DEATH SPIRAL

- by Patricia Rosemoor

StealingThunderThis month is the 25th Anniversary of Harlequin Intrigue. I’ve been writing for the line nearly since it’s inception. My first Intrigue was published in 1986, and STEALING THUNDER is my 49th Intrigue and the start of a new branch of The McKenna Legacy. The anniversary has made me remember some Intrigues from the past that I really love. DEATH SPIRAL was my third Intrigue and a trip to Europe gave me my scary inspiration.

I was traveling with my roommate Dacie and her sister Zanie. We were driving through the Swiss Alps with the intention of having a picnic at the Furka Pass, but the weather was threatening. So we stayed in the car. We were in the midst of eating when suddenly there was a bang at the car windows. A man was in a panic trying to get help.

We all spoke a bit of German and from his excited explanation, we realized he’d been in a climbing accident and he needed help getting a friend off the mountain. Only the friend was hurt and still out on the mountain path.

He led the way carrying a board. That made our stomachs drop. How bad off was his friend?

When we saw a man standing unsteadily on his feet, we were relieved. His head was bleeding but he was able to walk. Only this wasn’t THE guy we were going after—another friend was hurt badly and much farther from the road. Dacie took the hurt man back to the car park and Zanie and I went on with the leader.

I don’t have too many phobias, but heights aren’t among my favorite things. I still can’t get on a stool to change a light bulb-nothing to hold onto. But up at who knows how many thousand feet with a drop that went forever, I was weirdly okay. And that was on a ledge about six feet wide.

And then we came to the third man. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t stand. He probably had a broken hip. He was crying and when we tried to get him on the board to carry him, we really couldn’t. Zanie decided to go back and see if she could flag a man or men on the road to come out there to help. The leader and I did our best with the hurt man, but finally the leader decided to go back and get their car and drive it on the ledge. This just as the mountain came down on us. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see my fingers if I stretched out my arm. I tried to wait it out, but them it started raining, the hurt man started shaking, and I feared he would die on me right there.

So to my own surprise, I somehow got him to his feet and pulled his upper body over one shoulder and made him move along with me when all he wanted was to be left to die. I had to use a hand to find the mountain wall so we wouldn’t walk off the ledge.

The weather was just clearing when I saw the taillights coming toward me. Indeed, the leader was backing his car along the road. He got his friend inside, but needless to say, I walked back.

A Swiss patrol had stopped and the driver had gone to a phone box (yes, this was before cell phones) to get an ambulance out there. The leader wouldn’t let them take his friend. After the ambulance left, he said he wanted to reward us and pulled the biggest roll of money from his pocket. We wouldn’t take money and so he invited us to at least come to his home for food and warmth. We lost his car in the rain.

That night, dining in what was some old mansion turned hotel in the middle of the Alps, we recounted the day and agreed no one would ever believe this story–it was something out of the movies.

I wonder how many readers believed it when they picked up DEATH SPIRAL—the book opens with the heroine saving a Russian figure skater who is defecting across a mountain path.

When they say write what you know, is this what they mean?

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