Happy Friday, everyone. This week, I’m sorting through the plot of Deliberate Intent and came across a secondary character scene that pretty much sums up the problem facing Shadow Company. The backstory begins with dreams so real they can kill you. Shadow walkers have upped the ante with their mind control. Manipulation is the key to garnering power when the dreams evolve into reality. So the new puppeteer, The Sultan, creates nightmares for our team members. One such dream has Logan Latimar, the warlock from Beyond the Veil, so concerned, he asks his fiancee, Aubrie Sinclar, the seer from book one, to visit the woman featured in his nightmare to see if she can figure out who’s behind the trouble. Here’s the meeting between Aubrie and Connie Colter, Logan’s former lover.
Deliberate Intent, Book Two of Shadow Company
“I can’t come into the pharmacy to work today. Got some things to do.” Aubrie hurriedly texted the message to her best friend, Katie. “Talk to you later.”
The dirt road rambled through the countryside outside of Cheniere Station like a lover eluding capture. Not intending on going anywhere except back into her lover’s arms, the road ended abruptly when that lover reached for her.
Dust swirled despite the dew lingering in the canopy of trees bordering either side of the dusty road. The air hung heavy and sultry. Aubrie got out of the car, eyeing the ramshackle house, the last façade of a fallen hero. He was a farmer at heart. The essence of Luke Colter, SEAL team six team member and friend of Logan’s, lingered in the telltale remnants of the barn and rusting equipment.
“Morning.” Connie stood propped against the weather stressed paint of the tenement house. The early morning mist settled over the fallow ground of her dead husband’s cotton fields. Her hair was damp as if she’d just bathed. Her cotton wrap covered her milky white skin to a point close to her upper thigh. “I’m surprised to see you.”
“Sorry I dropped by so early. I wondered if we could talk.” Aubrie scrubbed her hands on the back pockets of her jeans.
“Sure. Come on in. I got coffee.” Shoving off of the porch support, Connie sauntered back through the broken down screen door one hip at a time.
The dimly lit front room smelled of dust and garbage gone over. Maybe the visit wouldn’t take too long. Following Connie into the kitchen, she offered, “Coffee sounds good.” Thinking of the several cups she’d already had, she shoved at the idea for more caffeine. Still wondering if coming out was a good idea, she smiled. “How are you, Connie?”
Standing at the counter of the vintage kitchen, Connie poured. “Fine, you?”
The smell of caffeine and cream reminded Aubrie of the last time Connie had poured coffee for her. She and Logan had visited Hightower’s diner. Connie waited on them and served coffee. Malice lay right below the surface on that occasion. Remembering the hot Java burn on her hand from spilled coffee, Aubrie wondered if the same was true today. “I’m fine. Been busy.”
“Yeah, busy.” Connie’s laugh was mirthless. “The diner’s been keeping me occupied. Seems the oil wells nearby have plenty of employees. Cream?”
“Yes, please.” She waited as Connie set the cup down on the table. “Thanks.”
Dropping into the other chair, Connie smiled slyly, “Sit down.” Tapping a polished fingernail on the Formica surface, she eyed Aubrie speculatively. “What brings you all this way, Aubrie.”
There was no hiding the fact. Aubrie’s visiting Logan’s former lover to ‘chat’ was highly suspect. “Logan said you were dealing with some things. Asked me to talk to you. Since I’m a seer, he thought I might be able to help.” The shrug wasn’t planned. Wincing inside, Aubrie glanced about the drab kitchen with its faded paint. Light spilled in the one tight window over the sink. Somewhere in the shadows, a room fan hummed in the silence.
“He did, did he?” Connie tapped a lacquered nail on the tabletop. “Seems like our Logan is having a difficult time with me lately.”
Connie’s scrutiny made Aubrie uncomfortable. Funny, but the woman seated across from her seemed to be reading Aubrie’s mind, instead of the other way around, she mused. Aubrie shrugged again. “You know how men are. They get spooked when a woman says she’s got troubles. Seems like feminine wiles aren’t their forte’.
Connie sniffed. Giving her dishwater blonde hair a flip over her shoulder, she reached out, snatching up the pack of cigarettes on the tabletop. Thumping the open pack against her index finger, she asked, “Want one?”
Waving away the offer, Aubrie answered. “No, thanks.”
With a shrug, Connie pulled the cigarette out and lit the tip with a ‘Geaux Saints’ lighter. The slow trail of the smoke slide toward the water stained ceiling. “No wiles here. Just facts. If Logan can’t deal with that, then who needs him anyway. Right?”
Connie was harboring some resentment. That was apparent in her words. Careful not to poke at the fire brewing, Aubrie sipped her coffee. “I guess. You want to tell me what’s going on? Maybe I can help.” Her fingers slid around the cup for safety. No sense in reaching out and accidentally seeing what the woman wasn’t going to volunteer. She’d have to go with what Connie offered.
“I told Logan something he wasn’t ready to believe. If I hadn’t been present when it happened, I’m not sure I’d believe it either. It seems I’m pregnant. He’s the daddy.”
Aubrie’s hand tightened on the coffee cup. Now, she desperately wanted to reach over and see the truth. Air suddenly became a precious commodity. “What makes you think he’s the father?”
Tamping out her cigarette in the ashtray, Connie paused. Her mouth lay in a flat line as she gauged her response carefully. Leaning in on one elbow, she eyed Aubrie smugly. “Because he’s the only man I’ve been with in a long while.”
The coffee in the cup vibrated. The tension rippled up Aubrie’s arm. The need to defend Logan surfaced. She swallowed the bile in reflex. “You’re lying. You can’t have him, so you don’t want anyone else to have him either.” Her cool demeanor shattered as Aubrie stood. Fight or flight teased her courage. “This is your way of ruining our wedding, isn’t it?” Taking a step backward, Aubrie wished to run as far and as fast as she could go. “Your way of keeping him even if he doesn’t love you.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that last part if I were you. That’s not what Logan told me while he was inside me. You’d better check your facts. Where’s he been going lately? He hasn’t been working down at the garage as much, has he? As for your wedding – people marry every day. Doesn’t make it stick.”
Doesn’t make it stick. The words rang in Aubrie’s head. She wheeled. The light went out for a second before she reached the front door. Somehow she made it down the steps. Where had the lead in her step come from? Her breath came in short, hard pants. The constriction in her chest was real. Behind the wheel of the car, she cursed the anxiety attack for zapping her nerve, Aubrie turned the key in the ignition, spinning out as she left.
Trouble’s brewing in Cheniere Station. Deliberate Intent is nearing a close, which means a release date is coming up. In the meantime, check out Beyond the Veil, Book One of Shadow Company for the start to the series. SEALS and magic collide in this test of wills.
Thanks for dropping by. I would love to hear your thoughts.