Saturday Sampler: The Strait by Dom Stasi
December 7, 2019
A rich cast of characters dice with a mélange of murder, intrigue, deception, mystery, and betrayal.
Pilot Jake Silver is haunted by a cruel irony—he secretly suspects that he’s the reason Swede Bergstrom, the hero who saved his life, has fallen on hard times. Upon learning that Swede has been killed during the commission of a crime, the guilt-driven Jake too-willingly agrees to follow Swede’s mysterious and beautiful sister, Christina, on a search to clear her brother’s name.
Their odyssey takes them from the canyons of Manhattan to the heart of darkness itself, enlisting the help of colorful characters and dodging death every step of the way.
But is the alluring Christina the loving sister she appears to be, or evil incarnate? The body of a woman discovered in Jake’s East Side apartment and her killer’s ritualistically brutal M.O. lead NYPD homicide cop Pat Garodnik to suspect the latter.
Combining his efforts with those of Jake’s mother—a former DA with enemies on both sides of the law—the pair embark on an odyssey of their own, going to any lengths necessary, legal or otherwise, to find the truth and save Jake before his time runs out.
Literary and atmospheric, Dom Stasi’s debut thriller will have you turning pages late into the night with its high-flying action and intriguing mystery. As answers continue to be uncovered, the final pieces of the puzzle are as shocking as they are satisfying.
Sampler: The Strait
Jake Silver inched his way across the dimly lit bedroom of his Manhattan apartment.
Stopping by the bed, his eyes were drawn to the woman’s prone form, and beyond to the far nightstand where a pair of champagne flutes–one on its side, the other upright, its silhouette clear through the tiny garment flung over its mouth–recalled visions of an evening well spent.
And, though the night had been special, it had not yet occurred to Jake that it was the first during which his sleep, however brief, had not suffered the nightmare and its aftermath. That this gutsy woman had chosen to remain by his side, would serve as adequate good fortune for the moment. Though they’d known one-another a mere 36 hours, Jake felt an uncommon affinity for Sandy McRea.
The bedroom was comfortably warm against the crisp autumn dawn, so Cassandra–as the decidedly unaffected Ms. McRea would soon become known–had let the bedclothes slip below her waist. Jake made no move to raise them, but instead allowed his eyes to wash slowly over his new lover’s sculpted upper back, indulge the ivory sweep of torso, the narrow waist, the sensual, summoning breadth of hips laid bare by the retreating folds of linen.
He wanted to wake her, lift her to him. But he knew she’d need her rest if only to survive the upcoming day of job interviews at what seemed every ad agency in town. So Jake ever-so-gently moved an amber curl away from her face and bent to softly kiss her cheek.
Opening one eye, Sandy smiled sleepily. “Is it morning already?”
“Not for you. Not yet.” He adjusted her blankets.
Reaching up to touch his face, she said, “You slept well, peacefully.”
“I was tired. Can’t imagine why,” he teased.
“Well, you think about it,” she countered, suppressing a mischievous grin, hoping he’d find himself able to think of little else.
Both eyes open now, she girded her courage and asked, “Will I see you again?”
“We both know that answer,” he whispered, pleased as much by her candor as her interest. “I’m flying back tomorrow night. We’ll put on our big-boy pants and celebrate your success.”
“Success?” she laughed. “I haven’t landed anything yet.”
“You will,” Jake said. “You’re beautiful, brilliant, and talented.”
“Right,” she yawned, a hint of cynicism aimed less at the choice than the order of his words. “Maybe the last two qualities will carry the day for once.”
Their faces nearly touching, Jake understood the distraction such a face as Sandy’s might impose upon a hapless interviewer of either gender, especially those unable to see the aspiring artist as anything other than an “aging” ingénue. He smiled. “I’ve seen your renderings, kiddo. Those drawings are gonna knock ‘em dead.”
With that bit of encouragement, they shared one long and lingering last kiss before Jake playfully pushed Sandy’s distracting face into the overstuffed pillow, teasing, “Now, stop pointing that thing at me, or I’ll never get out of here. I’ll see you tomorrow night… and remember, big boy pants.”
They exchanged a smile, she closed her eyes, and Jake turned to leave.
Suddenly, in wrenching contrast to the moment, he recalled the horror and the visions that had overwhelmed him two nights past. As he stood in the doorway, his back to the bedroom, vivid images of the recurring dream shattered his idyllic morning.
Once again the specter emerged and walked toward him. Once again he saw its wet garments, its shredded hand beckoning, looming, horribly cold as it drew near. But this time, like no other time, the hand had touched his face. With no little embarrassment, Jake recalled how he’d awakened then to pitch his sweaty, shaking, combat veteran’s fit, all of it playing out before the wide-eyed and terrified Sandy.
Now, a full day and night later, Jake tried to shake the memory as he turned back to have one last, bittersweet look at the extraordinary person still sharing his bed, and despite himself, despite the nightmares and learned caution, despite Sandy’s earlier terror, despite all of it, he allowed himself to feel the rush of new romance.
Stepping back into the bedroom, Jake picked up a pen from the nightstand, and scribbled a few words of endearment, along with an admonition–his second–that Sandy use the apartment for her remaining few days in New York. He closed with a promise to call when he got to LA.
Meet the Author:
Dom Stasi is a TV and motion picture technologist instrumental to the development of such bellwether networks as HBO and MTV where he served as Director and Vice President of Engineering and Network Operations respectively.
Author of over 30 peer-reviewed papers on terrestrial and space communications, he is a former president and chairman of the science advocating Society of Space and Satellite Professionals International and holds that institution’s prestigious Mentor Award.
Recently retired, Dom lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 50 years, Gloria.
Inspired by his love of aviation, THE STRAIT is his first work of fiction.
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