Monday, December 22, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 2 Chapter 1

Part II: Darkness Falls


One
“Don’t mention anything about the rose at my mom’s house.” Rachel was firm. There was going to be enough tension with a guest and the Adam/Yvonne thing looming. “It couldn’t be the stalker so there is no reason to bring it up.”
“But that stalker is leaving roses for the women when he kills them.” Shannon no longer sounded scared. This voice was bossy. Rachel could give it right back to her.
“Yes, and the fact that you know that means other people know it. It may be nothing more than a prank.”
“But if it’s from him…”
“If it were from him I’d be dead.” Rachel yelled just as loud as Shannon had. “He leaves them with the dead bodies of women. When we get to the house I’m going to put it under my seat so Mom doesn’t see it.”
“Then you aren’t going to mention it at all?”
“No.” She slowed the car as they reached her parents’ street. “Listen, I don’t want my mom all worked up over nothing. The stalker goes after college girls. Every single one has been in her late teens or early twenties and they were college students. I don’t go to the U, I’m not anything like the other girls and unfortunately I passed twenty about a decade ago.”
“I won’t mention anything to your mom but you should consider telling the cops.”
“I’ll think about it. Do you really believe I would put my life in danger?”
“No.”
Rachel parked the car and hid the rose under the seat.
“It doesn’t look like they’re here yet.” Rachel said as they walked up to the front porch. She unlocked the door and went in the house. “Adam called.”
“How do you know?”
“Caller ID.”
Rachel dialed Adam and waited for him to pick up.
“Adam, it’s Rachel. GA.”
“Sorry forgot Church. Did you go?! GA.”
“Yes. When are you coming.? GA.”
“Tuesday. GA”
“Is there anything I can do for you? GA.”
Rachel stood in front of the machine waiting for him to answer. She thought Yvonne was nice enough. Never really saw the reason her mom didn’t like her. Adam was a great-.”
“Pray. GA.”
“Of course. GA.”
“Thank you. Tell mom my flight info.” Rachel wrote down the airline, times and flight number.
“Is Adam on the phone?” Rachel’s mom came in the door and straight to the TDD. Rachel stepped away from the machine and left the paper with the flight on the table next to her mom. Her mom typed quickly.
“Lisa, don’t forget Curtis will be here soon.”
“I know.”
Dad had tried but Adam was on the phone. Until mom had finished nothing would get done unless they did it. Rachel padded up the steps to her room.
“Why do you let her do that?” Shannon was smoothing her clothes down in her suitcase. A quirk she had when she was very angry. What could have happened since they arrived-. “She comes in and you step aside.”
“Adam wanted to talk to mom.”
“But you were talking to Adam.”
“I’ll see him when he gets here.” She lifted her suitcase on the bed and started laying her things in it. “It makes mom feel good to mother him.”
“You become invisible.”
“No I don’t.” She put her toiletries in a small cloth bag and zipped it shut. “I know how my mom feels about me.”
“Everyone does. It’s obvious.”
“Stop.” Rachel spun around and threw her cosmetics in her suitcase. “I will not have you insult my parents in their house.”
Shannon held Rachel’s stare for a moment then broke it without a word. They finished packing the suitcase in silence.
“Ladies.” Her dad yelled up. “Could you help me get things finished up in the kitchen? Curtis will be here in twenty minutes.”
“Remember. Happy.” Rachel said to Shannon then painted on a smile. Shannon sneered back and yanked the door open.
They placed delicate china plates with pink flowers and gold foil edges around the table followed by two pieces of stemware, salad bowl, bread plate, silver and cloth napkins.
“Dad, what is mom up to?” Rachel said filling a small gravy bowl.
“She told me she wanted to thank him for helping on our mortgage.”
“Good, then it has nothing to do with me.”
“Of course not.” His words were thick with sarcasm.
“Adam’ll be here Tuesday.” Rachel’s mom announced. She lifted the gravy bowl out of Rachel’s hands and put it on the table in the dining room.
“Oh, you put out those glasses?”
“You said the-.”
“Yes, it’s fine. We’ll make due.” She patted Rachel and went in the kitchen. Rachel turned and saw Curtis walking slowly up the side walk. She pulled open the door and stepped out on the porch.
“Hello again, Curtis.”
“Rachel. It’s nice to see you.” She stepped out on the porch next to him and closed the storm door. The clanging of last minute preparations muffled by the thump when the door closed.
“It’s warm in there.” She stepped over to the bench in the yard. “I hope you don’t mind sitting out here for a moment.”
“No, I us-.”
“I’m sorry.” She laughed. “Mom was on the phone with Adam and is getting everything perfect in there. If she saw you before she was ready she’d freak.”
“This is fine.” He sat on the bench and crossed his leg away from her. “Your mom and dad are nice people.”
“Thank you.” Across the sidewalk a sparrow landed and hopped around picking periodically. In a couple more months no one would spend pleasant afternoons on benches watching birds. The cold sting of winter would invade and blanket everyone in to an icy prison. “I love Sparrows.”
“Oh really.” He turned toward her. “Why is that?”
“Because I only notice them in the summer. And I like summer.”
“Guess that’s as good a reason as any.” He spun his body so he faced her front on. “Lisa tells me you own a business. What do you do?”
“It’s a marketing and sales business. What I personally do is keep on top of the books and make sure Shannon gets everywhere on time.”
“That woman I met at church?”
“Yep, that’s her. We’ve been chums since college. She’s my balance and I’m hers.”
“That’s a great thing to have.” He nodded and quietly looked away. The two of them sat still but the silence was comfortable. Neither seemed to feel the need to fill the air with worthless words or idle banter. Well, Rachel didn’t. Curtis closed his eyes and leaned back a bit on the bench with a gentle grin penciled across his face.
Rachel leaned back and imitated Curtis. The warm sun beat down on her face and was balanced by the cool breeze that seemed to know exactly when to blow so as to keep them at the perfect temperature. Someone walking by would surely wonder what they were doing. Rachel hadn’t felt it wise before to lay with her eyes closed in the front yard on a city block. But then she was uptight.
The front door opened and Rachel turned to face the porch.
“Your mom’s lookin’ for-.”
“I’m coming.”
“Curtis right?” Shannon walked out and shot Rachel a dirty look before turning to Curtis with a smile. “Lisa’s been in there all a flutter wonderin’ when you’d be comin’ along.”
“That was an awful imitation of my mom’s accent.”
“I know. Too much North in me to pull it off. Your mom’s looking for you though.”
“Curtis,” Rachel turned to him. “You remember Shannon?”
“Of course.” He shook her hand. “Rachel and I were out here enjoying the weather.”
“I could see that.” Rachel registered the disdain in Shannon’s voice. Curtis either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
“Well Curtis, why you sittin’ out here?” Rachel’s mom came on to the porch and hugged Curtis as if greeting family.
“Hi Lisa, quite the welcome you had for me.” He motioned to Rachel and Shannon. “You send out all these nice young ladies.”
“You act like you’re some old man.” Her mom led Curtis in the house leaving Rachel and Shannon standing alone in the yard.
“I’m sure he was just being polite.” Shannon said looking directly at Rachel. Her lips were pressed in a straight line across her face.
“What?” Rachel felt like a puppy that’d piddled on the new rug. “I needed to get out of there.”
“I’m sure that’s what it was.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” For all Shannon’s open-mindedness she had a bear trap tight mind when it came to dating relationships. And a broad definition of one. Once any man expressed any sort of interest in Rachel it was a requirement that the relationship continue until Shannon saw it as unhealthy or no longer worthwhile. Rachel had only defied Shannon’s judgment one time.
“What about Drew?”
“I’m not interested in this guy. He’s mom’s friend. I have to be polite.”
Shannon’s face softened. “I know Rachel. I don’t want to see you hurt again is all. You tend to think life is going to work out like one of your romance novels.”
“Yes, and you remind me frequently that it won’t.” The edge of bite in her voice had been intentional.
“We keep each other in balance. You remind me why I can’t buy everything with plastic and I remind you of what happened when you didn’t trust me.”
This was as close to winning as Rachel was going to get in this argument. Shannon was right. She was always as right on relational issues as Rachel was on financial ones and there was no reason to-.”
“Rachel, you goin’ to keep our guest waiting all day ta eat? Poor things gonna blow away in here.” Her mom called out and closed the door, not waiting for the answer.
“Better get inside.” Rachel followed Shannon in the door. Her mom had seated Curtis with an empty chair to his right. Shannon walked straight to the chair and sat down.
“I want Rachel to be able to face our guest.” She said by way of explanation.
Rachel made eye contact with no one and only walked to the other side of the rectangular table and sat in the lone chair on that side. Her dad said the blessing and they began passing food around the table. Periodically her mom would interrupt the eating sounds with a question or observation that was quickly answered and then dropped.
“I’m going to get the dessert.” Her mom said a moment before moving swiftly to the kitchen to retrieve her signature chocolate cake. That was followed by her dad clearing his throat. Rachel quickly obeyed.
“So Curtis, tell me…er…us about yourself.”
“What would you like to know?”
Her dad jumped in. “Tell Rachel about your idea for a business.”
Curtis’ face lit up. “Your parents have shared with me some of the concerns they had raising a deaf son. Well, I’d love to start-.”
Shannon stood. “Excuse me please.” She whispered then went up the steps. Curtis paused and watched her go up the steps. When the door closed he continued.
“I’d like to start a business designed specifically to cater to the deaf community and run by deaf individuals.”
“That’s a rather broad business plan. What specifically do you plan to do?” Rachel wasn’t interested in someone talking about ‘businesses’ that will help her family unless they were really profitable. Too many people these days were big on ideas, small on execution and planning.
He pushed his plate back a bit and started rearranging imaginary blocks on the table as he outlined his general proposal.
“Here, let me gather up…well now, where’s Shannon off to?” Her mom said while she stacked the plates in a messy pile. Rachel picked up the gravy bowl. “I got it. You stay out here and listen to Curtis’ idea. I’d like to know your take on it.”
Shannon returned dragging a suitcase. “What will you do about telecommunication issues?” she asked in the first break. Her tone was gentler than when she went up the steps.
“That is one issue I’m still trying to resolve. Initially I thought a TDD would suffice but when I really started mapping out the business plan I saw that wasn’t practical.”
Rachel’s mom returned with a tray full of white plates and thick black slices of chocolate cake. “Pretty clever don’t cha think?” She said as she set a plate in front of Rachel.
“I think it sounds great. Shannon?” Shannon paused, fork in her mouth. She chewed quickly and looked back at Rachel.
“Why didn’t you think of it?”
“I’d love for the two of you to help me with marketing when the time comes.” Curtis asked then cut in to his cake.
“Of course. You know Adam is going to be here in a couple of days. You should get his input.”
“He’s been talking to him a bit, in the beginning stages.”
Rachel paused. How long had this deal been in the works and why was this the first she heard of it. She quietly chewed on the cake that was no longer a treat but merely a dessert to her. Okay, that was a bit harsh but she was hurt. She was the only person in the family who’d had both business training and had worked with the deaf for literally her entire life. They hadn’t even considered her as a consultant on the project.
The other four continued to banter about and brainstorm. Shannon was suddenly in on the excitement too. Now that she realized Curtis really wasn’t a dating prospect but was really a business opportunity Shannon’s sour attitude had sweetened considerably.
Rachel excused herself and went up to her room to zip up her suitcase and steal a few moments alone. Still the walls of the ‘guest’ room showed memories of her childhood. A few stuffed dollies and a sun bleached unicorn sat in a corner shelf. The ribbons were no longer on her wall nor were any trophies. The room had remained, and likely would continue to be, an ode to Rachel’s childhood.
As if eternally nine years old, twenty year old photographs adorned the walls and pink ribbons on old ballet shoes served as decorations on a child’s dresser. Her dresser.
Graduation with honors wasn’t enough, nor was striking out on her own and starting a business. She would always be their little girl, but not in a good way.


You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.
This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 18

Eighteen
Logan stood just far enough away that Rachel couldn’t see him. From the first moment they spoke he knew that she was it; she was the one. He held the digital camera to his eye and zoomed it in tight.
She walked to her car and tucked hair behind her ear. Then smiled.
Click.
She walked around to the front of the car. She found it…..now.
Click.
She lifted the rose and held it.
Click.
She looked around the parking lot and the wind blew a few wisps of hair across her face.
Click.
“A beautiful rose for a beautiful woman.” He said. She is perfect.


You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.
This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 17

Seventeen
“See what I mean. This Pastor isn’t too bad.” Rachel whispered to Shannon as they went back down the long hallway that led to the parking lot.
“I could come here every once in a while if that’s the kind of stuff he preaches on. I get sick of hearing how I’m such a bad person because I don’t go to church.” Shannon answered.
“I’ve only been here twice. I’m sure he gets around to that too.” She pointed to the direction of the car. People were all over the parking lot talking. The sun kept the temperature pleasant and most of the people seemed to be in no rush to leave. “I wrote down that thing the pastor said about achievement.”
They walked between the cars and down to the row they had parked in. The car stood alone at the far end of the row.
“Which thing?”
Rachel reached in her purse and pulled out a small notebook. “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.”
“You brought a notebook to church?” Shannon shook her head.
“No, I keep a notebook to write things down so I don’t have to wait for my Palm Pilot to turn on to jot a note.”
“That’s right.”
“I want to get my suitcase packed up as soon as we get back to mom and dad’s house. I need to get back home at a decent time.”
“It looks like your mom isn’t taking any chances with you finding the man of your dreams.”
“That’s what I thought. Of course it could be her way of making sure I buy that house too.”
“True.”
“Or she might have picked him out for you.” She winked at Shannon then clicked the remote on her key ring and walked around the back of the car.
“What is that?” Shannon pointed.
Rachel walked to the front of the car. A white rose with a black ribbon tied around it rested on the windshield. She stood frozen a moment. Headlines announcing another murder flipped through her memory.
Slowly she lifted the rose hoping to find a church flier or a welcome note below it.
Nothing.
Her throat tightened around words she wanted to scream. She pulled her eyes from the rose and looked at Shannon then the stream of people milling around the parking lot by the church.
Why her car? Was it because she had parked in the back corner where no one would notice someone walking down the row?
“Maybe he doesn’t know who you are?” Shannon offered. Her eyes fixed to the rose.
“He does if he’s watching.” She looked around for anyone who might be looking at them. She looked at the playground and along the tree line. Should she go to her mom’s house? What if he was following her? Goosebumps picked her flesh raised when the cool breeze blew across the droplets of perspiration forming on Rachel’s arms and neck.
“Um, maybe we should put it down and call the police?”
Rachel began to take some control of her emotions. “We don’t know for sure it’s him and if it isn’t we’re going to get mom’s church all riled up for no reason.”
“But if it is you need to be protected.”
This was nothing more than a coincidence. Some ill-timed gesture of friendship from her mom’s church. Someone who maybe wasn’t following the Fratboy murders thought it nice to give a rose. Rachel felt silly for getting worked up over a welcome gift. She opened her door and tossed the rose in the back seat.
“Aren’t you going to do anything?”
“Maybe it is your rose. You were the first time guest.”
“But it’s your car.”
“It’s a coincidence.” Rachel assured her with her rational mind now fully in control of her faculties. “The murders were on campus or college girls. I’m neither and the college is on the other side of town.

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.
This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 16

Sixteen
“Thank you for coming up this weekend.” Rachel said to Shannon as they drove to church.
“You’re welcome.”
“This house was so much better than the other one.”
“Have you decided on an offer yet?” Shannon’s nail file made a loud scraping sound.
“I have to look over the numbers.”
“Of course you do.”
Rachel smiled. “I also need to decide if I want to be that close to my parents’ house.”
“It’s only a difference of ten minutes.”
“Yes, but ten minutes can be the difference between them popping in for dinner or only coming on weekends.”
“Of course you would have thought that through. Did you notice this church is pretty close to that house too?” Shannon shook her head and went back to filing her nails. “Can we sit in the back of the church or do we have to sit way up in the front?”
“Wherever. That’s the church up there.” Rachel turned left in the parking lot and pulled in to the first parking space she saw. “They’re going to think I found religion. This is the second week in a row I’ve been here.”
The back of the church had a long hallway with a drinking fountain and restrooms. Her mom’s voice echoed down the hall.
“I think we found your mom.” Shannon said.
Rachel turned the corner and stood beside her mom. She was talking to a young man with sparkling blue eyes and bright hair.
“Oh, honey. I didn’t see you there.” She took Rachel’s arm and brought her forward a step. “Rachel, this is Curtis. He is the man who helped us with our mortgage.”
“Nice to meet you.” He leaned forward and extended his hand. Rachel shook it. “And this is Shannon.” Rachel stepped back so they could shank hands.
“Mortgages?” She nodded her head as she spoke. He seemed too young to be done with college. “Mom has been busy.”
“It’s good to have connections is all.” Her mom chimed in.
“Your mother tells me you’re looking for a house in the area.”
“It’s more like looking at a house in the area. I’m not sure I’m in the market to buy quite yet.”
“It’s a buyer’s market so if you’d like to stop paying rent now would be a good time to do that.” Curtis shifted his large Bible from one hand to the other then reached in his pocket. “If you decide to buy I’d be happy to get you the kind of deal I got for your parents.”
“He cut ‘bout a hundred dollars a month off our mortgage.” Her mom patted Rachel’s arm as she spoke.
“Oh really? That’s a good deal. I’ll keep that in mind.” A couple of ladies walked by and waved to her mom. Her mom whispered back hello with exaggerated facial expressions.
“I need to get up stairs.” Curtis tapped his watch. “I’m leading the junior high today.”
“So we’ll see you at one?” Her mom said
“One?” Rachel repeated.
“Curtis is joining us for lunch.”
“I’m not imposing am I?” He looked between Rachel and her mom.
“Not at all.” Rachel tried to recover from her faux pas. “It’s fine. I need to be back on the road by three so I can finish up some preparation for Monday.”
“Yes, we have big clients first thing Monday.” Shannon quickly added.
“Don’t tell me you work on Sundays.” Curtis gently teased.
“Isn’t that what you are doing?”
He nodded his head as if to say touchĂ©. “I guess you could call it work. I prefer to look at it as talking.” He started walking down the hall. “I’m sorry Lisa. I really do need to get down there.”
“Go on. We’ll see you this afternoon.”
“Rachel, Shannon, it was nice to meet you. Lisa I’ll see you this afternoon.”


You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.
This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 15

Fifteen

“Are you going to be mad at me all weekend?” Shannon asked after ten minutes of silence.

“Why did you do that?” Rachel’s voice was firm but she managed to keep from yelling.

“Neither one of you were going to say anything.”

“Do you think maybe there was a reason for that? Sometimes subtly is in order.”

“And sometimes you’re a chicken.” Shannon still acted like what she had done was funny. Rachel didn’t see any humor.

“I felt humiliated back there.”

“Why?” Shannon’s phone started chirping.

Rachel turned in to her parents’ neighborhood. The yards weren’t as big here as they were where she had been. Kids lined the streets here with their bikes and scooters when she was younger. The park was a five minute walk away and when you were old enough to take your first trip without mom and dad it marked the beginning of life as a big kid.

The kids she grew up with were starting to come home to visit with their fiancés, husbands and even some children. One by one they left her to move on to the wife club or the mommy club. Their discussions were of late night feedings and first words. More and more Rachel was isolated to a group of college friends who had pursued careers instead of minivans. They went to homecoming games at the Alma Mater and visited parties in the Greek village.

Now most of them were married too. The few who weren’t she had lost touch with a long time ago. When her and Nate had moved in together, against their parents’ wishes, she had imagined coming back to the neighborhood and joining the soon-to-be-Mrs group.

A small ache on the edge of consciousness threatened to grab her but she wasn’t going to go back there.

Shannon’s conversation was wrapping up. Whenever her answers became all uh-huh’s she was done.

Rachel wandered on to other thoughts. Was the home today her first step toward car pools and minivans? She was thirty, maybe it should be. Adam’s marriage may be on the rocks but they married young. You marry too young or too old and there’ll be trouble. Too young and you’re immature and selfish. Too old your set in your ways and selfish. She and Nate had been too young.

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 14

Fourteen

This house was far better than the one her mom found for her. The exterior was red brick with delicate gingerbread work in the peaks along the roof. It was quaint with white accents around the house and a white painted porch.

“Do you think the swing stays?” Rachel pointed to the porch as she spoke.

“If not I know someone who can make you a nice one.” Shannon said then unbuckled her seatbelt.

They stepped around the car and looked up at the house from the sidewalk. The lawn was plush green without a single visible dandelion. Small purple and pink flowers lined the walk, wonder if it was Drew’s doing? The yard was large for the neighborhood, even though the houses in the neighborhood were considerably large.

“What do you think Shannon?”

“Rachel, good to see you again.” Drew came around from the back of the house. He motioned back. “I think you’ll really like this home.”

Shannon bumped Rachel with her arm. “It’s nice so far. This is my business partner Shannon.”

“Nice to meet you.” Drew shook her hand and returned to Rachel. “Would you like to see the inside?”

He stepped back and allowed them to pass. She stepped in the front door. No bizarre smells greeted her this time. The walls of the house were decorated in tans and browns but accented with white trim and dark furnishings. The carpet was plush and white.

Drew stepped beside her. “A young couple has lived here for the last four years.” They redecorated a year ago and are moving for a new job. Drew stepped in to the dining room “The floors are natural hardwood and were redone a year ago as well.”

She could see herself in this house. She walked past Drew in to the kitchen. It was small with lots of cupboards. Pots and pans hung from the ceiling over a tiled island. The afternoon sun filtered in through the western windows and splashed little rainbows from the decorative window across the counter.

Shannon’s feet clanked across the ceramic tile. “Rachel, you going to ask him out?”

“Wasn’t planning on it now. Did you see these cupboards?” Rachel ran her hand over the blond wood. “I’ve never seen a place quite like this.”

“It’s nice but I can’t see you living here.”

“Why not?”

“A little too Ozzie and Harriet.”

“It is not.” Rachel laughed and looked under the sink.

“Look at that Rachel. They’re neat freaks like you.”

Rachel had to laugh at the cleaning supplies in neat rows under the sink. “At least I’m not the only one on this planet who likes things nice.”

“Have they ever used this sink?”

“Oh stop.” Rachel stood and gently closed the cupboard doors.

“Go ask him out.” Shannon poked Rachel’s arm as she spoke.

“I dunno-.”

Shannon sighed and walked to the other room.

“Would you ladies like to see the upstairs?”

Rachel nodded and followed Drew up the narrow steps to the second floor. There were two small bedrooms and a bathroom to the right and the master bedroom to the left. She stood at the top of the steps and looked in to each room. The master bedroom was cramped and narrow. The queen sized bed took most of the space.

She walked back down. “Upstairs is kinda small.”

“Drew.” Shannon called up the steps. “How would you like to ask my friend Rachel out on a date?”

Rachel spun around. “Shannon-.”

“Well I thought that-.” Drew stammered.

“Drew, I’m sorry. Shannon can be a bit-.”

“So what do you think?” Shannon smiled. “Two successful people meeting to discuss life and business? You know my friend is very attracted to you.”

Rachel’s face burned red. This level of embarrassment was usually reserved for when her mom was with her. Drew looked between the two women and back to Rachel. The mood turned awkward. Shannon still smiled looking between Rachel and Curtis.

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 13

Thirteen

Rachel looked over her Scrabble tiles. All vowels and a Q. “I like the old Scrabble games.”

“What’s the difference?” Shannon added the score sheet. “I’m only beating you by eighty tonight.”

“In the old version the Qu was a single tile.”

“Stuck with the Q. Good to know.”

“Not if I don’t find a word.”

“Dumping?”

The phone rang on the wall behind her. Rachel reached back and answered it. A shrill whine like a Fax machine assaulted her ear. “I’ll be right back.” Rachel said over her shoulder as she went to the TDD machine in the front room.

“Rachel here GA.”

“Where are mom and dad? GA.”

Shannon came behind her. “Adam?”

“Looks that way.” Rachel’s older brother was born profoundly deaf and was the golden child in the family because of his abilities, not disabilities.

“What does GA mean?”

“Go ahead.”

“They’re out. Probably looking for a house or husband for me. GA.”

“Laugh…”

“If you want to take a break this could take a bit. He hasn’t even said go ahead yet.” Rachel said. Shannon was reading the screen over her shoulder. One of Rachel’s peeves.

“You want coffee?”

“Sure.”

“I need to come home…GA.”

With or without Yvonne? She wanted to ask but how could she ask her big brother if his marriage was over.

“When do you guys want to come? GA.”

“Just me. ASAP. GA.”

Rachel flipped open her cell and had her mom on the phone a few rings later.

“Mom. Adam’s on the phone. I think things are bad with Yvonne.”

Her mom’s words were slow. “What exactly did he say?”

“Said he needed to come home. I asked when they were coming-.”

“You there? GA.” Adam asked again.

Rachel cradled the cell the best she could and typed, “Asking mom. Give me a minute. GA.”

“He said he needed to come home alone ASAP.”

“I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“Mom, I’ve got him on the phone. What do you want me to tell him?”

“I’ll handle it. Tell him I’ll call when I’m home. We’re walking out now.”

“Mom on way home. She will call you. Anything I can do? GA.”

“Yvonne out of love with me. Need time apart. Coming home. Need a roommate? GA.”

“Always place for you. GA.”

“Thanks. Tell mom to call at my office. GA or Hang up.”

“Bye. Hang up.”

“His wife left him.” Her big brother was on the other side of the country, alone.

“Why?” Shannon walked out and showed as much shock as Rachel. Yvonne wasn’t her mom’s first choice for Adam, but then no woman ever would be. This would not be a reconcilable disagreement if mom had her way.

“I’m not sure. Do you mind if I go upstairs for a few minutes.”

“No, sure go.”

Rachel walked up the small staircase to the second level of her mom’s split level house. She padded down the carpeted floor and in to her old room. Mom had turned it in to a guest room after Rachel graduated from college but other than a few family members Rachel had been the only guest to use it.

The room was decorated in bright colors and there were pictures of chubby babies dressed up like animals and flowers on the walls. She walked to her old bed and slid her legs under the covers.

“She left him.” The words squeezed her heart. They had moved from Ohio to California a few years ago following what Adam thought was God’s call. They were two halves of a whole, Yvonne and Adam, despite her mom’s opinion of the relationship. Yvonne never once complained about Adam to her. Even when Rachel would get frustrated Yvonne would tell her that she would never stand to hear Adam insulted in her presence.

Adam for his part wouldn’t allow Yvonne to be insulted. That, more than a divine call, was the real reason he moved his wife and life to the west coast. Rachel never blamed Adam for the way mom compared the two of them. Adam wasn’t in to all that anyway. He stayed true to who he was.

But now they’d split up.

It couldn’t have hurt any more if it were her own break up. It might as well be. This was more evidence that the old notion of meeting one person and loving forever was never realistic. It was an economic arrangement where women traded their body for-.”

“Rachel?”

“Yeah.”

“Wanted to give you fair warning your parents are pulling in.”

“Come on in.”

Shannon slipped in the room and closed the door. “Should I lock it?”

“No.” Rachel patted the bed for Shannon to sit on the end. “Mom won’t be up here until she’s called Adam and made sure he’s okay.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

Rachel sat up with her back to the headboard and hugged her pillow. “I’m fine with it. I don’t think it will be a fair fight.”

“A fair fight?”

“Mom will try to tell Adam why Yvonne is the worst thing that ever happened to him and why Adam never did anything wrong. Then Adam and her will squabble…never mind. It will be a while until she tries to find us.”

“Don’t forget we need to leave a little before seven to look at the new place Drew found.”

“I know…I hope mom isn’t mean to Yvonne.”

“I don’t think she’ll call here.”

“Would it be a betrayal if I called her?” Rachel scanned through her cell’s phone book. “If she’s at their place I’ve got that number in my phone.”

“Do you know why they split?”

“No clue.” The screen blinked off on her phone. “Is mom talking to him?”

“How should I know?”

“Listen for typing.”

Shannon walked to the door and opened it a few inches. “I hear keys clanking.”

“Close the door. I’m going to call.” She scrolled down and pushed send.

“Hello?” Yvonne’s voice was quiet.

“It’s Rachel.”

“Hi.” Yvonne hesitated a moment. “Your brother isn’t here right now.”

“I’ve talked to him.” She willed back the tears that threatened to escape her eyes. Yvonne was in pain. She was without her husband and her mom was going to be no help in the situation. “What can I do?”

“I’ve asked myself that question a lot lately.”

“Adam said you left him.”

“It was mutual.” There was muffled nose blowing on the other end. “We’ve been drifting apart since we moved out here. We thought maybe a break would help.” Yvonne sniffled. “So I’m staying here and Adam said he’d stay with your parents.”

“Is that what you want?”

“Um…well…not really.”

“Rachel?” Her mom called through the door. “Rachel your brother’s on the phone. Wants to talk to ya.”

Rachel held her hand over the cell phone. “I’ve gotta run. I’m at my parents’ house and mom’s at the door.”

“Oh my, don’t let her know you’re talking to me.”

“I’ll think good thoughts.”

“Rachel? You comin’?”

“Yeah mom.” She closed the phone and Shannon opened the door.

“What took so long?”

“Girl stuff.” Rachel exchanged a nervous glance with Shannon.

“Don’t forget ‘bout your appointment this evenin’.”

“I won’t.”

“Adam’s waitin’ on ya.” Her mom motioned to the steps. Rachel swiped her hand across the wrinkles on her comforter and went down the steps.

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 12

Twelve

“Shannon you would not believe this realtor at my mom’s this weekend.”

“That good or that bad?”

“Come on down to my office.” Shannon walked around cardboard filing boxes and an oversized coat rack. “When are you going to have someone take those to storage?”

“I’ll get to it. I’ve been busy.”

Shannon was always too busy to store the files. That was why she walked around boxes from two or three years ago and drove around town to meet with clients rather than put the boxes away and meet them in her office.

“Well, tell me all about him.” Shannon crossed one leg under the other and sat down in the chair across from Rachel.

“We walk in to this awful house. It stuck like rotten food and mold.”

“Lovely.”

“No joke. But I felt really bad for the guy. He didn’t seem to think the house was anything worth buying either.”

“Did he say that?”

“No. Well I guess he did put in the flowers out front to dress the place up.”

“He put in flowers?”

“Yes. Anyway, he was really nice but you know how sometimes you can tell someone is checking you out?” Rachel pulled out Drew’s card and pecked his homepage in her browser. His photo might be up on his website.

“Yes-.” Shannon’s voice was urgent. She scooted the chair closer to Rachel’s desk.

“Okay, I’m talking about what kind of house I’d really like to see and he’s writing on this note pad. Then real quick he gives me this card.” She gave the business card to Shannon.

“Smooth.”

“That’s what I thought.” She put the card in her wallet. ““See what happens when you lie about having a date. You miss out on hot guys.”

“Oh, so he is attractive.” Shannon leaned back in her chair.

“Didn’t I say that?”

“Not really.”

“Yes, very handsome. Athletic, dark eyes and hair and stylish. Looks live one of those GQ kind of guys.”

“GQ guys are usually shallow.”

“You know, he reminds me of that really hot teaching assistant in our 300 level economics class senior year.”

“Is he that cute?” Shannon’s eyes were wide.

“I think he is.” The website popped up. “Aw, his photo isn’t loading.” she pointed to the little icon that indicated a photo should have been there.

“Keep me posted then.” Shannon got up and walked back to her office. Rachel opened her email and started scrolling down deleting spam as she went. Her cell phone vibrated on her hip.

“Hello?”

“Is this Rachel?”

“Yes.”

“This is Jeremy Wright. Our cars met last Friday.”

“Oh yeah. Hello Jeremy.”

“Mail Truck.” Her computer announced. Rachel clicked it open.

“I was calling…see if you…body shops...”

“I’m sorry there’s a really bad connection. I haven’t found a body shop.”

“Okay, I’ll…better time…names.” The line went dead. She closed her phone and scanned the email she’d just opened from Drew. It included a link to view a number of properties. She opened it and five came on the screen. She clicked on each one but the first three were nothing she wanted to look in to. The fourth one looked promising. She picked up the phone and dialed Shannon’s extension.

“Shannon I found a house I want to look at. You want to go with me?”

“Of course.”

“All right. Email is sent. I told him to call me so we could schedule a time to look at it.”

“Try to avoid the weekend or you know your mom will have us stay.”

“I went to church with her this past weekend. That should pay me up for at least a month. Looking at her house should give me another month or two for credit.”

“Good. I’m free every night but Thursday. Let me know when he emails.”

“I will.”

“We still going to Panera Bread for lunch?”

“I was planning on it. We need to go at 11:30 if we want to be back in time for our conference call this afternoon.”

“Rachel you have a call on line two.” The receptionist called over the intercom.

“Who is it?”

“Drew, with Goldman Realty.”

“Thank you.”

“Gotta go Shannon.”

“Bye.” She switched over to Drew’s line.

“This is Rachel.”

“Hello Rachel, this is Drew at Goldman Realty.”

“Hello Drew.”

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 11

Eleven

“The house is just down the block would you like to walk?” Rachel’s mom asked as she slid in to her walking shoes.

“Sure.” Rachel put her keys back in her purse and looked down at her stiletto ankle boots.

“Oh heavens you can’t walk in those.” Her mom looked down at Rachel’s feet.

“They’ll be fine…how far down is the house?”

“Ten minutes or so.”

“I’ll be fine.” She held the door for her mom and followed her up the street. After fifteen minutes of walking they turned down a cul-de-sac.

“There it is.” Her mom pointed to a two story white house in desperate need of paint surrounded by an old chain link fence. The grass needed mowed but there were flowers in mulched beds lining the walk up to the house. The fence squeaked as she opened it.

“Go on up.” Her mom urged her.

Already this house was a ‘no’.

“You must be Rachel.” The realtor came out the front door and down the steps to where she stood with her mom. He wore a grey suit, looked to be fine wool. She had seen similar outfits on some of the business owners she worked with. The clothes only momentarily distracted her from his painfully good looks. “I’m Drew. I’ve heard a great deal about you.”

Rachel shook his outstretched hand. His grip was firm. A confident man. She looked over at her mom. “So then my mom has told you I’m not really actively looking for a house.”

“No she hadn’t mentioned that…” he looked past her to her mom. “But I appreciate the opportunity to show you around just the same.” He opened the back door for the women then followed behind.

“The stove and refrigerator are negotiable but the sellers are taking the microwave with them to their new house.” Drew said. He stepped to the corner of the small kitchen as he spoke.

Rachel scanned the dripping faucet and scuffed countertop. To the left of the refrigerator a cupboard door was partially open. She opened it the rest of the way with her finger. The dim light in the center of the kitchen didn’t reach to the back of the shelf but she saw enough. Ripped and bubbling greenish-orange swirl contact paper lined the shelves in the cupboards. She pulled out a drawer…contact paper there too.

“You know, Rachel-,” Her mom pushed the drawer closed and walked her closer to the center of the small kitchen “Drew was telling me they recently redid the bathroom.”

“Good.” Rachel looked under the sink. No water spots but she caught a whiff of something pungent. It threatened to steal the dinner she had eaten at her mom’s house. “What is that smell?”

“Oh…uh…they forgot to clean out the freezer when they moved.” Drew pushed on the freezer door as he walked past Rachel to a small door. There is also a nice pantry here.” He pulled the door open. “It is large enough to hold cleaning supplies and possibly canned goods on these shelves.

Rachel nodded and looked again at the Fridge. No wonder appliances were negotiable. Why not have someone pay you to throw out your old stuff.

She leaned over to her mom. “Kitchen needs a lot of work.”

“You don’t cook much. Let’s not judge until we look at the rest of the house.” Rachel followed her mom to the living room.

“And the carpet could be replaced.” Drew said as he ran in behind her.

“I told you it is a lovely fixer-upper.” Her mom said.

Were they even looking at the same house? How could her mom have chosen this place for her? Nothing here whispered modern, trendy or even clean for that matter.

“What I’m really looking for-.” Rachel said surveying the great room that made the front of the house “is something newer. Maybe built in the last five to ten years if possible in this price range plus or minus fifteen thousand.” She walked over to the windows overlooking the front yard. “And no chain link fence. Wood fence is fine, no fence is better.”

She looked back. Drew was writing something down and her mom looked at her with pursed lips and arms crossed.

Find something positive to say about the place. She looked from Drew back to her mom. “But I love the landscaping. If there are perennials I’d be thrilled.”

“I did the landscaping.” Drew said without looking up from his notebook.

“You did?” Her mom’s charm returned. “Drew, you did an excellent job.”

“I agree, it’s this house’s best feature.” Rachel laughed….alone.

Drew continued, “My grandparents owned a green house when I was younger. I remember how my grandpa was convinced that you could learn all you needed to know about a person by their favorite flower.”

“You don’t say.” Her mom had folded her arms again but this time to support her fingers on her chin.

“Really-.” Drew looked up at Rachel. “He even said the color of the particular flower was important to knowing who that person was inside.”

Rachel looked back out the front window. “So what do these flowers tell me about you?” She motioned over her shoulder to the flower beds lining the sidewalk.

Drew handed her his business card with a note on the back. “That I take my job very seriously.” She looked down at the note. It said “Dinner sometime?” She slid his card in her wallet then gave him hers. “Call me with more details.”

Her mom stepped forward. “You want to go look upstairs.”

“No, I don’t think this is the place I’m looking for right now.”

“But you didn’t give it a chance.”

“Fine.”

Her mom grabbed her by the arm and took her up the stairs. “Look at the master bedroom, Rachel. It’s so huge.”

“Yes, it’s good size.”

“And look at the bathroom they redid.”

“It’s nice but I don’t like yellow.”

Her mom waved away her concern and walked through the room and down the hall. “There are two other bedrooms” She called over her shoulder. “They are much smaller but one could be a guest room and the other an office if you’d like.

“I try to leave work at work.” She said following behind her mom.

“Those upstairs bathrooms have all new plumbing too.” Drew yelled up the steps.

“Thanks.” Rachel yelled down. “Mom, it’s nice but not really what I’m looking for.”

“Then why did I go through all this bother?”

“Mom, I didn’t ask you to find me a house.”

“Well you have no time with all the workin’ you do. You don’t date, you don’t do anything ‘cept work and go home.”

Rachel walked down the steps and over to Drew. “Thank you for showing me the house. I’ll look forward to your call on Monday.”

“Feel free to email and tell me exactly what you’re looking for. My address is on the card.”

“Thank you, I will.” She turned to the steps and called up. “Mom, the realtor is going to email me some other properties we can look at. He said he’d get with me Monday.”

“Make sure they’re close to Woodhaven, Drew.”

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Face in the Shadow Part 1 Chapter 10

Ten

Rachel maneuvered her Taurus off the highway while cars continued to rush by. You’d think it was the Autobahn the way people zipped through the stretch of highway. She turned right off the ramp and left at the first light. Construction signs flashed ahead and traffic was beginning to back up. Whe cranked her wheel to the right on to Maple instead of driving all the way down to Fairmont. She could take it a mile or two then take a connecting street over to Fairmont. The staccato ping of her cell phone’s ring tone pulled her eyes from the road for a moment. She reached down for her earpiece. Shannon Cell was on her phone display along with a picture of Shannon’s car.

“Hey former best friend.”

“Ha-Ha. You at your mom’s place yet?”

“No, you on your hot date yet?”

“Canceled.”

“I’ll bet.” Rachel slowed down and scanned the signs. She didn’t remember Fairmont being this far down.

“Have you seen…” Rachel’s car lunged forward and her phone flew off the seat ripping the cord out.

“Oh, no.” Rachel looked in the rearview mirror at the shocked driver behind her then groped around on the floor until her fingers wrapped around her phone. She opened it. “You still there Shannon?”

“Yeah, I’m here. What happened?”

“I think someone just hit me.” Rachel eased her car off to the right. The curb was almost completely blocked with cars so she double parked. “I’ll call you back.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll call you later. Bye.” She closed the phone and opened the door. A young man jumped out of his pick-up and nearly ran to her.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” She walked to the back of her car and rubbed the scuff above the wheel well.

“I got your tail light too.” His voice was young, a bit high pitched for a man his age. She walked around to the back. A four inch long section was broken out of the tail light. Enough damage to be annoying, and less than her deductible.

“It doesn’t look like there’s too much damage. Let’s exchange information.” She walked quickly back to the car and pulled out the small black wallet that held all of her information in the glove compartment. “This should be all the information you need.” She scribbled on the notebook page without looking up. “And here is my card with my phone number.” She handed him the card.

“Could I use a piece of your paper, uh” He looked down at her card. “Rachel?”

She tore off a sheet of paper and gave it to him. “What’s your name?”

“Jeremy Wright.” He leaned on the hood of his black pick-up truck and wrote his information. “Sorry again. I was changing lanes and not paying attention to what I was doing. Here’s my information.” He gave her the piece of paper. “If you don’t mind I’d like to pay for this myself without putting it through insurance.”

“Why?” A request like that came from people who were shady and not going to pay for the repair. That was Rachel’s experience.

He pursed his lips as if holding back a smile. “And my card.” He gave her his business card. She scanned it and laughed.

“You’re an insurance agent?”

“Well, I’m not actually an agent. I work for the company’s public relations department.”

“I must say I am very impressed with you as a representative of the agency.” She leaned back against her car and eyed him a moment. What was she doing? Her mom already had her prince charming waiting with a house. She straightened back up and smoothed down her clothes. “If you won’t mind paying all the repairs, and for a loaner if I need it, I won’t reveal your secret.”

“Of course.” He looked down at her card again. “You don’t live in Woodhaven?”

“No, I’m visiting my parents.” She rubbed the dent. It should be an easy repair. “I should thank you for making me a little late.”

“Really?”

“My parents are a little-.” She searched for the right words. “Eager to get me back in the neighborhood…preferably with a husband for me and grandchildren for them.”

“Okay, welcome to the neighborhood.”

“I wouldn’t go that far yet.” She walked to her driver side door and put her hand on the handle. The traffic had thinned down considerably.

“Call me as soon as you get the bill.” He said, waved and walked to his truck.

You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.

Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Get each new chapter delivered to you by signing up for the Tiffany Colter Fiction Blog using the link on the right.

This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.

Bloggers may comment on or link to this blog from their own blog. To link directly to this posting click the title then copy the address in the browser.