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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 28

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 28

The barking of the dogs and the grey light of dawn made for a eery setting on the edge of the woods.  Addison stood next to Jordan in silence.  Both hoping for the same outcome, Kari's safe return.  Addy couldn't speak for Jordan on this one, she also wanted Holden's safe return.  Although if she had to guess she knew that Jordan was a happily ever after type person.  She couldn't be sure if Captain Holmes believed Holden or not, but she suspected he wanted to all the same.  
There were three sets of rescue teams this time and all were studying the maps.  Addison had to assume they would be looking for Holden's scent as well.  She rubbed her arms subconsciously as she thought about the night that Holden had just spent out in the open.  Knowing that he could do this and seeing it were two different things.  When he was out getting the story she always worried, but not like this.  This time she was right there, waiting and watching as it all happened.  Glancing at her watch she could imagine Mia beginning to stir and the questions starting all over again.
When Addy had called Daniel's mother last night and asked if Mia could sleep over she had had to give some kind of explanation.  By now the news of Kari's disappearance had started to spread and especially to those who were connected to the clinic.  The next ten minutes had been spent talking to Mia and trying not to explain it all to her as she fired question after question.  All she could hope for now was that Mia didn't get ahold of a phone again this morning.  Thinking of that she took out her phone and placed the call to get a substitute for her room today.    Cindy would have to get her plans ready, and she would owe her for that one.  She hoped most things would be cleared up by then, but there were no guarantees.  She refused to think about how big a pain in the neck Mia would be once she discovered her Mom wasn't there.
"Hum," Addy had been shaken from her inner thoughts.
"Coffee?" Jordan asked again, "I have a thermos in the car, but there is plenty," she looked apologetic, almost saddened.  Addy just wasn't sure if it was because they were both out there in the below freezing weather, or if it was because Holden might have snapped and killed his girlfriend.
"I'd love a cup," turning she followed Jordan to her car.  Getting a glimpse inside she noticed that not only did she have a thermos of coffee, she had at least four large thermoses of coffee two of which looked like they had already been emptied.
"Not my first rodeo," shrugging her shoulders, "as they say."  She handed the cup to Addy.
"Thanks." The silence between them seemed to hold so many secrets.  "Once my Mom went away and it was just my Dad and I things changed.  People get lost on these trails a lot, so over the years I realized that coffee seemed to keep everyone happy and going.  Especially when it's an early morning start."
"Your Dad's lucky to have you," she didn't say much but it kept the silence away.
"I really believe they are both out there and both of them are fine," Jordan continued when Addy didn't say anything.
"Whatever is going on I don't think your brother could have hurt her," and there it was, out in the open and no less ugly than if she had just been thinking it.
"I want to believe that as well," and she turned to face her.  Speaking a bit more quickly now she continued, "and I do, don't get me wrong, but seeing all this," she motioned with her free hand, "having to talk with your Dad."
"I know, scary. But Dad wouldn't have just let him go if he had thought," suddenly there was a lot of commotion, a lot of shouting.  Both women turned to see the teams start to move down the paths.  And so it began.

Holden had drifted off into a very light sleep.  When Kari stirred he quickly came round and pulled her closer.  It had been like that most of the night as she had slept very fitfully.  This time though, the sun was moments away from breaking the grip the darkness had held over them all night.  Stroking Kari's hair he soothed her back into her fitful sleep if only for a few more minutes.  Not being able to fall back to sleep himself, he was left with his troubling thoughts.  It had been a long night.  He had given her as much water as she could handle.  She was still dehydrated and definitely fighting a concussion as well as some of the effects of hypothermia.  It was going to be a hard haul up the side of the hill here.  He could wait and hope the search teams would find them before ten, but he wasn't sure he wanted to risk Kari's wellbeing that long.  The sooner they moved the better.  
As far as Holden could tell Kari had no major internal injuries except for some bruised ribs.  The bruised ego would come later, once she got over the dehydration and hyperthermia.  There was the broken leg or ankle.  He could set that and then he could carry her out until he met up with the search teams.  Looking at the sky he knew he could start to move in about fifteen minutes.  Slowly he tried to untangle himself from her.
"No, don't leave me," her eyes weren't really open as she tried fruitlessly to grab at him.
"I'm not leaving but I have to get us ready to go," he slid away from her and instantly regretted it.  He missed the contact of her body against his.  
"K darling," and her eyes fluttered closed again.  Holden stopped short for a moment and looked back at her.  How out of it was she?  Did she know that it was him or did she think it was Trevor?  He couldn't worry about that now.  The only goal he had was to get her back to safety and well again.  Then he could worry about who she really wanted and if necessary make sure that it was him.  
Ten minutes later he had the rope secured to a couple of small trees and bushes at the top of the slide.  It was now time to set the leg, something he wasn't looking forward too.  It was going to hurt, really hurt, but there was no way around it.  Ten minutes later sweat was pouring down both of their brows, there had been a number of questionable words said on both their parts, and she had drifted off again into that haze that he hoped would keep her from remembering most of this.  Stripping off his jacket and shirt.  He didn't have enough ties to secure her and make it securely to the top.  It was cold, really cold but he would get dressed again when they reached the top and were in a safer location.
He let her lie there for a moment and rest.  Staring at her he wondered what it was going to take to win her back.  Releasing his breath, not realized he was holding it, and glancing at the sky he knew it was time to get her up the hill before any thaw could make it more dangerous. Carefully he worked his jacket under her and his body pressed up against her.
"Oh, you're warm," and she snuggled into him.  Her eyes were still not completely open, "Closer."
"Okay Kari, I'm putting my jacket around you and am going to use it to anchor you to me," he began pulling her closer just as she had asked.
"Oh goody," and her hand started to move toward parts better left alone right now.
"Kari," he adjusted her hand, "I have to concentrate right now.  I don't want to have to wait for the search teams.  It will take too long,"  as he secured her legs between his.  God help him, he knew that if she had been in her right mind the temptation would be great to follow through on her choice of activities, even out here, but she wasn't and he had to keep her safe.  Right now it was his job, his mission to get her back to Dr. McCoy.  Leaving everything else he began the trek back up to the path for almost the last time.  If all went well he would tie her to the tree up top, again images raced through his head that he tried to shake free, but couldn't, and return to the ledge to get just what was needed for the trip back.  Search teams could collect the rest later.
He was sweating by the time they reached the top, and not just from the exertion.  Kari had been absentmindedly fingering his scars on both his chest and back.  It didn't seem to bother her as much as it did him as she was fairly quiet all the way up except for a few groans when her leg bounced against his inner thigh.  Quickly he got to a safer part of the trail and began to untie her from him.
"No, no, don't do that," he heard her protest but to keep his sanity he didn't stop.  Pulling up the rope he secured her, it was better to think of it like that, to the nearby tree.  Taking a moment to dress and adjust himself, he then, on hands and knees, made his way back down to get the pack they would need.   
"Holden!" he heard her cry out for him as he was still climbing back up and it ripped at his heart.
"I'm here!" he tried to move a bit faster.
"Holden!" he wasn't sure if she couldn't hear him or if she was delirious, so he moved even faster scraping up his hands.  Launching himself over the top edge and onto the path he scrambled to make his way over to her.  
"I'm here, I'm here," and he smoothed her hair.  It was then he realized that it had been his name that she had called out.  It was a bit sobering, "I wouldn't leave you.  I just had to get some of our things before I take you out of here."  And wasn't that going to be a trip.  
"Just don't leave me Holden," she said with unseeing eyes.  She was still halfway in and out of consciousness, but that didn't seem to matter.  Her next words hit him hard, "I just don't want you to leave me."
"I won't," and he swallowed, "I promise."  Taking the heat blanket they had used to stay warm all night long, he fashioned it into what looked like an oversize baby sling.  Placing it first over his head and shoulder he made sure it would keep her safe on the trip back.  She had relaxed again and drifted off into a place of semi-consciousness.  He didn't give anything much thought right now, he couldn't.  But the fact still remained, she knew it was him, she had called out for him, and yet they were not out of danger.  He had a decision to make.  He could wait for the search teams and then they would have to wait on rescue teams.  It was a no brainer, he didn't want her to have to wait.  

Although he was beginning to realize that her head injury was probably not as severe as he had first thought, the combination of everything wasn't good.  He wasn't just going to sit around and wait for help and hope that things weren't that bad.  No, the sooner he got her to the doc the sooner she would be better and the sooner that he could get all this straightened out with her.  It was time, he stopped only for a moment to look at her.  He then untied her from the tree and wedged her inside of the sling as best as he could.  There was a contented sigh as she snuggled into him once more.  Slowly he started the trek back to the parking lot and back towards civilization.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 27

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 27

Captain Holmes was right.  This was not going to be an easy hike.  He was also right in not sending out the search teams.  It was his own choice to risk his safety as he regained his footing for the fifth or sixth time.  The rocks, or gravel, skidded down the steep slope once again as he stumbled to keep his footing.  It should be getting better as the temperature dropped and the ground froze a bit more.  Then again small patches of ice and darkness rarely mixed well.  As he watched the sun slowly sink into the horizon he knew his chances of finding her were getting slim and his chances of getting hurt himself were increasing.  
Soon, too soon, it would be dark and he would be working off flashlight and instinct.  It had been a while since he had been on this trail and the trees had grown over the trail on some spots, a lot more than he had expected.  In other parts there would be nothing to grab onto if he were to slip.  The worst part of the trail was yet to come with the steep and rocky drop offs, at least that part of the trail had a few more trees and she would stand a fighting chance if she had slipped off the path.  If he had to guess it would be there that he would find her, he hoped.  He had been calling her name over and over again not really expecting her to answer but he hoped.  She had already been out long enough for dehydration and hypothermia to start getting their ugly hold on her.
The darkness began to engulf him.  Slowing a bit but never stopping he pulled out the flashlight.  Each step now took even more time as he double checked his footing and moved forward at what seemed to him a snail's pace.  The trees on the path began to slowly thin out as the path wound it's way back toward the pond in which he had been swimming.  The pond he had first met Kari at and the place where the trail was the most treacherous.  In the spring and summer this was the prettiest part of the trail.  He could only hope that he would be able to show it to her one day.  Holden slowed his pace as he swung the flashlight back and forth across the path before taking a step.  He then swung the light past the path and onto the trees and surrounding area to look for any signs of her.
"Kari!" he yelled again.  Checking his cell phone he confirmed what he suspected.  No signal.  Like in most of the park the cell signal was weak  or non existent unless you were at the recreation areas.  If she had gotten hurt here there would have been no way of contacting anyone if she had had her cell.  He had forgotten to ask.  If she couldn't have made her own way out then she would have been stuck.  That would mean that she must have been hurt pretty bad, and with that thought he pushed himself.
The path here was narrow, rocky and unstable.  If something happened it was most likely near here.  During the day the path would be wet and with the freezing and thawing that happened unstable, slick and treacherous.  Feared gripped him.  If she slipped along here she could have fallen up to thirty feet, tumbling uncontrollably, and most likely unconsciously, into the pond many feet below.  The thoughts and images of what may have happened ran through his mind and he totally ignored where his foot fell onto the path.  His foot slipped and he instinctively grabbed for the small tree just to his right.  As the branch snapped off in his hand he slowed and regained his balance.  Waiting till his breath slowed he then refocused.  He was even more determined to find her now as he moved the light to illuminate the path better.  With his free hand he secured himself by grabbing on to another larger branch, and then a rock.
"Kari!" he was more insistent as he flashed the light on the trail looking for anything that would give him a clue.  Moving slowly he purposefully made each step and put each foot down securely as he grabbed on to what he could with his free hand.  Even though it was cold outside he could feel the sweat running down the side of his face and dripping on to his collar from both the effort and fear of what he might find.  She had already been out here too long.  Stopping for a moment he slowly moved the light across the path once again looking for anything that would indicate she was near.  He had done this so many times before that he almost missed it.
"Oh God," he breathed when he saw where the path had collapsed completely.  Fear twisted in his stomach leaving only a gnawing sense of loss.  Without moving he let the light follow the debris down the side of the mountain.  He didn't see much of anything for the first ten feet except for branches, rocks, small trees and shrubs.  With each inch the light covered there was both hope and dread.  The path that the slide left was smooth and wide, wide enough to be made by a human.  He could barely keep the light steady as he continued to follow the trail of debris down looking for anything.  
The light slightly shook as he moved it inch by inch until it touched the toe of a boot, her once new hiking boots, then the light went perfectly still.  In that instant every memory from the accident came flooding back.  The pain the sounds of suffering, and worse yet, no sound at all from those too injured to make noise and those who wouldn't ever make noise again.  And just as suddenly as he had stopped, he began to move.  Quickly he took the rope off of his shoulder and secured it to the only thing he could, the base of a small tree.  Testing its strength he then wrapped the other end of the rope around him so that his hands would be free.  Digging his heels into the hard cold ground and using one hand to focus the light on the path in front of him he made his way slowly down the side. His free hand working the rope.  
"Kari!" he yelled as he went.  She was about 10 yards down the slide, and on the only area that had any ledge to it.  There was a slight moan that fueled his descent.  She was alive!  Rocks skittered out from under his feet as he slid about a foot and the flashlight went flying down the path.  He watched it go the first two bounces before the bulb burst and then it was just a painful noise in the darkness.  Slowing he reminded himself that she was alive.  If he wanted her to stay that way he would need to take more care.  Five feet farther in either direction and the outcome could have been very different.  She had managed to land on the only stable ledge.  Now all he had to do was find it in the dark.  
"Kari if you can hear me I will be there in a few minutes, just hold on," with one hand on the ground and his feet moving only inches he continued his progress down the slope from memory.  Not hearing a response this time made his heart beat even faster as he slipped down another couple of feet.  His foot bumped up against something that wasn't a rock and he knew he had reached her.  Without the light it was going to be difficult to check to see just what her wounds were and if he should even try to move her.  
"Kari, can you hear me?  How bad are you hurt?"  His hands searched for the small pack she wore when out hiking and he almost shouted with joy when his hands landed on it.  Hopefully she had some form of light inside of it.
"Cold," came a small whisper as his hands opened her pack.
"I know honey, but first I have to see if you have a light so that we both don't end up at the bottom of this thing,"  his finger touched what felt like a small LED light at the bottom of the small bag.  Flipping it on he could then see everything.  They were on a small rocky outcrop, about six feet long and three to four feet wide at the midpoint.  There was plenty of brush and a small tree trying to occupy the space as well.  Surer of his footing now he turned his full attention to Kari.  She must have wrapped herself around the only tree, sapling really, when she had first fallen.  Smart woman, it was what had kept her safe on this ledge.  There were bruises and swelling on her head and face as well as quite a few lacerations that had stopped bleeding a while back.  That was good news.  He had been careful not to move her head and neck or to touch her too much, but that ended now.
"Honey I am going to be touching you to see what might be broken or hurt and then I will try and get you warmed up, okay," not expecting a reply his hands started to gently move from her head, down her neck and over her ribs.  When she moaned a bit he stopped, paying closer attention to that spot.  
"Does it hurt here?" he was feeling her ribs on the left hand side just below her breast.
"Like it," was all she was able to say.  Holden swallowed hard and continued to check for injuries trying to ignore what she had said.
"Tell me if it hurts," he said softly.
"Leg," a pause then, "Head," his hands went toward her legs as she continued, "Stupid."
"No, you shouldn't have gone down this trail at this time of year but it's not stupid," the fact that she was responding at all made him more hopeful that the head injury wasn't too severe.  
"No, no, stupid that I let him go," Holden's hands stilled and he turned to try and see her face.  In the light that the little flashlight gave off it was difficult.  There were too many shadows thrown onto her face but he could tell that her eyes weren't open.  There went his hopes for no severe head injuries if she wasn't sure who he was.  At least she was talking and he decided to try and keep it that way.
"Him who," he hated to ask as his hands moved lower and down her legs trying to be careful but pushing hard enough to feel through the thick jeans.  His fingers got caught in one of the many rips that the jeans had sustained on the trip down.  He could feel her skin, and how cold it really was.  He needed to complete this quickly and get out the emergency blanket and try and get her warmed up.
"Holden," at the sound of his name he gulped, but didn't stop.  Her responses were slow, labored, but she continued, "He was so," at that same moment he found the break and she howled out in pain covering anything she was going to say about him.
The following whimpers stabbed at his heart.  Glancing at his watch he knew that they would be out here for at least six more hours before help could even start to look for them.  It was his job right now to do all that he could to keep her going until they got to them or he got her out of there and he couldn't risk taking her out of here in the dark.
"Kari I am going to get a blanket out and cover you up right now," he explained as he rummaged through his pack for the lightweight emergency blanket. "I'm going to try not to hurt you but I have to get you wrapped up so that you can warm up."  As he tucked the blanket in and around her he tried to ignore the small sobs.  There wasn't much room to work but he managed to gently move her into a better position and not fall off himself.  He then used the rope to secure them both.  Repositioning the light he then pulled out his water bottle and poured only a small amount on a piece of cloth. 
"I am so sorry I made you so upset," he began to clean her face and check the extent of her cuts.  Her lips fumbled to try and catch the damp cloth.
"I want a drink," she had to be warming up, she sounded a little more with it.
"In a moment," he continued.
"Now," and then pleadingly, "Please."  Stopping everything he grabbed for the bottle, opened it and put it to her lips.

"Only a little bit right now," he poured a small amount into her mouth and watched her gulp it down.  "In a few minutes, it that stays down and you don't have any pain from it you can have some more."  About an hour later and with a half a bottle of water down her she drifted off to sleep.  Holden wrapped her in his arms and stroked her hair as she drifted off.  The morning was still a ways a way and until then it would be unadvisable to try and get back up the side and onto the path.  He had dreamed of holding her as she slept, but certainly not like this. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 26

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 26

The office was going to be busy today but Jordan seemed to be just going through the motions.  She put the coffee on and then as the doctors started to wander in she would hand them their schedule.  It wasn't until Dr. McCoy came in that she started to fidget.  Taking his schedule and cup of coffee to his office she saw that he was already reading a file, the one he kept in his desk locked away.  She set down the coffee and schedule on the desk and then just stood there wringing her hands.  She wanted to talk to him before her father got here.  It took a couple of minutes before he glanced up.  
"Something wrong Jordan?" he closed the file in front of him.  She could see that Holden's name was on the tab and she couldn't help thinking about what she had told her father last night.  When she had talked with him this morning he was treating this like a missing persons case and less like a lost hiker.  Oh he wasn't saying it but she knew.  After all the season for hiking was well over and a lot of the trails were closed.  
"I need to talk with you about Kari," and she paused.
"Is there a problem?  I thought you two were getting along quite well," he motioned for her to sit and then folded his arms on the desk.
"Oh no, she's wonderful, but," and this time Dr. McCoy let her pause, "Yesterday when she didn't come in I kept checking on her.  She wasn't on calls and she wasn't at home either," Jordan looked at her fingers.
"That's odd," his voice was low and inquisitive, encouraging her to continue.
"Yah, it got weirder after I had supper with my dad," she didn't have to say who her dad was, he knew.  Again he waited patiently, "Later that night, early this morning really, he found her car in the lot by the hiking trails."
"Was she in it?" He was almost afraid to ask.  He knew that she hadn't been in yesterday and as far as he knew she wasn't in yet today.  Up until about two minutes ago he had been just a bit miffed at her for not checking in.
"No, but they don't know where she is," taking a small stabilizing breath she continued, "Best case scenario is that she went hiking and got lost or hurt."  She let her words trail off waiting for what was to come next.
"The worst?" Dr. McCoy didn't need to ask what that was but since she was sitting in his office there was more to it than what she was letting on.
"The worst is that something bad has happened to her," Jordan couldn't bring herself to say the words, any words.  Bad was as far as she would go.  
"What can I do?"  He was pretty sure of what was coming next.
"My Dad will be in to talk with you soon," again she picked at her fingers instead of looking at him, "about Mr. Parker.  They were dating."
"That would be normal for any investigation," although it would be anything but normal for him.  He could no more talk about what was wrong with Holden than he could about any of his patients.  This time he looked at the file, Holden's file, that he had just closed.  He had missed his last appointment and that was what had been troubling Dr. McCoy.
"Do you think," and she never finished her sentence.
"What I think is that I can't, no matter what the result of the conversation would be, give out information about a patient's health records without a court order," he pushed the file aside.  His phone beeped.  After a brief second he put it down, "Jordan go out and bring you Dad in."
Hanging up the phone after not getting an answer, Dr. McCoy looked at the closed file on his desk.  It had been two weeks since he had seen or talked with Holden and now he wondered if he should have let it go that long.  There wasn't much he could tell Captain Holmes when he had visited with him earlier.  He had asked plenty of questions about Kari, and Dr. McCoy had been able to give him quite a bit of information there.  He had included the fact that she had been in a relationship that had ended over a year ago when her fiancĂ© had died in a car accident.  He had also provided him with the very few contact numbers that Kari had given him.  
Captain Holmes had also asked about Holden, especially their relationship.  He could truthfully answer that he had no idea that they had had much of a relationship.  Sure he had noticed the looks between them the one time but that was about it.  Since that one time he had noticed that Kari had been much happier.  Did that have to do with Holden?  He didn't know.
When Captain Holmes had started to ask more questions about Holden and why he was coming to see him, he had had to keep most of the information to himself.  One of the questions when asked had hit home though, and he was now afraid he hadn't hid his reaction well enough.  Holmes had wanted to know if Holden had any condition that would make him unstable, dangerous.  The answer to that may have been yes, but he couldn't say anything without compromising himself.  He tapped the folder unconsciously with his finger.  All he did know for certain was that Holden was definitely a suspect and the fact that no one, not even his sister, had been able to get ahold of him was not a good sign. 

Holden walked out of the publisher's office smiling and it went all the way down to his bones.  For the first time in months he knew what he was doing.  He had his focus and drive back.  It would feel good to write this series and really let the public know what it was like coming back from Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else that the US deemed it important to send troops.  Too many times the public never knew the struggles that these good men faced upon returning to civilian life.  And if they did it was only brief news snippets.  He knew first hand now; not just from the stories he had heard around the campfire so to say from those that had been deployed more than once or twice.  Over the last few months he had struggled with the images that popped into his head and the scars left from the accident both inside and out.  Even talking with Dr. McCoy hadn't exercised them.  He had made it bearable and that had helped.  Dr. McCoy had been in the medical core, had been one of the men deployed at one time.  He had fought the demons himself so when Holden had asked his original doctors to go to New Field it had been on the condition that he followed up with Dr. McCoy regularly.  The doctor had become a friend, a confidant.  He had shown him that he could come back from it.
Until now he had only written about what happened there, and truth be told there was a whole other story that people needed to hear about.  His pieces had described the terrors of modern warfare and what it meant to be a solder today but that was where it had stopped.  Problem was it didn't stop there.  Men and women came back changed, different and no one, no one was addressing that in more than a two minute news segment.  Long waits at the VA, minimal health services and even longer more excruciatingly waits for those that didn't have visual wounds.
Tyler had negotiated the terms of the book deal very well, as always.  They would serialize some of the pieces over the next year creating hype and then put them together in a book.  Holden had wanted the main focus to be on Micky and Fred.  After all he had a good relationship with them and they had agreed to that.  There were quite a few others he could include.  Stories they would want to tell and varying levels of recovery and reintegration with society happening.  It was especially important to include those who came back with seemingly no injuries at all.  PTSD wasn't something to sweep under the rug.  There had been stories of some recovery agencies but again only snippets.  He wanted to follow some of the people that had entered those programs.  Some of the profits would go to Micky and Fred, some to these other programs.  Tyler also negotiated that some of the profits would also go to rehab centers that dealt with the wounded.  Holden, of course, would get a fair share for his work on the piece, but it wasn't going to be his normal rate.  He figured if he sold his apartment and bought a place in New Field he would do just fine.
There hadn't been much of an argument from the publishers about who was going to do the project.  He had the experience, the connections and even though he hated the fact, Tyler pointed it out, he was one of the injured returning home and recovering himself.  He didn't cringe this time when Tyler said it though as he thought back to Micky and Fred.  He actually felt a small touch of pride for getting this far.  He had been there with them; he had told their stories of war with honesty and truth.  Now he would just finish what he had started.  
"Hey," Holden was shocked out of his deep thought by Tyler, "Something you want to share there?"
"Actually," and he smiled.  Tyler saw the start of it and smiled in response.  It felt good to see Holden smile again about his writing.  For a while Tyler thought it would never happen again.  He knew he always had a ready smile for just about anyone, but it hadn't been about his work for a long time now.  It had been too long, "I need to tell you thanks.  This is just the project I needed."  They walked over to the truck.
"Glad I could help," as they climbed in Tyler looked at his watch, "Want to make it a business supper?  Jenny's in town and..."
"Think I'll pass.  I think I will head back to Addy's and tell her what's up.  I kind of left in an emotional state and I don't want her to worry," starting the engine he pulled away from the curb.  Tyler had a puzzled look on his face but Holden wasn't about to explain.  "She will be beside herself knowing that I will be staying stateside for the next two or more years or more," and even though he was focused on the traffic he felt like things might just work out yet.  "Where can I drop you?"
"You know Jenny would love to see you," Holden just shook his head.  Jenny would be glad to see him but she really wanted to spend time with Tyler.  Jenny and Tyler had been on again off again for the last three years.  Currently they were on again and Holden wasn't going to get in the middle of it.
"No, she'd love to see you.  She would be happy to have supper with me," Holden was back on the freeway again.  Glancing at his watch, if he made good time he could get back to Addy's just before dark being that Tyler's office was just south of Baltimore.  He'd forgo going back to his apartment and picking up anything.  He had left most of his things at Addy's anyway.
Dropping off Tyler he promised to be in touch soon as he pulled away from the curb.  He wanted to get back, he hadn't known how much he was going to miss the day to day life he had created there.  It had centered him, had brought the good part of him back to life.  If he had to be honest with himself, he could see settling there and building a life.  Pulling onto the freeway and fighting with the traffic he headed back for New Field humming a song that Mia and himself often sang together. 

Addy had gone home earlier than usual.  It had been a blessing that Mia had been able to go over to Daniel's house in one way and curse in another.  As it was it had given Addy nothing to do but pace the floor, drink copious amounts of coffee as she tried over and over again to reach Holden, she had even tried Tyler and gotten no answer.  It was now after four and she was nearly beside herself with worry.  She had sent Cindy home and tried to hide the fact of how worried she really was, but Cindy had known.  She almost hadn't left but Addy had insisted.  Looking at the offending item on the table, her cell phone, she decided to pick it up once more and try again.  It was either that or drink another cup of coffee and she wasn't sure her system could take that.
Glancing at the gas gage Holden silently swore under his breath.  He had been hoping to make it all the way home before putting gas in but the traffic had been too heavy and he was going to be chancing it if he continued.  Pulling off the road and into the nearest station he saw the time on the bank clock, four ten.  He had hoped to be back before Addy and Mia arrived home from school, that was usually around four fifteen or so, but fate wasn't on his side.   At least he would be home for supper and he could tell them the good news then.  Shoving the hose in the tank he tapped his foot as the gas seemed to slowly dribble through out.  The sun was low in the sky for this time of year and without his jacket on he could feel the cold sinking into his bones.  He shivered as he removed the hose from the tank even though it wasn't quite full yet.  He had enough to get him home, and didn't that sound good.  
Thrusting his hand into his pocket to get the keys out his fingers touched his cell.  Grabbing it with the keys he pulled it from his pocket as he slid in behind the wheel.  Dropping it on the seat he started the truck and pulled out of the station.  Reaching down he picked up his phone, about to make a call to Addy and then dropped it back to the seat.  He was only about thirty minutes out at most and he would love to surprise them.  After all the worry he had caused her over the last few months he couldn't think of anything better to do.  If she hadn't made enough food then he'd take them out, a celebration so to speak.  With the cell face down he didn't notice it light up again signaling an incoming call.  
Addy was staring at the driveway trying to wish Holden home until she finally saw the truck turn into the drive.  She had to blink twice before she could believe what she saw.  Nearly slamming the cup to the counter she flung the door open and went running outside, down the drive towards his truck.
Holden saw Addy fly out of the house and run straight at his truck.  At first he thought it was because she was surprised to see him but one look at her eyes let him know something was wrong.  He almost didn't have time as he slammed on the brakes to stop the truck as she ran across the path of the vehicle and grabbed at his door.  Mia was no where to be seen.  In that few seconds panic chilled his blood.  What could have happened in just the few hours he had been gone.  
"Holden, Holden," the truck skidded to a stop, the door pulling free of her hand as he threw on the emergency brake and got out.
"Addy, what's wrong?" He took her by the shoulders looking her straight in the eyes.
"Where have you been?"  but before he could say anything  she continued, "I have been calling and calling you all day long and you haven't answered."
"I was in meetings Ad, but I swear," and that's when it hit him.  He must have accidentally put his phone on silent when he grabbed it this morning.  Dropping his hands from her shoulders as he reached for his phone.  Pulling it from the seat of the truck he noticed the thirty or so calls he had missed today.  The latest one being only about ten minutes ago.  "What the hell?" 
"Oh Holden," it was then that Holden noticed that his little buddy was no where to be found.
"Addy, where is Mia?" this time his eyes were fixed on Addison and his jaw set and tense.  Addison's head tilted slightly to the right and her brows wrinkled in confusion. 
"At Daniel's," and then it hit her, "Holden she's just fine.  Mia's just fine.  It's Kari, she's missing."  She watched as the color drained from Holden's face.  "Honey you need to call the police, they want to talk to you."
"Why?" Fear gripped his being as his voice fought to find it's way out.  Even as it escaped his throat it sounded strange and removed.
"Hon they found her car by the hiking trails you two used and they want to talk to you about," and she paused finding it hard to continue without the doubt showing in her eyes.
"They want to know if I had anything to do with it," he could see it in her eyes, she also wasn't sure if he hadn't done something he would regret.  At first he felt rage surge threw his veins.  How could his own sister think that he could do anything that awful.  Then he looked at her face.  He saw the uncertainty as well as the gleam of hope that lingered in her eyes.  Yes, she couldn't knock the thoughts out of her mind but if pushed she believed in him.  It was humbling to know and with that he softened.  It hadn't been easy, especially for her.  Over the last few months things had gotten easier but when he first arrived he had been a completely changed person.  If he had to be honest he might have believed himself capable of something horrible back then as well.  A new hurt began to blossom in the pit of his stomach. 
"How long has she been missing?" He really didn't have to ask that question.  He was pretty sure he knew the answer already.
"Since you left," and there was the damning evidence in everyone's eyes.  Except he knew what had really happened, or he hoped he did.  He grasped her arms again.
"Have they checked the trails?"
"Yes," she said a bit shaky a mix of fear and curiosity on her face.
"All the trails?" He was becoming more insistent and he watched as the fear overcame the curiosity.  "Addy this is really important.  I didn't hurt her, I promise, but if she went out on those trails and got hurt she won't be able to survive much longer."
"I think so," curiosity and trust seemed to be winning the battle again, almost, "but I'm not sure.  I know they didn't find anything," this time when she stopped he could see tears forming in her eyes.
"Oh Addy, I know I put you through hell but you have to trust me," he could see the battle raging inside her as she spit out her next sentence.
"They're going to drag the lake tomorrow," and that was the straw that broke him.  
"Oh God," and he started for the shed at a sprint.  There wasn't much daylight left and way too much night to come.  If they hadn't checked the closed trail by the pond then it was possible she was still out there needing help.  Whether or not she wanted it from him, that's what she was going to get.
"Holden?" Addy yelled after him confusion dripping from her voice.
"Bring me the pack in the coat closet and my heavy coat," he was almost to the shed.
"Holden you have to call Captain Holmes," Addy called after him.
"Call the cops and tell them I'm headed out there," he didn't break his pace at all, "tell them to bring the search teams back out.  If she did what I think she did she's in trouble Addy and it doesn't matter how mad she is at me I have to help her."  Addy then turned and ran for the kitchen.  Five minutes later they were both in the truck and on the way to the carpark.
As he drove the ten minutes to the trails he focused on the road, thought about Kari, and worried about the night she had already spent out in the open.  Addy had stayed quiet during the short ride but she had watched him carefully.  He hadn't missed her gaze on him.  He owed her so much, and she deserved some answers.
"Addy, Kari and I walked the trails, the ones that were still open.  She asked about the Bear Head Trail," he made the last right hand turn before getting to the parking lot.
"But that trail is closed until Spring," Addy put a hand out on the dashboard to keep from losing her balance, "It's dangerous this time of year with the freezing and thawing.  It's just not safe."
"I think that's the trail she went on," and with a grimace he glanced at her.
"Why?" Holden pulled into the lot, beside the taped off area.  They had already towed her car but the reminder was still in place.
"It's the only place she could be," and as he put the parking brake on he heard another car pulling in behind him.  Hopping out of the truck he turned to grab his bag and coat.  Glancing up to the  sky he could see that the sun would be gone within ten minutes.  He hated that thought and he began to move faster.
"Holden Parker?" Captain Holmes approached the side of the truck.
"Yes," he turned around while he was putting on his coat.
"I need to ask you a few questions about your relationship with Kari Jackson," Bill Holmes noticed that Holden wasn't really paying any attention to him.
"Ask anything you want, but did you check the Bear Head Trail?" Holden was putting the pack on his back and putting the rope he had gotten out of the shed across his shoulder.
"We have checked the trails and that one is closed.  The dogs didn't indicate that she went that way," and moved to try and get his attention.
"That's the one she went on.  That trail intersects with one of the ones we have walked a lot so the dogs may have missed it," Holden grabbed the maglite.  
"How can you be so sure that that is the way she went?"  His gaze was hard.
"Because I have been telling her about it and the beautiful overlooks it has.  I promised to take her out there before we had a huge argument," there was pain written all over his face now as if he was reliving it, "Then I left to set up my new contract so I could come back here for good.  I planned on doing anything I had to to win her back."
"We will send the dogs back up tomorrow morning to check that trail.  It is too late tonight. It's not safe," no matter what he said Holden hadn't stopped getting ready to go up, "It would be crazy to try and go up now."
"And you and I both know if she took that trail she's in trouble," Holden turned to walk away and that was when Holmes placed his hand on his shoulder to stop him. 
"It's not safe to go up there now," Holmes voice was a bit more insistent.
"I have to try, and I have what I need to survive the night or until the search team gets to us.  I've had plenty of practice," Addy watched as both men stared to square off.  She tried placing a calming hand on Holden's forearm.  
"I'm afraid you will have to answer a few questions first," he stood almost nose to nose with Holden now and yet the intensity in Holden's eyes almost knocked him over.
"No disrespect intended but either charge me with something or let me go. If she has been out there for over a day now she must be out of supplies or unconscious.  Either way I don't want to take any more chances.  I owe her that," he stood stock still with every muscle tight.  Addy wasn't sure how long they stood there, it felt like hours when it was really only seconds.  It was then that she saw something in Holmes' eyes soften.  His hand dropped and that was all it took, Holden was off. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 25

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 25

Looking at her watch for what seemed the three-hundredth time today she realized it was eleven thirty and about time to take her class to lunch.  Addy couldn't say that it was her best day teaching but at least she was here and things were getting accomplished.  The kids had noticed how anxious she was and that hadn't helped.  Cindy had also asked her what was wrong as Mia wasn't her usual bouncy self today.  All she had told Cindy was that Holden had taken off back to Baltimore for a while and they were just a bit worried about him.  As of yet, Kari's disappearance had not hit the grapevine.  Once that happened, there would be no way of stopping Cindy's questions.  Addy had made three more calls to Holden and still hadn't gotten ahold of him.  It was beginning to worry her, not to mention letting her imagination roam about what really had happened.
With phone in hand she lined up her class and opened the door for them to follow Cindy's class to lunch.  Before the door could even close she was redialing Holden's number.  As it rang and rang she started to tap her foot.  It was getting more than a bit annoying that she couldn't reach him.  When the answering machine came on again she left a terse message to the point that he either needed to answer his phone or return her messages.  Hanging up she decided to call the police officer that had stopped by this morning to see if they had found Kari safe and sound.  Maybe that was why nothing else was happening.
"Yes," it was very businesslike and was all he said.  He was trying to sound polite but it had been a long day and he was only working on three hours of sleep.  He was back out at the parking lot and talking with the search coordinator.  They had found her cell phone in the car so it was of no use to them.  It must have either fallen out of her purse as she got out, or the other was a little to gruesome to think about.  So far they had found nothing of importance on any trail.  Looking at the hiking trail maps of the park they had marked off the ones they had covered with and without the dogs.  So far it was looking like a bust.  One of the problems was that she had walked so much of the park it was hard for them to find a clear sent trail, that and the fact that every trail was, or could, be over twenty four hours old.  
"This is Addison Westlake, you stopped by this morning," when she heard the gruff confirmation she continued, "I wanted to know if you have found Kari yet?"
"I'm sorry Mrs. Westlake we haven't found anything.  I have tried to reach your brother and the only thing I get is voice mail," he looked out toward the trailhead, "Have you been in touch with him?"
"No, that's why I was calling.  I was hoping you had been able to get ahold of him or had at least found Kari,"  Addy started to pace the floor.
"We are still looking," he wasn't going to go into details that there weren't enough search and rescue dogs around to check all the trails faster, or that the age of the trails could be a problem or that in a few days they would call in the cadaver dogs instead.  He also did not mention that he had talked to an Agent Ryan somebody from the FBI because Mr. Parker was across state lines.  If they didn't find something soon he'd have to call them again, "If you hear from your brother, it is very important that you contact me and tell him to come in to the office immediately."
"Don't worry officer, I'm sure he will as soon as he knows that Kari is missing," Addy was less and less sure as the moments ticked on that she would even hear from Holden.
"Kari's missing?" came a voice from behind her.  Addy turned and looked straight into Cindy's eyes.  She put the phone down.  "Is that what's going on?  Is that why Holden is missing?  Is he out looking for Kari?"
"Cindy," and that's when it happened.  The tears started to slip from her eyes, "I just don't know."  Cindy was right there with a chair.  Wrapping her arm around her friend she waited until the crying had ceased and then helped her to the chair.  It had been hard on Addy this last few months and just when she could see the light at the end of the tunnel the door had seemed to fly closed.  Cindy wasn't sure of all the details but she was sure of one thing, Addy needed her now to get through this.
"Okay hon, we will get through this," and she picked up Addy's phone.  Not bothering to look that Addy had already sent a ton of text and probably left messages all over the place for him she dialed Holden again.    When she got no answer she put the phone down.  "Maybe you should go home this afternoon.  I can take your class in with mine until a sub gets here."
"No, if I go home the things I am thinking will only get worse," Cindy had a puzzled look on her face, "I found Holden sitting at the table yesterday morning very upset."
"He seemed okay when he was here," Cindy sat down in front of Addy and handed her some tissues.
"Trust me he wasn't.  Said something about really messing up with Kari and," Addy paused looking away trying to remember everything exactly, "He had been sitting at the table for four hours thinking.  Said that they had both said things but I never let him finish."
"What's the big deal about that, all couples fight," Cindy was holding her hands trying to comfort her.
"That's what I said but," her eyes dropped to the floor, "Then all he did was talk about things in the past tense."
"Don't," and Addy looked up, "Don't think that way."
"But he's been so different, troubled," Addy stood up and started to pace again, "I know.  I know, but you can't blame me for thinking those things."
"Okay, I can't but you know that's not Holden so lets get something to eat and we can then try to call him again," Cindy went to the small refrigerator.
"I'm not really hungry," Addy couldn't think about eating when her stomach was doing flips.
"You have to have something.  It will do you no good to starve yourself especially when it will all be just fine," or she hoped.  The worst thing was that after Addy had said that Cindy's mind was doing the same creative adventures.  "Is there anyone else that you can call that would know where or what he's up to?"
"He said he was going to see his editor and I tried calling Tyler at about ten this morning and he didn't pick up either," she took the sandwich that was handed to her, "If I don't get ahold of him by six tonight I'll call Tyler again.  I just don't want to get everyone flustered if there is no reason for it."
"Want me to take Mia home with me tonight?" Opening the jug of water and handing it to Addy signaling her to drink.  Addy did so obediently.
"No," and she took another sip.  The cool water was more refreshing than she thought it would be.  Sighing she continued, "I was thinking of asking if she wanted to go home with Daniel today.  You know how that always goes over so well.  I can give his mom a call in a bit and make sure it is okay."
"Why don't I do that now," Cindy held up her hand, "I won't tell her why, just that Holden had to go out of town and Mia is a bit down."
"That sounds better than what I would come up with," Addy looked at her phone again.

"Give him a try," and the next part she said with more conviction than she felt, "You know men.  Sometimes they just don't look at their phones."

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 24

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 24

By the time Addy had arrived at school that day she had already tried calling Holden three times.  The first time was right after the officer had driven off.  The next time wasn't more than five minutes after that and the last time was after breakfast as she brushed her teeth.  She had left two messages and just disconnected the call the last time.  The day was cool and crisp.  That wasn't good.  If Kari had gone hiking, and she knew she liked hiking too, then spending a night out in the cold was dangerous.  There had to be a good reason for her to do it.  The image of Holden sitting at the kitchen table haunted her.  He had obviously been distressed, obviously been sitting there for quite a while.  It made her wonder what had really happened that night between them.  Maybe she should have asked more questions.  Shaking herself mentally she focused again on getting Mia into school and not improbable scenarios. 
So far Mia hadn't asked what was wrong.  Addy thought she was holding her breath that it wasn't her Uncle Den being hurt again.  Holden had been hurt, but not in the way Mia was thinking and that was a discussion for another day.  Even though Addy had told her that Holden was fine it would have been better if he had picked up the phone and talked with them.  Grabbing her bag she walked into the school and tried to dial him one more time.

Holden woke up and stretched his arms above his head.  It felt odd to be back in his small apartment in Baltimore.  He had stopped on the way in and picked up some basics for breakfast and as he turned the clock toward him his mind dreamed of that first cup of coffee.  
"Shit," and he flew out of bed throwing the covers off the edge and landing them in a pile on the floor.  "Get all I need for breakfast and then forget to set an alarm."  He was through the shower in record time.  Pulling on the first pair of clean Dockers he found and a long sleeved polo.  He was surprised by how comfortable it was against his skin.  He had healed well.  Grabbing his phone from the side of the bed he didn't bother to look at it as he quickly dialed his editor.  Calling him just his editor was selling him short.  He was his editor as well as his friend and agent.  That was how this new job opportunity had come to be. 
"About time I hear from you Holden," was the hello he got, "been trying to call."
"Sorry Tyler.  Slept in by accident," pulling the door to the refrigerator open he used his free hand to paw his way to the back and the jug of orange juice he had bought.  Satisfied with his find he set it on the counter.  "How much time do I have?"
"We need to be at the publishers by one, that leaves us from now, eight o'clock," his voice heavy on the time, "to then to get a few interviews from the DC VA rehab center and then be back up here."
"Sorry again," Holden chugged some juice and put the jug back in the refrigerator without putting the cap back on.
"If we are lucky that will leave us about fifteen minutes for lunch and a bit of collaboration," if there was one thing Tyler liked, it was his business lunches.  It might be because he didn't get them that often.  Most of his clients were out of town chasing down a story so when one came home he tried to made the most of it.
"Again, I owe you,"  Holden grabbed a piece of bread skipping the toasting part and the buttering part he stuffed it into his mouth.  
"You never sleep in.  Everything okay?" The concern in his voice was audible.
"Been a bit busy the last couple of days, guess I just needed an extra twenty winks," his eyes landed on the empty coffee pot.  With a quick inaudible sigh he figured it was probably for the best.  "If you can find me a cup of coffee in the next fifteen minutes I'll pick you up and we'll be on our way.  I know most of these guys so the initial interviews should be pretty fast.  I just hope they want to be part of this."
"You and me both," Holden could hear something but wasn't sure what it was, "Coffee is done.  Now, where are you?"
Holden pulled up in the old pickup and Tyler shook his head.  Leaning across the truck he unlocked the door and Tyler climbed in, looked around, and handed Holden his cup.  Then he put the other cup of coffee between his legs to close the door.
"I still don't get it," Holden worked the truck into traffic as Tyler continued to talk, "with all the money you make you can't afford a vehicle with one cup holder."  The old truck rumbled down the road and onto the entrance ramp to the freeway.
"Usually don't need one, and this old thing has held up pretty well when I've been out of country for extended times," merging into the heavy morning traffic headed for DC he took a sip of coffee and then handed the cup to Tyler, "and I usually don't need to drink coffee in the truck."
An hour later they pulled into the rehab center and parked.  The traffic had been heavier than normal and it had taken extra time.  They both got out of the truck and Holden grabbed his recorder.  If he was going to do this, he wanted to record their stories and then transcribe what he wanted from each.  They had always hated it when he took notes.  Now, more than ever, he wanted to make them top priority.
Tyler watched as Holden walked through the doors and into the lobby.  This wasn't going to be easy by any means and at the first sign of, of what, and he paused.  What would he be looking for to know if Holden could handle this or not?  He'd have to play this by ear.  Making sure to walk a half a step behind him, he watched as Holden's muscles tensed and didn't release.  His jaw muscles were also tight but not locked into place.  That was good.  And as he approached the desk Holden tried to look casual.  His voice held none of the tension that Tyler could see and for the life of him he didn't know if that was good or bad.  Holden got the room number of two different service men.  These were the men of the company that he had been embedded with, the ones that he had been blown up with.  The ones that had survived, like him.  
It was odd how well Holden knew the place, after all he had been brought here to begin with.  They walked down the hallway in silence.  From the many rooms they could faintly hear televisions and conversations, but Holden focused on where he was going.  When they got to the door he paused.  It was ajar, as if waiting for him to go in.  Using only one knuckle he knocked tentatively on the door.
"Come on in it's open," came a lighter voice than expected.  Holden pushed through the door and Tyler followed.  For Tyler it was more shocking than for Holden.  Holden had known what to expect, but he had never shared any of it with Tyler.  Tyler saw a man sitting in a wheelchair looking out the window.  That wasn't the shocking part, after all it was a rehab center.  The shocking part was that he was missing both of his legs and one of his arms looked like it had been through hell and back itself.  It was a miracle that they had saved it, but Tyler wasn't sure how useful it would be.
"Hey Micky," Holden was reserved at first.
"Hey Park," and the smile on his face widen and he held out his good hand, "What the hell took you so long to get here man," and that's when Holden smiled, and went over and gave the man a bearhug.  Months dropped away and fears disappeared.  "Looks like you've recovered pretty damn good.  How're the burns?"  This was the first time Tyler had heard about the burns.  He had known about the issues with the leg and that there were other injuries, but he hadn't known they had been burns.
"Pretty much healed up.  After I got out of here I spent some time in that pond down where my sister lives," Holden pulled over a chair and turned it around and sat down.  Tyler moved into the background so that these two men could catch up.  
"Had to be colder than a witch's," and then the nurse walked in and Micky stopped talking.
"Don't think I haven't heard it all," and she smiled.  "Got your meds here."
"Ahh thank you Nurse Nightingale," and she rolled her eyes.  Holden took a good look at her.  She was five foot six with long black hair rolled into a bun on her head, but that wasn't the best part.  Holden would have bet that she wasn't more than a hundred and twenty pounds, and she filled out the uniform well.  He could imagine that she was hit on more times a day than the practice balls in Wriggly Field, and he smiled.  She was definitely new here.
"Yes, that's a good boy," and she patted him on the head, "I have to be going now," she smiled, "but you know I'll miss you most."
"You know just what to say to make my heart go pitter-patter," and she left the room.
"Nice to know you haven't changed," Holden was snickering.
"Got to keep the skills up, won't be in here forever," and he turned and looked over at Tyler.  "So this is the ballbuster you have to send your stories into."  Tyler looked shocked for a moment.  He had never thought of himself as a deadline tyrant.
"Relax Tyler, his words not mine,"  and he smiled.  
"Have you been to see Sauce yet?" Holden's smiled disappeared a bit.
"Sauce?" Tyler pulled out his phone to check who they had been coming to see.
"He's called Sauce because he's Italian, mother's side," Tyler had found the name now, Francesco Kopow.  Now that was a name, it was no wonder that they called him Sauce.
"No," Holden didn't say anything more.
"You need too," although Micky understood all to well the sacrifices they may have had to make he knew Holden hadn't been prepared for it, "He's doing good man.  And his wife and kids are in almost daily," Micky had gotten serious.  "They expect him to do pretty well."
"I want to talk to you about my next project," the mood in the room had certainly changed.
"Yah from what you told me in the email, I'm going be a star," and he smiled over at Tyler, "I'll have to fight the girls off with a stick."
"Tyler has pitched an idea for a book about our wounded vets and the steps they are taking to not only recover but to join the world again," Holden was looking right at Micky now, "This would mean you would have to spend a good bit of time with me and my recorder going over the whole process from when this first happened to now and even later down the road.  The book itself would follow your progress, and others, for another year before I would even try to write it.  It would be a couple of years down the road before publication."
"That sounds all well and good but for right now I know how I'm putting food on the table.  What I'm wondering is how do you earn a living until then?"  Micky was seriously worried about how Holden was going to earn a living.  Tyler felt honored to be in the room.
"They would pay me for bits and pieces as I submit what I am working on.  Give me an advance.  Then I'd rewrite it all and put it together in a way that would," and that's when Micky interrupted.
"Make it a best seller and me a star," and they both laughed, "Well get out that recorder man and let's get started."
"It may bring up some bad memories," Holden paused with his hand in his pocket.
"For you and me both."

Three hours later after they had spoken with both men and even Sauce's wife, they were ready to leave.  She had known that Holden was coming in and didn't want the kids around.  The discussion was a little too intense for them.  Sauce, or Freddy, as she called him, had a much longer road to recovery than either Micky or Holden had.  Although it was sobering to learn what they had been through, Tyler and Holden, left with a sense of hope.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Intercession - Learn about the author - Part 3

Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.   One thing that draws me to this genre is the journey that the characters take and the changes that inspire their transformation.  I wanted to be a part of that.

Q. Why did you write this book?
A.  This book was first started started as part of thNaNoWriMo writing challenge. Although I never finished it in a month, it actually took me almost 2 years, I was compelled to finish it and find out what happened to my characters.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Novel by the Numbers - Chapter 23

Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson

Chapter 23

By four in the morning Jordan was standing next to her dad in the parking lot with her coat wrapped around her pink fuzzy pajamas and black and white polka-dotted rubber boots on her feet.  She looked like a sight but there was no moving her from this point.  He had tried to explain that they wouldn’t be able to send out the search teams until six, six-thirty, and she should go home till then, but she wouldn’t listen.
“At least go sit in my car and warm up,” she was about to protest until he held up his hand.  Another officer walked up, from the sheriff’s department now.  If Kari was out on state land it would involve all of them.  Jordan turned and walked away.  Sitting in the car was warmer but boring.  She watched as her Dad talked with the other officer.  They both turned and looked at her, and she knew that wasn’t good.  Her Dad said something then they both nodded and he walked over to her.  She got out of the car.
“Okay, what is it?” folding her arms in front of her to keep her warm she stared right at him.  He was proud of her in so many ways.  He had never raised her to shirk from a task and now was going to be no different.  She was ready for anything he was going to throw at her.
“She was new to the area right?” it was going to be different interviewing his daughter.  The other officer had volunteered to do it, but he knew Jordan would be more comfortable with him, even if he wasn't.
“Yes, she moved in only about two months ago, seven weeks to be exact,” her eyes drifted off as she tried to think.
“Who did she associate with?”  He tried not to think about the fact that he was questioning his daughter.  At least she wasn’t a person of interest, but she was one that may have an answer to what was happening.  
“As far as I know she hadn’t made many friends around here.  Kept to herself mostly,” Jordan was looking at her feet now trying not to think about what was happening, “besides our clients there weren’t many people she had gotten close to I don’t think.  We hung out some, but even I'm not sure of all of the details of why she moved here.  Her husband, no he was her fiancĂ©e, died over a year ago and that's what prompted the move,” and then she stopped and looked straight at her Dad.
“What is it hon?”  He could tell that she had thought about something, something important.
“She had started dating someone, but he couldn’t be,” stopping again.  Jordan knew that Holden was seeing Dr. McCoy for something, but she wasn’t sure what it was, couldn't tell her Dad if she had known.
“Who,” he asked gently.
“Holden Parker,” Jordan paused only a moment, “Addison Westlock’s brother.”
“How long have they been seeing each other?” she noticed that he was now taking notes.  It felt all too surreal. 
“Couple weeks, three or more maybe, hard to say,” Jordan was wondering just how much to say now.  Should she, could she, tell him about his visits to the doctor?  
“Why is that?”  she could tell that he was trying to be gentle but it wasn’t helping.  She now knew exactly what it was like to be on the other side.
“They met when she was hiking up here,” looking down again she tried to think, “but she never said when that first meeting was.  I don’t think it was long after she moved in though.  I'm not sure they dated to begin with though.  They seemed to have gotten pretty close recently.”
“What else do you know about their relationship?” he was trying to be gentle in his questioning but he needed to know.  He watched as Jordan pushed a strand of hair from her eyes.
“Captain Holmes?”  He turned to see another one of his officers approaching, “Can I talk with you a moment?”
“Jordy I’ll be right back,” and he walked away.  Jordan was now standing there by herself, thinking, and she could hear only a few of the words they were saying, not enough to put it all together.  It was only a few moments before he came back to her.
“Have you remembered anything else?” It was a loaded question but she answered it.
“Holden Parker was a client at the clinic,” and she looked over to the trailhead where they were focusing their attention now, “I don’t know for what, but he had a standing appointment with one of the doctors there.”  She figured that wasn’t compromising the clinic’s confidentiality.  
“Is there anything more you can tell me?” He knew that she had almost told him too much.
“They seemed to really be hitting it off," she thought back to their shopping trip, "Do you think he knows anything?”  Now it was the scared little girl that he saw in front of him.
“I don’t know, but I plan on talking with him as soon as the sun comes up.  Hopefully he can tell me something,” leaning in he kissed her on the cheek, “Now, back in the car and I’ll drive you home.  I’ll have one of the officers bring your car over later.”
“Dad, I’ll be fine,” but she didn’t move, “I think I’ll wait a bit though and then drive myself home.  Don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”  An hour later Jordan climbed into her car and went home.  Neither her dad or her discussed it but both knew she wasn't going to get any more sleep.  It was almost morning.  
Bill Holmes pulled into the driveway of Mrs. Westlake just as the sun broke the horizon.  He hated waking people up and worse, he hated the idea that in order to figure out what may have happened to Kari he needed to talk to Holden.  He still wanted to approach this as accidental but there were things that might lead him to believe that it wasn’t.  The officer had called him over to tell him about the footprints he casted at the beginning of the path before the searchers could get started in the morning.  All of this was just in case, but there were only two distinct set of prints.  He just couldn't shake the fact that the front of the car looked as if someone had hurriedly gone through her things.  The search this morning might help to answer some of these questions.  Maybe they would find nothing, but then that would leave more questions than it answered.  Before getting out of the car he stopped, took a sip of cold coffee, that and a twenty minute cat nap were all that was keeping him going.  For a moment he stopped and took a look at the sunrise as he made a silent wish.  
Addy was just pouring a cup of coffee.  It was quiet when Holden wasn’t around.  Even with him being gone just a day the whole atmosphere of the house had began to change again.  It was true that they had lived in the house most of the time without him.  He often came around but there had been months where he would be gone.  This time had been different, instead of being gone months he had been with them and they had gotten used to him being there.  Walking over to the window with the mug in hand she noticed the police car in the drive.  Her hands began to shake.  Carefully she set the cup down as she watched the officer get out of the car and walk toward the house.  The fact that he didn’t have a happy look on his face didn’t alleviate any of her fears.  Running for the door she flung it open before he had time to knock or ring the bell.  The last thing she wanted was for Mia to be woken up.  All the years Holden had spent in dangerous places and it could be right here at home that may have harmed him the most.
It didn’t surprised Bill when the door swung open to the house.  A lot of people got up early to get ready for work.  What did surprise him was the look on the woman’s face.  She was pale and all expression had been wiped away almost as if she was expecting bad news.
“Mrs. Westlake?” It was less of a question and more of a confirmation of who she was.
“Yes,” her voice weak and shaky. 
“Is your brother here?” and he could almost see the relief spread through her.  A strange reaction.
“No, he left for Baltimore yesterday,” she grabbed at the doorframe for support, the relief was that strong.
“Did he know Kari Jackson?”  Making sure to keep his eyes on her face for any type of reaction.
“Yes,” now she was just confused.
“How did he know her?”  His voice even and calm.
“They were dating,” turning her head slightly to one side she continued, “Is something wrong?”
“How long have they been dating?” He could hear someone else coming toward the door.
“Not very long,” Addy turned, “Mia go and get breakfast ready.”  There was a tiny voice that he could barely make out from the other side of the door, “I said go make breakfast, now.”
“Sorry to interrupt your morning,” Addy turned back and gave him her full attention now.  This time a more worried expression on it, “Do you know when was the last time they saw each other?”
“Is there a problem?” They stood in silence for a moment.  Realizing that he was waiting on her answer before she would get hers she chose to answer, “Night before last.  Now will you tell me what is going on.”
“Kari didn’t show up for work yesterday morning,” taking out his notebook he made a couple of notes, “Does Mr. Parker go to Douthat State Park?” 
“Yes, he likes to swim and hike up there,” she watched his eyebrow rise slightly almost imperceivable.  “Why?”
“Do you have a number we can reach him at?” Addy quickly gave him Holden’s number, “Thank you.”
“Can you tell me why you wanted to know about Holden going out to Douthat State Park?”  Addy folded her arms in front of her.

“Kari’s car was found in the parking lot for the trails there,” right now it was a missing person's case so he decided there was no harm in telling her.  He folded his notebook and put it in his pocket, “If you talk with your brother before I do please have him call us or come into the station,” he handed his card to her.  Addy started to feel a sense of cold seep through her as she took the card.  She didn’t move until the police car was well out of the driveway.