Friday, 27 August 2021

Implicitly - my latest novel

Synopsis

Implicitly is a love story about learning who to trust. Gwendolyn (Gwen) Zowitsky’s twin sister, Annie, has met a new guy. Ryan Vorsatz invites Annie to spend a weekend with him fishing in a forest on the outskirts of the city. Annie asks Gwen to go with her because she doesn’t know Ryan at all – they had only met twice. Gwen tags along unwillingly but soon feels uneasy about Ryan especially when she sees his three hooded companions. When Annie takes a nap, Gwen follows Ryan into the forest. Strange things happen and Ryan is forced to flee with Gwen to a shack on higher ground. He sends a radio message to Eddie, the supervisor of the private property to look after Annie. 

Gwen falls in love with Ryan, but he manipulates her through deception and lies in his attempt to find a syndicate leader known as Stealth Strider. Gwen meets his brother, Daniel, and an army of Russians in the forest, which makes her more aware of the danger she and Annie are in. Gwen loves Ryan and lands in situations where she has to make a choice to leave or support him. She keeps choosing him even though she doesn’t trust him, and he leads her further into danger in his search for Stealth Strider. Daniel warns Gwen to be wary of Ryan. Daniel tells her that he is the only person she will learn to trust. Gwen soon discovers that Stealth Strider was Ryan’s mother, Sofia Vorsatz who was killed by one of the syndicates. Stealth Strider has been activated again two years after the shooting and because her body was never found, Gwen is convinced Sofia is still alive. But Sofia wouldn’t have activated Stealth Strider and throw herself in the spotlight? Who then was pretending to be Stealth Strider and why? 

Gwen meets Daniel and Ryan’s father, Nick Vorsatz, who makes her even more afraid. Ryan takes Gwen to a glade in the forest to a sunken shipping container. Here Gwen discovers a Russian prisoner, Yelena Babanin, who gives her a memory stick with evidence to destroy Ryan’s maternal grandmother, Khristina Engelhardt. Yelena tells Gwen to only trust Ryan with the information, but Gwen is confused and hides the memory stick. What is the connection between Sofia Vorsatz and Yelena Babanin? When Ryan is shot, Sofia returns home. Her story coincides with Yelena Babanin’s and describes her mother, Khristina Engelhardt, as a blood-thirsty narcissist. When Gwen finally gives the memory stick to Ryan, they find the much-needed evidence against Khristina Engelhardt to have her listed as a number one traitor for many of the syndicates Nick Vorsatz had been working for. The truth starts to unfold. Daniel and Ryan leave for Russia to find Khristina and invite Gwen and Annie to go with them. Here Gwen and Annie discover who the real enemy is.     

Blurb

In a matter of one day, a stranger takes control of Gwen’s freedom. She has to trust Ryan or die. After all the games, deceit, and lies, she keeps choosing to go with him in his search for a dangerous enemy: Stealth Strider. His brother makes her more aware of the danger she is in. Gwen is given the evidence Ryan needs to find the person who killed his mother. But her trust falters when it least should. Throughout the story, trust subtly builds a track record and Gwen learns to love the man she trusts the least. 


Available at: Groep 7 Boekwinkel

E-book: click here



Chapter 1

I closed my eyes and saw Ryan lying in a pool of blood. I had bludgeoned him to death with my millionth side glance. I faced the tragic reality as the ill-fated engine sputtered and gasped for the last time, and a benumbing silence filled the air.

Perched on the edge of the back seat like an anxious child, I leaned forward and craned my neck as far to the front as possible. It was the moment of reckoning: I knew where I was going to die.

In wide-eyed bewilderment, I stared at the car’s bonnet knowing that beneath it was a dead engine. My anxiety grew in proportion to the scene of desolation. Not one vehicle had passed us since we left the main road. Not one! We were in an ominous forest devoid of humans, which to my mind meant only one thing. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere, exposed and vulnerable.

Everything was grim inside the stillness of the car, but outside, where the road and trees were engulfed in deep and somber darkness, it was worse. A quiver of unease ran through me.

I turned my head slowly to look at the driver and then at the passenger in the front seat, my sister, Anne Zowitsky. She was the reason why we were in this predicament, and why I bristled when I saw her sitting in passive politeness chewing her gum.

“Annie!” My voice ruptured the silence in the car, and both Annie and Ryan jumped.

Her hand shot up in the air, palm facing forwards and fingers splayed, in an attempt to stop my hysteria from escaping.

“Don’t!” she said vehemently, gawping almost in my direction into the dark.

Being ever the rebel, I shifted forward between the seats and twisted my torso to face her. It wasn’t a comfortable position half suspended between the car’s roof and handbrake, but I needed to make myself visible to her.

“You must at least let me say what I’m thinking!” I was being ruthless because I wanted her to acknowledge and accept full responsibility for everything that would go wrong over the weekend.

“No!” she said between clenched teeth.

“Honestly, I need to say it! You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

“Not now, Gwen! Not now!”

“Then when? When can I be hysterical because this looks like the perfect time for me to lose it?”

Annie’s seat belt snapped open, and she scrambled out of the car. I admired her courage in that irrational moment but was horrified to see her jeopardize her own safety outside in the dark.

Meanwhile, Ryan remained frozen in his seat. I couldn’t believe it! I shifted to look at him and then lost it.

“Ryan!” I yelled frantically. “Get out of the car and do something!”

Within seconds he was outside the car, more for wanting to avoid my near-hysteria than for knowing what to do. He swaggered to the front of the car where Annie was and fidgeted endlessly in his attempt to open the bonnet.

I stared at them, knowing exactly what was going to happen. Annie and Ryan would look brainlessly in at the engine and send a desperate prayer into the universe. They were in dire need of a miracle or a telepathic step-by-step guide on how to fix it because what did they know about engines? Nothing! He didn’t even know how to open the bonnet.

Let me backtrack because the breakdown was not the cause of my frustration. It was merely the last straw for me. First, we lost our GPS signal and then lost our way! It was bad enough leaving home so late in the afternoon and driving into the night, but losing signal was more than I could bear. I told Ryan and Annie quite emphatically we shouldn’t continue our journey to the cottage. I pleaded for them to turn back to the main road. Did they listen? No! My reasoning fell on deaf ears. Ryan continued to drive onward into oblivion and let me make it clear: I don’t like obliviousness.

When we came to a fork in the road, Ryan hesitated before choosing to keep to the left. He argued the river was to our left, and the cottage was near the river.

At that particular point, I couldn’t roll my eyes anymore. I would’ve pulled an eye muscle and forever regretted spending the weekend squint-eyed and unfocused!

My foul mood had been brewing since Thursday. I didn’t want to come on this trip, but Annie didn’t want to come without me because she didn’t know Ryan at all. Now I ask: Who in their right mind goes off with a stranger for a weekend break? Annie does because she’s naive.

Don’t think for one minute I didn’t try to prevent this weekend from happening. I did! I argued the subject to utter decay, but Annie wouldn’t take no for an answer. It’ll be nice, she said. It’ll do you the world of good, she argued. Just come for my sake, she pleaded. The grave consequence: My fate was held in abeyance as I sat in the dark with no one to turn to for support.

With an impatience born of desperation, I switched on my cell phone’s flashlight, opened the door, and reluctantly stepped out of the car. I was tired, stiff, and upset, and needed to pee. In fact, I needed to pee more than an hour ago when we passed through the last town before turning off onto this desolate piece of hell road. Ryan had mumbled something about us being near our destination and not wanting to make another pit stop. So I was subjected to bobbing up and down in the car on the pitiful excuse of a bumpy road, sitting with my knees clamped together and praying for the preservation of my dignity and strength for my bladder to hold.

Standing outside the car was a daunting experience. I looked around at the absolute darkness. The wind in the trees gave the illusion we were near the sea, but we weren’t! The last thing I was experiencing was a relaxing weekend break. My mind was filled with images of corpses and ghosts and devils and demons … and death! The eeriness filled me with ominous foreboding and, to make it plausible, an unwelcome shiver ran down my spine. Perforce, I was led to a deep and reverential respect for whatever was writhing out there and hastened to the front of the car.

There I found the two star-crossed lovers sitting on the edge of the car, at leisure, with their backs to the engine. It didn’t take them long to realize opening the bonnet had been a waste of time and energy.

I stepped forward with feigned temerity. My hands rested on my hips.

Ryan looked at me and said ever so friendly, “The cottage isn’t too far off. Let’s grab our things and start walking.”

Was I the only frantic person standing at Death’s door? My eyebrows shot up, and I looked at him in disbelief. But Annie glared at me. So I kept quiet. After all, this was her new boyfriend. It was his trip and his need to fish and rest. Everything revolved around Ryan. I was nothing more than a compliant chaperone and needed to shut up!

I was deeply stung by her lack of compassion for what I was going through. But, with no alternative options, what could I do? So I took my bags and followed Ryan and Annie deeper into the devastatingly dark forest.

There were no celestial lights to shine down on us beneath the leafy canopy. We only had our cell phone flashlights, with batteries near depletion.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about Annie. She’s a 28-year-old hairdresser who loves her work. She’s clever, creative, and a passive observer of life. Annie loves reading, eating, binge-watching Netflix, and eating. Oh, did I mention that? Then let me emphasize, she never picks up weight. She can eat the metaphoric elephant one bite at a time and still have the figure of a catwalk model, all skin and bones. Being a typical Libra, she’s tactful, kind, and charming. She’s the epitome of beauty with her long dark hair and blue eyes.

Few people know Annie and I are fraternal twins. Whenever we mention it, people look at us in disbelief. They would say, “Twins?” scrunching up their faces, adding, “Really? Wow! Twins? Who’d have thought?” They say it with so much conviction! You would swear our parents had conspired against us and we were condemned to live a perfect lie.

Even though I share the same Zodiac sign as Annie, we differ in more ways than one. One of the few things we have in common is our creative talent.

My name is Gwendolyn Zowitsky, and I’m a graphic designer. Unlike Annie, I hate sitting still for long intervals unless I’m designing. So I’m disinclined to read or watch movies. The only time I make an effort is when Annie is overwhelmed by a story and annoys me to no end.

I pick up weight quite easily. So I starve myself more than I should and practically live in the gym. My hair is lighter than Annie’s and is cut in a less than perfect bob. My blue eyes are frustratingly four-eyed. Yes! Annie is the avid reader, but I’m the one burdened with glasses.

I don’t care much about fashion. I’m good at running my mouth and standing up for myself, and I’m the one to take action when we find ourselves in a difficult situation.

I always think of Annie as a colourful cosmos on a long, slender stem. She attracts people like the cosmos attracts birds and bees and butterflies. Annie is easy-going, thrives in the worst of conditions when she has company, and doesn’t need a lot of preparation to be beautiful.

I’m more like the sunflower. I’m slightly bigger and taller than Annie. My head is always heavy with unnecessary thoughts and because I tend to dip into negativity, it’s a constant challenge to face the light and be positive. But I always turn to the light!

It’s perhaps here I need to emphasize, I hate the outdoors and so does Annie. So understandably, she wouldn’t have survived the weekend with Ryan on her own. We’ve never hiked, camped, or gone fishing.

Why she thought a weekend in the middle of nowhere in the company of a stranger would be okay, as long as I was with her, eluded me. She was convinced it would be fun. We could read, and play cards, or board games, and … Yawn!

Her sudden infatuation with Ryan Vorsatz was nauseating.


 


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