Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Epilogue

Epilogue

“The hunt for the Frat boy killer ended yesterday with a shooting. According to sources close to the investigation Jeremy Logan Wright was shot when his attempt on his most recent victim ended with the use of deadly force.”

Rachel stood up to turn off the television.

“No wait. They’re going to show you.” Curtis brought her back beside him on the couch.

“Police say their investigation reveals there could have been as many as eleven previous victims rather than the four as once thought. The incident is under investigation by the firearm review board.”

“Aww, they didn’t show you.” Curtis clicked off the television.

“I looked awful in those reports.”

“You looked brave.” He reached his arms around her and squeezed. “So, tell me again how you saved me.”

“Curtis I’ve told you this twenty times since yesterday.” She threw her arms out dramatically and fell back into the couch.

“I know but I love hearing it.”

“I prayed.”

He smiled down at her. “And what did you pray?”

“That if God was real that we’d get out alive.”

“And?” He turned his ear toward her and leaned toward her.

She leaned down in to his arms and relived the scene again. How she heard the shots, felt as if her heart were burning inside her chest. Then, only an instant later, the sudden calm that replaced it. “I still don’t get it.”

“Yes you do.” He kissed her forehead.

“Okay, I don’t entirely understand it, but I think I get it.”

Curtis nodded, pleased with her answer. “That’s all you need.”

She had learned testing God wasn’t the best way to start a relationship, and maybe it wasn’t, but God had revealed himself to her in the way she needed it. He kept his promise to deliver her. And even though she really didn’t understand it somehow she knew He was beside her the whole time.

“Do you have any ideas of what you’d like to do today?” Curtis reached for her hand. She took it in both of her hands.

“I’m open to suggestions.”

“Let’s Elope.” He said with a smile.

“Elope?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t you think that is a bit fast?” She leaned back on the couch and crossed her legs.

“Not when you know you’ve found the one God picked for you.”

Rachel eyed this man who only a few months ago she’d barely been willing to talk to. Seemed so ridiculous now that it had taken her so long to see what was right in front of her.

She kissed him then stood up. “Who am I to argue with that logic?” He stayed on the couch, eyes searching her. “Are you coming or what?”

“You’re serious?”

Rachel nodded and reached her hand toward him.

“I’ll grab my keys.”

The End

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, October 23, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 1

One

“No.” She screamed when she heard the sharp popping upstairs then slumped at the bottom of the steps. There was no way she could go up. Even if it was Jeremy she couldn’t see…

There was thudding overhead. Rachel looked up the steps and Curtis came around the corner. There was a red line across one arm and his clothes were disheveled but he was fine.

“He’s dead Rachel.”

“Oh my God.” It was a three word prayer but God knew in her heart God had heard it. The armor dropped off of her heart and she looked up at Curtis coming 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 http://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, October 20, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 2

Two

Jeremy heard the shot at almost the same moment pain seared through his stomach. A cop stood over him, pistol drawn. A second called for an ambulance in his radio.

Why did they shoot him? It was the other man who didn’t belong. Alpha Mu Epsilon. He had earned her. Rachel was his.

The pain was fading. He was sleepy. The men, the two cops and that wife stealer, stood over him. They wouldn’t help him. They were watching him die.

He scanned the room. She wasn’t there. She had betrayed him too. Just like the others.

He was tired.

Very tired.

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, October 16, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 3

Three

“Rachel. Don’t make me ask twice.”

He turned her around to face him.

“I-I love you.”

“And you want to marry me.” He squeezed her arm when he said it.

“And I want to marry you.” He was going to let her live. Hope surged for a fleeting moment then died when she considered the life he’d likely have her living.

He reached in his pocket but instead of pulling out a ring as she expected he pulled out a large knife from his pocket. He unfolded it and lifted the blade to her face.

“Let’s move things upstairs.” His breath made her recoil. His cologne was powerless against it. Rachel leaned back against the table. He responded by taking the blade down and cutting off one button from her blouse. Then a second and third. He stepped back and motioned to the steps with his head.

God if you really do exist please help me.

She turned and looked back. He lifted the blade and waved it towards the staircase that led to the upstairs. She went up the steps and at the top turned.

“Our room.”

He put his hand on her waist and led her down the hall to her bedroom. The clock on her nightstand only read five-thirty five. Deep sobs rose inside her. This morning had been the last time she’d see her parents, Shannon or Curtis.

I’m so sorry Curtis.

Jeremy led Rachel to the side of the bed and cut the rest of her buttons off before unbuttoning his own shirt.“I’ll be gentle with you beautiful.” He untucked his shirt and nodded his head to her blouse. She refused to move. If this was going to happen she wouldn’t help.“Are you a little shy?” His voice was gentle with her again. He leaned down and pressed his lips hard against hers and pushed her back on her bed. She tried to pull away but he grabbed the back of her head and held her still.

“Rachel, are you here.”

Jeremy stood up and turned to the voice coming from downstairs. “What is he doing here?”

“Rachel?”

Curtis was downstairs. From his voice she could hear him coming toward the steps leading upstairs.

Jeremy leaned in close. His breath was like death. “Don’t make me kill him on our special day.” He stood back up and put his finger to his lips. If she stayed quiet he would kill Curtis. Jeremy was never going to let her live apart from his sick twisted world.

“Rachel? Is everything okay?” Curtis sounded like he was at the top of the steps.

Jeremy would kill Rachel or Curtis.

God would make a way where there seemed to be no way.

“Curtis!” She screamed. Jeremy lunged for her and she dove from the bed. Curtis burst in the room.

“Run Rachel.” Curtis yelled.

She hesitated only an moment then ran out of the bedroom and down the steps. She pressed the panic button on her alarm and dialed 9-1-1.

She held her blouse closed with one hand and went for a knife. Her hands shook and she made her way quickly for the steps. Something shattered overhead and she could hear the struggle.

I think you might be real. If you are, please save Curtis too.

Before she was half way up the stairs someone pounded at the door. She turned and saw the blue and red lights flashing around her curtains. Something overhead crashed again and there were no more sounds of struggle.

She hesitated only a moment longer then ran to the front door and let the officer in.

“He’s upstairs. One is my boyfriend and the other is the Fratboy.”

The officer paused for a moment and looked at her then went up the steps.

“The bad guy doesn’t have his shirt on.” She screamed after him. Another officer ran in her front door. She called after him “The bad guy doesn’t have his shirt on.”

There were muffled yells. Then she heard the gunshot.

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, October 13, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 4

Four

Logan, or as Rachel called him Jeremy, kissed her neck but it did nothing to calm the raging desire inside his body. Never had he been so willing to wait for what he wanted and never had there been such a surge inside. With one of the other eleven the table would have sufficed but he’d be with Rachel forever. They were going to start their life together right.

He was going to give her a husband’s love. A husband’s love was gentle and tender. A husband protected his wife from anyone who would hurt her. Jeremy was going to protect Rachel from all those people who would seek to lead her astray.

Jeremy would complete her.

“Tell me you love me, Rachel.”

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, October 9, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 5

Five

Rachel stared at Jeremy in her living room. He wasn’t the charming man she’d met after the fender bender. His eyes were large saucers and a toothy smile was plastered to his face. Her blood turned to ice.

“Us?”

He nodded his head. He never broke his stare it simply slid up and down her body.

“My boyfriend will be here soon.”

His eyes flashed anger. He squinted and took two steps closer to her.

“No, he won’t. He has a seven o’ clock appointment.” His smile returned. “I knew we wouldn’t want to be interrupted tonight.” He licked his lips.

He walked slowly to her. He stood a few inches taller than her and he was much more muscular than she had remembered. He was in a starched button up shirt.

Another step. He was almost toe to toe with her.

How could she have come in the house and not smell his aftershave. He must have bathed in it.

“Please don’t.” She squeaked out.

“Don’t what?” He rubbed the end of her hair with his fingers.

Don’t give him any ideas. She stood silent.

“Open your present.” He motioned with his finger.

She turned and faced the table. The wooden box wasn’t more than six inches across. The outside was scuffed like something that has been opened many times. Or something fairly old. She lifted the lid slowly and reached into touch the lock of red hair.

He stepped up, pressed himself up against her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “There were eleven before you but they were not worthy. You were the one I had been waiting for.”

“Eleven?”

He lifted her hair and kissed the back of her neck. When she started to pull away he grabbed her by the throat and pulled her back then slowly began to kiss her again. She closed her eyes. Soon she would wake up from a paranoid nightmare and would be at her parents’ house where she should have been this evening.

“The eleven who betrayed me, Rachel. You saw them on the television.”

The dead women.

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, October 6, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 6

Six

He stood just outside of the of the small lamp’s light. When she turned to face him it they would finally be ready. Slowly she put her arms down by her side and turned to him. She squinted her eyes at him.

“Are you happy to see me?”

She didn’t speak.

She shouldn’t make him speak twice. He wanted tonight to be gentle but he was willing to take what was his. “I said are you happy to see me?” He kept his voice low but his tone was firm.

“I can’t see you. That lamp is too dim.” Her voice cracked. She was afraid. Fear was good. He could work with that.

“Turn on the overhead light.”

She obeyed quickly and turned on the dining room light then turned to face him.

“Jeremy?”

“Not who you expected?”

“I…”

“I’ve known from the first moment you were her.” It hadn’t come out as eloquently as he’d hoped. The next thing he said would be better.

“What do you want?” She said, fear rattling her voice.

“The same thing you want…Us.”

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, October 2, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 7

Seven

Rachel froze. Her breath caught in her throat and the hair rose on her skin.

“I knew you’d come.” He continued. His voice was deep and calm. He was behind her and the sound of his voice was moving closer.

She willed her feet to move. If she ran up the steps and locked the bedroom door she could drop out of the window. Her mind escaped but her body was powerless. She took shallow breaths.

His footsteps came down on the wood floor. He was less than six feet behind her and still she couldn’t move.

Why had she lied to Curtis?

“Rachel.” He whispered. “Turn around.”

She recognized that voice.

“Turn around.” He demanded. His sudden yell startled her and she jump. When she turned to face him all chance for escape was gone. In her mind she always imagined she would fight. She wouldn’t give in.

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, September 29, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 8

Eight

Logan watched Rachel come through. She turned on the lamp but it’s light didn’t extend far enough to reach him in the shadow. Off in her own little world like she’d always been. But he was going to interrupt that world.

Then she saw his gift and she stopped. He waited for her to open it but she stared at it. Alpha Mu Epsilon. It was time to claim his reward. He stepped forward, his footsteps muffled by the soft carpet below. Every curve of her body awakened the animal part of him. It was only moments away, their union.

“Hello Beautiful.”

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, September 25, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 9

Nine

The light on the answering machine was blinking. Rachel pushed play and listened to the messages while she closed and locked the back door. As usual no one of any importance called her house. Why had she even kept the home line? It would be a few hours until Curtis got here so she went back to the punch pad and pushed in her new code to arm the alarm system. She’d have to remember to give him the code.

When was the last time she’d eaten? She rubbed her growling stomach. Everything in the fridge would be spoiled but there were some canned soups in the cupboard. Should’ve picked something up on the way.

“First, let’s get out of these clothes.” She grabbed a green apple from the fruit bowl as she walked past and took a bite out of it on her way through the living room. She clicked the table lamp on and continued to the dining room. She skidded to a stop. In the middle of her dining room table was a small wooden box, a single white rose, and a silver charm with three Greek letters.

He had been here again. Once she gathered her composure she stepped back from the table. Don’t touch anything and don’t disturb the evidence. Everything was going to be fine. It was only a few feet to the back door and the panic button.

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, September 22, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 10

Ten

She came.

Logan worked to control his breathing. Epsilon he reminded himself. Let her see the gift first. You have your entire life to live together. Be patient a few moments longer. He needed to bring his body under submission. A man was more animal than human Aunt Tulla told him. That was why they couldn’t control their urges. But Logan had. Logan could control them.

Rachel was putting things down. Any moment she would walk through the doorway and their forever would begin.

He focused his eyes on the jewelry box he’d placed on the dining room table. His gift for his new bride.

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 http://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, September 18, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 11

Eleven

The entire day had been dreary but the grey clouds that covered the sun started drizzling as Rachel hit the highway. She flipped her wipers on the lowest setting. They scraped across her windshield smearing the small droplets and making an annoying squeak on each pass. She flipped them off and waited until she almost couldn’t see. Then she would flip them on and off to clear the windshield.

At ten minutes after five Rachel pulled in her driveway. The curtains were closed in the front just as she had left them when she was over a few days ago. She walked around the outside a bit. Her heart pounded hard in her chest.

“Everything is fine.” She said the words but there wasn’t a single part of her that believed it. Her ears remained alert to the slightest noise and she looked around quickly, watching for the slightest movement.

She opened the screen door and the walnut she had stuck between the doors dropped on the top step. No one had opened the door since she put it in. She slid the key in the door and pushed it open slowly. She went to the punch pad and put in her new code to disarm the alarm. Everything was as she left it. She exhaled and put her things down on the counter just inside the back door.

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 http://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, September 15, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 12

Twelve

Logan pulled into the parking lot of a small city park not far from her house. He opened the trunk and lifted out the bag of gifts, wedding gifts, for Rachel. They were going to be one soon. He’d waited patiently each day for her to come home but she never did. It was time to force the issue. The day was overcast with maybe a small drizzle. Aunt Tulla said it was good luck if it rained on your wedding day.

He walked out of the parking lot and over to the sidewalk on the other side. Despite the drizzly day the temperature was warm and he passed a few houses with their windows still open. Family chatter and noise from television came out. Tonight he was going to be one of them. Not in this neighborhood but he would start a new life.

He’d be a good daddy. His little boy would grow to love the structure and discipline he had learned as a boy. He rounded the corner. A police cruiser went up the road. Logan smiled and waved as the officer drove past. He’d want to have all boys. Rachel would give him handsome sons. Maybe four or five then a daughter who would be as beautiful and loyal as Rachel.

He came around the final corner. Rachel’s house was down on the left and Guardian’s house was closer on the right.

“Guardian. How’s my good boy?” He bent over and rubbed the dog’s ears. Guardian responded by licking Logan’s hand.

“Yes, I have a treat for you today.” He pulled a handful of dog biscuits out of his pocket and gave them to the dog one at a time.

“Got a secret for you boy.” Logan leaned in closer. “I’m getting married today. Rachel’s gonna be mine tonight.” The dog sniffed toward Logan, searching for the biscuits. “I know, I’ve said that every night for the last week but this time it’s really going to happen. She’s going to come to me.”

He handed Guardian another dog biscuit. “And you know what that means? This is the last day of being chained up in this awful place.” He rubbed Guardian. It was finally happening. He was going to settle down with the woman of his dreams with his dog on the farm he’d found for them. It was the beginning of his forever.

“Time to go get my bride.” He said and stood. “How do I look?”

Logan continued down the street past Rachel’s house then around to the street that ran behind her house. He went up the driveway of the couple whose house sat directly behind hers. The owners of that house were retired and traveled often. If you looked like you belonged somewhere people never asked you what you were doing. He moved through the trees and into the back yard.

He looked at his watch. It was Four-fifteen. That gave him a solid hour before Rachel would get home. She left at the exact same time every day. He followed Rachel to her parent’s house. After dark Logan would watch her through the windows at their home. Seeing her body through the windows, so close, but being completely unable to touch her made him hunger for her more.

Alpha Mu Epsilon

That was what sustained him. And tonight he would be rewarded. “Childish.” He picked up the walnut that had fallen out of the door. It was one thing to booby-trap a medicine cabinet but the back door was too easy to fix. When Rachel tried to act strong was when she was the most adorable. He unlocked the door and punched in the code. Then he closed the screen door, leaned the walnut against the screen door and closed the storm door.

He took off his shoes, reset the alarm and went to their bedroom. He slipped off his pants and shirt and put them in the hamper. Women didn’t like it when men left their clothes in a pile on the floor. He was going to be her dream man.

He shaved and put on cologne before he put on his black slacks, crisp white shirt and blue tie that he had bought for this occasion. Exercising self-control was going to be the hardest thing about today.

“Agape Makrothumia Egkrateia” He chanted in the mirror. Love, Patience and Self-Control. Now he had proven all three.

“Against these there is no law.” He said chanting the verse that had driven his life.

“You didn’t think I could do it. All you good church people with your wooden pews and starched shirts thought you were better than me.” Those men like Curtis. He snarled at the thought of the man’s name.

He stared at his reflection in the mirror but in his heart he was at home with his Aunt Tulla. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” He was too dumb to understand these higher things of God. She’d made sure he knew that. Just the same she thought maybe some of it would stick.

“Alpha Mu Epsilon stuck.”

And today was this big pay out. He would have his precious Rachel, the perfect number twelve. They would live the perfect life of a romance novel. He handsome and romantic and she beautiful and madly in love with him. He folded the covers back on the bed and walked back down the steps. The overcast sky made the world like one big shadow. He loved the time of shadow. He put his tennis shoes in the bag he had brought along then set his wedding gift for Rachel on the table.

He slipped on the black shoes he’d spit shined and stepped back into the corner of the living room.

Into the shadow.

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 http://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, September 11, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 13

Thirteen

“Did you hear Yvonne is coming out?” Rachel poured Curtis a cup of coffee.

“So they reconciled?”

“I think so. Adam wouldn’t give me many details but he looked much happier than when he got here.”

“How could he not?”

“I don’t know why he ever left in the first place. They adore each other.”

“I hope this means they’re moving back to Ohio.” He sipped his coffee. “I’ll have to remember the story of Daniel next time I talk to a friend with relationship issues.”

“I used Daniel another way. It wasn’t about his marriage.”

“Ah. Still, a useful story.” He winked.

She stirred cream in her coffee then spoke without looking up. “I’m going back to my place tonight.”

“Do you think that’s wise?”

“I’ve been here for two weeks. I’m tired of hiding. And now with Yvonne coming back I want the two of them to have as much privacy as possible.”

Curtis spooned a bit of sugar in his coffee as he spoke. “Do you want him to contact you? Going more than a week since he had the rose delivered at work is a good thing.”

“Maybe he isn’t interested?”

“We’re talking about your life, Rachel. There needs to be more than a maybe to put you in harm’s way.”

“Will you at least listen to my plan?” She took her mug in her hands and leaned forward. Curtis nodded his willingness to at least listen. “Thank you.” She sipped her coffee and began.

“I’ll change my security code on my alarm today. After work follow me home. I’ll set it as soon as you leave, I’ll keep my cell by my bedside and I’ll even lock my bedroom door.” She slid him a piece of paper with her new security code written on it and a key to her house at Curtis. His skepticism was palpable. “I’ll be safer at home than I will be here. Mom and dad don’t have an alarm or any of it. He’ll find me.” Her voice cracked and she looked away for a moment.

“Marry me.” Curtis said with urgency.

“What?” She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her.

“Marry me. I’ll protect you.”

She loosened a bit. He wasn’t serious. She loved the words sounded when he said them though and hoped he might say it a third time. It was too soon to get married but each time he said it it sounded a little better. “Curtis we’ve only been dating for two months.”

“I know and I love you. I want to be with you forever. Marry me.”

She smiled at him. He said it again. “You’re only asking me to marry you so you can be my body guard.”

“And because I love you.”

He smiled. It was hard to tell by his voice if he was serious or not. She knew he was strict about not being alone with a woman over night but getting married so she wouldn’t be alone in her house was ridiculous.“We’ll talk about that in a few months.”He smiled and kissed her. “But we will talk about it.”

“Yes.” Heat surged through Rachel’s body. Immediately her childhood fantasies of being a beautiful bride flooded in. “I need to get to work. Let me grab my things while you finish your coffee.”

“Rachel.” He called behind her. She spun back around to face him. “I’m serious about what I said.”

She softened. “I know.” She went up to her old bedroom on the second floor for her suitcase and work.

When she came back down the steps he helped her take her things out to the car.

“You’re sure about going home tonight?”

“Absolutely.”

“Then I’m staying until dark and I want to see you arm your alarm when I walk out the door.”

“I figured.”

She climbed in the car and drove into work with Curtis behind her. He waited in his car until she was in the office and then waved as he pulled away. She picked up her messages from the front desk and walked back to her office.

“Shannon.” She called down the hall while she fiddled with her key. “I need to talk to you when you get a second.”

Shannon stood in the doorway. “What’s up?”

Rachel smiled. “Come in. Close the door.”

Shannon did as she said and Rachel blurted out. “Curtis asked me to marry him.”

Shannon’s jaw dropped down then she grabbed Rachel’s hand. “Let me see the ring.”

Rachel pulled her hand away. “We’re not engaged.” She laughed. “It’s only been eight weeks.”

“You told him no?” She looked even more surprised than when Rachel said he proposed.

“I don’t know if he was entirely serious. We agreed to talk about it in a couple of months.”

“That’s probably wise but you’d better say yes next time or I’ll snag him up.” She laughed.

“No you won’t. He’s not your type.”

“He wasn’t yours either at first. I think he grows on you.” She pointed down at Rachel’s hand. “I need to get back over to my office. Don’t forget about our conference call at eleven.”

“I won’t. Did you upload the presentation to the website?”

“Of course.”

“As if it was a ridiculous question.”

“It worked out last time.”

“Uh-huh.” Rachel smiled. Shannon turned and went back to her office.

By four the clock hands started dragging. The office was much more constricting now that she had spent a couple weeks away. Rachel looked at the clock only to find it had been less than five minutes since the last time she checked. Tonight she was going to sleep in her own bed for the first time in three weeks. She had gone to the house every few days with Curtis or her mom to check on things, do a little dusting or to get some clothes but she was anxious to sit in her chaise and read a book without mom or dad interrupting.

But would it be the same? Would she be able to relax or would he come back? Fear pricked at her skin.

At four twenty Curtis called.

“Rachel, I just got a last minute appointment for seven. An investment group found a multi-property deal. I have to crunch some numbers for the appointment. Why don’t I follow you to your parent’s house and then after my appointment I’ll take you to your place.”

“No, don’t do that.”

“I don’t want you going back alone.”

“I won’t.”

“Who will go with you?”

“I’ll have Shannon follow. Come over as soon as your appointment is done.”

“I don’t like that idea-.”

“Curtis, I’ll be fine. I want to go home.”

He was hesitant, “If you’re sure?”

“Positive. I’ll see you around eight?”

“It’ll be around then. I’ll call if I’m going to be much later.”

“Good, see you then. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

They hung up the phone and Rachel turned to the spreadsheet on her computer screen. She’d put up a good front but…No, everything would be fine. There was no sign he’d left anything behind.

“You still balancing those accounts down?” Shannon sat down across from Rachel.

“No, if I were balancing I’d be done. There are seven cents I still can’t reconcile.”

“Rachel, I’ll give you the seven cents. Your time is worth more than that.”

Shannon never understood the importance of getting these things to balance, which is why Rachel was in charge of the books. As long as the account was pretty close it was good enough for Shannon. Shannon was the people person, go with the flow. Rachel turned from her computer.

“On your way out?”

“Got the appointment at five-thirty across town, remember?”

How could she have forgotten? The conference call, the arrangement for Shannon to hash out the deal and then review for final sign off next week. Rachel had planned the time line.

“Do you need me to go with you and help?”

“No, go home. Have fun with Curtis. I want to see the ring.” Shannon smiled. “Will he be here soon?”

This wasn’t working out. Maybe she should reconsider, do it another day? Everyone would understand her need to be protected. By her mommy and daddy. No. She was going home and she was going to act like an adult.

“I talked to him right before you came in. He’s leaving the office any time.” It wasn’t a total lie. He was leaving the office. “There are enough people here for me to stay with.”

“Okay then. I’ll call you with the results. I’d better get going. Traffic’s going to be bad enough.”

“Talk to you then.” Rachel turned back to her screen. Everything would be fine. She would drive home and go in the house and set the alarm until Curtis got there.

The alarm.

She had completely forgotten to change the punch code. She dug through her purse and found the card.

“What will your security word be?” The woman on the phone had asked when Rachel finally got through.

“God.”

“God?”

“Yes, my security word will be God.”

The woman’s voice brightened. “He is your deliverer. Good word.”

Rachel gathered her things and walked out of the office to her car. He’s your deliverer. It gave her goose bumps. That was what Carol Adnaw had said at the retreat. It was still eerie for two women to say the exact same thing.

She started home. Carol’s words echoed in her head like a bad song that plays over and over until you find yourself singing it. She’d said something about him being at her side and he’d make a way where there seemed to be no way.

“Vague enough for anyone to interpret the way they needed.” Rachel was impressed with Carol, and she couldn’t deny that feeling of peace at the retreat, but could anyone really know what God was thinking.

Just the same, it would have been nice if it were true. Life would be much easier if there was really a God out there who said “Don’t worry” or “Here is who you should marry” or any number of other things people attributed to God.

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 http://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, September 8, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 14

Fourteen

“I want to come in to the office tomorrow and work for a while.” Rachel had already made her peace with the people at the office and their request that she work at home. If she could have a way to escape the roses forever she would do it too. But it had been long enough and Rachel needed to do a few things at the office.

“You want to start coming back every day or you want to come in tomorrow.”

“I want to come in tomorrow but I’d like to gradually work my way back in. I’m not the type who can spend weeks at home.”

“I know. That’s why we work together so well.” It was good to hear Shannon laugh again. It was something she had missed hearing.

“So I’ll come by tomorrow and work a full day and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll come in one day a week and gradually work my way back in to the office.”

“It will be nice to have you around the office again.

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 http://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, September 4, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 15

Fifteen

“Rachel, it has been four days. Call him.” Rachel’s mom had moved through sympathy and silence and was at tough love. Rachel had come to predict her mom on things like that. It had been the same when she and Nate broke up. Only then she’d lived in her own apartment and didn’t have to talk to her mom about it every night.

“He told me not to call.”

“Men never mean that.”

Rachel gave her mom a nasty look and went back to the work she had brought home from the office.

“Fine, if you won’t call him I’m gonna to him at church on Sunday.”

“Do what ya gotta do mom.” Rachel said without looking up.

Mercifully her mom gave up and left her alone. She looked at the face of her cell phone to see if there were any missed calls but there was still nothing. He had been upset but she never thought he would take this long to contact her. A day, maybe two, seemed reasonable but she had to prepare her heart for a breakup.

It seemed Christian men were no better than unchristian men. She refused to be sad. No, she was angry at him. What he was doing was far worse than what she did. She didn’t intend to hurt him. In fact, she had not told him so as to spare him hurt. He was trying to hurt her and that wasn’t right.

“Rachel, telephone.” Her mom called from the other room.No one Rachel knew had her parents’ number. They all used her cell phone. Rachel stood up and took the phone from her mom.

“Who is it?” She said after she covered the mouth piece.

“I don’t know.” She turned and walked away.

“Hello?” “Hi Rachel. How have you been?” Curtis’ voice sounded wonderful.

Her muscles relaxed and she hurried into her room and closed the door. “I’ve been busy. How have you been?”

“Busy.” There was a long pause. “I miss you.”

She closed her eyes and leaned against her headboard. “I miss you too.”

“Can I come see you?”

“Now?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“No, come now.”She hung up the phone and ran to her mirror.

“I look awful.” She touched up her makeup and put extra concealer under her eyes to cover the dark circles. Then she took off her sweats and put on jeans and fixed her hair.

She walked across the hall to get her spray gel from the bathroom. “Don’t you look nice? Expecting someone special?” Her mom teased.

“Did you call him?”

“I needed to talk to him about Sunday.”

Rachel sprayed her hair and went out to the living room. Fifteen minutes later Curtis pulled in the driveway. When she saw him Rachel ran out the front door to meet him. They stood in nearly the same spot they had been at the beginning of the week.

Curtis was the first one to speak. “Adam told me about the theological discussion the two of you had.”

“I told him I thought it was ridiculous for two people who love each other not to be together.”

“It is-.”

“Curtis, I’m really sorry.”

He held up his hand. “I overreacted. You we’re right. We weren’t exclusive.”

“But I should have told you.”

“I don’t know that telling me would have made it any easier to hear.”

“Do you forgive me?”

“I love you, Rachel. That means I have to let this go if we have any shot.”

“I guess I figured that a couple of dinners with him weren’t worth losing you.”

“A couple of dinners?” He crinkled his face. “That wasn’t what he said.”

“What did he say happened?”

“He said you…had a…physical relationship.”

“No, we did not.”

He took a step toward her.

“This week has been awful.” She took the last few steps to him and hugged him. “Why didn’t you call?”

“I wasn’t sure how you would respond to me after the way I blew up at you.”

“I almost called you the first night.”

“I wanted to get in touch but…Then your mom called and told me you’d been moping around the house all week.” He smiled at her. “I thought maybe that meant I had a shot of getting you back.”

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 http://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, September 1, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 16

Sixteen

“Mom tell me what happen. I sorry.” Adam signed.

“Thank you.”

Rachel drew her knees up to her chest and stared off in to space. She had messed things up pretty well by playing her game. For all her talk of living in the moment-.”

“I here if need talk.” Adam walked over and sat next to Rachel on the edge of her bed.

“I’d rather talk Yvonne.” She signed back.

He turned and swiped away a tear with his thumb. “I not want talk about Yvonne.”

“Why not?” He didn’t have an answer. “Adam, you Yvonne love together. You need bring wife here. Live Ohio again.”

“I need know what God want.”

“You think God want you here Yvonne there?” She was signing so fast her hands made smacking sounds. “You think God want Yvonne cry alone California and you sad Ohio?”

He stood up and faced her. “You not believe God real. Why you think God talk you about me, Yvonne.”

“I don’t know God real or no real but I know story Daniel and Lions.”

“What you talk about?”

“That king put Daniel with Lions but king know is wrong. He not believe in God but he know Daniel good man. Can see Daniel should not die. He pray, God answer.”

“That nothing about my problem.”

“Yes, is.” Rachel knew what she was trying to say but she didn’t have all those Bible verses her brother would listen to. She knew a few stories about Jesus and the one about Daniel. That was her whole arsenal. What she did know is that Adam and Yvonne should be together.

“I not need believe in God know you married, you want Ohio, Yvonne want live Ohio. Maybe God not always tell you do stuff you don’t like. Maybe he also tell you do things he know you want do.”

“I think about what you say.” He turned and walked out. Rachel lifted her cell phone out of her purse and scrolled down to Curtis’ cell number. She couldn’t call him yet. He didn’t want to talk to her but she needed to see his face. She clicked “Ok” on the number and the small photo she snapped of him recently popped up.

Tears rolled down her face. She loved him so bad it hurt. Exactly where she didn’t want to be. The phone face dimmed and she opened and closed to reset then scrolled back down and brought up his picture again.

The holes he’d pierced in the armor around her heart were letting feelings she didn’t want to have come in.

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 http://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, August 28, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 17

Seventeen

“Here let me help you carry those.” Curtis took the books out of Rachel’s arms and followed her up the walk to her parents’ house. She unlocked the door, which was always locked since she came to live with them, and stepped in the house.

The room smelled like onions, garlic and meat. A pot roast was cooking and Rachel’s stomach growled.

“Do you mind taking those on up to my room?” She asked Curtis.

“No, lead the way.”

They walked up the steps and put her books down then walked down through the living room to the kitchen. The crock pot was on the counter but her parents weren’t there.

“They must have gone to do some running before I got home.” She looked back at Curtis.

“It’s fine. I’m not in a rush to get home.” He said.

“You’re staying for dinner right?” She slid her arm around his waist and leaned in to him.

“Of course.”

Curtis’ phone vibrated on his hip.

“You need to get that?”

He looked down. “Yes, it’s business.” He stepped out of the kitchen into the living room. “Hello Drew.”

Rachel took a few steps toward the doorway to listen to the conversation. She didn’t realize Drew and Curtis even knew each other.

“No it’s not a problem at all. I’m at my girlfriend’s parent’s house.” Curtis said.

There was a short pause.

“No, I didn’t get that paperwork. When did you fax it over?”

Another short pause.

“When did they want to close?” Pause. “That soon? I’m not sure if I can get that done in time or not. Let me see what I can get worked out from here and I’ll call you.” Curtis stopped for a moment. “Wait, let me ask Rachel something.”

He walked in kitchen. Rachel jumped away from the door where she was listening and opened the cupboard closest to her.

“Do you have a fax here?” He asked with his finger over the phone mouthpiece.

“No but I have a fax to email. You fax it to the number and it sends to my email. I can print it in .pdf.”

“Great thanks.” Curtis walked back to the living room then called back. “What’s the number?”

She grabbed a business card out and gave it to him. “It’s right there on my card.”

He nodded his head and she walked back in the other room. What a horrible time to have Drew call. She walked to the cupboard and pulled down four plates. She had no ideas they worked together on anything but her house. Curtis never mentioned Drew. Why would he? He hadn’t mentioned other co-workers before either. That meant she had to tell Curtis what happened with Drew.

She snuck back to the doorway.

“You remember the lady we first worked together with? Rachel. That’s my girlfriend.”

A short pause.“

A couple of months off and on.”

Drew don’t you dare say anything.

“Yes she is great. She has a fax I can use. Here is the number.”

A short pause.

“Oh you do?”

A longer pause.

“When?” Curtis’ footsteps in the other room stopped. Rachel tried not to breathe. “No, I didn’t know that.”

A long pause.

“Oh good you’re getting everything around.” Rachel spun around. Her mom was standing inside the kitchen. “I was going through some boxes in the basement and heard you two come in but you know what it’s like when you’re almost done with a project.”

Rachel heard footsteps behind her and she turned. Curtis was red-faced. “I won’t be staying for dinner tonight.” He focused on Rachel.

“Why not?” Her mom asked.

He continued to look at Rachel. “I just had a call from one of the real estate agents I work with. They have a last minute deal they need worked up for a closing.”

“Curtis.” Rachel stepped to him.

“Don’t.” He held up his hand. “Don’t, all right? I need some time to process all this.”

“But it’s-”

“I’ll call you in a couple of days.” He turned and walked out of the kitchen, through the living room and out the front door. She heard the door close hard and her feet unstuck from the floor. She scurried through the house and out the front door after him.

“Curtis please.”

“What Rachel? What do you want?” He spun around and faced her.

“I was going to tell you?”

He shook his head and looked away.

“I was but we just got serious and I didn’t want to mess anything up.”

“Rachel, I’ve been serious with you all along.”

“I’m sorry.” She pleaded with him.

“Maybe we are too different to make this work.”

“No, we really aren’t.” She reached out and took his hand. “I love you Curtis.”

“I love you too but I can’t have a relationship based on lies.”

“I never lied.”

He pulled his hand away. “I can’t have one based on half-truths either. I have to be able to trust you, Rachel.”

“You can trust me.”

He walked to his car and before climbing in he called back. “I’ll get in touch with you in a few days. Don’t call me until then. I need to think.”

She looked back at her parents’ house. His engine roared as he backed up and sped down the road. Through the corner of her left eye she saw his tail lights move away from her. Slowly she made her way back up into the house then straight to her bedroom. She didn’t much feel like eating.

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 http://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, August 25, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 18

Eighteen

Someone tapped gently on Rachel’s office door. She looked up from the papers she was packing up as Curtis stuck his head in the door. He stepped in and closed the door behind him. “How are you holding up?” He reached for her hand.

“I hate feeling like a burden to everyone.”

“You’re not a burden. Why would you say something like that?” He touched her cheek with his fingers.

“Because I am. You have to follow me, I live with my parents and everyone in this office-.”

“We’ve talked about this.”

“I know.” She looked away from him. “I understand your point. I didn’t do anything to deserve this.”

“And it is not you putting people out. It is this man.”

She looked back at him. Even something as vague as this man made her stomach do flip-flops. “But it is still my life that is causing this mess.”

“What can I do to make you feel better?” He scooted his chair closer to her.

“I don’t know. There are so many things on my mind right now.”

“Besides the flowers?”

She hesitated. This wasn’t the time to discuss their relationship. Curtis had changed his life and schedule to be her daily escort. There was no telling how many appointments he’d not scheduled or canceled to be able to help her. Whenever she asked he told her he’d handled it and not to worry.

“Rachel?”

She looked up at him.

“You faded out there for a second. What’s wrong?”

She took a deep breath. “Where do you see us going?”

“In our relationship?”

She nodded her head.“I don’t know yet. What about you?”

“I’m not sure. It feels like things are turning serious but.” She stopped. “I know you love me.”

“But?” He looked her in the eye and squeezed her hand.

“But there is the religion thing.” She’d said it. As much as she worried about having this conversation she couldn’t bear to be any more in love with him and then lose him.

“The religion thing.” He said as if finding the piece to a puzzle.

“Yes. I know it’s a big deal.”

“Yes, it is.” He nodded.

“So, what about it? I don’t know that I am willing to jump on board with your beliefs, although with all that’s been happening I wish there was a God who would protect me.” Since the retreat she had more than once prayed prayers that started with if you are real God…

“And what could make you take the leap from wishing he were real to believing he were real?” He let go of her hand and sat down in the chair next to him.

“I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.”

“You know the Bible says faith is the proof of things we don’t see.”

Rachel looked up at the ceiling to gather her thoughts before she answered. “Yes, so if only I had faith then I would have faith.”

“It’s the best I have for you right now.”

“Wait a minute.” She stopped packing for a moment and looked square at Curtis. “If you believe the Bible then why are you so freaked out about this guy hurting me?” It was easy to tell people how much they should believe stuff but then walk away and not apply it to your own life.

The room was silent for a long moment. “The best answer I have for you is we live in a fallen world. Evil things happen to wonderful people.” His voice cracked as he spoke. “What I can tell you is that the Bible tells me no matter what happens God will make things work out for good for people who love and obey God.”

He cleared his throat again before continuing. “That is why I continue to pray that you will allow Him in your heart. It is the best protection I can give you. That is using the power of God to protect you.” He smiled. “And until that happens then I will do the next best thing and I will love and protect you in my strength.”

That answer made sense. Curtis was doing the best thing he could do in his own estimation. “But can you see this relationship becoming permanent if I don’t become a Christian?”

“I try not to think about it.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you and I want us to have a future.” He cleared his throat. “Or as you put it ‘become permanent’.”

“And we won’t have one if I don’t accept your belief system.” It was a statement, not a question.

“All I can tell you is I love you and today I’m going to follow you to your parents house. Then after we have dinner together I am going to go home. I will pray for you before I go to bed. In the morning I’ll pray for you again.” He smiled and took both of her hands in his. “That’s enough for me to think about. Focus on today’s problems because tomorrow will have enough of its own.”

While Rachel was mulling over his answer someone knocked on her office door.

“Come in.” She said loud enough for them to hear.

The receptionist stepped in the office. “You have a delivery.” Then she quickly walked out. Word must have spread pretty fast that Rachel knew all about the office’s little meeting. A young man stepped around the corner and handed Rachel a clip board with an X on it. Rachel signed her name and he handed her the long cardboard box.

“Thank you.” She said. He nodded and walked out.

“Who is it from?” Curtis asked looking at the address label.

“I’m not sure. There is a typed P.O. box then my work address.” She cut through the tape. “It’s light. Probably a poster for one of the marketing campaigns.” She turned the tube sideways and a rose slid out with a piece of paper. She dropped the box to the floor and Curtis snatched it up.

“What does it say?” He reached for the slip of paper hooked to the rose.

“Don’t touch it.” She put her hands up to block him. With her ink pen and letter opener she pulled the folded paper open.

“See you later beautiful.” Rachel whispered.

Without a word Curtis bolted out her office door. Rachel followed him as far as the front desk but he was chasing down the delivery boy in the parking lot.

“Call the police. Tell them the Fratboy killer just contacted me again.” Rachel said to the woman at the receptionist desk. Outside Curtis was yelling at the man who had delivered the box.

“I’ve called the police.” She said when they walked back in the office.

“He says some guy approached him on campus and gave him $30 and asked him to surprise his girl friend.”

“Lady, I had nothing to do with the guy. I was trying to be nice-.”

Rachel looked at him shocked. “Do you make it a habit to deliver packages from strangers on campus? Don’t you know there could have been a bomb in there?”

The young man couldn’t have been more than nineteen or twenty. He kept his eyes down and glanced up as he spoke. “He wasn’t a total stranger. I pass him a few times a week on my way to English. We smile and nod at each other.”

“Do you know his name?”

“No.”

“The police will be here soon.”

“The police.” He shot his eyes open wide and looked between Curtis and Rachel.

“They’re going to want you to give them a description.” Curtis said, taking over the conversation.

“I’m not in trouble am I?”

“I don’t think so.”

Shannon came out and looked at the group of them. “What happened?”

One of the people leaned over and whispered “The stalker sent a rose to Rachel. This guy delivered it.”

Rachel walked over to Shannon to finish. “The note said he’d see me soon.”

Shannon threw her arms around Rachel. “If he thinks he’s coming then we’ll be waiting. None of us are going to let him hurt you.”

Rachel nodded but didn’t say a word.

“I mean it Rachel. We’re going to beat this guy.”

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 http://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, August 21, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 3 Chapter 19

Nineteen

“Are you asleep?” Rachel sat up quickly and looked around. Shannon stood in the doorway to her office with a stack of folders and a well-dressed older man. She turned to the man. “Would you excuse me for a moment please?”

He looked at Rachel. “Certainly.” Then stepped back for Shannon to close the door.

Rachel pushed a few papers around her desk. “I’m sorry. I was going over the number for-.”

“Do you know who that man is?” Shannon said in a low growl

“Uh…Yes, I do…She lifted a folder to find her calendar. She remembered the two of them talking about an appointment today. Where was her calendar? She always kept it next to her keyboard. Her wrist his something hard which was followed by a clank on the desk.

“Rachel!”

The word registered at nearly the same moment Hot coffee began to pour over the edge of the desk and on to her lap. She jumped up when the hot liquid hit her. Shannon grabbed papers off of the desk and started spreading them across the floor.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t even see it there.”

Shannon didn’t say a word. She went out the door and appeared a few moments later with a towel.

“Here.”

“Thanks.” Rachel said in a near whisper. She sopped up coffee from the papers that remained on the desk. “Found my calendar.”

“That’s nice.” Shannon laid down the few papers left in her hand. “Let’s go meet in my office.”

Rachel followed without a word.“

Clean yourself up first.”

She looked down at the brown splatter that covered the thighs of her khaki pants and the edge of her salmon colored silk blouse. Paper towels in the bathroom were not going to fix this. She pushed the bathroom door open and grabbed a handful of papers towels. The coffee went across her thighs and around to the back of her legs. She spun to look in the full length mirror then walked out. These were beyond salvageable, even for her dry cleaner.

“I’m sorry.” Rachel walked in the meeting and sat in a chair next to Shannon. The older man she’d seen before spilling coffee everywhere was seated in a chair across from Shannon. He turned when she entered and offered a nod in greeting.

“It’s fine. Shannon here was outlining your plans for the mentorship program with our school.” The older man, whose name Rachel still didn’t know, said.

“I was telling Mr. Fischer about our mentorship programs with the high school.”

“We have one of the best business mentorship programs in the area.” Rachel had a passion for working with the high school juniors and seniors. They came ready to learn about the business and having an opportunity to put something positive in their life, even with the additional work, was a highlight of Rachel’s year.

“Shannon showed me a bit. It is very impressive.”

“Here are some testimonials from other principals and teachers.” She handed across a three ring binder. “And these are some letters from student who have gone through our program.”

He took the folders and flipped through the pages without reading any of them.

“I have to be honest ladies.” He placed the binder in front of him on Shannon’s desk. “You don’t have to convince me your program is among the best. I have spoken to a number of my colleagues leading up to this meeting. What concerns me is the reports we’ve heard that the office may not be fully safe.”

“The students here are never in jeopardy-.” Rachel said.

Mr. Fischer looked at Rachel and the stain on her pants. “The news reports are giving another story and to be quite honest many of the parents have shared with me their reluctance to allow their students to participate in an internship program affiliated with your company until a few of those issues are resolved.”

Shannon stepped in and tried to convince him everything was safe but one look at Rachel would tell anyone that there were problems. Coffee stained, puffy-eyed, scatter-brained Rachel was not a vote of confidence.

They shook hands and he left.

“Well, that went very well.” Rachel said being sarcastic after Shannon had closed the door.

“I’m really glad you can find humor in this.”

“So what else am I going to do>”

“I don’t know Rachel but something’s gotta happen. We don’t have the budget to hire the staff we need to replace the mentorship program.”

“It’ll get along fine.”

“The work of six part-time students? We can’t spread that around to everyone else. We’re already running on fumes around here trying to make up for the work you can’t do and losing the half-day when the cops were fingerprinting.”

“So this is my fault?” Rachel broke in.

“It may not be your fault but you’re the cause of all this.”

“All of this?”

Shannon scooped a spreadsheet off of her desk. “Have you even looked at the numbers this month?”

“I was working on them when you came-.”

“Don’t bother. I ran the books.”

Shannon shoved the sheet of paper in Rachel’s hands. She didn’t need to look at what it said. She saw the four columns that flashed red.

“We’re running this business out of our reserves and there isn’t much there.” Shannon yelled.

“What do you want me to do about it?” Rachel tossed the paper back to Shannon’s desk. It floated, skitted the top and fell to the floor.

“We think-.”

“We? Who is we?”

“The accountant, some of the staff and I think it might be a good idea if you became a silent partner for a little while. Only until this blows over.”

“Am I being fired from my own company?”

“No, you can work from home. We need you to not come to the office until these things blow over and this guy gets caught.” Shannon reached for Rachel’s arm. She jerked back. The whole office wanted her out.

“Fine. I’m out.” She jerked the door open, stomped in to her office and slammed the door. Something crunched under her and she looked down. She was standing on some of the wet papers Shannon had spread out when Rachel spilled her coffee. She lifted her foot and the paper clung to her shoe. Enough was enough, she ripped the paper off the bottom of her shoe, jumped over the rest and called 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 http://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, August 18, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 2 Chapter 44

Forty-four

At around nine p.m. Rachel walked back to the room with her mom.

“Mom, I’m going home.”

“Why?” She spun and looked at Rachel. Her eyes held more concern than disappointment. Mom was convinced that Rachel had been touched by God. She had told Rachel as much once she finished her conversation with Carol Adnaw.

“This has been a lot for me to process. I think I need to be alone for a little bit.” She needed to go home and face her fears. The constant fear she lived under now seemed ridiculous from the outside. A twinge of fear rattled around but she pushed it down with every logical explanation against what she was feeling.

“I’ll try to be back in the morning but there is something I have to do tonight.” She wanted to reassure her mom that she wasn’t trying to skip out on their women’s retreat. Her mom raised a skeptical eyebrow at Rachel.

“How ‘bout this. I’ll grab my toothbrush and deodorant and leave everything else here. I’ll get it when I come back in the morning for the rest of the conference.

Her mom’s face softened, “All right. I’ll see you in the morning then. They’re starting breakfast at eight.”

“I’ll be here.” Rachel hugged her mom, grabbed the cosmetic bag from her suitcase and headed straight for her car.

The door thudded behind her and threw her into darkness. Only the few security lights in the parking lot and dim solar lights casting circles of yellow along the sidewalk invaded its domain. The evening air clung to Rachel’s arms. Behind her something scraped and she let out a small squeal until she saw the leaf skitter past her on the sidewalk.

She paused for a moment and looked back at the door to the lodge. What was she really trying to prove by going home? She took a step toward the lodge trying to come up with a reason for her change of heart.

“No.” Her voice echoed from the door and briefly stopped the chatter of crickets. She jammed her hand in her purse to retrieve her keys and walked along, her boots clanking out hard on the sidewalk.

He could have followed her.

She started walking faster to her car. It would take longer to get back to the lodge then to get in her drivers seat. She pushed the button to unlock the doors. The dome light flooded the interior. She opened the door, got inside and locked it behind her in one fluid motion. She turned her dome light off and let her eyes adjust again to the darkness.

There were no moving forms, no shadows approaching. She didn’t feel any less vulnerable alone in this locked car than she had alone on the dark sidewalk. But now she was committed to going home. She stuck her key in the ignition and let the car idle for a few minutes playing the slide show in her head again. Each rose and where she had found it didn’t paralyze her with fear but neither did she feel as invincible as she had inside the lodge.

She drove down the winding tree-lined road that would take her back out to triangle park. Overhead the trees sliced lines across the moon. Carol had assured her that everything was going to be fine. She had said she’d be protected. However, what she said was contingent upon God existing the way they believed. If they were wrong there was no protection.

A tear slid down her cheek. The only way she had a promise that she was going to be safe was if her mom was right about God and Jesus. If Rachel was right she could be driving home to her death. The Fratboy would get her.

She had tried denial, anger and tears and nothing had worked. She wanted Carol to be right. At least this time.

“God if you’re out there give me the faith to believe what I’ve heard is true.”

She came to the end of the wooded area and made the jog to Triangle park. Her breathing slowed a bit. The streets were empty most of the way home. Nine o’ clock on a Friday night it seemed people were at their destinations.

She turned down her road and drove slowly along. The street was deserted except for a man petting the brown dog a few doors down from her house. Her house was dimly lit with the few lamps she’d left on with the timer. She pulled up her driveway and around to the back of the house.

“I’m going to be fine.” She said as she took deliberate strides to her back door. She denied the terror digging its icy fingers in her body.

“I’m going to be fine.” She repeated with emphasis. The deadbolt clicked as she turned the key and pushed the door open. The clock ticked out the second and she pushed the door shut behind her.

The blinking red light on her answering machine caught her attention. She pushed the play button and removed her shoes.

“Rachel this is Curtis. Welcome home. I wanted to let you know I’ve been praying for you tonight. I miss you. Call me when you get home.” The machine beeped at the end of his message.

“I thought I left more lights on.” Her voice boomed in the silence of the house. She stepped in the living room and turned on the television eager to hear a voice to silence the one in her head. It boomed on and made her jump. She fumbled with the volume down on the remote. Maybe it had been a mistake to come back here. The women at the retreat were wonderful, not judgmental at all. What did she have to prove by coming back to the house? That she wasn’t scared.

By coming home she had proven that the Frat boy had complete control over her. She was happy at the retreat and she wanted to leave that to prove that he didn’t control her. She plopped down on the couch.

She was home and it was now almost nine thirty she decided to order a movie on pay-per-viewher cable, throw on her pajamas and enjoy the rest of her evening. She flipped on the dining room light on her way to the steps. The candlesticks in the middle of the table were gone and in its place was her mail and a single white rose.

The icy fingers of terror grabbed her and squeezed. She stood planted with her eyes fixed on the flower. She had been gone for only three hours.

He could be here now.

Her feet gave way and she ran for the kitchen. She dialed Curtis and grabbed a knife out of the kitchen drawer.

“Hi, I hadn’t expected to hear from you tonight.”

“He’s been here.” She blurted out. “Please come.”

“Who?” Curtis’ voice was firm. “Rachel, who was there.”

“Him. He’s been here.” She paced in a five-foot section of her kitchen and adjusted her grip on the knife.

“I’m getting in my car now. Rachel, hang up and call the police.”

“Curtis, don’t hang up please.”

“Rachel, if someone is there you need to hang up and call the police now.”

“Please. I can’t be alone.”

“Honey, I’m coming but I won’t be there for ten or fifteen minutes. Please hang up and call the police.”

She grabbed her home phone and balanced the cell on her shoulder. “Curtis, don’t hang up. I’m calling the police with the land line. She tried to dial but couldn’t balance and the knife fell from her hand. She jumped and dropped the cell. The knife skittered across the floor and hit the wall blade first.

“Are you still there?” She yelled then grabbed the phone tight against her ear.

“Yes, are you okay?”

“I dropped the phone.”

“Call the police Rachel. Set the cell on the counter. I won’t hang up but call 9-1-1 now.”

She bent down for the knife and took it to the corner of her kitchen then set the phone and the knife beside her and dialed. She told the dispatcher what had happened.

“We have a patrol in your area, hold the line.”

Rachel picked up the cell, “They have someone close by.”

“Good, don’t talk to me. Talk to them.” Curtis said, sounding much calmer.

Rachel’s breathing slowed.

“Ma’am?” The dispatcher said.

“Yes. I’m here.”

“We have a car less than a mile from your home. I need you to stay on the line until he arrives.”

“Okay.”

Red and blue flashed in her living room when the car pulled in the driveway. “Curtis, the police are here. I’m going to hang up.”

“I’ll be there soon. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Rachel said and flipped the phone shut.

“Ma’am, I’ve had radio contact. That is our patrol car. It is safe for you to hang up with me. They will take care of everything.”

“Thank you.” Rachel pushed the phone off and let the officer in the front door.

She gave him the name of the detective who had been working her case and told him about the evening.

“Rachel.” Curtis burst in the front door.

“Sir.” The officer took a step toward Curtis.

“It’s okay. He’s my boyfriend.”

The officer relaxed. “And you did not come to her house today and do this?” He asked and scratched something on a notepad.

“No I didn’t.” Curtis said pulling Rachel against him. “She was supposed to be gone until tomorrow.”

The officer turned to Rachel, “Who else knew you were going to be out of town?”

“A few people in the office. But I have an alarm.” She pointed to the alarm panel on the wall.

“Who has your code?”“My mom and I but I was with my mom.”

He turned to Curtis. “Does he have it?”

“No.” Curtis answered.

“Just a moment.” The officer took a couple of steps away from the two of them and spoke into the radio clipped to his shoulder.

Curtis walked Rachel into the kitchen away from the officer. “It’s going to fine. We’ll find out who broke in.” He pushed her hair behind her ear as he spoke. “I want you to stay at your parent’s house until this blows over. I don’t want you to be alone.”

“Can’t I stay with you?” She didn’t want to be alone either but running to mommy and daddy’s house meant the Frat Boy was winning.

Curtis hesitated for a moment. “I would love to have you there but I don’t think that’s best right now. I’ll come by the office and follow you to your parent’s house every evening. You don’t have to be afraid.”

“But I don’t want my mom to worry.”

“Rachel” He tilted her chin up so she was looking straight in his eyes. “I’m not worried about that. I want you safe.” His voice was firm. “I love you, Rachel. I can’t have anything happen to you.”

The words ignited a fire in her chest and made her completely unable to respond. She reached over and wrapped her arms around him. Going to Mom and Dad’s house would put her closer to him and would work fine for the time being.“

Curtis, I can’t keep running away.” She stepped back to face him. “If I do, this will never stop.”

“Rachel, this man is crazy, not a genius.”

“But he. . .”

“But he never comes when other people are around. He only wants to scare you.”

“He came when you were over the other night.”

Curtis’ mouth dropped open and he took a step back. “Did you see him here?”

“No, when you left I went out to the porch to put a letter in the mailbox and there was a rose.”

“How do you know he hadn’t left it earlier?”

“Because I got the mail before you came.”

His face went ashen and he stared past Rachel.

“Ma’am?” The officer stepped into the kitchen.

“Yes?”

“The detectives will be here shortly. Did you touch anything on the table when you got home?”

“No way.” She shook her head for emphasis.

He nodded and stepped back in the other room and she looked over at Curtis.

“Rachel, I still want you with your parents unless you can think of some place else safer. I need to know you’re safe.”

She looked down.

Curtis touched her arm and she looked back up at him. “How long has this been going on?”

“Since around the time you and I met.”

He crinkled his eyebrows and raised his voice slightly. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“At first I thought maybe it was you.”

“Breaking in your house?” His voice rose slightly higher.

“No, the first couple of roses were sitting by my car or at the office.”

“How many have you gotten?”

“Ten.”

“Ten?” He lowered his voice a bit. “You’ve had this happen ten times and this is the first you’ve told anyone?”

“No, Shannon knew.”

“You’ve had this happen ten times and this is the first you’ve told me.” It sounded like hurt.

“I didn’t want to.”

“It’s…I understand. So then?”

“When I found the one at the office in my desk we let the police know.” She looked out at the officer in the other room. He didn’t seem to be doing anything but waiting. “They increased patrols in my neighborhood a few weeks ago.”

“Lot of good that did.” Curtis shook his head. He ran his fingers through his short blond hair and turned his face up to the ceiling. “Okay God, now what.” He sounded as if her were talking to someone in the room with him.

“He hasn’t tried to contact me or get near me. I think if I stay with my parents like you said and always have someone with me for a while it will give the police time to try to find him.”

Curtis nodded his head and pulled her to his chest. “I am so sorry I didn’t protect you.” He squeezed her tight.

“Ma’am? The detectives are here.” The officer said.

“You ready to go talk to him?” Curtis pushed a bit of hair back from her face.

She nodded and they walked in to the other room.

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 http://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, August 14, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 2 Chapter 43

Forty-three

Rachel nibbled at a cheese Danish from the snack table and waited for Carol. Over and over she had played the scenes of the roses and each time marveled that there was no longer any fear there.

“Thank you for waiting.” Carol said and sat down.

“No problem.” Rachel pushed her Danish to the side and faced Carol.

“What did you think of tonight.”

“It wasn’t what I expected.” Rachel reached into her bag to retrieve her notes. “But it was fine.”

Carol tore off a piece of a donut and popped it in her mouth. She chewed slowly for a moment then smiled and faced Rachel head-on. “I think you got exactly what you were looking for tonight.”

Rachel paused for a long moment then, realized she was staring and looked away. In a way she had. She felt completely safe for the first time in a long time. But that’s not what Carol meant. Carol was just like every other religious person. She was looking for Rachel to get saved.

“I can tell by the look on your face you didn’t like my response.” Carol pushed aside the donut she’d been munching on and looked right at Rachel. “It’s not my place to pry but what did bring you here tonight Rachel?”

Rachel considered the question for a moment. She’d come here to escape the fear and to impress a guy. “I came because I’ve followed your career and was eager to meet you.”

“That could be why you came here but that is not why you’re here tonight.”

“Then why am I here?” Rachel recoiled, shocked at her own tone.

“I don’t believe in coincidence. If I’m wrong and you haven’t yet found what you’re looking for, you’ll find it soon.”

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 http://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, August 11, 2009

A Face in the Shadow Part 2 Chapter 42

Forty-two

Rachel set aside the coffee and opted to chew on the small red straw she’d used to stir with. Women of various ages were walking back and forth down rows of folding chairs. Coats, books, and purses were strewn about to hold a person’s seat. She wondered how many of them realized the importance of tonight.

It seemed tonight Rachel was in the right place at the right time. Not only would she get to hear an icon of women’s business speak, but that same woman wanted to sit down and chat with her after the program. Carol had no way of knowing that Rachel was a business woman and that she had come only to hear Carol speak.

The room held nearly fifteen tables, given Rachel’s best guess. Then each table had two to six women. Most of the women looked like they were Rachel’s age possibly a bit younger. The people her mom’s age were the minority this weekend. More than likely those younger women were all there for the same reason Rachel was.

A woman in crisp black slacks and lavender top stepped up to the microphone on the small platform in one corner of the room.

“Could I have everyone’s attention please?” The buzzing chatter lessened but it took the woman saying it a second time before the room got totally quiet.

She went through the regular greetings and welcomes then introduced the speakers. According to what the woman said there was one woman before Carol then a few announcements after Carol.

“But first ladies let’s stand up and praise the Lord for bringing us here tonight.” The women stood up and began applauding. Rachel looked around and she clapped.

Someone grabbed her shoulders from behind and Rachel spun around.

“Mind if I sit with you?” Rachel’s mom smiled and pointed to the chair Carol had been in.

“Go ahead. You scared the living daylights out of me.”

“Sorry.” She smiled as she passed then turned to face the stage and clapped with everyone else until the room got quiet again.

The announcer continued. “We’re going to open with a word of prayer then move right into praise and worship. If you look in our conference folders you’ll see the words to the songs and we’ll also have them up here on the overhead projector. Let’s prepare to enter worship.”

She stepped away and a woman with brown hair, blue jeans and a black sequin top stepped forward. In a booming voice she said, “You ready to praise Jesus?”

The room erupted in applause, whistles and women screaming yes. It was more like being at a college football game than a church conference. Rachel moved her lips to the first song and cut out for a bathroom break during the second. The third song was slowly playing and women were swaying to the rhythm when she got back. The lead vocalist was humming and periodically saying “Thank you Jesus” while the three men who made up the musical accompaniment and back-up singers continued softly.

Rachel wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do. Her mom had her hands folded with a Mona Lisa smile on her upturned face. She gently swayed from side to side oblivious to anyone around her.

Rachel fidgeted with her hands and finally crossed her arms and closed her eyes so no one would notice how bored she was. She opened her eyes up after a few moments and glanced down at the lyrics in her folder. This was the last song and it seemed to be that they were going to hold the last note until every woman in the room was in a hypnotic trance. Shouldn’t be too long, only Rachel and two other women didn’t appear to feel the compulsion to sway.

The music ended and the first speaker stood. The woman talked about church and life as a mother of three preschoolers. Rachel drew pictures of trees and a dog that ended up looking more like a pumpkin while the woman spoke.

“And now ladies join with me in introducing Mrs. Carol Adnaw.” The MC stepped back and clapped. Carol approached the lectern and smiled, nodding her head in recognition of the applause. Rachel slapped her hands over and over in the first genuine enthusiasm since the program began.

“Everyone please sit down.” Carol paused and women sat down and scooted chairs on the hard floor. “Thank you so much for having me here.” She smiled and opened a portfolio pad. “My topic for tonight is minding our business.”

Rachel wrote the title on the first page of the tablet she had brought for notes.

Carol continued, “First Thessalonians four verse eleven and twelve in the Amplified Bible says ‘Make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you, so that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing.’ Ladies how many of you are commanding the respect from the outside world?”

Rachel commanded respect in her field. There were many who sought her for advice. She scanned the room and didn’t see a single hand go up so she left hers down as well.

Carol leaned forward, “Then ladies, you are disobeying God.”

Rachel noted a few nervous laughs and the shuffling of a few bottoms in their seats.

“Paul wrote this letter to the people of Thessalonica and told them that the way the world would respect us would be honorable, live quietly and peacefully and living without lack.”

Carol scanned the room. Rachel often tried not to be overly ambitious. To Rachel lack of ambition was laziness, not some great virtue.

Carol smiled and flipped the pages in her Bible. She stepped away and walked from one side of the stage to the other, a distance of a little over eight feet Rachel was guessing, with her floppy Bible laying open. “God’s word also tells us that God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].”

Rachel noted Carol’s emphasis on the word abundance. This time about half the room clapped.

“I’m not here tonight to debate whether poverty is a virtue or a curse. I am also not here to debate rich men going through needles and poor people being more spiritual. I am here to talk to you tonight about minding our business. That business is being a representation of Christ to a dying world that needs desperately to feel his love.”

The room erupted in applause and cheers with about twelve women standing by Rachel’s count. Maybe one or two more. She shuffled a little in her chair. She hoped Carol wasn’t upset to have so few respond to her.

Carol walked back to the lectern and set her Bible down. “Ladies, for a long time I was caught between two worlds. I grew up in church with a mom and dad who were good people that took me to Sunday morning service most Sunday mornings. My parents were comfortable, but not rich, when I was a child. My first memories of church were good ones. We learned about Jesus and his miracles, the parables and the Beatitudes. Then later we learned about Daniel and the three boys in the fiery furnace. It was like bedtime stories every week. They were beautiful tales of wonderful characters but they had very little to do with my everyday life.”

Rachel’s childhood flashed through her mind. Her life had been so much like Carol’s. The hair on her arms stood up as if they too understood what a great woman Carol was.

Carol continued. “I do remember the church I grew up in told me that if I aspired for worldly success I was sinning. ‘Pride commeth before the fall.’ I was told whenever I revealed my desire to be a famous person. So I learned to keep my dreams out of church and to give the right answers to my teachers’ questions.”

“As I moved into high school my dreams were firmly in place. I knew that Business was the best route to live the affluent lifestyle I craved. I had been taught by society that if I believed in God I was na├»ve and brainwashed. Since the world was going to give me the future I wanted, rather than the life of lack championed by my Sunday school teacher, I decided that maybe I had outgrown going to church.” Rachel leaned back and folded her arms. Hopefully her mom was paying attention. Maybe now she’d understand why Rachel didn’t need the church and its rules.

“My parents accepted my decision and ended up joining me at home on Sunday mornings. We decided the time together was more important than going to a church building. After all, God has a piece of himself in each one of us so a group of three was just as much church as a group of three hundred.”

“When I moved on to college I pursued my interests and sought to prove to everyone that I had it in me to be famous. I sought to please no one but myself and did what it took to graduate summa cum laude from the business school at my university. When I graduated I stepped immediately in to a job with a six figure salary and every material thing I had thought I wanted. Money was not an issue.” She stopped and focused on a woman on the front row. “But it was an empty and lonely life. After eight years of it I was more depressed and surrounded by more stuff then I ever thought I wanted. Worse still, no one was interested in my pain. What does a rich young woman have to be sad about?”

Plenty. The roses, each one, surged in to Rachel’s mind. Typical church stuff, bashing people who tried to be and do something bigger. Carol droned on about some of her problems but Rachel saw only the roses and the heartbreak of Nate’s betrayal. She looked around at this group of women all pretending their life was in order. She knew none of them were as together as they put on. All of them hid secrets. Rachel wasn’t a hypocrite. She lived her life in the open and celebrated the beauty of life without judgment.

Carol lifted the floppy red Bible up over her head and waved it from side to side. “And I read it.” She lowered the Bible on to the lectern. “It said God made me with passions and desires to be used to serve him. He gifted me in marketing. I didn’t need to feel guilt over my success, but neither should I have self-centered pride.”

Carol leaned on her elbows and put her fingers to her lips as if deep in thought. “When I began to work my business as if God owned it, God honored my hard work and rewarded me financially but the difference is now I also honor him in the way I do my work. I pursue honesty, integrity and I always give back.”

“This weekend is my tithe. I go out five to seven weekends a year and speak at women’s conferences, large and small, at no charge. I honor God with my time and he has rewarded me with joy, peace and even productivity.”

“I want to be remembered for more than a woman who had lots of stuff. It is more than being remembered by man. For me life is about being known by God.” People started standing and clapping. Some even screamed in agreement. Rachel sat there and scribbled doodles on the page. She’d find out the real information when Carol was done with her joy-fest.

“Many people think Christianity is only about what happens after you die but I think the world is more focused on death and the after-life than most believers. God is about the here and now. He talks about money more than prayer. God instructs us to love and to forgive. Those are contemporary messages. There is no need of forgiveness in heaven because there will be no sin. God is interested in the here and now. By contrast many people who don’t follow God worry about their legacy or what will be in their obituary. What will people say about them when they are gone.”

Carol pointed to her chest. “I’m not worried about what people will think of me when I’m gone. I’m worried about how well I am reflecting Christ here on this earth.”

The entire room stood in thunderous applause. Rachel stood and looked around. She had written down a few questions to ask Carol when the two of them got together this evening.

Carol put one hand up and the room quieted down. “I feel impressed to pray over business women right now. Any of you who own, plan on owning, or would like to own a business please come forward. A few women filed to the front.

Rachel’s mom nudged her, “Go on up.”

“No.”

“Why not.”

“It’s for Christians and I’m not one.”

“It’s for business women.” Her mom pointed. She had a smile on her lips but her eyes were stern. Rachel relented and walked to the front with the other women. The lights were hot around her and she focused on the podium. Everyone had to know who she was, Lisa’s daughter, and those who didn’t would know before she left. Carol looked down the row at Rachel and smiled. Rachel broke her gaze quickly and focused on the spot where the podium hit the stage.

One by one Carol put her hands on the women’s shoulders and prayed with them. Beads of sweat formed under Rachel’s top and slid down her shirt. Carol moved down and then stopped in front of Rachel, looking straight into her eyes.

“Hello my new friend.” Carol had tenderness, not hard-nosed business sense, in her eyes.

“Hi.” Was all Rachel could muster.

“God is going to deliver you. He is always by your side and if you will trust him he will make a way where there seems to be no way.”

Rachel’s breath caught in her throat. Her body was filled with tingly sensations that defied description. Carol turned her face upward and prayed out loud but Rachel didn’t hear any of the words. She was overwhelmed with images. The men she’d slept with, the day she opened the office with Shannon, the day Nate left. Then the roses. She stifled a whimper but in the next instant she felt as if her body were draining of tension and stress. An empty calm started at the top of her head and spread to her toes.

The rose was without thorns. She wasn’t afraid of them any longer. She closed her eye and remembered each flower she had found and where she found it. The image was still there but the fear, anger and panic was gone. She turned her face upward. Her body felt as if the sun had peeked out from behind a cloud and was warming them. The searing heat of stage lights was gone and now a gentle warmth enveloped her.

Someone came and touched her shoulders. Rachel opened her eyes and looked to find the whole front empty except for her. Heat burned her cheeks but so did the sense that she wasn’t going to die. She turned and looked directly at her mom. Another hole pierced the armor around her heart.

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 http://www.writingcareercoach.com/

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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.

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