One of "enhancements" dealt with the character of Andrea Jackson. I hope I do not throw off my reading audience by bringing up her one-quarter Native American heritage and attributing that as the reason she senses there is a "bad spirit" at the top of Dead Man's Drop Mountain. The "spirit" of the mountain is not part of the plot of this novel, only an attribute of this particular character. Andrea is such a minor player in this novel. However, I hope this mention will lay the foundation for Andrea when she shows up in Aurora series book four, Aurora Remembrance. In that novel, she plays a far more prominent role and her Pueblo ancestry will be important.
Here is the new prologue:
On the Monday of Spring Break in 2024, Eddie Burrows took Andrea on a day trip to Dead Man’s Drop Mountain. They rode in Eddie’s all-terrain vehicle, a two-seater Prowler he used for hunting. The trail grew increasingly rugged as they arrived within a quarter of a mile from the summit. Andrea, tired of being beat around inside the vehicle, finally told Eddie that she would rather walk.
They saw the sign warning everyone in the area to stay away from the cliffs at the peak of Dead Man’s Drop.
“We should not go any further, Eddie,” Andrea warned. “There is a bad spirit in this place. It swallows people up.”
“What are ya’ll talking about, Andi?” Eddie responded with a laugh. “That warning sign there is because of the steep cliff and the winds that can whip up and throw people around if they are too dumb to pay attention to what they are doing. We’ll just be careful and there won’t be no problem.”
“Please, Eddie, let’s just explore somewhere else where the spirit of this mountain is more welcoming. I do not want to go any further.”
“What is all this talk about spirits, Andi?” Eddie asked, confused. “Ya’ll know, this Texas white boy don’t understand all that business about spirits in nature like you folks with Indian blood do. Besides, I thought ya’ll were only one-quarter Native American.”
“One-quarter Pueblo, Eddie. The tribes are not all the same.”
“Okay, sorry. I should know better by now. But, are ya’ll sure your fear of heights ain’t the real reason why you don’t want to climb to the top?”
Without a word, Andrea stared at Eddie, her face void of expression.
“Oh, Sweetheart, future-bride-of-mine, please don’t get mad at this country boy of yours for my stupidity on these matter,” Eddie teasingly pleaded. “Ya’ll come only as close as you feel comfortable. But, this is too impre of a scene for me to pass up. I want to get some pictures of the canyon and beyond from the top of the rocks.”
Ignoring the sign and Andrea’s warning, Eddie bolted out of the Prowler and strode towards the top of the mountain. He turned back occasionally to check on Andrea as he climbed the boulders.
Andrea, more cautious due to the dark feeling she could not shake, ventured only a short distance from the Prowler. She stayed as far away from the top of the mountain as she could without losing sight of Eddie. From her vantage point, she used her camera to take snapshots of Eddie. He stood confidently on the rocky outcrop while he captured images of the view beyond the cliff with the camera on his retro Cabela’s flip phone.
Eddie walked back to show Andrea the pictures. He could not find one of the snapshots he thought he had taken. In frustration, because it was not on his phone, Eddie shook his head and ignored Andrea’s intake of breath as he hiked back towards the boulders.
Eddie changed his mind and rambled on the flatter surface towards the edge of the cliff. Andrea shook her head with confusion. She should have felt relief at his decision to not climb the rocky outcrop again. Instead, as she watched him move to the left and below the rocks to see if he could capture the image he desired, her feeling of foreboding increased.
In an attempt to distract herself from the uneasiness building inside of her, Andrea turned her camera to video mode and started a holo-video clip of Eddie. She watched him through the viewing window as he stood on the cliff edge. She saw how he centered the scene he wanted in his cell’s viewing window. Full of confidence, he ignored the wind that whipped at his clothing and bent back the rim of the brown, wide-brimmed western hat that would have blown away if Eddie had not tightly fastened it under his chin with its leather straps. At this sight of Eddie standing at the cliff’s edge, a surge of love for this man coursed so strongly through Andrea that it smothered all feelings of fear inside of her.
After he clicked his phone camera, a smile spread across his face as he checked the image. She guessed Eddie was pleased with his latest picture.
Eddie walked back toward Andrea, his cell phone clutched in his hand. While he made funny faces for the video being recorded by her camera, Eddie’s cell rang. He glanced at the caller I.D. screen. The sunlight created a glare making it impossible for him to see who was calling. Eddie stepped back into the shadows cast by the boulders crowing the summit of Dead Man’s Drop. He pulled the screen closer to his face to read the incoming number.
Andrea realized the caller must be someone Eddie knew and liked because he grinned before he flipped open the cover to answer the call. Instead of Andrea feeling happy for him, the feeling of foreboding returned and clutched her heart.
Then Eddie disappeared.