Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2 (4 page)

BOOK: Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Stephanie lay awake while Chaz
slept with his front against her back. Her mind was on the conversations she’d
had with Karen during the recent visit. While the men had gone bowling to give
the women some time together, the women had sipped tea and tried to figure out
what was going on with their auras and intuitions.

Karen’s problem was quickly figured
out. She missed her best friend, and their link was strong enough that she was
sensitive to whatever was wrong with Stephanie, even though the vibes had been
so slight that neither of them had picked up on them. Even Victor, who was
incredibly intuitive, hadn’t understood the sudden change in his wife and how
that affected their relationship. As soon as they all agreed to see each other
in person, Karen’s personality had shifted and everything was back to normal in
her life.

That meant that Stephanie was
driving everyone else’s reactions. It was a new development.

“Your gift is changing,” Karen
deduced. “Your aura seems to have more green in it, which is one of the traits
you share with Chaz. I think you should get Phailin to do new charts on the two
of you.”

“Why can’t you do it?” Karen obviously
hadn’t taken very long to gain a level of respect for the Asian woman’s
superior ability to see, understand, and balance people’s auras using Eastern
spiritual practices. After only slight hesitation, she’d even appreciated that
Chaz had introduced his wife to his friend who shared similar philosophies.

“She’s more experienced than I am,
and there is definitely something going on because you’re able to see Chaz in
work settings that aren’t related to him being in danger.” She thought about
that for a moment. “I wonder if Steve McDaniels is highly intuitive and has sensed
the shift in your abilities. Maybe that’s why he wants to use you.”

“I don’t know.” Stephanie leaned
her head back against the top of the sofa. “I’ve figured out what’s been
bothering me about my dreams.” Her head turned to face her friend. “I’m feeling
more than just Chaz. I can pick up on his tenseness, but I’m also feeling the
atmosphere of the room—not anyone else’s emotions, just whether or not it’s a
positive or threatening environment. It’s a subtle shift and I only figured it
out after meditating repeatedly about the dreams, as you suggested. But I don’t
have any details to connect those feelings to. I don’t know whether or not to
trust them.”

Karen smiled. “If they have anything
to do with your husband, you can trust them.”

Those words repeated over and over
in Stephanie’s mind as she lay in bed with the man she loved. She pulled his
arm more tightly, their entwined fingers resting against her thickening
abdomen. So much in their lives was changing.

They were planning to have dinner
with Phailin and her husband, David, in a few days. She would talk to her
friend and would understand more after that. For now, she would try to get some


~ ~ ~ ~


“You’re right,” Phailin nodded as
she and Stephanie walked to their cars arm-in-arm after having dinner with
their husbands. “You’ve changed. You’re stronger than you think you are, so
stop doubting yourself. Chaz has changed, too. I’m not sure what this means;
I’m definitely going to do new charts and cross reference them with your
astrological tendencies. Honestly, I didn’t think the two of you could get much
closer, but I might have been wrong.” She gave her friend a brief hug. “I’ll be
able to tell you more in about a week.”

“Thank you.”

“In the meantime, do all that you
can to relax. Worrying won’t change whatever life has in store for the two of
you; it can only block your understanding. That might be what’s wrong with your
ability to sense and see auras.”

Stephanie nodded.

“Plus, pretty soon, that baby is
going to get big enough to make her presence obvious. You need to stay balanced
for her—or him.” Phailin, who was a few months farther along in her pregnancy
than Stephanie was, placed both of her palms against the sides of her own stomach.
“It’s amazing, Stephanie; you won’t want to miss a single second of anything
significant because you’re too distracted. As Karen suggested, meditate and
drink your teas. Have faith, and be grounded.”

As Stephanie rode home, she thought
about the first time Phailin had discussed auras and astrology with her. They’d
gone to the library and spent hours making what Stephanie understood were
rudimentary assessments. The purpose was to help her see the complexities and
interconnectedness of personalities, gifts, and life directions. Tonight, she
knew by the expression in Phailin’s eyes that the woman wasn’t ready to share
whatever conclusions she had formed by seeing Stephanie and Chaz together during
their time at the restaurant. That was okay. Stephanie respected the fact that
Phailin was always very careful about the spiritual advice she gave.

Chaz was also quiet during the
drive home. When they arrived, he offered to light a fire in the family room
and Stephanie stretched beside him on the chaise with all of the lights off
except for the glow coming from the fireplace.

“I love nighttime,” Chaz admitted.
“Most of the world is quiet. It’s the time to recharge, reflect, and be
romantic.” His lips brushed his wife’s and she could tell that he was smiling.
“It’s the time when I’m closest to you, sweetheart, because there is nothing to
distract me from loving you.” He smoothed a curl away from her face. “I’ve
never been able to explain the connection between us; I only know that I’m incomplete
without you. And each night, when I’m holding you, there is nothing more peaceful
or satisfying.”

“Nothing?” She playfully bit his
lower lip.

“Well, I guess I should rephrase
that,” he laughed. “Each night, when I’m holding you, there is nothing more
peaceful; and when I’m making love to you, there is nothing more satisfying.
We’re right together, Stephanie. Everything about our love is perfect.”

“Even when we disagree?”

“Yes—even when we disagree. Do you
know why?”

“Hmm?” She sighed as his hand
slipped under her sweater and lightly rubbed her back.

“Because nothing is stronger than
destiny; nothing can ever break us.” He kissed the side of her neck. “We’re a
team, Stephanie. Everything we do as a team makes us stronger.”

“Then why didn’t you take the

“Because I would have been doing
what was best for the FBI without being able to do what’s best for us as a
family. Being a team means being together, right? We can survive being
apart—we’ve proven that—but being apart isn’t what’s best for us.” He kissed
her neck again. “I need you to understand that I’m totally comfortable with my

Stephanie leaned back and ran a
finger lightly along the edge of his jaw.

“Déjà vu,” she whispered with a

And just like that, the closeness
between them seemed to intensify.


~ ~ ~ ~


The team working on the brothel
sting operation met on a Tuesday afternoon. Present were Roy, Steve, Chaz, and
Darren Chang, who would be the other analyst continually checking and
cross-referencing information uncovered by the field agents.

“Today, we need to go over the
personnel files of the agent and State Police officers who are assigned to this
case. No detail is off limits.” Steve was running the meeting since he would be
in charge of coordinating the case. “I also need to ask a few questions about
intel that has already been gathered—but we’ll get to that in a minute.” He
slid folders across the table to the two analysts.

Kentucky State Police officer
Austin Marks: Nine-year veteran of the police force. Senior officer of the current
undercover operation. Primary contact for Damien Granger, the point man for
establishing this illegal brothel for the Travis family. Undercover for 18

Kentucky State Police officer Chris
Jenkins: Four-year veteran of the police force. Former U. S. Army Corporal. New
to undercover work. Junior partner of the current undercover operation. Is
supposed to be Austin’s younger brother from North Carolina who is a wiz at
electronic security. Undercover for 18 months.

FBI Agent Vanessa Long: Five-year
veteran of the Agency’s Louisville office. Has been undercover as Austin’s
girlfriend for the past year.

Steve’s team spent nearly an hour
dissecting the law enforcement officers’ work histories, their cover
identities, and reports filed until everyone was certain they could anticipate
how each person might function.

“We’ve had almost a month to bring
ourselves up-to-date on this case. What do we know about the relationships this
team has established with Granger’s people?” Steve listened while Chaz and
Darren gave specific details about who associated with who and the types of
situations members of the undercover team had found themselves in. Steve
remained silent after the two analysts had stopped talking, but Chaz didn’t
miss the quick flash of his gaze or the shift in position that alerted him that
Steve thought something wasn’t adding up. In that moment, Chaz was grateful for
having a professional relationship with his team leader that was strong enough
for him to read subtle signals.

“On to the intel.”

Again, Steve was quiet while the
analysts summarized the scope and relevance of the information they would need
to collect if the team was going to finish building this case. He asked a few
questions about how the team was able to pass information before ending the

When Chaz returned to his cubicle,
he immediately logged into his email account. As expected, there was a message
from Steve.

Chaz had noticed several minor
inconsistencies in what the police officers had reported a couple of weeks ago.
Either one of them was providing inaccurate data or Darren was skewing his
reports. For what purpose, Steve still didn’t know. But since Chaz was the one who
had pointed out a red flag a week ago, Steve wanted Chaz to watch closely for
any additional problems. Steve would do the same and they would make sure no
mistake was ignored. Neither of them automatically assumed that minor
inconsistencies were accidental or insignificant.

Steve’s message was actually only
one word: Concur.

No one could know what the pair of
them suspected. Lives could be in danger if they were right. Their FBI agent
could get blindsided. Chaz drummed his fingers on the mouse pad before moving
the cursor to the DELETE button.


~ ~ ~ ~


“Chaz, wake up!” Stephanie bolted
upright and shook her husband’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong?” He was fully alert
the second he saw the concern on her face. He immediately pulled her against

“You don’t have a choice any
longer,” she said in a soft but firm voice. “Steve is sick. You’re going to
have to take his place.”

“Baby, we’ve talked about this. I’m
not leaving you.”

“You have to, Chaz. Without you,
the operation will fail. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that
impression was very clear.” She nodded her head against his chest as his brow

“What did you see?”

“You and Steve were sitting in his car
talking. He told you that he has cancer; it’s treatable but he’ll be off work
for at least two months. He’s not looking forward to radiation treatments five
days a week for six weeks, but his doctor is optimistic that they can shrink
the tumor. In the meantime, you’ll have to take on the role of Team Leader. He
suspects one of the State Police officers is deliberately manipulating
information, possibly to protect one of the suspects, and you’re the only
person Steve trusts to put the pieces together.” She lifted her head and looked
into his eyes with determination. “I’ve always completely trusted Steve. I got
such an overwhelming feeling of rightness that there must be something the two
of you have already discussed that no one else knows. He needs you to figure
this out, Chaz.”

He cradled her face in both of his
hands and let out a deep sigh. “What about you, sweetheart? What about my
responsibility to our family?”

“This case won’t last as long as
everyone thinks it will. I don’t have details to back up what I just said—it’s
simply something I know. Trust me. Everything will be all right.” He closed his
eyes when she put both of her hands on top of his and pressed her forehead to

“Okay.” His arms slid around her
waist again. Knowing that his wife’s gift was almost never wrong did nothing to
alleviate the frustration at being forced into something he didn’t want to do.
He’d have to make it clear to Roy and Steve that his role would be temporary.


~ ~ ~ ~


Steve was sitting in Chaz’s chair when
he arrived that next morning and insisted they go for a walk. As Stephanie had
seen, they walked to the parking garage and sat in Steve’s car so that they
could have complete privacy. The conversation went as Stephanie had said it
would. Although Steve didn’t seem too concerned about the investigation, a
small wrinkling of his brow indicated his frustration with being sick. Chaz was
frustrated by all of it.

BOOK: Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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