Today’s Saturday Snippet is “author’s choice” so I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek into Deliberate Deceptions, the next in the Hauberk series which will be released in 2011. This is Chad’s story — Chad, you may remember from Personal Protection is Sam’s second-in-command at Hauberk Protection. There’s a scene in Personal Protection where Sam challenge’s Chad’s right to question his decision re his relationship with Rosie.
Even as I wrote that scene I knew that Chad had unresolved feelings for Lauren and that she’d be the heroine in his book. And here she is …
A camouflaged guard, complete with infra-red goggles and an MP5 machine gun slung over his shoulder, slid open the helicopter door and glanced around the interior. As soon as he recognized Troy, he touched his hand to his forehead as if he were still in the military. “Good evening, sir. Everything’s secure.”
Troy jumped out first then reached up to help her out, his expression grim. “I hope you bloody well know what you’re doing.”
So did she.
She ducked her head as she jumped to the ground beside him. Instead of the pavement she expected, soft grass cushioned her landing. Crickets chirped as she took a deep breath hoping to get some sense of where they were. The scent of fresh mown grass, and damp earth filled her lungs. No distant roar of a highway, no bright lights bouncing off the few clouds indicative of a nearby city. With only the stars sparkling above and no moon, she couldn’t see much beyond the field they were in. Rolling hills silhouetted the horizon increasing her suspicion they’d doubled back and were now back east. Vermont’s Green Mountains? The Appalachians? But where? Tennessee? Pennsylvania? North Carolina? Did it matter? Not as long as Harris couldn’t find them.
Her confidence in their plan faltered when she saw Chad at the far edge of the meadow, four men armed with an assortment of MP5s and M4 carbines flanking him. Even with the distance between them, power emanated from him. His alert posture combined with a quiet confidence radiated his awareness of everything surrounding them. No doubt he’d already evaluated everything either as a threat or for use as a possible defense. Would he head straight for the front gate when he found out she was his principal?
His gaze skimmed over her as they approached, then flicked to assess the two agents at her side. Though his expression was bland, there was no mistaking the tension in his shoulders.
She arrived beside Troy just in time to hear him say, “This wasn’t my effin’ idea.”
Chad looked directly at Lauren but she couldn’t read his expression; he’d donned the damned implacable mask he’d learned to use thanks to the FBI and the media. “Noted.”
Troy glanced over his shoulder and shook his head. “I think I’ll hang around a couple days in case you want someone else to take over.”
The agents hung back as Chad stuck his hands in his pockets, something he only did if he was nervous. Which meant his pockets were rarely used. “Hello, Lauren.”
I’m sorry, please forgive me for leaving you. For not coming back. I despise your sister for what she did to us. I hate myself for trusting her. I’ve never stopped loving you. I’ve missed holding you and being held. I’ve even missed the way you hog the covers at night. “Hello, Chad.”
“Let’s go inside.” Not cold. But not warm. Business-like. Detached. Like she was a stranger.
Maybe she was.
As they walked toward the waiting Humvee, his palm touched the small of her back, igniting a memory of the first time they’d met at the bar where she’d worked her last year of college. How he’d been so careful with her, so tender and gentle. Oh, he had strength. He’d proven that the way he’d handled the drunken patron who had accosted her. He’d waited around until the end of her shift, his friends having ditched him hours before. Once she was done, he’d escorted her to her car, placing the flat of his hand on her back just the way it was now. The same spark of electricity had zinged through her then too.
Lauren closed her eyes, fighting the guilt welling inside. When she told him what she’d done, when she finally confessed her secret, he’d leave. Worse, he might hate her.
Don’t forget to visit the other Snippet Saturday participants to see what they chose to share today: