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Authors: Brooklyn James

2 Brooklyn James

BOOK: 2 Brooklyn James
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TITLE PAGE
VIGILARE

—Hell Hound—

Brooklyn James

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Vigilare: Hell Hound

by Brooklyn James

www.brooklyn-james.com

Copyright © 2012 by Brooklyn James

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Edited by Janet Kilgore

Associate Editor - Leslie L. McKee

Cover design by Steve Richey

Text design and layout by Steve Richey

Published by Arena Books, Austin, Texas

First Edition—June 2012 (Vigilare Series; Book 2)

ISBN 1475086873

ISBN 9781475086874

NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM, BY PHOTOCOPYING OR BY ANY ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL MEANS, INCLUDING INFORMATION STORAGE OR RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS, WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRITING FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER/AUTHOR.

Printed in the United States of America

DEDICATION

To Atonement Found…

CHAPTER 1

“I
love fall in New Orleans,” Aubrey Raines says through pursed lips as she efficiently coifs her blonde locks into a strict ponytail, employing the hair band resting between her teeth.

Emily Truly sits across from her at their window table in a quaint café in the French Quarter. She looks out at the perfectly periwinkle blue sky and colorful hues of flowers in bloom, their pleasantly fragrant design making ascent into the open eating space. Emily shrugs dismissively. “I’ve seen better.”

“Of course you have,” a muffled reply, an afterthought, escapes the perturbed lips of Gina DeLuca who sits next to Aubrey.

“It’s too hot,” Emily defends at the otherwise impeccably cool sixty-five degree temperature. She fans herself with her menu.

“If someone gave you a gold brick, you’d complain about having to carry it to the bank,” Gina huffs.

Aubrey eyes her menu, casually ignoring their incessant bickering.

A young, college-aged waiter approaches their table. The customary conversationalist seems to have lost his edge and his words. They fail him as he looks from one face to the next beaming back at him from the table. Their faces, although equally attractive, are the least of his intimidation worries. The posture of these women, tall and astute; their body language screams accomplished, from the subtle swiftness with which they carry out such rudimentary tasks as scanning the menu to the exactness with which they eye their surroundings, as if taking mental notes of all entrances, exits, faces and figures. They sit, shoulders squared in firmly-pressed black uniforms displaying spit-shined badges that read,
Louisiana State Penitentiary, Correctional Officer.
He scans Emily, her head down contemplating what sounds good for brunch, as he facilitates in his mind exactly what he will say to her to open the conversation.

Emily looks up from her menu, causing the waiter to dart his eyes from her intense violet gaze. He settles on Aubrey, seemingly the least intimidating of the bunch. She smiles, easing his worry and stroking his instinct, content with his starting point.

“How are your mimosas?” she asks, kicking things off, garnering a concerned glance from Emily and Gina.

“Ah, they’re good,” he replies with a less than convincing wink, pointing to her menu as a guide. “If I may…I would recommend the Sazerac. It’s a local favorite.”

“When in Rome,” she affirms with a nod.

“And for you, Ma’am?” he inquires of Gina, strategically leaving Emily for last, hoping his nerves settle by the time he gets to her.

“Café au lait, please,” she answers, to which Emily smugly rolls her eyes.

The young man clears his throat, preparing to address Emily. She saves him the trouble, not purposefully in an attempt to ease his anxiety but simply due to a lack of tolerance for further mundane exchange. “Coffee, black,” she keeps it short. The waiter nods and briskly pivots away from their table, his mission defined, awaiting follow-through.

“What?” Aubrey addresses the inquisitive faces beckoning her attention, her head down avoiding eye contact as she neatly arranges the linen napkin in her lap.

“Go ahead, see how much attention you can draw to yourself, why don’t you,” Emily challenges.

“I don’t think it’s standard practice for people in uniform to order alcoholic beverages,” Gina says gently, uncustomarily in agreement with Emily.

“I need something to take the edge off,” Aubrey replies, holding her hands together to keep them from visibly shaking. She smiles, attempting to make light of the situation. “Besides, you’d be doing the same if you were me. Having to hang out with you two. Bicker, bicker, bicker.”

“What’s to be nervous about?” Emily affirms. “We’re legitimate,” she references their newfound correctional officer status as of two days ago through the wiles of her mother, Dr. Patricia Ryan.

“I just hope it all goes off without a glitch,” Aubrey says lightly, eyeing her surroundings for eavesdroppers.

“Stick to the plan, and it will,” Emily iterates confidently.

“About that…why can’t Gina go in with us? I’d feel better if we all stuck together,” Aubrey divulges.

“Gina drives. We can’t take the chance they recognize her.”

“It’s been years. Besides, she looks completely different now. Have you seen that place?” Aubrey argues, her eyes wide with apprehension. “Eighteen thousand acres. It’s the largest correctional facility in the States. It’s bigger than Manhattan!”

“Shh,” Emily encourages, as Aubrey’s voice grows louder.

Aubrey sinks into her chair, her voice now matching her deflated body language, small, “Over three-quarters of their population are lifers. We’re talking maximum security.”

“They don’t call it
Alcatraz of the South
for nothing, Aubrey,” Emily scoffs.

“I just want to be sure
we
make it out. It’s freaking eerie, Emily.” She looks to Gina who is stone-cold in her expression. “And how can you be so calm?”

“There’s nothing to be nervous about. The wheels are in motion. Think of it like a grocery list…all we have to do now is check it off,” Gina replies.

Aubrey crows nervously, “I bet Betty Crocker’s grocery list never said, ‘Forge paperwork to become correctional officer, drive to Louisiana State Pen, contrive transfer papers for two convicted cons, exit from premises, kill said convicts.’”

Emily leans in toward Aubrey, her body language intense, “Then maybe you should stay behind. If you can’t stand the heat, get the hell out of my kitchen,
Betty.”

“It’s alright, if you want to stay behind, Aubrey. This isn’t your fight,” Gina intercedes.

“Oh no, that’s not how we do things,” Emily bites. “You,” she says, pointing accusingly at Aubrey before continuing, “brought her on board.” Her finger shifts to Gina before finding its way swiftly back to Aubrey. “You wanted her to be a part of this, not me. She agreed…under one condition. That one condition awaits us at the state pen. You wanted her, you got her.”

The young man diligently on his way to their table with drink orders tries his best to tune out the conversation flying between Emily Truly and Aubrey Raines. His unsteady hand delivering drinks in the order in which they were requested, he starts with Aubrey.

“It’s time to strap on your big girl panties and do what we came here to do,” Emily’s words bounce off the waiter’s eardrums as he winces tensely, setting Aubrey’s Sazerac in front of her.

“Thank you,” she says politely to the young man before sharply returning to Emily. “I plan on doing what we came here to do. And I thank you to leave my panties out of this conversation.”

The image of Aubrey’s panties unwelcomingly implants itself in the waiter’s mind, causing him to fumble with Gina’s café au lait, the hot blend spilling over the edge of the cup. “Oh…ah…ouch,” he cries, attempting to recover. His efforts of no avail, the cup slips from his hands clanking and breaking against the floor beneath him.

With great precision and speed, Gina covers the spill with her linen, the brown cocoa color seeping into the white cloth.

“I’m so sorry,” the waiter begins.

“It’s okay,” Gina coaxes, her hands nimbly securing the remaining cup from his wobbly tray. She transfers the black coffee to rest in front of Emily, who is shaking her head disapprovingly at the entire scene.

The young man spins a few circles, wishing he could find a nice accommodating boulder under which he would most definitely crawl. He dips to the floor, attentively picking up pieces of the broken mug.

“Watch your hands,” Gina cautions, leaning down to help him.

Aubrey searches for a broom and dustpan. Emily remains seated, sipping her coffee, refusing to help in cleaning up a mess she did not make.

“Thank you,” the waiter eyes Gina shamefully. “Don’t know what’s wrong with me today.”

She smiles, easing his expression. “We all have those days.” From her vantage point, she faces the window. A man on the street stops in front of the café, looking in. Her instinct alarmed, her eyes trail up to set on those peering in at her. The piece of glass resting in her hand cuts into her flesh with the image. “Lon,” she whispers, disbelieving.

Her thoughts are interrupted by the restaurant manager. “We apologize for the inconvenience ladies.” The manager sets a plate of pastries in the middle of their table. “Fresh beignets, on the house.”

The waiter quickly pulls the glass from her hand discarding it onto his tray. “Let me get you a towel,” he assures at the presence of blood oozing from her palm.

Aubrey returns with a broom, diligently on task making quick work of the remaining shattered mug. Gina clenches her hand together, peering around Aubrey toward the window. The man from the street is gone.

“Gina,” Aubrey exclaims nervously noticing the red viscous substance dripping onto the floor from the edge of her palm. She kneels beside her. Gina continues searching for the man in the window.

“Here. Let me see,” the waiter joins them proffering a wet cloth.

“What a freaking cluster,” Emily spews from her seat, her arms folded sternly across her middle. “And we haven’t even made it out of New Orleans yet.”

Aubrey grows more troubled as the young man’s expression turns from concerned to mesmerized, fully cluing her in. “Close your eyes, Gina,” she coaches gently, taking the cloth from the waiter’s hands.

He points at Gina, somewhere between disbelieving and allured. “Are her eyes glowing?” He looks to Aubrey for clarification.

Aubrey giggles gingerly. “No. She can’t stand the sight of blood, that’s all,” she dismisses, quickly dabbing at the blood on Gina’s hand.

Gina does not close her eyes. She continues searching, quickly scanning the restaurant, the street, up and down, for the face from the window. The rims of her irises sparkle emerald green, flickering dimly as Aubrey gains control of her bleeding.

“Close your eyes, Gina,” Aubrey smiles through gritting teeth. “She’ll be fine. She does this all the time,” she consoles the waiter.

“I swear they were glowing. Really. Didn’t you see it?” he reiterates, continuing to kneel at her side.

“Geez-us,” Emily exclaims, rising from her chair and swiftly making her way to the group nestled on the floor. She pulls the waiter up by his tie. “People’s eyes don’t glow. Her eyes were not glowing, understood?” She cinches her grip on him.

“Uh-huh,” he agrees, nodding intently. “Understood. Her eyes were not glowing. Definitely not glowing.”

Emily pats his cheek. “Great. We’ll take three breakfast omelets.” She lets go of him.

He continues nodding as he turns to walk away before spinning back around, his order pad prepped and ready. “Would you like those with bacon, cheese, veggies, andouille…”

Emily interrupts with her best Jack Nicholson smile, “Surprise us.”

He nods, yet again, making a beeline for the kitchen.

Gina hoofs it to the street front, turning circles, scanning up and down, side to side, still searching for the man in the window.

“What did you have to do that for?” Aubrey rebukes, her hands on her hips.

BOOK: 2 Brooklyn James
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