Hi! I don’t have much news right now, but I thought you might enjoy a new chapter of book 15. Can you believe that release date is only 7 weeks away?! This month is flying by.
I’ll email you with news at the end of the month if I have any. If I don’t talk to you again before then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
“Where does the boss want me?”
“Right here in your own cabin.”
Tobias smacked the doorframe. “We haven’t done anything wrong. Why are we being treated this way?!”
Conner stood up straighter, eyes narrowing. “You and your wives reached a new level. You can’t be around Marc or Angela now. You know that.”
“Yes, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have jobs until we leave.”
Conner paused. “You’re leaving us?”
Tobias nodded. “Your boss knows. We just want to be useful until then.”
Conner scanned the cabin and the two women sitting demurely in the chairs on either side of the one large bed. Both females had sewing needles and were working on the same blue and white blanket. The neat cabin smelled like clean laundry and frustration.
Tobias swept the handsome kid. The Eagle jacket didn’t have a name or patch, but it was clear it had been worn a lot. Tobias knew Conner had earned it and the scars he carried on his hands and arms, but he still didn’t like the teenager.
Conner wondered why Tobias insisted on dressing like an old man playing golf, but he ask or comment on the odd plaid choices.
Tobias scowled. “We’re playing putt-putt later.”
Conner shrugged. It didn’t explain the rest of the times in the last week.
Daniella and Anna were also dressed for an outing. They both had on long gray sweaters over jeans and matching t-shirts with a variety of roses across the front. They looked normal; Tobias didn’t.
The busy hall behind Conner told Tobias a lot was happening right now and he wanted to be part of it. He’d called Conner over in hopes of a job.
Conner got his book out and did a fast scan to find something they needed that Tobias could do right here. “My notes say you have a gift the rest of us don’t.”
“Can you teach it or share?”
“Yes, and no.”
Conner snapped his book shut. “I see who the boss wants me to send by. Any special qualities I should look for?”
“Well, it’s never been successfully done, even in the labs, so no.”
Conner put his mind to work, running through what he knew of Tobias. “Haunted, hunted, aggressive, short-tempered, intelligent…” He grinned. “Do you prefer youth or wisdom?”
Tobias snorted out a chuckle. “Wisdom. Youth gives me a headache.”
Conner glared at him.
Tobias nodded. “Exactly.”
Conner turned and moved away from the cabin, a little offended.
Tobias pushed the door shut with his boot. “Touchy.”
Daniella and Anna stared at him.
Tobias sighed unhappily. “I don’t either, but we can’t stay now. Five known byzan, and probably more, in one camp? Safe Haven would be torn apart in a few months.”
Anna dropped her head.
Daniella kept staring.
Tobias frowned. “What?!”
“Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.”
“You know it does. You two are locked right now, but it won’t hold. Locks on adults never do.”
“I know. I meant we stay anyway.”
“No. I refused to cause their downfall.”
“We won’t. We have to be strong enough to remain stable.”
“No. We crack as soon as reach this level. I mean being able to handle those cracks.”
Tobias wanted to take the chance. He liked it here and his wives were safe, fed, liked even. “What do you have in mind?”
“The kids here are special. They can heal those rifts in our soul.”
“It didn’t hold on Marc and I doubt it will hold on Angela.”
“They only had one treatment. I’m thinking of a regular session where all byzan get that care.”
Tobias saw where that might be enough. “Along with locks and therapy?”
Daniella nodded. “She’s doing rounds on this deck at some point. Talk to her. Make her see that it’s possible.”
Tobias nodded. He smiled at Daniella, warming. “I love you.”
Anna watched them kiss, glad her sister had pushed. Tobias doesn’t need to know it was my idea. I know he loves me for my kind nature. Let him love Daniella for my brains. It keeps us both happy.
“Are you happy that we’ve arrived?”
Tracy nodded. “Yes. I can’t wait to get off this boat.”
Tim was glad to see that Tracy had changed clothes today and her wet, shiny hair said she’d also showered. The cabin was neat and it smelled good. Tim wasn’t fooled, but he was encouraged that she was trying to fight her depression. “What’s Charlie doing today?”
Tracy smiled widely. “He’s sharing point with Conner. It’s great.”
Tim studied Tracy from the chair next to her bed. “When he’s not working for the camp, you’re not happy with him.”
Tracy’s face fell. “I try to be.”
“But you need him out there fighting for the future.”
“Yes, I think so.”
“For you or for your child?”
Tracy frowned, voice lowering. “For me.”
“Because at some point, that boy will inherit leadership and you’ll be the queen of Safe Haven.”
“Yes.” Tracy dropped her head, shoulders drooping. “I know it’s wrong. And I don’t want to make rules or be in charge.”
“You just want to be the wife of the man running it all.”
“So while he was having his own moment of weakness, you realized…”
Tracy sighed deeply. “I didn’t want him as much when he was just going to be an Eagle. I don’t love him the way he needs me to.”
Tim gave her a soothing smile. “This honesty is good for you. It’s going to set you free of all that guilt.”
“But I deserve it! I let a kid seduce me. In the old world, I would have gone to jail.”
“Perhaps. You might also have been like the teacher who ended up marrying the child she seduced. Some people call that love trapped by age.”
“I know. I also know that teacher served years in jail and I haven’t.”
“So you think you should suffer before you can be happy with him?”
Tracy rubbed her upset stomach. “Maybe. I’m not sure. I just don’t feel good about me, him, the baby, or the future and I’m sure it’s because I got away with breaking laws.”
“Some laws are meant to be broken. And some laws weren’t even laws in the beginnings of civilization.”
“That doesn’t clear me.” Tracy’s voice hardened. “Are you going to tell him about our talks?”
“No. Our sessions are confidential.”
Tracy didn’t believe him. “What if I start flipping out again and tell you I’m planning something crazy?”
“No! But what if I was and I told you? Like Courtney did?”
“I knew it!” Tracy crossed her arms over her chest. “Well?” She hadn’t been sure in that guess. Now that she knew, she wasn’t sure if she should be angry.
“I didn’t think she would follow through when she made that confession.” Tim gave the full truth. “But even if I had, I believe in my vows. I wouldn’t have told anyone.”
“So crazy people just get to hurt others and you won’t do anything about it?” Tracy frowned deeply. “I don’t like that.”
“I don’t either.” Tim shrugged, pushing his guilt aside to finish helping her deal with hers. “We’ll have a new constitution soon. It might forbid this type of privacy or it might protect it. Either way, I won’t reveal our conversations.”
Tracy locked eyes with him. “What if I told you I tried to kill my baby and I’m still not sure if I might try again?”
Tim sighed. “I stand by my answer.”
Tracy leaned her head against the wall. “I’m not. You’re off the hook.”
Tim didn’t believe her. “If you started to feel that way, would you come talk to me like Courtney did?”
She nodded. “Probably. You’re easy to talk to.” Tracy meant it. Tim didn’t judge, but he also didn’t lie. And he looked like a priest in his black pants, white shirt and collar, and black suit jacket. Only the sneakers were out of place.
“Good.” Tim didn’t want to leave it there even though they were already over time for this session. “Do you think you could tell Charlie these things? He loves you. He’d forgive you anything.”
Tracy shook her head, cheeks reddening with her humiliation. “He can’t ever find out. He doesn’t see me this way. If he ever does, we’re done.”
“When you’re done eavesdropping, you have duty.”
Charlie jumped away from the door, spinning around to face Kyle.
Kyle stopped next to the boy, aware of the hallway emptying as Angela began her rounds. Kyle was dressed for a day of hard work, complete with toolbelt and Eagle jacket. He was surprised that Charlie was in matching gear. The boy hadn’t been wearing his Eagle clothes. “Learn anything useful?”
Charlie nodded. “Suspicions verified.” He blocked what he didn’t want Kyle to know.
Kyle read the boy’s open thoughts and scowled. “That’s not right.”
“Actually, it’s perfect.” Charlie lowered his voice. “Now I know how to keep her.”
Kyle assumed the teenager was hiding something important, but he didn’t try to get through Charlie’s mental block. “You aren’t pissed?”
Charlie snorted softly. “Over something I’ve known since the first time I stalked her in the shower?” Charlie strode down the hall, humming happily.
Kyle shook his head. “Kids these days!”
Kyle lingered in the hall as it finished emptying.
Tracy’s door opened. Tim came out and shut it. He saw Kyle and stopped.
Kyle dug in without mercy, pulling up every detail of his conversation with Tracy.
Tim didn’t know how to defend himself from the mental attack.
Kyle’s fists clenched. “You son of a bitch!” Kyle grabbed Tim and shoved him against the wall. “You’re under arrest!”
Tim didn’t resist as Kyle cuffed him. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be!” Kyle pulled him down the hall toward the steps. He glared at Jonny, who was on guard duty here. “Tell the boss Tim will be in the brig!”
Jonny frowned. “Okay. What’s the charge?”
“Conspiracy that resulted in the attempted murders of nine members of this camp!” Kyle’s tone dropped into dangerous anger. “And did result in the deaths of two kittens!”
People got out of the way as Kyle shoved through the hall. Mutters and questions filled the air.
Jonny waved a rookie over. “Watch my post.” He was gone an instant later.
Kyle took Tim toward the brig, furious.
“It’s my duty to keep their secrets when they come to me. I didn’t have a choice.” Tim hoped Kyle would be reasonable.
Kyle pushed Tim when he stopped. “Jennifer almost died. I don’t want to hear about your duty to a murderer!”
Tim paled. He’d forgotten about Jennifer. “I’m sorry.”
“You will be if Kenn finds out before I get you locked up. Move faster.”
“Tim’s in the brig.”
Angela stopped, turning toward Jonny. “What? Why?”
The crowd around Angela all turned when she did, drawing more attention from the guards in this area and those passing by on their way to jobs and chores. Silence fell as they waited to hear Jonny’s answer.
“Kyle arrested him for conspiracy. Something about helping Courtney.”
Angela blew out an annoyed breath. “That figures.” She was glad Kyle had chosen to arrest him instead of following Kenn’s example. “Tell Morgan the law council needs a meeting tonight after dinner. He can pick the time and place. Mandatory for all members.” Angela held up a hand to stop him from leaving before she was done.
Jonny waited, hoping this didn’t turn ugly. If people found out, Tim wouldn’t be welcome anywhere in Safe Haven.
“Stop by Samantha’s cabin and tell her she has a client waiting in the brig.”
Jonny frowned. “Neil and Wade won’t like that.”
“They’ll survive, which is more than I can say for Tim if Kenn gets to him.”
“So you’re not letting Tim out?”
Angela shook her head, aware of three-dozen shocked witnesses storing her every word to pass on later. “He’ll go through the process like anyone else.”
“We need a bail system.”
“He’s safer behind those bars right now.” Angela waved. “Go on.”
Jonny hurried off as Angela turned back toward the medics. “You were saying?”
Harry frowned. “Tim’s a good man. He wouldn’t have conspired to hurt anyone.”
“I won’t discuss his case since I’ll probably be his judge.” Angela waved a hand. “Finish your update. I have a lot of stops waiting after this one.”
The slamming door behind them drew every head in that direction.
Kenn glared at all of them.
Angela shook her head. “Don’t do it.”
Terry took a step toward the furious Marine. “Come on, man. He’s been arrested. We’ll get to the truth.”
Kenn shoved Terry with one hand as he went by.
Terry fell against the half open door next to them. He tumbled into the room and out of sight. “Ouch!”
Kenn vanished down the steps.
“Do you want us to go after him?” Harry didn’t want to even though he liked Tim. The thought of facing Kenn while he was like this gave Harry the shakes.
Angela shook her head. “Tim made a choice not to warn us. Now he may face the direct consequences of that choice.”
“And what about Kenn?”
Angela’s voice hardened. “If he follows through, Eagles on duty are to remove him on the spot.”
“I didn’t stutter. That’s a direct order.” Angela frowned at Harry. “I’m still waiting on that update.”
“I want to be part of his trial.”
“You will be. Now…”
Harry held out the clipboard so she could see the test results. “I mean it. Tim wouldn’t willingly hurt anyone, let alone pregnant women.”
“And cats.” Angela was surprised by the pain those two lost little lives were causing her. She flipped through the test results, mind scattering into the meeting that now had to happen tonight. I needed more time. I’m not ready for this moment.
“Get ready.” Kyle locked the brig cell and stuffed the keys into his pocket as heavy steps echoed toward them.
Guards outside the brig stayed out of the way. Kenn had a nasty reputation as a fighter and they were only rookies. The fact that he was heavily armed also drew their attention.
Tim moved to the back of the cell, but there wasn’t a place to stand where Kenn would miss if he pulled his gun.
Kyle shut the main door to the brig and locked it.
Kenn’s angry face appeared in the window. “Open up!”
Kyle shook his head, tensed to dive out of the way if Kenn decided to shoot his way in. “He’ll have a trial.”
“Open this door!”
“No, Kenn. Get out of here before the boss shows up.”
Kenn grabbed the handle and yanked as hard as he could.
The door groaned, hinges straining.
“Stop it! You’ll be banished!” Kyle understood Kenn’s anger, but he didn’t want the man to pay for a rash choice.
Kenn yanked again… The hinge snapped. The door fell to one side, hanging awkwardly on the remaining hinge.
Kenn kicked it off, breaking that hinge. Pieces of wood flew through the room.
Kyle reluctantly took a stance in front of Tim’s cell as Kenn advanced. “Don’t do this.”
Kenn stomped toward the cell, eyes glowing bright red.
“If you do this, you’re out of Safe Haven. Tonya will be alone.”
Kenn didn’t stop.
Kyle gathered his energy and fired a spell he hadn’t used yet.
Kenn dropped to the floor, face stunned.
“What was that?” Tim stayed back in case Kyle fired again.
“Part of my new skill set.” Kyle stepped to the desk as Marc appeared outside the main door.
Marc scanned the broken door, then Kenn’s prone body. “What happened here?”
“He tripped.” Kyle pushed the button on his radio. “We need a stretcher in the brig. No rush.”
Marc lifted a brow. “He tripped?”
Kyle nodded. “Tripped and fell into the door. Broke it and knocked himself out.”
Marc snorted. He looked at Tim.
Kyle also looked at Tim.
Tim went to the cot and stretched out. “He tripped.”
“Uh-huh.” Marc scanned Kenn deeper, picking up traces of magic. It only took a few seconds for him to place it.
Kyle shrugged. “What?”
“Nothing.” Marc left, shaking his head. “I may have gifted him too well with that skill set.”
Kyle smirked, pleased with his new talent. Knocking out prey was the number one gift of a tracker/hunter. He’d just used his for the first time, successfully, in action.
Tim stared at Kyle, finally starting to get scared. “I’m in trouble.”
Kyle nodded. “And not just from the boss or the asshole on the ground there. A lot of people won’t understand the choice you’ve made. No one will trust you now. Your life in this camp has changed forever.”
Shtf fiction, armageddon, nuclear war, post apocalyptic survival, dystopian military fiction, end of the world, science fiction series