#strongwomen #writer #author #entrepreneur #blog #blogger #canadian #alberta #chapter #romance #drama #novel #asaviourspath #excerpt #twilight @_StephenieMeyer
So, one thing about A Saviour’s Path is that I’m trying to draw at least some parallels with the Twilight series and it’s derivatives – Fifty Shades and 365 Days. Here’s a scene from a chapter that I reworked to include the scene from the movie where Bella confronts Edward about being a vampire, because it already fit in with a scene in the story. This piqued my interest because of the perspective from two killers – both of them with vacillating self-images.
The more she thinks about what she wants to do to Ben – or, more recently, with Ben – the more the stress builds up inside her. The more she looks around her at the men on her team, the more she contemplates Mickey’s question at campfire: “Who’s your next mark?”
Does Mickey have to phrase it that way?
It’s a good question, though. All the stress is turning her inside and out, and she’s sick of making such a big deal out of what used to be so simple. There has to be a way to get what she needs without further complicating things. She has to find some way to clear her head.
Looking for a morning snack, Lanie has her hand on the dining hall door when she notices a shadow lurking next to the men’s bunkhouse. When she flicks her eyes toward it, the figure has disappeared in the dimness. But even in the civic twilight, something seems off. Quickly, she ducks between the dining hall and the women’s bunkhouse, passing behind her cabin and along the wall of the main building. Her boots barely graze the grass as she steals as silently as possible. The figure reappears behind the men’s bunkhouse, huge and towering. It has to be a man. But he isn’t wearing a guard uniform, which makes his presence even more suspicious.
Is he following someone? She squints at the furtive figure. A little up ahead, Ben is on his way to the bathhouse. His is a body she recognizes, and the scene immediately makes her hair stand on end.
The unknown figure strides faster, and Lanie follows suit. She doesn’t want to startle the suspect, and she grasps her radio to whisper for some backup. But Ben is about to disappear into the bathhouse when the other man reaches into his pocket. Struck by lightning, Lanie springs into a sprint, dives forward, and tackles the intruder in the space of three heartbeats.
She thinks she yelled the command, but she didn’t quite get the words out. Before any time passed at all, his hands were around her throat.
He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even seem to work that hard to hold her down, despite her mighty struggling. She can’t break free, no matter what she does. Her panicked lungs try to work, but can’t, and soon, her vision starts to dim.
Thoughts shatter discordantly around her in an endless cacophony. She’s broken protocol. She shouldn’t have taken this on by herself. And now she’s going to die. Quite suddenly, quite unexpectedly unable to speak, unable to move because of the concrete weight of him. Two minutes ago, she’d just been looking for a snack. Now, the end.
She closes her eyes. She deserves it. She doesn’t have that moment of wanting to be saved. She’s been fighting for so long. Too long. The fighting is just too much.
Ben didn’t deserve to die. Ben needs to be protected, at all costs. Revived, her eyes fly open again. Instead of trying to pry the fingers off her throat, which was a stupid idea anyway, she reaches beside her for her radio, then crashes it over his ear with the rest of her waning strength.
He doesn’t even flinch, but right before she’s claimed by unconsciousness with a last thought for Ben, the morning sun pushes through the trees, blinding her. The man gasps, and the crushing pressure on her windpipe vanishes. She drags in an agonized breath.
“Chief?” The man looks stricken, and she’s hit with his identity: Colonel Jake McGuinness. He’s on his feet in an instant, a hand over his mouth. Shocked, he does nothing but stare at her wheezing form in horror, not saying anything else.
Coughing and choking, she struggles to rise as the stars in her eyes start to disappear, and he tentatively touches her elbow. He isn’t much help, as though he doesn’t want to grab her. Stepping away from him, she brushes off her jacket and pants with as much dignity as she can, then shakily glares at him.
“What are you doing?” Although her voice is hoarse and squeaky, she tries to infuse the wheeze with command.
She flashes to the day of the live drill, when she thought she saw McGuinness looking strangely at Ben. Also, he had watched Ben at the anniversary party for a long time before he abandoned the drink he already had, then went up to grab one next to Ben. And he had hugged Ben so tightly after the campfire.
“I was looking for something,” McGuinness laments shakily as Lanie’s glower continues to sift and excavate his expression. “I’m sorry for attacking you. So, so, sorry. But why did you jump me?”
The smoothness of what is obviously a lie surprises her. He lied so well she almost forgot that Ben had even been there. Is that an illusion? A trick of the predawn light? Has she slipped out of reality again? But no. Her inner ninja recognizes this game, and stirs in interest.
“You were looking for something?” she repeats, tilting her head into the face that looms eight inches above hers. He hasn’t shaved today, and the shadow of his stubble sparkles in the sun.
Get them to say yes before anything else, her grandfather’s lessons remind. But don’t do what they expect.
“At six in the morning?”
“That’s right.” He reaches into his pocket again, and she tenses without looking down. “I need to go, though. I got a page a few minutes ago, just before…Well, I’m probably needed at the hospital.”
Ah, so he was reaching for his pager in his pocket. Lanie feels a little foolish for overreacting. Unless he’s lying now. “What are you really doing here?”
He raises his eyebrows. “Can you elaborate?” His voice is now smooth and melodic, like a tranquil stream. Has he ever raised it above speaking level? Not when she attacked him. Not even when he runs training sessions in Sector 1 or leads a patrol. Everyone else quiets to listen to him. Even now, the wind in the trees stills when he speaks.
“No more games, McGuinness. What’s you’re business with Dr. Goldberg? You obviously have some sort of interest in him.” She leans against the wall, and looks him up and down. The shapeless green scrubs and his dark skin and hair are what made it difficult to identify him. He’s one of a million tall, dark, and handsome men in scrubs here. One of a million that she could have for herself, if only she could get over her hang-ups and pick one.
He peers closely at her, as though trying to figure out whether she’s sane. “Chief, are you feeling alright? Again, I’m so incredibly sorry. You startled me, and I’m used to acting fast. It’s part of our training.”
Another lie. Not a tinge of condescension stains his voice, which is instead steeped in true concern. Lanie is impressed. Her brain does feel a little fuzzy, but she’s been through worse. Something calls to her, in the calculated casualness of his demeanor, and the way he didn’t instinctively fall into her traps. Not to mention the way he countered her attack without a second thought.
Suddenly clutching her head, she pitches forward with a cry. As she hoped, he lunges for her, much more confidently this time. “Chief!”
He’s staring with such intent worry at her bent-over form that he misses when she grabs her gun from her boot. Lightning fast, she takes the back of his neck, jamming the barrel under his chin as she cocks it.
“Don’t move a muscle.”
He must see in her eyes that she has shed any qualms about killing him if she has to. This isn’t a game anymore. No one will hurt Ben on her watch.
Frozen, only his eyes dart around, but she pushes harder, until the gun is pressed almost an inch into his muscular throat. Her hand shakes. She’s lost her mind.
“Lanie – ”
“Did someone send you? Are you on contract?”
He stiffens in surprise. “Contract…?”
Her voice is borne on the barest whisper, and she grips the ear she smashed with her radio. That particular piece of hardware is useless now anyway, in this world of assassins and spies. No one here can help her with a problem like this.
“Before I kill you, I need to know who sent you.” Her mind darts between possibilities. Her first guess is Collins, or one of the other board members. From Towers or Ferami, she isn’t sure. But what does that have to do with Ben? They never interfere with mission trips – they know there’s no point, that the real battle exists behind the scenes. But maybe this is some new, strange tactic to force her hand?
All traces of shrewdness leave her. It’s been a long time since she’s had to fight for someone she cares about. It’s like a rush of water in a canyon that’s been dry for centuries. “Tell me!” she growls, yanking on his ear.
His eye twitches only slightly, and which means it probably hurts quite a bit. “Chief, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know your kind when I see one,” she snaps. “You’re impossibly fast. And strong. Your skin is covered in scars. Your eyes change colour. And sometimes you speak like…like you’re from a different time. You never eat or drink anything, you don’t go out in the sunlight…” she swallows, still not quite believing. “How old are you?”
She snorts, remembering the birthday he’d put on his ID. “How long have you been thirty-nine?”
He shrugs nonchalantly. “A while.”
Just as she figured. She won’t let him gaslight her. “I know what you are.”
He tilts his head in curiosity. “Say it out loud.”
“Say it,” he encourages gently, his eyes empathetic, as though he’s sorry that he’s forcing her to come to grips with a difficult truth. He’s acting like a counsellor.
“Assassin.” The words are a breath on her lips, coming on the icy wind of her grandfather’s warnings. She’d been trained to look out for people like him. Trained to turn their plots inside out and make them believe it was their idea all along. But something about Jake is different. She’s used to malevolence, and arrogance, not kindness and weariness. A reluctance to do harm.
“Are you afraid?” he inquires in concern.
“No,” she spits.
“Then ask me the most basic question.” He seems so certain that she won’t be put off by the answer, whatever it is. “What’s my purpose here?”
“Ben told me he had some sort of past. And I think it has something to do with drugs. I’m guessing he thought he could escape if he came to a secured compound in the middle of a dessert?”
“You’ve got it all wrong.”
“And you’ve got two choices. I can send you off with the money that he owes, and you can leave now. Or, I blow your head off, and say you attacked me, and I track down his dealer myself.”
Unless…what if McGuinness was sent here to watch for her weaknesses? To find someone she cares about, to use as leverage? It seems unlikely – they know how carefully she works to avoid any attachments, not even to her own life. Though she is friends with Mickey and the rest, the closest she ever came to an exploitable attachment since Chelsea was Javi. And he isn’t even here, for whatever bogus reason he’s decided to bail this time.
She knows it’s dangerous to keep coming back to Qalcad, even if she does usually keep her distance and treat her staff equally. If Henry has sent someone to finally investigate what keeps drawing her here, maybe McGuinness might mistake Ben for Lanie’s soft spot.
McGuinness struggles, but she digs her fingers into his ear. She can feel him calculating whether it’s worth losing it to avoid potentially getting shot. Lanie braces herself, muscles tight and eyes alert for any hint that he might try and make the trade. But she was trained in the art of background subterfuge, manipulation, evasion, and seduction, and has always been clumsy when it comes to brute violence. Her confidence is frayed, and she isn’t sure she can capture this man again if she loses him. He’s just so slippery, his edges foggy and indistinct, like a ghost.
“You’ve got to believe me, Chief. I’m not here to hurt Ben.”
He presses his medium-brown gaze to hers, allowing her a brief glimpse that makes her catch her breath. There is something real about the way Jake is with Ben. Something tender, and sweet. She can see it now. Instinct tells her that it’s not just another facsimile.
She relaxes the gun slightly, still keeping it under his chin. “You…care about Dr. Goldberg.”
Jake’s eyes twitch ever-so-slightly, but she can read a depth of lifelong pain. “Yes.”
There’s a flicker in the back of some long-forgotten memory from years ago. It speaks of danger. But also…comfort? Protection? Does she recognize Jake from somewhere, too? What are the odds that two people from her past would show up here on the same trip, and not all the other times she’s been to this base before?
Not the point right now. “Does Ben have drug dealers after him?”
“Not as far as I know. But if anyone tries to hurt him, they aren’t getting past me.”
The quiet, simple way he says it somehow makes it more menacing. The way he sweeps her with his eyes, still without a hint of anything other than spellbinding paternity, makes her hand twitch on the gun. “Well, they aren’t getting past me, either, buddy. And neither are you, if you try anything.”
She should just shoot him. Those pesky red flags that she ignores always come back to haunt her eventually. But she isn’t sure what that strange flash of connection had been. And with him laying there like a fierce but vulnerable lion, she just can’t bring herself to kill him.
Until his next quiet musing comes floating to her on the morning breeze.
“Chief. You and I both know there’s no bees within the perimeter of this base.”
Her heart drops out of her chest. How can he look so innocent and blasé, and yet throw down what were clearly fighting words? No. No, he can’t know about the bees. But somehow, he’s put the pieces together. She stares at him, panic rising within her. Her fingers twitch on the trigger again. No. If it gets out that she intentionally envenomated a volunteer and almost got him killed in the process…
Something hideous and dark takes over her body, and her finger finally squeezes the trigger.
Thanks for Stopping by!
I hope you liked what you saw. What did you think of the topic? Leave a comment and start a discussion with your thoughts! Don’t forget to like and share with your best friends, mortal enemies, and everyone in between. Come back later to see if your icon appears in my subscriber cloud! Even better, validate my work by leaving a tip to support this (not actually) starving author. You can also support my company, Planet Hope Christian Enterprising, by donating to our crowdfunds on at GoFundMe and FundRazr down below. We are a non-profit providing pay-what-you-can creative and communication services to individuals and organizations – including you! By donating, you can help us reach our goal to provide top-rate creative and support services to charities and others who would like our help. But we can’t do it without your support, so even if you can’t give financially, please like, share, subscribe, and comment. Many blessings to you today and every day.
Never miss a post!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13