Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2 (7 page)

BOOK: Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2
5.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Eventually, he said, “With our
suspicions about the Kentucky State Police, there’s no other way to get insight
into what Watkins wants. Stephanie and the surveillance videos are our only
possibilities.” He took a big gulp of Pepsi and stared out his car window. He’d
left the safe house in order to make two calls—one to Steve, the other to
Stephanie—and was parked toward the rear of a fast food restaurant.

“You’re right of course. Listen,
Chaz, your wife might have unusual abilities but you have incredible instincts
of your own. I’ve always trusted your judgment. Don’t forget that.” There was
more rustling. “I have to go, but I really appreciate you asking for my input.
Being side-lined is driving me crazy.”

“So, it would be all right if I
need to check in with you again?” Chaz hoped Steve could hear the smile in his

“I’d welcome that. Talk to you

Chaz had a lot to think about after
his conversation with Steve. How much should he tell his wife? He didn’t want
her to freak out about Paul Watkins, but if she had a dream that identified
him, she wouldn’t appreciate having been kept in the dark. Maybe he could do
what Steve suggested and drop hints that would remind her of who they were
dealing with. He had to decide quickly. It was almost her lunch time, which
meant that his phone would alert him to a Skype call coming in at any minute.

He smiled thinking about how
frequently Stephanie used that communications technology when she hadn’t paid
attention to any of it a year ago. But then, she hadn’t known him a year ago,
or moved away from her best friends, or needed to see the man she loved when
they didn’t know how long they’d be apart. He thought about the fact that they
were going to have a child—that he definitely wanted to be a girl—and how the
situation that he was in at that moment isn’t what he wanted to continue doing.

The phone chimed repeatedly.
Stephanie was calling.

“Hey, baby.” He answered with a

“Hi.” Her smile was huge. “First, I
want to say that I love and miss you, even though you already know that and
expected to hear it. Then, I want you to tell me whatever you can about last
night. And last, I have a lot to say about a conversation between me, Karen,
and Victor that directly relates to what you’re doing. Do you want to go in
that order?” She laughed at the twinkle in her husband’s eyes and remembered
that he was still often caught off guard by the way her gift gave her

“Wow.” Chaz returned her laughter.
“I guess there’s no need to ask how you’re feeling, whether you slept well,
whether you were nauseous this morning, or remind you that you have a doctor’s
appointment at 2:30.”

“Oh no! I did forget about that
appointment. You know me so well! And to answer your questions: I slept fine
after meditating for half an hour and drinking another cup of tea, there was no
nausea, and I’m feeling excited this morning. Now, don’t stall.”

“All right, I won’t.” His smile
faded. “The vibes you picked up on could have two sources. One is based on not
knowing whether I can trust my team. The other is that I saw someone from the
case in Erie, and that unsettled me.” He waited for the revelation to sink in.
“If there is anything you can add to this case, I would appreciate the help.
You’ve never been wrong and you’ve never misled me.”

Stephanie stared at her husband for
a long time before softly asking, “Who is it, Chaz?”

“Baby, I can’t tell you any names.
All I can say is that he’s scary.”

She nodded, closed her eyes, and took
a deep breath to center herself. He didn’t need to say anything more. She knew
who it was and, interestingly enough, she wasn’t afraid. Actually she was very
aware of not even being surprised.

“That makes what I have to say even
more important.” As succinctly as possible, she explained Karen’s emotions from
the night before and the conversation they’d had earlier. Phailin agreed to
come over for dinner in a few days and they would talk about everything. She
wanted the woman to teach her anything she could about being calm enough to dig
deep into the dreams she was suppressing along with asking for help with
keeping her system clean and balanced. “I know you didn’t want to take this
assignment or drag me into it, but apparently the universe has other plans.
We’re all going to have to work on this together. Karen can’t escape her
attachment to me any more than I can escape my attachment to you. We all have a
role to play.” She hesitated before looking him directly in the eyes and
saying, “Déjà vu, Chaz.”

He shifted so that his head was
resting fully on the back of the seat. His free hand scrubbed across his face
before scratching his head.

“There’s no way around it, but I
don’t feel good about pulling everyone else into this situation. I trust each
of them wholeheartedly—you know that—but I wish there was some way to do this
without impacting so many other people.”

“That’s not your choice to make,”
his wife said quietly. “None of us can prevent destiny and we all accept that. My
focus is you. Their focus is me. They will know as little as possible about
whatever you tell me, but we’re a team.”

“Okay.” He told her what he’d
decided about tracking her input. “I’m sure the bits and pieces will add
together in the long run,” he said. “Keeping a journal will give me a way of
going back over them to reinterpret based on new supporting information. Always
text me as soon as you get those pieces of dreams or feel off. The word ‘dream’
if that’s the case and the word ‘off’ when you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong. Yesterday,
there was a distinct correlation between what I was dealing with and what you
were feeling. You might very well help me to not overlook something that we’ll
later realize was significant. If I can text you back, I will—but don’t worry
if you don’t hear from me. Things don’t happen on any type of schedule, so
where I might be totally bored at 9:00 one night, I might be knee deep in
trying to contain something that blew up the next. All right?” Chaz wasn’t sure
he liked sounding like he was talking to one of his undercover agents. It
wasn’t the way he’d ever spoken to his wife.

“All right,” she agreed. Then, she
laughed and asked, “Would you like me to tell you what I’m going to do the next
time I see the man who is the other half of my soul?”

Chaz laughed. “Somehow, I get the
impression that you’re going to tell me anyway, and I’ll be walking around
distracted for the rest of the day.”

“Well, yeah, there’s always that
possibility. What’s wrong, Mr. Big FBI Agent? Scared to live a little

“Bring it on, baby! Just know that
I will make you deliver on every word.”

“That’s what I’m counting on.” She blew him a kiss,
made sure her office door was closed, and started a whole new conversation that
could have gotten both of them arrested.




“What does it mean when you say the
project is behind schedule?” Chaz leaned forward so that his palms were resting
on the counter and he could more easily look directly into Austin’s eyes. 

“It means Damien isn’t happy with
the way we arranged some of the rooms upstairs. He doesn’t think there’s enough
space set aside for body guards to be able to stay out of view but still
intervene quickly. We have to make some adjustments within the next three days.
Apparently, there is someone he wants to impress who came around a day or so
ago, and nothing can be less than perfect.” He sipped the coffee in front of

Chaz took him in: determination in
his cobalt blue eyes, scruffy facial hair, and brown hair long enough to hang
over his shirt collar and cover most of his forehead if it fell into his face. The
blue jeans and big-buckle belt fit right in with the slight southern country drawl.
Yep, he was inconspicuous enough. But there was something indefinable about his
expression. Meeting him face-to-face did nothing to help the team leader
determine whether he was trustworthy. Austin didn’t flinch under the scrutiny.

“Is Granger pushing back the grand
opening of the club?”

“Naw. Everything downstairs is in
place. He’s not giving us much time to fix things upstairs, so the rooms will
only be a week late in opening.”

Chaz nodded and looked away, his
expression pensive as he pushed himself away from the kitchen counter and
crossed the sitting area to stand behind the bank of monitors on the dining

“Tell me about the woman you took
upstairs yesterday,” he said without turning back to face the undercover police

“I’m not sure about her. At first
she seemed like any of the other girls that have floated in and out of the
offices at the back of the building. But, then I caught her being extra curious
about the elevators. I figured that if I took her upstairs you might get a
clear enough photo of her to figure out who she is and what she really wants.”
He paused. “Do you want to know my impression of her?”

“Go ahead.”

“She’s either a really fresh cop or
she’s a spy from someone who’s very interested in knowing how the operation is
going to work. It took seeing her more than once, but I can definitely tell you
that she doesn’t carry herself the same as the other women.”

Chaz turned to him with a frown on
his face. “In what way?”

“She’s gritty but also a little
cocky. Miss Vanessa was adamant that the women seem refined. This one—her name
is Jolette—doesn’t fit that description, but no one seems to notice. It doesn’t
add up.”

Chaz nodded his head. She probably
works for Paul Watkins, he thought. Still, Austin had given him the perfect
set-up to establish an escape plan for Vanessa.

“I’m going to do some checking to
see whether there is other law enforcement involvement, not that I expect
anyone to tell me. If she is a cop, we can at least not leave her hanging if
she’s in over her head. I’ll let whoever I talk to know that she, or anyone
else who gets in trouble, should get to you and use the codeword Little Bo
Peep. Do whatever you can to either protect her or get her away.”

“What about the mission?” Suspicion
laced the words.

“You’re entrenched enough that you
should be able to get her out without being compromised.” He looked the officer
in the eyes. “If she comes to you, make sure she’s safe. Don’t involve Chris;
take care of it yourself.”


Chaz broke eye contact and turned
back to the monitors. “Are we clear on the protocol for contacting me?”

“Yeah. I’m to check in every three
days at location A. Other than that, I’m supposed to assume you’re watching me
on the cameras. If there is an emergency, you’ll text the word ‘go’ and I’m to
get to location B as soon as possible and bring Chris with me.”

“And if you need to see me

“I’ll text the word ‘yellow’ and
meet you at location B.”

“Good. In that situation, if you
don’t show within 30 minutes, I’m sending the police in after you. Understood?”
Austin nodded. “Thanks. You’d better get back now.” Chaz still kept his back to
the officer. It was a power statement: Chaz was the one in charge and the
Kentucky State Police would report to him. Austin would do his job without
questions. Their next meeting would be less strained, but for now, Chaz was
going on instinct that said Austin Marks/Parker needed to have no doubt about
the team leader’s commitment to the mission.

“That was intense.” Brian gave a
nervous chuckle and stared at the other FBI agent. He wasn’t sure what to make
of Special Agent Chaz Bryson or why he wasn’t using his real name with the
members of his team. It hadn’t taken the computer tech long to log into the
personnel records for the man he’d indefinitely be working under and discover
that Chaz Bryson doesn’t exist.

“Is that a problem?”

“Not at all.” Brian stood,
stretched, and walked to the refrigerator to grab a yogurt. It was nearly
midnight and his shift, as normal, had started at 9:00.

“I’m headed up,” Chaz announced as
he turned towards the stairs. His personal phone chimed for a text message as
he reached the first step. He paused only slightly as he opened the message and
saw the word OFF coming from his wife. Actually, it didn’t surprise him.

Now, he needed to figure out
whether her impression applied to Austin or the computer tech.

While the loft area couldn’t be
seen from the first floor, it wasn’t totally private. A three-quarter wall was
left open at the top so that the person upstairs could communicate with others
in the suite if he chose to do so. Even though his voice would carry to the
lower level, the set-up still worked well for Chaz. He would be able to keep an
eye on Brian, or the other technician, Sydney, even though he didn’t get mixed
vibes from her. The upper room did, however, have a door that locked.

Chaz closed the door behind him, rolled
his neck, and took his gun from its belt holster. He set it on top of the
nightstand before changing into lightweight sweat pants and a t-shirt. When on
assignments, he never remained unclothed enough where he couldn’t go out at a
moment’s notice. After a quick routine in the bathroom, he stretched out on the
bed and sent a message to Stephanie.

Tell me

Started about 15
minutes ago. Tension in my neck. Nausea. Hard breathing. Sensed distrust,
anger, curiosity.

Thanks. Helps me to narrow
suspicions. How are you now?

Calm. Tired.

Get some rest. Talk at
lunchtime tomorrow?

Sure. If you can
handle it.

Very funny


Sleep well

Chaz’s mind was filled with
possible reasons for Stephanie’s feelings as he pulled a small notepad from beneath
the bottom nightstand drawer. He recorded the time and details of his
conversation with Stephanie as well as notes about what had transpired before
her text. Then, he erased all messages from his phone and returned the log to
its hiding place. Tomorrow, he’d make the technicians change shifts so that he
didn’t have to worry about needing to sleep while Brian was in the suite. He’d
take his chances with Sydney, the daytime tech, during the night.

Before he fell asleep, Chaz’s mind
contemplated ways to set a trap to discover whether his suspicions about the
surveillance specialist were correct. Of course they were: Stephanie’s timing
clarified that.  He simply needed to know what to do about it.


~ ~ ~ ~


Chaz sent an encrypted email to Roy
that next morning giving him status on the assignment, attaching a photo of the
mystery woman Austin had seen and requesting an inquiry into her identity, and
discussing the possibility of Brian Pleasant not being the best match for this
case. He immediately got a text from his supervisor saying:
Get to secure
location. Call me.

By secure, Roy meant get to a
location far enough away where Chaz could talk without the call being overheard
or monitored electronically by Brian. They weren’t concerned with the general security
of the phone because of government encryption software that extended to laptops
and cell phones. The tech would need possession of Chaz’s phone to learn
anything he couldn’t physically overhear—and that was not going to happen.

Roy Gifford listened carefully as
Chaz outlined his suspicions and the steps he was taking. He concurred that if
his team leader felt uncomfortable that he would unquestionably trust Chaz’s
assessment. Roy would personally check into Brian’s work history and personnel
notations as well as speak with the man’s current supervisor to find out as
much as he could about his personality.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing, but it’s
best to be safe. You won’t be meeting with your team at the safe house, right?”

“Right. We’re set to check in at a
remote location. Brian overheard the conversation, but I’ll text Austin and
change the place and time. About the woman, I’ll need to know whether she’s
associated with Paul Watkins. I have Brian working on it, but having
corroboration might tell me whether I can trust him. If he’s somehow feeding
information to Watkins’ people, he probably will try to redirect me.”

“Watkins, huh?” Chaz could almost
see Roy squinting and tapping a finger on his desk. “Be careful. Anything

“You might want to check out the
other tech while you’re at it. Sydney Mills. I don’t have a clear read on her
yet. She seems honest, but, like you said, it’s better to be safe.”

“That all?”

“For now. I’m headed to Radio Shack
to pick up a cheap camera so we can watch to see whether Brian does anything
unusual with the information coming from the surveillance feeds that Chris set
up.” With so many electronics already in a confined area, the extra wireless
signal will most likely go undetected.

“Good idea. Keep in touch.” As was
Roy’s habit, he ended the call the moment he determined the conversation was

Three days later, Chaz was sitting
at the monitors, taking notes while Sydney took a break. He saw what he had
been dreading. Damien Granger was giving Paul Watkins a personal tour of all
floors in the converted office building. Obviously, Watkins was the person
Granger wanted to impress. Had he been ordered by his bosses in the Travis
family to accommodate Watkins or was this going to be another of Watkins’ hostile
takeover efforts? Vanessa had said Granger had a lot going on in Louisville;
was he intending to turn over the brothel to Watkins all along? Either way, the
man was a long way from Chicago. How could he oversee a business so far from
his territory? And why was he suddenly interested in prostitution when none of
the FBI offices had connected him with it previously?

The last thing Chaz wanted was to
once again be in a position where the decision must be made whether to deepen
the investigation to add Watkins as a target. He didn’t want to get wrapped up
in a more complex case. He only wanted to document the establishing of the
brothel, close it down, file federal charges, and go home to his wife.

He sighed and stared at the
monitors. He still wasn’t sure about Austin’s reliability. It would be
interesting to see how he explained this meeting between the two crime bosses.

That next morning, Chaz spoke with
Stephanie before she left for work. They talked about the pregnancy and a
project she was working on. He needed that moment of normal to ground him.


~ ~ ~ ~


Phailin listened carefully to her
friend, observing what she said and the way her body and spirit engaged in the
discussion. Karen had been right in saying that Stephanie’s auras had changed. Even
since their recent dinner together, the green field surrounding her had,
indeed, become more dominant, but only slightly. The blues and violets were
still strong. Yet, instead of being mostly spiritual, she was fairly evenly
divided in her personality traits. Like her husband, whose most prominent aura
color was green, the beautiful brunette was now more inclined toward creating
order and maintaining harmony.

“What does that mean for my
relationship with Chaz?” Stephanie asked over the rim of her cup of tea.

“It means you are more than just
his spiritual rock. Rather than contrasting to balance him, you are now
strongly aligned with his best traits. You probably think more like him than
you ever have, and in that commonality is the new way of finding strength.” She
pushed aside the remaining tortellini on her plate in favor of the sautéed

Stephanie was silent for a long
time before asking whether or not that meant her gift was being dominated by Chaz’s
aura, because she certainly didn’t feel that way. Phailin laughed.

“I don’t think it’s possible for
him to dominate you. In fact, to hurt you would mean destroying himself. He is
so devoted that wherever there is a choice, he will always choose you. To the
world, he appears in total control of all areas of his life. The reality is
that his love for you influences everything he does. The fact that your aura is
becoming more like his makes for an even clearer connection. This is why his
best friend resents you; Sylvia thinks that you’ve made Chaz weak when the
truth is that making you happy has brought him a level of completeness that she
can’t comprehend. In that way, you have always been the stronger of the two.”

BOOK: Loving Night: Dream Catcher Series ~ Book 2
5.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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