Location Tw0 – A Novel Excerpt

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Roland sat up in bed, not sure what had awakened him.  Had it been a noise or just a sense that something was wrong?  He tried chiding himself, but his heart continued to pound, and his dog whimpered in her sleep.  It was quiet enough in his bedroom to hear the whirring of his laptop on the desk across from his bed.  But the quiet didn’t reassure him; it actually made him more skittish.  Swearing to himself, Roland left the bed and went to his closet to retrieve the 9mm.

His mouth went dry when he discovered the empty box; it was missing.  The gun was missing – not his issued weapon.  That one was locked in its case beside his bed.  This was the unregistered gun he had confiscated from a crime scene years before.  He thought he might need it someday.  And now it was gone.

She had to be in the house somewhere.  The IP address of her last email had been one of his neighbors’.  That was what had sent him riding home on two wheels two days before with sirens blaring until he reached his own block.  He could feel his ear drums reverberating in time to the thudding of his heart.  The hair on his arms raised as a bead of sweat rolled from him armpit to his elbow.  She hadn’t appeared, however, so Roland had finally allowed himself to sleep.

“Tsk, tsk officer.  Doesn’t this gun belong in an evidence locker somewhere?”

He turned, and though he had seen her picture numerous times, she was unrecognizable.  The laughing brown eyes that had stared from snapshots were now icy steel.  Her hair was dark instead of the strawberry blond he was used to seeing.  And she was thinner, much thinner.  He watched her hands around the gun for some hint of shaking; shaking would indicate uncertainty.  Her hands were as steady as his had been trained to be.

“I thought it might come in handy one day,” he replied, unmoving.

“And so it has.  Did you bend the rules and beat the drug addict or rapist you confiscated this from?”

Roland nodded quietly.  “I shouldn’t have done that.”

“Why not?” she asked, tilting her head slightly.  “He did do something wrong.  That means it was okay for you to do something wrong, correct?”

“Jane…”

“Shut up.  Nobody wants to hear you moralize.  Turn around.”

He didn’t move except to move his gaze from her hands to her face.

“Turn around, officer, and put your hands behind your head.”  She cocked the gun.  “Or don’t.”

Roland shakily turned and did as she asked, bile burning his tongue.

“Good boy.  Don’t worry. I know you were blinded by your own hurt, so I’ll be quicker.  And you don’t claim to believe in God, so I cannot hold you accountable for breaking the very morals you claim to believe.  Besides, you are not very smart.  You probably didn’t have a choice.”

Roland flinched at that last part.  He heard her footsteps, and then the end of the barrel pressed coldly against the base of his neck, where his brain stem felt as if it was pulsing.  “Please…..” He heard himself whisper.

“I’m not sorry,” she whispered back.

A loud, smoky explosion filled the room.  Then it was silent.

 

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If I could

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“If you could do anything you wanted right now, if you could live whatever moment you wanted to, what would it be?” He asked as they sat on the faded old bench.

She looked out across the horizon knowing he was just making conversation but wishing she could say whatever she wanted.  “Well, let’s see…”

I’d like to go fishing and catch one or two

To spend a few hours just talking with you

To know what it felt like if you were to take my hand

I’d like to pour you a drink or bring you a beer

To hear your voice tell me what I need to hear

To feel like a woman while making you feel like a man

I’d like to know what it feels like to be in your arms

To get drunk with kisses and, be weak with your charms

To take in the moonlight reflected in each of your eyes

If I could make a few memories and live a few dreams

I’m pretty darn sure you’re as good as you seem

I know it sounds crazy, I know what I’m saying ain’t wise

But it’s a wish I just can’t quite disguise

I see your expression, and I’ve said too much

But I must be honest; I’m craving your touch

I hope you’ll forgive me for wanting to feel you this way

You don’t have to answer, I already know

And though it’s not fair I don’t want you to go

And yes I’ll admit that my heart’s feeling lonely today

But baby, I’d like you to stay

Baby I’d like you to stay

Now please don’t you worry when you say goodbye

For my sake don’t notice the tears in my eyes

And though I’m not sorry, I know that my dreams are no good

But that’s what I’d do if I could

“You still here?” He asked, chuckling.  “Is that a hard question?”

She turned to him, smiling.  “Fishing,” she said.  “I’d love to go fishing.”

 

Path: A Question

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Celia sat back in her chair, trying to give Natasha some space.  “So is that why you killed your father? Because he knew? Were you afraid he wouldn’t stay quiet?  Because you must know that no one would have ever caught you had you not decided to kill him.”

 

Natasha slowly twirled the butt of her cigarette into the ash tray and looked at the table.  Silence had never been unusual during their interviews, but this silence seemed strangely thick and tense.  Celia realized she was seeing one of the only glimpses of feeling anyone had likely ever observed in Natasha, and she wanted to lean forward, to watch closely.  However, Natasha was so obviously uncomfortable that Celia had to look away out of some strange sense of sympathy.

 

“I have thought about many things over the five years I have been here, and I have resolved every question about my life except that one.  You are correct.  I would have been undetected had it not been for my father’s murder.  Of course, psychologists said that I killed him because I needed the world to know what I had done.  That is not true.  I had no need for anyone to know.”

 

“So you have no idea why?”

 

“I was not afraid of him, afraid that he would disclose what I had done.  After all, he was just as culpable as I was, and just as Machiavellian.  Perhaps it was his own hypocrisy that killed him.  I do know this.” Tasha pushed the ash tray aside and sat very straight in her chair, her gaze boring into Celia.  “James Baldwin was wrong. The only thing more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose is a woman who stands to lose everything and who is not afraid to take someone with her when she does.”

Boardwalk Embrace – Part 5

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Right after her mid-morning coffee break, the phone rang.  She smiled when she saw that it was him.  “He there.”

“Hey, hope you’re having a good day.”

“I am, you?” She got up to close her door.

“Great,” he replied.  “Listen, I was calling to see if you’re free tomorrow.”

“I should be free right after lunch,” she smiled into the phone and wiggled just a bit in her chair.

“Great, there’s somewhere I’d like to take you.  I can pick you up around 2:00, we can spend the afternoon, and then have dinner.”

“That sounds great, thanks.” Taking a pen, she wrote his name on her calendar for after lunch.

“Good, and be sure and bring your camera.  The view is worth some pictures.”

Sitting back in her chair, she closed her eyes.  “Now you have me curious…”

“I know.  Aren’t I terrible?” He chuckled.

“Just awful,” she teased back.  They reiterated the plans, and then they say goodbye.

She looked at her computer screen and let herself grin.  He’d said he wanted to see her again soon.  She was very glad it was so soon.  Where was he taking her, she wondered?  It must be somewhere with a good view.  He’s the good view, she thought to herself a bit naughtily. She’d been mentally reliving his kiss all morning.

At 2:00, he knocked at the door, and she opened it a few seconds later.  He was dressed in jeans and a nice t-shirt, and his grin melted her knees.  He leaned down for a light kiss and offered his arm.  “Ready?”

“Yes, thank you,” she smiled, slipping her arm through his.  She put her bag in the back seat, and they pulled out and headed for the highway.  She chatted about work, and he told her about a project he had started that morning.  When an oldies tune came on the radio, they both stopped talking and sang along to the lyrics they knew, making up words when they didn’t. She watched his profile as he drove – his arm draped over the steering wheel, his sunglasses, the way his head bobbed a bit as they sang.  He caught her looking at him, and she blushed and ducked her head.  Switching to his left arm to hold the wheel, he took her hand with his right.

He was right; the view was great.  They exited the car and began walking, and he steadied her on the uneven ground.  Once they were both settled, she got out her camera and began taking pictures of the view.  After taking a few pictures on the landscape, she turned and snapped some shots of him.  He smiled and shook his head.  “Come ‘ere, you.”

 

He took the camera from her and shooed her back a few steps, taking her pictures as she grinned shyly.

“You can to better than that,” he joked.  “Work it! Work it!”

She laughed and began posing dramatically, pursing her lips and making faces.  He was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady by then and he handed it back to her and hugged her once she had dropped it into her bag.  They walked and talked and then found a place to sit and just enjoy some companionable silence.  By the time the sun began to set, they were both hungry, but they were also a bit dusty from the ground and the walk.

“How about I pick up some Chinese and we go to my place?” He suggested.  “Or if you’d feel more comfortable, we could go back to yours.”

“You’re the driver,” she smiled.  “I’m fine either way.”

He pulled out his phone and punched in the number of the Chinese place close to his house.  After consulting with her and ordering, he took her hand again, and they chatted as they rode back into town.  She picked up her purse when they pulled into the pickup space at the restaurant, and he waved her away and got out of the car to retrieve the food.

Once they were inside, she asked where the dishes were, and she began setting his small table while he washed his hands and got the food out of its containers.  They sat and ate, and she complimented the food. It had been a while since she’d had really good Chinese.  She washed the dishes after they were finished, and he put away the leftovers and then headed to the den to choose a movie.  Settling on a comedy that was a couple of decades old, he returned to the kitchen and grabbed two water bottles from the fridge as she was putting the last dish into the drainer.  They settled onto his sofa and started the movie.  While it played, they laughed and shared memories of the last time they had each seen it.  As it progressed, however, they sat closer together and talked less and less.  By the time the credits were rolling, the movie had been forgotten altogether, and they were sprawled over the cushions, making out like two teenagers.

This time when his fingertips slipped under her blouse, she didn’t hesitate.  She mirrored his action by sliding her own just above the band of his jeans and stroking his lower back.  He pulled back and let his face hover over hers for a minute.  “I want you to stay.  I understand if it’s too –“

“Yes,” she said softly.

He smiled and stood, offering her his hand. Embracing her from behind, he kissed her ear and neck and then began walking the two of them to the bedroom.  Once they reached the edge of the bed, he walked around to the bedside table and reached for the small lamp that was turned on.  Then he stopped.  “Can I leave it on?” He grinned a little wickedly.

In answer, she crossed her arms, grabbed the hem of her shirt, and pulled it up and over, discarding it on the floor.  Letting out a slow whistle, he did the same and then came to her again, and they were skin to skin.

A little while later, they were lying close together halfway under the rumpled covers, her head fitting perfectly into the hollow of his shoulder.  He played with her hair, and she ran her fingertips over her chest.

“I don’t want to take you home,” he said, kissing her temple.  “Will you spend the night?”

“Of course,” she said, raising herself up on one elbow and then leaning down to give him a long kiss.

He rolled her onto her back and then covered her.  “Lucky me,” he grinned.

 

 

Boardwalk Embrace – Part 4

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As his lips wandered, she ran her hands over his shirt along his arms, shoulders, and chest. She smiled as he kissed along her cheek and jaw, and when he reached her neck, she had no doubt he could feel her flying pulse.  He settled there for a moment before traveling back to her lips again and kissing her soundly. She leaned further toward him, causing the back of her blouse to ride up, and when his fingers grazed her bare back, she inhaled sharply. She felt the pounding of her pulse in her hears, and she had to pull back to catch her breath. Her body told her one thing, but her heart and mind told her it wasn’t time, not yet.

He pulled back from her and smiled, smoothing her hair away from her face and kissing her forehead.  “If you wanna get us some more wine, I’ll see if there’s any good crap TV on this thing.” He reached for the remote.  She nodded shakily and rose, hoping her legs would carry her across the room with their glasses.  As she filled them part way, she looked over her shoulder at him.  He sat back as he turned on the television, and his hand rubbed the back of his neck as he exhaled.  Apparently he had been affected too.  The thought made her smile.

Handing him his glass, she sat beside him, sipping her own.  Once he had settled on a funny rerun, he took both their glasses and placed them on the side table.  He pulled her toward him, and they snuggled together on the sofa to watch and laugh.  He occasionally stroked her hair or arm, and she snuggled a little closer, but they focused mostly on the television set, trying to rein in what both of them had felt.  Her pulse slowed, her body relaxed, and before the credits rolled on the first episode, her eyes were growing heavy.

“Hey, sorry to wake you,” she heard a whisper and felt movement.  Rolling slightly, she looked up at him with bleary eyes, not quite able to focus on his face.  “You fell asleep.  It’s late.  I should go.”

Still disoriented, all she could to was moan slightly and settle more deeply into the couch.

“I’m sorry, I love to stay, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” He stroked her cheek and then kissed it.

That roused her more, and she sat up and rubbed her eyes.  He was right; it wasn’t a good idea for him to stay yet, at least not if they were going to try sleeping next to each other, she thought as she remembered his kisses.  Standing, she stretched and smiled.  He stood and drew her into a firm hug.  “I’d like to see you again.”

“Me too, I’d really like that,” she replied, pressing her face into his neck.

“Soon,” he added.  They walked to the door, he gave her one gentle kiss, and then he left.

One he had gone, she took their glasses and rinsed them out.  After turning off the television, she walked to the bathroom and washed her face, brushed her teeth, and savored the enjoyment of the night.  Instead of putting on her pajamas, she stripped down to her underwear and slid into bed. Rolling over, she made sure her phone was plugged in to charge, and she studied the screen for a moment.  Smiling, she keyed in her password, open messaging, and typed in a text:

I had the most wonderful time.  Thank you

Then she hit “send,”turned out the light, and went to sleep.

 

Boardwalk Embrace – Part 3

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Boardwalk Embrace – Part 3

He took her hand as he helped her out of the car, and as they walked across the asphalt, he threw and arm around her shoulders. They were laughing again, this time about some old television show.  She wasn’t sure how not to appear forward – these things were still a bit of a mystery to her – but she knew she didn’t want to say goodbye yet.

“Would you like to come in for something to drink?”

“Sure,” he said, smiling, and he opened the door for her and followed her inside.  She tossed her purse and sweater aside and slipped out of her shoes.

“You don’t like shoes, huh,” he remarked.

“I always take my shoes off when I get inside the door every day,” she replied. “It’s easier to relax that way.  She also typically “set the girls free,” but she wasn’t going to do that now, and she certainly wasn’t going to mention it, though the thought made her grin.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” said.  “You thirsty?  I have some bottled water, and I also had bought some wine.”

“Oh really?” he said a bit teasingly, causing her to blush.

“Well, I like wine, and sometimes it’s nice to sip a glass in the evening.”

“Sure, I’ll take some,” he said, wandering around the room a bit.  “Thanks.”  He looked out the window while she poured two glasses, and when she handed him his, they clinked them together and each sipped.  She followed him to the couch, and they sat facing each other.  He stretched his arm along the back, and she was aware of her hair brushing over his sleeve.

Any nervousness she had felt over asking him in faded as they talked, sipped and laughed.  Occasionally he would pat her knee or give her hair a little tug, and somehow they gradually ended up closer to each other.  She couldn’t resist touching his face while he talked about something important to him, and he didn’t seem to mind.  Their glasses were empty, but she didn’t offer more because she didn’t want to get up or break the connection. Everything in her wished he would kiss her again.

Seeming to read her thoughts, he pinned her with a gaze, and after several seconds she felt so exposed and, quite frankly, breathless, she looked down at his hands. He had really nice hands.  He raised her chin and leaned forward, and she felt the butterflies spring into action again.

Taking his time, he kissed her very lightly at first, just lips brushing lips. He kissed every part of her mouth, from corner to corner, before finally settling drawing her closer. The kiss varied and grew in intensity, with that perfect unspoken give and take that makes kisses exciting. She felt hands in her hair, and she ran her hands up his arms to his shoulders, stroking his neck with her thumbs.  Finally, one large hand spread across the middle of her back and pulled her completely in, and her arms went around him as well. He smelled masculine and felt strong and tasted like wine, and she was glad they were sitting because her legs were like Jell-O.

One thing was certain; it was a kiss she would not be forgetting…ever.

Boardwalk Embrace – Part 2

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They were still for a few moments, and then she felt his hands slide up her back to shoulders, and he pulled away slightly.  Her arms loosened, but she keep her hands against the hollow of his shoulders just above his chest, liking the feel of him. His took his right and and laid it against her cheek, sliding his fingers through her hair. Smiling at her, he traced his thumb over her lips, and her eyelids became heavy. He leaned forward, and for just a second she thought he would kiss her, but he put his mouth next to her ear instead.

“It’s chilly out here.  let’s go somewhere warmer.”

She nodded and let him lead her, smiling again as he held her hand for a third time.  They walked wordlessly to his car, and he helped her into the passenger seat. She smiled to herself.  Though she had felt a split second’s disappointment when he didn’t kiss her, part of her savored the anticipation before chiding herself that there was no guarantee he would kiss her at all.  She inhaled deeply and held it for 10 seconds before slowly exhaling. Careful, girl. Don’t let your imagination eclipse reality.

He walked around to his side of the car and slid in, closed the door, and fished his keys out of his pocket.  He slid them into the ignition but didn’t turn the car on yet.  “I forgot something,” He said.  She turned, but before she could ask what, his hand was against her face again, and this time when he leaned in, she closed her eyes instinctively.

His mouth felt exactly like she thought it would – perfect.  He didn’t linger very long, but her heart was still drumming.  He fisted a bit of her hair and pulled playfully.  “Much better,” he said, grinning, before he sat back and turned the motor on and fastened his seat belt. She looked straight ahead and resisted the urge to put a hand to her throat to calm the dancing pulse.

“Yes, much,” she heard herself say.