We’re now exactly one month from the release of Mourning Dove. You know what that means—it’s time for a chapter reveal!
It should go without saying that if you haven’t read Imminent Dawn, there will be spoilers ahead. That said, you can still tap out and nab a copy of book one here before coming back to read the below!
Rénald Dupont should have been cross-country skiing. He should have been reclined on the couch, half-asleep with his pocketab limp in hand. He should have been doing crosswords or cross-stitch or crossing off items on his bucket list—whatever it is one’s supposed to do when retired.
Instead, Rénald Dupont was working. He was always, always working.
“Ren, mon cœur.” His wife, Vivianne, knocked softly on the door of his studio.
His eyes burned as he removed them from the screen of his expanded pocketab. On the far side of the paned glass that separated his office from the rest of the home, Vivianne wore a soft, patient smile. He waved her in. “Is it late already?” he said.
She removed a small stack of books from the oversized armchair in the room’s corner before lowering herself into it. “You tell me.” Vivianne pointed to the mug at his pocketab’s side.
Ren regretted taking a sip the moment the beverage hit his tongue. Caribou was a drink best served warm, and this now apparently room-temperature blend of red wine, whisky, and maple syrup took all the constitution he could muster to keep down.
Judging by Vivianne’s unbridled laughter, he failed to hide his disgust.
The mug tocked against his desk as he relinquished his grip, and, before he could check the time himself, his wife mentioned it to him through her laughter.
“Il est 22 heures,” she said. “I know les 72 de la résistance begin tomorrow, but—”
“I’m sorry,” Ren said. “I didn’t mean for it to get this late.” He never did. But ever since the Canadian government selected—well, forced—Montréal to host this year’s Ratification Day ceremonies in an obvious attempt to quell les 72, a walk through any of the city’s nineteen arrondissements was full of clenched chins, of hushed words of protest, of signs in shop windows speaking out against the increasingly aggressive Union-backed Canadian government. Some signs even went so far as to support the Nouveau Front de Libération du Québec, a thought that further roiled the Caribou Ren had imbibed.
“When my husband retired,” Vivianne said, “I thought I would see more of him, not less.”
“That was my plan, too.” It had been, anyway, at least it was when WVN reneged on their plan for him to transition into the network president role in the aftermath of the debacle on the EMPATHY compound. Then there was the public harassment he and the network endured at the hands of the NAU as if he was responsible for Meredith’s disappearance. Of course the framing of Edgar as a terrorist in the Port of Galveston incident was another strike against the network, and with Edgar having worked so closely with Meredith, well, the board of directors ultimately decided to “take the network in a different direction.”
“Can you give me, maybe, another half hour?” he said. “Then we can watch—”
“I might be asleep by then.”
Ren sighed. “Please, with my speech this weekend, I need an opportunity to—”
“I understand.” She stood, chin held high. “These are the trade-offs, I suppose, of being married to the incomparable Rénald Dupont, la voix du mouvement indépendantiste.” She said the last bit almost mockingly, as if in quotes. In fact, they had been in quotes—supportively so—when Le Journal Officiel had written them some weeks earlier, though they’d referred to him as the movement’s conscience, not its voice. He’d needed a cause to keep himself occupied ever since abandoning his clandestine search to determine Meredith’s whereabouts, or to at least find damning evidence of the NAU’s involvement in what might have been her death. Urging nonviolence as tension swelled surrounding Québec’s imminent transition to independence seemed as worthy of a cause as any, both prudent and close to home in the most literal way.
“I’m sorry, chérie,” he said. “After we get through this weekend—”
“I know.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Woe be it of me to take you away from la cause. Perhaps with this speech, the movement can be swayed to maintain a peace it could not in our younger years.”
Ah yes, the younger years, the very same that seduced Vivianne to le Front herself, that robbed her of over-zealous, freedom-fighting friends and comrades who were taken before their time at the hands of l’oppresseur. Not that she had ever advertised her own association with them; to openly support le Front was to sign one’s death certificate—historically, anyway—and to dawdle too long on the subject would only turn the soil atop haunting memories buried long ago.
Despite this, Vivianne still supported la mouvement with ardent zeal, but gone were the days of indépendance à tout prix, of Molotov cocktails through the windows of government buildings, of car bombs and kidnappings and oaths to give one’s life to the cause if it came to that.
No, the woman before him now was gentle, kind, tranquil. These days one would never suspect she had once been at the forefront of a violent separatist movement, at least unless her tattoo of the NFLQ banner were revealed, its blue and white background, its single red star tattooed at the top of her right thigh.
Before she left the room, Vivianne sighed, her fingertips lingering on his shoulder. “Bonne nuit.”
Ren bobbed his head, cracking his neck as she closed the door behind her. He returned to his speech, the keynote address of this year’s 72 heures, Québec’s annual show of solidarity against Canada’s ratification of the Articles of Union. The province had been the only one to oppose the move, marking each anniversary of ratification with seventy-two hours of peaceful protest.
He reached for his mug of Caribou, stopping himself when he realized he was only grasping at it to delay revising his speech any further. The speech was nearly complete, but it lacked soul—exactly what the independentist movement needed now more than anything else. Ren could almost understand what drove support for the New Québec Liberation Front and its mantra of independence-by-any-means-necessary; the independence referendum had passed two years earlier with more than sixty percent of voters en faveur, but with Canada and the NAU alike refusing to recognize the referendum’s validity, fear of a violent suppression of autodétermination québécoise had many wondering what the official Quebecois government posture ought to be once independence plans were finalized later in the upcoming year.
“Tabarnak,” Ren said, cursing himself for allowing peevishness to nibble at him. He rose, stretched, and headed to the kitchen with his mug to reheat what remained of his drink. The microwave hummed in a low baritone as Ren picked at his mustache, failing to fend off the ghosts that so often came for him in this mockery of a retirement.
He was the one who allowed Meredith to go to the EMPATHY compound in his stead that night, what little choice he might have had. That Edgar alone had been murdered and framed as a terrorist suggested Meredith still lived—Sasha, too, for all Ren knew—but the NAU’s investigators had made it clear any public overtures tying the government to her disappearance would be met with a vengeance Ren wasn’t sure he had the stomach for any longer.
To get closure for himself if no one else, he still investigated in the background, keeping quiet as he probed the web for signs of her, as he reached out to the Queen of Spades, that Ty character, for any thoughts on where she might have run off to if she had the chance. Ty’s failure to respond to any of Ren’s correspondence plagued him as well. Had Ty been part of some greater plot that both Meredith and Ren had failed to recognize?
Ren jumped as the microwave beeped. He fetched his mug from within and padded across the kitchen tile in his wool socks as he returned to his office. Perhaps after this weekend he’d pick up the Port of Galveston case again as a side project. His cheek dimpled at the thought of finally spending more time with Vivianne.
His heart leapt into third gear as he entered his office, the alarms on his pocketab as frenetic as he’d ever heard them. He cast the mug down, its contents sloshing over the edge and splashing onto the desktop. “What could possibly—?”
It’s then that he saw exactly “what could possibly.”
EXPLOSION A LA PLACE DU CANADA – NFLQ EN REVENDIQUE LA RESPONSABILITE
Despite the chilly temperature in the room, a wave of heat crashed down on him. There had been an explosion in downtown Montréal, in the Place du Canada square, exactly where he was meant to give his Saturday night keynote in defiance of the ongoing Ratification Day celebration. Mon Dieu. He rubbed his temples, jaw loose, as he read what few details were available. The New Québec Liberation Front had already claimed responsibility, and, at least at this juncture, no injuries had been reported. Aside from that, very little was known.
Ordinarily, Ren would have shaken his head, written a blog post, and appeared on a few evening shows to dismiss the NFLQ’s actions as barbarous and not representative of the direction the young nation should take upon formal secession. With the city and the province’s streets teeming with disquiet and les 72 set to begin at midnight, however, Ren had to act now if he were to have any attempt at shaping the narrative before the weekend’s events.
He snatched his pocketab from his desk and headed for his home’s foyer where he threw on his coat, his boots.
“Mon cœur?” came Vivianne’s voice from around the corner. “Est-ce que tu pars?”
Ren tucked his pocketab into his jacket pocket. “Oui. There’s been an accident downtown. I’ve got to go—”
“You don’t have to go. You want to go.”
“If you wanted to ‘please Vivianne,’ you would stay home and—”
“There was an explosion. Le Front. A planned attack.”
She sucked in her cheeks, her expression grave.
“I have to make an appearance. I have to urge calm, to remind everyone—”
“You don’t need to remind me.” Tears welled in her eyes. “Go. Set the youth to rights. Another night with half of the bed cold might be the best contribution I can make these days.”
Ren knelt to work the laces of his boots. “The bed’s never cold long. I always come back.”
His hand paused when it hit the doorknob.
“Do not be dramatic,” Vivianne said. “I say it only as a reminder of what’s at stake. You know as well as I do the danger fighting for one’s ideals entails.”
Ren forced down the lump in his throat and turned the knob to enter the garage where his black coupe awaited.
There were many things Rénald Dupont should have been doing, but for now, quelling further unrest would have to take the fore.
What will become of Ren, his wife, the NFLQ, and the rest of our cast? You’ll have to read Mourning Dove to find out. Submit your preorder at the links below and, if you haven’t grabbed a copy of Imminent Dawn yet either, you can do so at the following links.