed ideas that deserved to be heard. But they paid a price for daring to dream. Many lost their lives behind the massive walls of one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Many more lost their minds.

Two steel doors admitted the vehicles needed to support a prison population that counted so many thousand souls. A single-story office building with narrow windows sat beside the doors, an island of freedom in a continent of convicts, a link to a world those inside had forgotten. Through this office, on very rare occasions, a prisoner walked out, having paid their debt to society. But they were never the same as when they walked in. Their days were too horrendous, their minds too scarred.

Ariana Rojas sat in the driver’s seat of her 1955 black Ford, waiting for a man to emerge. She was attractive—an olive complexion, wavy black hair, and dark eyes. Slender and graceful, poised and articulate, she was an intellectual from a once-wealthy family.

Not yet thirty, she often claimed her devotion to the revolution, driven by her hatred for Fulgencio Batista, a brutal dictator who destroyed her family. Although born to privilege, she barely survived, working as a maid at the Paradise Hotel and living in a third-floor apartment in a century-old building. The luxuries in life she had once enjoyed had vanished, the memories surreal, the dream a nightmare.

She looked at her watch, waiting. The sun rose, promising another hot day. A gentle breeze blew in from the ocean, four miles north, and a kaleidoscope of palm trees, orchids, and lilies sprouted from the edge of the barren strip that circled the prison walls. She shivered, even in the heat, knowing that the man she was about to meet might remotely resemble the one she had left a year before.

The door to the office opened, and he stepped out, lean and hard, ruggedly handsome. A scraggly beard sprawled across his face, his dark eyes alive with conviction. His gray suit was wrinkled, ill-fitting, not worn since he arrived. An attorney before imprisonment, he was a shadow of the man who wore it before, the suit symbolizing the life he left rather than the one he was about to live.

Ariana Rojas got out of the car to greet him. She saw his eyes, consumed with rage, and for a moment she paused, afraid. She approached him tentatively, knowing prison changes a man—and never for the better. “I thought this day would never come,” she said.

“Nor did I,” Rafael replied. He hugged her and, after a moment, moved away. “But it did. And that’s what matters most.”

They had never been lovers, not even friends. But they united to overthrow the government of Batista. It was a bond formed by many, creating fragments of revolution scattered throughout the country. And as each day passed, they organized as needed, grew stronger, became more effective, threatening a government they had once barely bothered.

“The others are waiting,” she said.

They got in the car and drove away, down the long driveway to an intersecting street that led to the highway. She looked back at the prison in the rearview mirror, knowing it overflowed with many who didn’t deserve to be there. It was a sight she had seen many times, an image she would rather forget.

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