In what little spare time I’ve had recently, I’ve been working on book 4 of my Dominion Falls series called Runaway Train. This one has a lot of big emotional upheavals in it, as opposed to an outright mystery…although the start of a mystery that concludes in book 5 Home Signal does start in here.
Anyway, Graham was once Cole’s best friend and his business partner. After being a bastard (again) for most of the book, Jane essentially gave him the one piece of news that softened his anger…and returned him to the guy that once saved her life.
Now she has even more news for him…and isn’t quite sure how he’ll take it. This is the lead-in to the big reveal:
“Gentlemen.” Jane kept her hands behind her back as she breached the threshold. “How could you let me sleep so long? You knew I had somewhere to be.”
“Sorry, Janey.” Cole beckoned her close. “Doc said you’d be tired. Figured I’d let you sleep now.”
“I don’t see why, it’s not like you can keep me up later.” She pushed her lower lip out into a pout. “For once in your life you’re following Daisy’s orders to behave.”
“I always follow orders when they’re for you. Can’t have ya getting hurt worse.” Cole winked and kissed her temple.
“He’s got a point. He still doesn’t listen to what anyone else tells him anyhow.” Tommy chuckled. “We’ve behaved like you told us. Didn’t step a foot near Graham’s place. You sure you’re the one to do this, Jane?”
“Yes. His behavior in the past few weeks has been much different. I think he’s remembered how to be human again. Has he talked to you at all, Tommy?” Jane tapped her fingers on the hidden cigars, turning her attention away from Cole’s handsome face to meet Tommy’s answer.
“Asked me if I knew a good lawyer, since he doesn’t have money to compete with Carrington. I told him I more than knew one, I was related to one.” Tommy grinned. “Nick’s poker face comes in real handy in a court of law. Yes, I already sent the telegram.”
“Good. A man getting a divorce is usually easy as a two bit whore, but if he’s going up against Brooks Carrington and his daughter, Graham needs the backup.” Jane smiled. “I’m glad he took that step, the rest is just details now. And telling him about Linh and the baby require a bit more finesse than you two galoots can handle.”
“Hey now. I got lots of finesse.” Cole tugged on his slightly frayed vest. “You say it all the time in bed.”
“That doesn’t count in this situation, you boor.” Jane laughed and pulled the cigars out from behind her back. “You two enjoy these. I’m going to go have a conversation with the undertaker.”
“Ooh, you brought out the good cigars. You really want us to stay away from this conversation.” Tommy snatched his cigar out of her fingers and grinned. “You do know how to ask nicely.”
Cole chuckled and pulled her close, withdrawing his own cigar a bit more slowly. “Go take care of business with the bastard. Just know I’ll be keeping an eye down the road.”
“I never doubted it.” She tilted her head back to receive his kiss and winked. “Good thing you’re so tall. The thoroughfare is busy today.”
“We might be heading to Cora’s for a bite,” Cole admitted.
“Ah. Well, don’t follow too close, you’ll just annoy me.” She laughed and stepped free of his embrace to head toward Graham’s. With a final wave over her shoulder, she slipped along the boardwalk.
Along the way she was stopped no less than three times for a quick chat with friendly neighbors. Each chat took long enough that it was almost a full half hour later when she finally made it to Graham’s door.
Nearly two years after her hanging and the idea of entering Graham’s undertaker office still gave her a chill. She pushed open the door and stepped inside where several sealed coffins waited for burial. After her hanging she’d been nailed into one and laid out in that very room, where Graham had found her pounding on the wood in the middle of the night.
She shuddered off the memory and headed toward the back room which had once been Graham’s living quarters. He’d since expanded the work space, but Cole claimed he still had a bed and living space back there. She wondered just how often he used it in his loveless marriage.
“Graham?” Jane knocked on the door and pushed it open. “Are you in here?”
“Right here, Janey.” Graham’s back was to the door and he worked on old Mr. Moore. An odd contraption she recognized as an embalmer from some articles she’d read to familiarize herself with the war was set up on the table. Graham’s arms and shoulders worked as he kept his back to her. “Need something?”
The smell of death hit her like a locomotive and her stomach churned. The room tilted on its axis, she gripped the wall to keep steady. Images and wavy lines of color swam across her vision when her knees crumpled.
“Janey.” Graham’s voice was muffled and distant, but his large hand felt solid enough on her back.
She didn’t know where the bucket came from, but she was grateful for it as she heaved into it. Any bit of relief from her nap flew away with each painful lurch of her stomach until she couldn’t heave any longer. Cold sweat broke out across her flesh, and she held onto the bucket as she tried to gain her bearings.
“You all right, there? Never seen you react like that in here before. You had to have come in here lots since your own death.” Graham dabbed at her forehead with a towel. “Should I get Daisy?”
“No.” She didn’t know how she’d found her voice, but she managed. “I guess I’m still out of sorts after my concussion.”
“Come on.” Graham hauled her to her feet and practically carried her to the back door. He yanked it open and set her down on a chair outside before he disappeared.
In the shade of the building a cool breeze helped dispel some of the heat from her bodies upheaval. When Graham appeared with a cold mug of water, she gratefully took it.
“Put some ginger in that. Should help your stomach.” Graham plopped down in the chair next to her. “Any better?”
“Yes. Sorry. You’re right, that isn’t how I usually react, although I still don’t like being in there. No offense.”
“Don’t know anyone that does.” He wiped at his bald head with his towel and sighed. “You don’t need to be apologizing to me, anyhow. I’ve never apologized to you.”
“Tommy tells me you’ve asked about a lawyer. Is that when you decided to start being nice to me again?”
He chuckled. “No. When you told me the Moon’s are in Laramie is what did it. When I heard where she was, something changed.”
“You do love her, don’t you?” Jane turned toward him. “Because if you don’t, you have to know you’re going to go through a lot of hell to once again end up unhappy.”
“Kept telling myself I don’t. No, that I shouldn’t. She isn’t the right kind of person, nobody would understand.”
“Like what Martha and Snowbird went through.”
“So you do love Linh.”
“I guess I do.”
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