Here’s a short, sneak peak at young Henry, the main character of my upcoming Hank Stone Action-Adventure series. Since it has been a few months since my last book release, Blood Out – Austin Conrad Thriller #3, I thought I’d share this short passage with you, just to stay engaged while I’m working on other projects.

Those of you who have read my Austin Conrad thrillers already know a little bit about Henry. He’s Austin’s cousin, and a few details about him have been hinted at in those books. We’ve even listened in on a phone conversation between Austin and “Hank” (the name he came to go by as he grew older).

The first of Hank’s stories, which this passage is lifted from, takes place about thirty years ago, when both he and Austin were teenagers. This is just a short conversation between Henry and his mom, but its our first direct look at Henry, who some of you have been asking about since the hints dropped in the Austin Conrad series. I hope it piques your interest!

“You’ll look back on these days and wish you hadn’t rushed through them,” Henry’s mom said as she came to the table with her morning coffee. It was probably her third or fourth cup. Henry figured she’d been up for hours already.

He was busy reading the text from the back of the Lucky Charms box while shoveling spoonfuls of it down his gullet. It was saying something about the prize inside. Little kid shit, he thought to himself. He’d have to keep an eye out for it in case it plopped into his milk. Then it went on about the vitamins. Riboflavin and all that crap. Yeah, these are a nutritious breakfast, alright. He scooped another spoonful and shoveled them in.

“You won’t even realize it until later. Much later,” Mrs. Stone continued. “These are the times when you’re so busy living in the moment, you don’t even realize how unusual—how fantastic—things are until they’re over.”

She was going on again. Henry glanced up at her in between spoonfuls. She smiled when he looked at her. She was still pretty, in a way. Henry could admit that, even though she was his mother. But she was always going on about shit like this, about time flying by, about getting old. Sometimes it got aggravating.

Henry smiled back, and scooped another spoonful of cereal. Hmm…where was I? he thought. Dextrose, Salt, Gelatin, Trisodium Phosphate, Yellows 5 & 6, Red 40…

“And one day next week, or next year, or maybe when you’re a grown man—”

“I am a grown man, mom. I’m fourteen for Christ’s sake”

“You’re a teenager. And don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. But as I was saying, before you interrupted, mister teenage big-shot, one day you’ll look back and wonder why you squandered the time.”

Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), A B Vitamin (niacinamide), Vitamin B6…

“And by fantastic, I don’t mean something like aliens or bigfoot sightings. No, I’m talking about real things.” She was staring over the sink, out the kitchen window, but Henry didn’t think she was looking at whatever was out there. “Life!” she said excitedly, as she turned back toward him. She took another sip of her coffee and then continued. “Real life might not be as fantastic as movie monsters or those games you stay up all night playing. But it’s more profound. Well, because it’s real.”

“You’re talking in circles, Mom,” Henry said. They’re magically delicious!

“Anyhow, its those real experiences that make an indelible mark on who we are, that stick with us for the rest of our lives and become part of that big book of experiences that we draw from until we make the last decision of our lives. Those are what I’m talking about. Then, when the moment is over and the mundane normalcy of your regular life returns, you start to wonder why in the world you didn’t live more in those moments—really soak them up! You almost feel like you’ve cheated yourself.”

Henry looked up. His mom was gazing down into the bottom of her coffee cup. She had been getting like this over the past few years, since his father had passed away. Wistful. Philosophical.

“It’s just a camping trip, Mom. We go every year on Easter break, even when Dad was alive. Uncle Wayne said you’re welcome to come with us. There’s room.” It would be tight quarters inside Uncle Wayne’s little camper, but he and his cousin Austin usually slept out under the stars anyhow.

She drank the last of her coffee, looked at him a moment. “No, it’s always nice having that week of peace and quiet around here. I just want to make sure you bask in these times while you can. That’s all.”

“I will. Sheesh.” Henry finished the last of his cereal and got up to put his things away. After placing the bowl into the dishwasher, he looked at her and said, “I love you mom.”

“Love you too, Hanky-Panky.”

For Christ’s sake, when do I outgrow that crap? Hank smiled and stepped out the door.

I know it’s short but I just wanted to give you a quick taste of Henry for now. While this excerpt doesn’t get into the nuts and bolts of it, Henry’s stories will be more action-adventure than the Austin stories, and they will have historical and/or archaeological tie-ins. I’m really jonesin’ to get them written and into your hands.

But I’m not actually working on this story at the moment, as I’ve set it aside for a minute to work on a collaboration with my author friend Steven Moore (I’ll be talking more about that project soon). I’ll also be doing more Austin Conrad stuff before I jump back into Henry’s story with both feet. But his first book is about a quarter finished already, and at this point doesn’t even have a title. It will probably be some time in 2020 before this one gets completed. But mark my words, it will be worth the wait!