Dreams of Fire and Ice

So, here is my latest story in the League of Nations universe.  It’s a totally new character.  The story was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Patagonia, Chile

Ambrose knew, when he’d first been sent to the field office at the point so far to the south, that it had been intended as a punishment.  He had said the wrong thing to the wrong person.  Now, he had lost his position and was assigned to a place where his superiors felt he couldn’t possibly cause harm.  Nothing of interest ever happened here, at least not as far as the Agency was concerned.

However, now, as he stood on the flat stone in the middle of the river and looked up at the pillar-like hills, he had to smile.  For the first time in far too long, his life was quiet.  It was peaceful.

His laughter echoed off the hills as he realized, if not for this “punishment” he might very well be dead.  Shaking his head, Ambrose turned away from the glaciers and the hills lit by the sunset and hopped back across the stones to shore.

“I’m going to have to send the Boss a thank you note,” he murmured.  He wondered what his superiors would think of that.  The idea made him shake with fresh laughter.

We Were Dreamers

Continuing in the same vein as “Imaginary Journeys” and “Pausing to Reflect”.  This piece was inspired by a word prompt at the WriYe DreamWidth: believe.

**

Marian sat on the bed, frowning at Emily as she spoke with her superior on the telephone.  Actually, she wasn’t doing very much speaking.  She was scowling as she listened to whatever the person on the line was saying.

“Fine, sure,” she said.  Then, she set the telephone back into the cradle.  Then, she heaved a sigh and looked at Marian.  “They don’t believe me,” she said, shaking her head.

He nodded.  That wasn’t very surprising.  He knew how the Agency had reacted when Felicja had first shared with them about her gift.  Precognition was rare enough.  For two agents to share a dream the way they had… he shook his head.  “What do they advise?” he asked, his voice faint.

She sat on the edge of the bed and rolled her eyes.  “Carry on as we’d first planned,” she said.  Emily frowned.  “You’re meant to drop me at my sister’s house and then carry on with your assignment.”

“We both know what’ll happen if we arrive at your sister’s house now,” Marian said, shaking his head.  He surged to his feet and then stalked to the telephone.  “They might not believe us, but… I believe what we dreamed.  There have been too many coincidences this far.”

“What are you doing?” Emily asked, scowling as he lifted the handset for the telephone once again.

“Calling my contact in this country,” he said, his voice soft.  He dialed the number and then waited as the telephone rang once and then again.  “What’s your sister’s name?”

“Michelle,” Emily said.  After a moment, she added, “Michelle North.”

Marian nodded as the person he was calling answered.  “Hey, Painter,” he said.  “This is Wanderer.  I’ve got an odd problem here that I’m hoping you can help me out with.”  He explained the issue in a brisk, confident tone.

Painter hummed softly.  “I’ll meet you at Miss North’s address,” he said, his voice soft.  He sighed softly.  “They might not believe Glitter, but I believe you.”

“Thanks, Painter,” Marian said.  He said his goodbyes and then replaced the handset.  “He’ll meet us there,” he told Emily.  “Hopefully, that’ll be enough to prevent what we saw.”

As she nodded, he held out one hand.  She hurried to his side and they went back out of the hotel.  They paused just long enough to deposit their key with the owner of the hotel before they were on their way once more.

Pausing to Reflect

Here is the continuation of a story (Imaginary Journeys) that was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Marian had fully intended to leave Emily in town.  However, as they’d both feared, she hadn’t been home.  So, instead, Marian had agreed to bring Emily to her sister’s house.

They’d continued on the quiet country road.  Slowly, the dry brown had given way to lush green.  The trees that had been in the distance were closer now.

“Was this in your dream too?” he asked, frowning at the high peaks that were perfectly reflected in the lake.

He glanced towards his passenger.  He could tell from her expression that it was.  “Stop here,” Emily said.

There was something in her voice that made Marian listen, even if he might not have otherwise.  He pulled his car to a stop on the shoulder of the road and glanced out the window as she jumped out.

Emily stepped over to the edge of the lake and shook her head.  “It’s… uncanny,” she said.  She turned and looked over at him.  “Ain’t nothing like this has ever happened to me.”

Marian turned off the car and slipped out.  He moved to stand at her side, shaking his head.  “Me neither,” he said, his voice soft.  His brows furrowed and looked out at the perfect reflection of the mountains in the water.  “What do you want to do?”

“I ain’t never believed in destiny or fate,” Emily said.  She scowled and then grabbed a stone.  Flinging it at the water, she whirled to face Marian.  “I’ll be damned if I will now.”

Marian blinked at the shattered reflection and then smiled at Emily.  “So,” he said, “I take that to mean we aren’t going to your sister’s house?”

“No, sir,” Emily snapped.  She stalked back to his car and Marian followed.  “There’s a town just up this road a piece.  We’ll go there and I’ll try calling my sister again.  I ain’t going to her house until I know for positive that she’s there.”

“Works for me,” Marian said.  He got into his car and then turned the key.  As the engine roared to life, he turned to his passenger.  “Tell me about yourself, Emily.”

A smile touched Emily’s lips and she leaned back in the seat.  “Not much to tell,” she said, shrugging.  “I work for the government and I got… no real family, except for my sister.”

“I’ve got a niece,” Marian said, nodding.  He shook his head.  “My elder brother died last year and his wife… she’d died years ago, so… I’m raising my niece.”  He didn’t want to believe in destiny or fate either.  So, if Emily wanted to act counter to what they’d both dreamed, he was all for that.

“That accent… I’m guessing you’re from outa town?”

Marian nodded.  “I’m Zeimian – here on… business.”  He gave her a sunny smile and then shrugged.  “I work for the government too, actually.”

Emily got a curious look on her face then.  She turned in her seat to look directly at him.  “Are you… This is gonna be stupid if you ain’t, but now I gotta ask.  Are you with IIA?”

Blinking, Marian turned to Emily.  “Yes,” he said.  He could tell, just from her expression, that she was also with the Agency.  Somehow, that explained a few things.  “Are we still going to that town?” he asked.

“Hells yes,” Emily said.  She crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head.  “I need to check in with my superiors.  This can’t be no coincidence, us having that dream and what’s happened since.  No way, no how is that a coincidence.”

Marian nodded again.  “I would tend to agree,” he said, his voice soft.  That begged the question though: assuming it wasn’t a coincidence that they would both be agents and have the dream.  Where had the dream even come from?  So far as Marian knew, he wasn’t gifted that way.  He wasn’t about to ask Emily if the same was true of her.

More than Unkind

Here is the story that I wrote for the hint fiction challenge this month.

Here’s the fic we used:

Peanut Butter
He was allergic. She pretended not to know.
By: Camille Esses

**

Maude had never actually harmed anyone in her life.  It was part of the reason why she’d left Maine.  The last thing that she’d ever wanted – either for herself or her son – was a life among the other members of the Haven families.  Then, she’d met Montgomery and, without knowing that he was a Rivera by blood and lineage, she’d married him.  It wasn’t until she’d caught him teaching her son those songs that she realized the truth.

Carter, though, was worse in many ways that Montgomery.  At least he’d pretended to be normal.  Carter never gave that impression.  Once Maude had what she wanted from him, she’d taken her son and left without another thought.

She smiled faintly at the man that was seated at the table in her kitchen.  They’d been seeing each other for quite some time.  That was the only reason that she knew the truth.  She’d recognized the hesitant way he spoke to her, as if he were sifting through memories that weren’t his own.

Maude smiled as she watched him eating the sandwich she’d prepared.  “Enjoying that?” she asked, nodding.  He smiled and nodded and she waited.

His eyes widened when the first symptoms began.  It was too late, though.  He couldn’t sing now.  All he could do was choke.

She moved to her feet and shook her head.  “James was allergic to peanuts,” she said, giving him the sweetest smile.  “It’s a fairly common allergy and frightfully deadly to a good number of people.”

The Singer lurched to his feet and Maude backed away from him.  He managed to take only a few steps before he dropped back to the ground.  Once she was certain he was dead, she hurried out of the room.  She would, she knew, have enough time to grab her bag and leave before they arrived.

She had just climbed into the car she had hidden across the street when they appeared.  She lingered for a moment, watching.  Her brows furrowed as she saw him slip out of the car.  He looked just as he had the last time she’d seen him.  He was chattering with a man that kept close to his side.  He didn’t have Guardians, but she doubted that he needed them.  This man was more than a match for any Singers.

Satisfied, Maude started her car and left the scene.  Ezra would take care of her mess.  After all, he always had in the past and he was, at heart, a good boy.

Ezra swallowed thickly when he saw the still form that was sprawled on the floor.  “It’s as you feared,” he said, nodding.  “He’s been… possessed.”  Vin stayed close by his side as he moved over to the body.  When he sang, his voice was a clear, rich baritone.  As he finished the simple melody, the body dissolved in a shower of light.

Sighing, he turned away from the empty place on the floor.  “He’d been poisoned somehow,” he said, moving to the table.  “Someone else was here, but… they left before we arrived.  A woman…”

“How do you know it was a woman?” Chris asked, as he stepped over to the table.  There was a half-eaten sandwich.  He waved at it and then began pulling on his gloves.

Ezra watched him as he lifted the sandwich off the table and tucked it into an evidence bag.  When Chris glanced at him, he shrugged.  “I can smell her perfume.”

Nodding, Chris held up the bag.  “The poison must have been in this,” he said.  “He ate it and… you saw the results.  What kind of poison would act so quickly, though?”

“An allergy,” Ezra said.  He shrugged again.  “I read it in his medical file, Chris.  James Patterson was allergic to peanuts and… that’s a peanut butter sandwich.”

“Why would he eat something he was allergic to?” Vin asked, shaking his head.

“Singers don’t always know everything the person they’ve possessed knew,” Chris said, grimacing.  He looked at Ezra.  “The woman, though, she would have known he shouldn’t eat this when she gave it to him.”

“Rather unkind, feeding someone something when you know they’re allergic,” Ezra said, scowling.

“It’s a bit more than unkind, Ezra,” Vin said, shaking his head.  “It’s murder!”

“Unless she knew what he was,” Ezra countered.  When they scowled, he shrugged.  “In one way of looking at it, Mr. Patterson had already died.  The Singer would have eaten his heart, after all.”

“If that’s the case,” Chris said, as he started back towards the foyer, “she knew he was a Singer.  Why wouldn’t she just… purify him?”

“Only Crosses can do that, Chris,” Ezra said, shaking his head.  When they looked at him inquiringly, he shrugged.  “Crosses and bookworms, then.  In any case… if she didn’t know the proper modulations of sound to make, she wouldn’t been able to perform the rite of purification.”

“She left him because she couldn’t sing the song,” Vin said, nodding.  He sighed when Ezra shrugged once again.  He glanced around.  “If she knew he was possessed, that means she’s gotta be from one of the Haven families.  Right?”

“They tend to be rather secretive,” Ezra said, smirking.  He strode away from them and began searching for a clue as to the missing woman’s identity.  “Travis is, clearly, the exception to that rule.”

“He’s looking for another way to fight them,” Chris said, leaning back against the wall to watch Ezra work.  Ezra ignored his prying gaze as he looked around the room.  Vin followed him at a bit of a distance as he moved from the foyer to the stairs.

At first, he wasn’t finding anything that might let him know who the woman was.  He searched through the upstairs bedrooms and then stepped into the bath.  That was where he saw it: a smear on the window.  His brows furrowed.  “Close the door,” he said.

“What have you got?” Vin said, even as he did as Ezra had requested.

Rather than answering, Ezra turned on the hot water in the sink.  After a few moments, the steam made the message he’d guessed was there visible.  His eyes widened as he read the words.  “Now you know the truth” was all that was written in the glass.

“What truth?” Vin murmured, even as he snapped a picture of the message.

Ezra swallowed thickly and looked at Vin.  “I… must be from one of the families,” he said, his voice soft.  He nodded at the mirror.  “That’s from my mother.”  He was glad when Vin didn’t ask him how he knew.

Just Give Me a Reason

This is a little prequel for my upcoming NaNo.  Ilya is getting the news that he’ll be part of the team.  I’m already fond of Wolfie.  The poor guy wants to be out in the field so badly and I’m not sure how he’d react if that actually happened for him.  Anyway, this was inspired by a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth: listen.

**

Ilya stepped into the conference room and then froze.  The woman he knew as Carpenter was leaning against the wall near the window.  She was staring outside.  Her arms were crossed over her chest.  Miner, Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, was sitting at the table fussing with some kind of mechanical device that had knobs and dials.  Beside him – watching over his shoulder – was Tarrant Jefferson.

Sighing, Ilya stepped into the room.  He knew why he’d been called there, which meant that the other three were there for the same purpose.  He was all right with working with Carpenter and Miner.  Jefferson was another story.  The man hated him and Ilya wasn’t very fond him either.

There was a light touch on his shoulder and he tensed.  “Are you going to take a seat, Tanner?” a gentle voice said.

Ilya flushed and glanced over his shoulder.  The woman known as Marker was standing just behind him.  She was, he knew, now his superior.  “Yes, ma’am,” he said, his voice faint.  He strode over to the table and sat as far from Jefferson as he could get.

More

Stories Mirror Life

Here we go!  Here is another little scene that could come from my upcoming NaNo.  It’s worth noting that, since NaNo hasn’t started yet, these scenes may not appear at all or they might end up being completely re-written.  This was inspired by a picture prompt over at WriYe’s DreamWidth.

**

Ilya trailed along behind Jefferson as they walked down the walk.  They were meeting the others at a restaurant for dinner and to discuss the case.  He still didn’t really understand why Cedar had paired him with Jefferson.  They didn’t get along with each other.  Pairing them was a practice in madness, surely.

Chianalea di Scilla, Scilla, ItalyHe glanced out at the water and said, “You know… they used to believe that monsters lived in that strait.”

Jefferson grunted and shook his head.  Shrugging, Ilya continued.  “One was a many-headed beast.  When sailors got to close to her, she would seize the crew with her heads and eat them.”

He pointed towards the cliffs ahead of them.  “She was supposed to live in a cave up there.”  Then, he pointed out towards the strait.  “The other was supposed to live under a rock out there, where she would draw ships down under the water and eat the sailors.”

“Talk about being between a rock and hard place,” Jefferson murmured.  His brows furrowed as he gave Ilya a sidelong glance.  “How do you know about all that, anyway?”

“I was curious about the name of the town,” he said, shrugging.  “So, I did a little research.”  He felt his cheeks flush as he said, “I found out that it’s named for the monster that was supposed to dwell in the cliffs.”

“Trust a linguist to learn about where names come from,” Jefferson said, rolling his eyes.  For a moment, they walked in silence.  Then, Jefferson sighed.  “It’s a neat story, though.”  His gaze turned towards the water.  “I mean, there really is a whirlpool out there and… is it so hard to imagine a monster in those cliffs?”

“Given what we’ve seen lately,” Ilya said, shaking his head.  “Not so much, no.”  Could it be that Jefferson was actually warming up to him?

Jefferson nodded.  “So… how’d there get to be a monster in the cliffs?” he said.  When Ilya frowned at him, he chuckled.  “Don’t tell me that you didn’t find that out too.  You’re too thorough for that.”

Ilya blinked.  “No,” he said, nodding slowly.  “I know the story behind the monsters.  I just… You really want to hear them?”

“It isn’t nice to leave a story half-told, Ilya,” Jefferson said, waving a scolding finger.  He shrugged.  “It’ll fill the silence while we walk to the restaurant.”

“All right,” Ilya said.  He smiled and then took a steadying breath.  Then, in a soft voice, he began to recite the story that he’d read earlier in the day.  Jefferson listened attentively as he spoke.  It was, he realized, the first time they’d had a civil conversation since they’d begun the case.  Maybe Cedar wasn’t so crazy for pairing them up after all.

By the time they arrived at the restaurant, Ilya had finished telling the story.  He glanced at Jefferson and found that the man was scowling.  “You didn’t like the story?” he asked, his voice soft.

“Not because it was badly told,” Jefferson said, shoving his hands into his pockets.  He shrugged.  “I just find the whole thing a little unfair to the poor girl involved.  I mean… it’s not her fault that guy fell for her, is it?”

“There was a lot of misdirected aggression in the ancient myths,” Ilya said, nodding.  He chuckled softly.  “Sometimes people got punished for their own foolish pride.  Other times… it was because of something someone else said or did, like if a mother bragged about the beauty of her daughter, the daughter would become a monster.”

Jefferson heaved a sigh.  “Sort of reminds you of this case,” he said, as the hostess showed them to the table where the others were waiting.  “I mean, none of the people did anything actually wrong – nothing worth killing them over.  Yet… that’s exactly what happened.”

“It is rather allegorical,” Ilya said, nodding.

A Thing with Feathers

This story was inspired by a word prompt (wing) over at the WriYe DreamWidth.  It’s a really great resource for prompts, if you are looking to write and not sure where to start.

**

Mikas stood on the front porch and closed his eyes.  He could hear the wind rustling the leaves in the trees.  He could hear birds singing in the trees.  It was a quiet, peaceful morning.  Then, he heard something that seemed out of place.

He opened his eyes and frowned.  There was an insistent peeping, like a baby bird calling for its mother.  He glanced around for a moment before he found it.  There was a small bird, fledged, by the looks of it, but young.  He stepped down from the porch and slowly made his way over to the young bird.

Evan as he moved ever closer to the little bird, Mikas kept expecting it to fly.  However, it stayed where it was, chirping loudly to call its mother.  He stopped when he was only a foot away and crouched in the grass.  Now that he was close to it, he could see that the little bird had hurt its wing.  He hesitated for a moment.  Then, he hurried back into the house.

When he returned, he sighed in relief.  The little bird was still where he’d seen it.  It was still chirping and it still apparently injured.  He spoke gently to the bird as he gently lifted it out of the grass.  He settled it into the box he’d found and covered the box with a towel.  After a few moments, it quieted.  Now, the question was: what to do with it?

Many things went through his mind.  Babies needed to be kept warm and he knew that its parents might still be nearby somewhere.  He set the box down on the warm paving stones and eased the towel back just enough for there to be light.  Then he stepped back, out of sight of the bird.  Several moments of silence passed before the little bird began chirping again.

Mikas smiled faintly as another bird flew over to the box.  He watched as the bird flew back and forth, bringing food to its fledgling chick.  As the sun was setting, the young bird hopped to the lip of the box beside its parent.  Its wing was held correctly now.  Mikas sighed in relief.  It must have just been sore and needed some time to recover.

As the pair of birds flew to the nearby tree, he stood and retrieved the box.  “Be well, little birds,” he called.  Then, he headed inside.

Such a Peaceful Spot

Here is another section of my upcoming NaNo, inspired by a picture prompt over at the WriYe DreamWidth

**

glade-creek-grist-millIlya stood on the bridge, looking down into the water that flowed beneath them. “How do they know that this is where he snatched her?” he asked, glancing over at Cedar. “Is there a witness?”

He shook his head. “No such luck,” he said. He pointed at the far end of the bridge, by the old grist mill. “They found her bag over there, just off the trail. Her identification was inside.”

“Might be that her abductor just tossed it there,” Jefferson said, scowling. “He might have been trying to throw us off. Right?”

Even as Ilya nodded in agreement, Lark was shaking her head. “We haven’t seen any hint of him trying to be so… clever,” she said. She moved towards the place that Cedar had indicated. “He’s rather impressed with himself, this one. He wouldn’t think there was a need to hide his trail or throw us off.”

“He thinks we won’t be able to catch him,” Ilya said. When she nodded, he frowned and looked over at Jefferson. “See what you can find, why don’t you?”

Jefferson rolled his eyes and followed Lark over to the end of the bridge. Even as he did what Ilya had suggested, he murmured that Ilya wasn’t in charge of him. He was, after all, the senior agent of the pair of them.

Ilya heaved a sigh and moved away from Jefferson. He could argue that the other was only a senior agent by virtue of having been in IIA longer. If you went by actual years of field experience, Ilya had spent more time honing his skills. However, Ilya wasn’t the sort to confront someone so directly.

For years, he’d considered himself a coward because of that. It had only been recently that he’d begun to realize that he wasn’t a coward at all. He wasn’t afraid of Jefferson. The matter simply wasn’t worth getting into a fight over. Jefferson knew his job well enough to know that he should do what Ilya had asked and, for the moment, that was enough.

He spotted something in the grass near the water and scowled. For a moment, he considered pointing it out, in the hopes that Cedar would get a closer look. However, he knew that he should be the one to do it. After all, he was the one who had seen it. Frowning, he made his way carefully down the bank to the edge of the water.

“What’d you find, Tanner?” Cedar called. Few of them used Ilya’s codename. Cedar, whether it was his training or something else, called most of them by their codenames, including Ilya. For his part, Cedar was the only one that Ilya consistently called by his codename.

Ilya shook his head. “Something that doesn’t belong,” he said. He snapped a photograph of it. Then, he pulled on a pair of gloves and reached out. He nearly overbalanced as he tried to grab the item without falling into the water. Chuckling softly, he took hold of it.

He frowned and then held it up for Cedar to see. “It’s a charm bracelet,” he said, stepping back from the water. “The clasp is broken.” He tucked the item into an evidence bag and tilted his head. “I suppose it could have come from someone else.”

As Cedar took the bracelet, Ilya made his way back to the bridge to stand beside him. Cedar shook his head. “Good job spotting this, Tanner,” he said, his voice faint. “It matches the description of a bracelet that the girl’s mother gave her.”

Cedar glanced towards Lark and Jefferson. “He must have attacked her there,” he said, frowning. “She dropped her bag and ran. He caught up to her here… they scuffled.”

“So… the vehicle he used to transport the victim,” Ilya said, glancing off into the trees. “It would have been somewhere in that direction.”

Cedar nodded and called to Lark that they were going to check something out. Then, as he set off – with Ilya trailing close behind – he said, “This is such a peaceful place. Who would think that anything like this could happen here?”

“Not the girl,” Ilya murmured. “That’s for certain.”

A Different Kind of Dance

Here’s another little piece for my upcoming NaNo.  I like how these are turning out and I can hardly wait for NaNo!  It was inspired by a word prompt over at the WriYe DreamWidth: dance.

**

Mikas sat back to watch the other agents examine the crime scene.  He was there for one reason.  His gaze went to Andrien, who was frowning down at the place where the body had lain until only a few moments before.  Ilya was already looking for witnesses.  River was making sketches of things, while Carpenter took pictures.  Each person knew their role and they performed their given tasks without interfering with each other.

He glanced over at Cedar.  He could tell that the agent was deep in thought.  One arm was held close over his chest, his hand resting in the crook of the other arm while he rubbed at his nose.  Mikas frowned.  “Does any of this make sense to you?” he asked, his voice soft.

“Any of what?” Cedar asked.  He blinked and turned to Mikas.  “What they’re doing or what the killer is doing?”

“The killer,” Mikas said.  He grimaced and shook his head.  It wasn’t that he was squeamish about death.  He had been an assassin.  He knew how it felt to take a life.  As far as the others knew, he’d only ever killed indirectly.  He had no intention of changing that any time soon.  However, there was a difference in what he’d done and this.

He shook his head, his gaze going back to Andrien.  “Causing such… pain and fear in a person,” he said, his voice strained.  He took a shaky breath and moved to his feet.  He realized that he’d begun trembling and wrapped his arms around himself to still the movement.  “And the killer… he enjoyed that in the victim.”

“Very likely,” Cedar murmured.  He stepped closer to Mikas and, speaking in a soft voice, he said, “For some people – the people we’re tasked with finding and stopping, particularly – it’s all a game: stalking their prey, toying with them, until they finally finish with them.”

“It’s… like a dance,” Mikas said, frowning.  He glanced over at Cedar.  “Only… they’re the ones that know the steps and their victim is just stuck following them.”

“Then, we come in after the dance is over and see if we can figure out the steps,” Cedar said.  He nodded.  “Intrigue could be compared to dancing too, but this… this is manipulation: forcing someone else to dance to your own tune.”

“How are we going to stop them, if we don’t know why they do it?” Mikas asked.  He wasn’t sure why he’d included himself in the mix.  He was there only to protect Andrien.  He was no investigator.

“They always make mistakes, Mikas,” Cedar said.  He patted Mikas on the shoulder and added, “That’s how we’ll find them.  We look for the imperfections in their dance.”

Cedar felt certain that they would succeed.  Mikas nodded slightly and looked out at the crashing waves beyond the crime scene.  He felt small and helpless compared to the ocean.  Perhaps, that was why the killer had chosen the beach as the place where he would commit his horrible crime.  Perhaps he felt that way too and, by killing people, he could prove – if only to himself – that he wasn’t small or helpless.  He had the power to take the life of an innocent person.

“I think I prefer my dances in crowded clubs with pounding music,” he murmured.  A tight smile touched his lips when Cedar agreed.

Behind a Curtain of Shells

This is sort of pre-writing for my NaNo next month.  It was inspired by a picture prompt over at the WriYe DreamWidth.

130329731

 

The waves rolled in and out, crashing against the shore in a rhythmic fashion that was almost hypnotic.  The breeze from the water made the shells sway on their cord.  The music of their clattering added to the sound of the waves beyond.

Ilya’s gaze drifted down the water beyond the strung up shells.  It was all so lovely and peaceful.  It was hard to believe that there could be danger of any kind lurking out there, in the warm sunshine.  His brows furrowed as he thought about the situation that had brought them there.

“Agent Braginski?”

He blinked and then turned to face the young woman who served as a waitress in the beachside bar.  “Yes,” he said, smiling in what he hoped was a reassuring way.  He remembered that her name was Amanda.  “I wondered if I could talk to you for a moment about what happened the other night on the beach.”

She gave him a weak smile.  “Jake said you wanted to ask me some questions,” she said, her gaze going over to the man behind the bar, mixing drinks.  She shrugged and looked back at Ilya.  “I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.”

“You may have seen more than you realize,” Ilya said, shrugging.  He beckoned to her as he settled at a table.  As she sat across from him, he drew out a small notebook and a pen.  “You were here the other evening, closing up alone?”

Nodding, she said, “Jake had already locked up the liquor and gone home.  I just had to finish wiping down the tables and sweeping.”

“Did you see anyone around as you were leaving?” he asked.  For a moment, she said nothing.  Her chin dipped down, as if she were going to shake her head.  Then, she blinked and her eyes widened.  “Who did you see?”

“It was… really just a shadow of movement,” she said, her voice soft.  Her brows drew down low over her eyes.  “I looked, but I didn’t see anyone.  When I got to my car, though… there was another car in the lot.”

Ilya smiled and nodded.  “Can you describe the car?” he asked.  He wrote quickly as she told him what she remembered.  It might be that the car was totally unrelated to the case, but it might also be their first real break in the case.  After thanking her, Ilya gave her his card.  “If you remember anything or… even if you just need to reach me, don’t hesitate to call.”

“Thank you, Agent Braginski,” she said, as she tucked the card into the pocket of her apron.