Thursday, 7 April 2011
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Storm Surge
Enjoy this excerpt from Storm Surge by Connie Chastain.
"Is Fay a bad storm?" Briana asked as they neared the apartment. The back porch light had burned out, and they trod carefully through the unaccustomed shadows.
"It's a more-rain-than-wind storm right now--" Justin stopped in his tracks, and Briana looked up at him in surprise. His eyes were fixed on the back door, which stood ajar.
"I closed and locked that," Briana said, "I know I did. How--"
"Hush up and get behind me," he said softly, and Briana did. He carefully pushed the door open and stiffened. He reached inside, flipped a light switch, and the kitchen overhead came on. She tilted her head to see past him and covered her mouth to silence a gasp.
The apartment was in shambles, the contents of drawers and cabinets strewn in heaps on the floor, chairs overturned, sofa cushions tossed about.
Justin took a step back and reached behind him to take Briana's arm. He turned and ushered her to the driveway and tersely ordered her, "Get in the car."
She climbed into the 4Runner while he opened the console and took out a squat, stocky pistol so small his hand swallowed it. He took his keys from his pocket and inserted one of them into the ignition.
"Wait here. Keep the doors locked until I come back."
Too frightened to breathe normally, Briana gripped the door handle as he returned to the back door and disappeared. The lights came on in her bedroom and bath.
Get out, please. Come back. Come back to me.
In a few moments, as if he'd read her mind, his silhouette filled the back door and he walked to the car. She punched the button that unlocked the doors, and he slid behind the wheel. He returned the pistol to the console, opened his cell phone, and dialed 9-1-1.
"My name is Justin Adair. A-D-A-I-R. I need to report a break-in with vandalism of personal property. The address is 604-B Trussell Street. It's a duplex apartment, west side. The tenant is my girlfriend, Briana Farrior. Yes... Yes... We'll be in my vehicle, a blue 4Runner, in the driveway. All right, thanks."
He flipped the phone shut and dropped it into his shirt pocket. "Probably take them forty-five minutes to get here." He looked across at her frightened expression and trembling hands and his terse, take-charge manner evaporated. "Ah, sweetheart." He put his arms around her and pulled her as close as the console allowed. "Gotta get a vehicle without one of these," he muttered as he stroked her hair. "Don't be scared. It'll be all right."
But she couldn't stop her tears, and she moved away from him to avert her face and brush at her eyes. At length, she said, "It was probably Eddie."
He looked at her sharply. "What makes you think that?"
"He was probably looking for something."
"That day we measured your house, I came home and Sylvia was here. She had an envelope for me and told me to keep it until I heard from her. She said it contained evidence against you. I asked her what evidence, but she wouldn't say. I don't think she knew. I was going to burn it because I didn't want to know what was in it. But then I thought maybe you'd want it or need it someday, so I put it in a safe place."
His brows pulled together but he kept his voice calm. "Where'd you put it?"
"In a safe deposit box at Cornerstone Bank in Andalusia. That was where I went the day I took off work."
"Did you read what was in it?"
Justin ran a fist across his lips, unable to completely suppress his exasperation. "Sweetheart, why didn't you tell me about this when we were at your parents' house?"
"You'd already forgiven me for so much. I didn't know if this might... exceed your capacity and make you not love me anymore."
He pursed his lips and blinked a couple of times. "I'm a little put out with you right now," he conceded, "but I'll get over it. Anger's a feeling; feelings come and go. But love is constant and steadfast, and the capacity to forgive is limitless. Oh, come on, don't cry. We need to talk."
She brushed tears off her cheeks, swallowed hard, cleared her throat. "All right."
"Briana, try to understand. Somebody wants to ruin me. Destroy my company, my ability to make a living. Maybe send me to prison. They're trying to use you and people at your old job to do it. I really don't need you to hold out on me anymore."
"Okay, I won't."
He pulled her to him again and kissed her temple. "Here's what's going to happen. After the police get done, I want you to gather a few things, whatever you'll need for a couple of days. We'll lock up your apartment and go to my place for the night. First thing tomorrow, we'll drive to Andalusia and get the envelope. Tonight or tomorrow, I want you to call your landlord, tell him what happened, and ask him to change the locks and install deadbolts."
"And if you remember anything, no matter how insignificant it seems, I want you to tell me."
"Yes, I'll tell you."
She shuddered in his arms, and the remnants of his anger evaporated. "Don't be afraid, Sparky. I won't let anything happen to you."