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Jivaja: Chapter Seven, Part One

Welcome to Free Fiction Friday! Every week, I’ll be posting a scene or two (in order, of course!) from my book, Jivaja. If you want to read along, just come on back every Friday!

Some scenes will be shorter, several hundred words. Some will be a thousand or more. Read them in order though, otherwise none of this will make sense!

Follow along as Mecca, a young woman with a Gift for manipulating human life force, runs head-first into a shadowy vampire-like society that discovers her power and wants to use her.

If you missed any parts, head over to the Jivaja Table of Contents to get caught up!

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Chapter Seven – David, Part One

 

David passed the old stadium along I-75/85, the highway always busy, even at midnight. They’d taken him south of the city, almost to the country. He didn’t realize he’d been passed out as long as he must have been.

He kept the speedometer at seventy, and an old burgundy Ford with chrome spinner rims blew past him. The van swayed, and he tightened his grip on the wheel to keep control. A Volvo on the other side of him changed lanes.

Going back to Jim’s might prove to be the stupidest thing he could do. But he only had this one lead in finding Mecca. If he could have left Irish alive, he might have gotten more information. But that hadn’t felt like an option at the time. It was also possible that he wouldn’t have seen it if it had been an option.

When the interstate split, he took 85 north straight on to Buckhead.

He’d managed to remove all the tape, but his face still burned, like patches of smoldering undergrowth after a forest fire had been mostly contained. The memories he’d leeched from the Irishman told him they had Mecca. Whoever “they” were. If he could get Jim to talk — and he would — he could at least find a starting point. Once he started, he wouldn’t stop until he found her.

No matter who he had to kill.

They seemed to think he had the same limitations on his power that Mecca did. Like any other skill, though, their Gift could be refined and honed. After Teresa died, Mecca let him train her only long enough to control it. She refused to learn anything further. She’d originally wanted to stop training altogether. He’d had to convince her to go on, for the safety of others, at the very least. So she had no idea what she could do with her Gift.

Once he started, he wouldn’t stop until he found her. -- No matter who he had to kill. ~~~ Read #Jivaja for free! #amreading #FreeFictionFriday #FridayReads Click To Tweet

Mecca needed skin-to-skin contact for a direct energy pull, but he had no such constraints. Any sort of contact would work for him. Clothing optional. This was a misconception he could use.

Since dumping the husks out of the van, he found that he’d begun distancing himself from his emotions, particularly compassion — the one that had taken him so long to learn. He wasn’t happy to return to this state. He’d spent enough of his life there.

Still, Jim’s betrayal bothered him more than he wanted to admit. He couldn’t understand why Jim would be in league with these people — creatures. It couldn’t be for the money. He came from an old Boston family and certainly didn’t need the extra padding from monetary gifts. Perhaps they’d found him sticking it to his secretary. Blackmail creates incentive. That didn’t sound much like Jim either, but every man has his vice.

David turned off the highway, watching his rear view mirror. No headlights followed as he came off the exit. The drive had given his anger time to dissipate, which was probably good for Jim in the long run. David no longer planned to simply kill him outright. That had been his knee-jerk.

Turning into the tree-lined subdivision, he cut the headlights and eased down the narrow roads. He edged the van to the curb around the corner from the Barron place. The wooded part of the property backed up to the road here. On foot, David cut through the trees and circled around behind the house.

The pool lights still twinkled in the water, but the patio itself remained dark. Lucky break. He crept along the tiled deck of the pool and peered into Jim’s office. Only a green-shaded bank light on the desk glowed, leaving most of the room shadowed. Jim sat forward in the leather desk chair, talking on the phone, his back to the window. He gestured widely, his raised voice audible but unclear through the glass.

David watched for a moment longer and then slipped into the pool cabana.

In the darkness, he crouched and felt beneath the bench until he found the small box fastened to the underside. David had an identical one beneath the cedar steps of the deck in his own backyard. He and Jim had bought them at the hardware store over a decade before.
With a flip of his finger, the box popped open and the key fell onto his palm. A delicate pressure brushed against his jacket sleeve, and he jerked his arm away, adrenaline spiking. A yellow lab stood just over his shoulder, watching him.

“Oh, Christ, Mojo. You scared the shit out of me.”

At the sound of his familiar voice, she bounced forward and licked his hand. He scratched her behind one ear with his free hand, then patted her neck. “Okay, be a good girl and go on.” Mojo only watched him, her tail swishing back and forth so hard it made her back end sway. He patted the side of her neck as he stood, and then he pushed past her, out of the cabana.

Within moments, he’d made his way to the back door and let himself in, his adrenaline still spiked and pumping. He moved through the immaculate kitchen and into the living room. Then he stood outside Jim’s office, listening. Jim’s voice alternately rose and dropped, but David couldn’t make out the words. David wrapped his hand around the knob and opened the door.

When he entered the room, Jim, seated at his desk, his shoulder propping the phone against his ear, raised both brows. He stood. “Caroline, I have to go. We’ll talk later. Yes, everything is fine. I love you too.”

David pictured ripping Jim’s head from his neck and throwing it into the pool. That would be gratifying. But not very practical and probably not possible without a large, well-sharpened object. David leashed his impulse and regarded Jim with what he hoped was an impassive look that didn’t match any emotion in him just then.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now.”

“Dave — I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to do it, but — You have to understand.” Jim rose and took three steps around the desk.

“What is it I have to understand? I understand that you set me up. I understand that you drugged me.” David approached the desk. “I understand that you handed me over to two men who would have killed me. Two men who kidnapped Mecca.” The words hung in the air.

“Kidnapped Mecca?”

“You still haven’t given me a reason not to kill you.”

“They said they would hurt Jenny and Caroline if I didn’t cooperate. They mean business. You remember when Tom Drury’s boy got killed in that car accident a few years ago?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “It wasn’t a wreck that killed him.”

“Drury. That guy on the council with you?”

Jim nodded.

“Who are they?”

“I don’t know,” Jim said, everything about his voice and posture overwhelmed.

David closed the distance between them in seconds. He hit the desk lamp as he passed. It clattered to the floor and made crazy shadows as David slammed Jim against the wall. David pinned him with a forearm to the chest.

Don’t fucking lie to me, Jim. Who are they?”

“They’ll kill my family!”

“Right now, you should be more afraid of me than them.” David searched his friend’s face. Jim looked more and more defeated as the seconds ticked by. “Tell you what. I already know what they are. How about you just tell me where they are?”

“I don’t know where they are. If I did, I swear — I swear — I would tell you.” Fear and desperation tainted Jim’s breath, giving it a sour smell.

“You think I wanted to do that to you?” His voice raised with each word until he was almost yelling. “Do you think I want to even be involved with them?”

David moved a step back, letting Jim away from the wall.

“I’m resigning my position on the council this week. I won’t be manipulated any longer. If they kill me, they kill me. At least my family will be safe.”

This was the Jim he knew. This was the man he’d expected to have a drink with earlier. He didn’t want to feel this compassion.

The shrill chatter of a cell phone’s electronic ring startled both of them. David shot a warning look at Jim, who simply raised a hand and then stepped to the desk and picked up his cell phone.

“Hello? No.” He looked over at David as he spoke. “What do you mean he escaped? No, I haven’t seen him.” A vein in Jim’s forehead pulsed visibly as an edge crept into his voice. “Absolutely not. You lost him, you find him. I’m not your lapdog, Ms. Laos, and I’m not one of your foot soldiers.” He listened for several moments, then said, “Fair enough. Yes, I have the number. Goodbye.” He swiped to disconnect, dropped the phone onto the desk, and ran his fingers through his thick, dark hair. “They’re looking for you. If I hear from you, I’m to call them.”

“And who was that?”

“Her name is Emilia Laos. As far as I know, she is their leader. I don’t know how organized they are, but their setup reminds me of the mob. One head and lots of little soldiers.”

“You have their number. Give it to me.”

“I only have a cell number, but you’re welcome to it.”

David stood in silence as Jim took a business card from his Rolodex and handed it over. David read the card out loud. “Emilia Laos. Import export.” He didn’t recognize the address.

“What are you going to do?”

“Find Mecca.”

They watched each other for a moment before Jim said, “You’re going to need money. They’ll be monitoring your bank account. You have no idea how far their hold goes in this city.”

Jim walked around to the front of the desk and retrieved the green-shaded lamp from the floor. He switched the light off and then flipped it upside down. He turned a small wing nut set in the underside of the heavy brass base. When he removed the nut, the bottom of the lamp slipped out and a small bundle of money, folded in half and rubber-banded, fell onto the desk. He replaced the false bottom and tossed the wad of cash to David.

“There’s a little over a grand there. It’s all I have liquid at the moment. You’re welcome to it.”

David regarded him with a steady gaze as he pocketed the money without looking at it. He turned and walked away without another word. When he reached the doorway, Jim cleared his throat.

“Dave.”

He looked back. Jim still looked like his old friend, but he no longer felt any trust in the man. It had been replaced by bitterness.

“I’m sorry for tonight,” Jim said. “And for Mecca. If I can do anything…”

“You’ve done enough.” He left the grand house through the back and headed to the parked van.


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