I was outside, sitting in a camping chair inside a circle of area where grass refused to grow. Aislinn was sitting a chair next to me, a cigarette pinched between her index finger and middle finger, the ash on it growing long, she took a puff every couple of minutes, mainly to keep it lit. We had been discussing my misadventure in Russia when she had suddenly grown very quiet and started to pretend to smoke her cigarette. I wasn’t sure what was going through her brain and her face gave me no clues.
Perhaps for the first time, I realized how old Aislinn Cain seemed to be. She didn’t look old, unless you counted scars against age, she didn’t have an abnormally high amount of frown lines or wrinkles, there were no liver spots on her hands or arms, but her presence just seemed old. She was a woman who had seen too much over the course of her life.
If I hadn’t known she was four years younger than me, I would have guessed she was quite a bit older. I had never understood what people meant when they said other people had old souls until I was sitting quietly next to Aislinn Cain. Her quite demeanor and possible introspective thought, didn’t make her seem any younger either.
Her dog, Badger, was running through the woods with my Great Danes and adopted bobcats. I kept expecting them to all come bounding out and knock me and Aislinn both over into the dirt below our feet.
She had refused to discuss her time in Maine. Obviously, whatever had happened had shaken her core being. I had gotten a jumbled run down of events from Gabriel before we had left France. Mostly because I had been worried about both of them. I had called him, just to see how he was doing, after the kidnapping. He had spilled on what had happened without any provocation from me.
As we sat quietly, listening the dogs run through the woods, their massive paws hitting the ground with enough force that it could be heard. Occasionally, one would bark and then the running would resume.
I heard my mother’s voice from around the side of the house, one moment it was just us and the dogs, the next my mother had appeared.
“Our girls will never truly understand what we, as mothers, will do to protect them,” Melina said.
“I know,” Myrna, Aislinn’s mom answered.
“Now, I understand more of what you go through with Aislinn,” my mom said. “Vladik being an SCTU member has me up at nights. I know Malachi will be committed to keeping him alive, but Malachi can’t do everything.”
“I’ll talk to Malachi,” Myrna said.
“Thank you for handling Josef Borisovich.” My mom told her.
“He should know by now that he shouldn’t mess with mothers and their children.”
“I feel like you are doing more for my family than you are getting in return,” My mom said glumly.
“Nonsense,” Myrna replied enthusiastically. “I don’t keep score. Besides, Ivan was a prince when there was a dead body pinned to Aislinn’s car via sword. He could have arrested her and taken her to be booked, instead he chooses to go with the flow of insanity that is Aislinn’s life and trust that she would never be that stupid.”
Aislinn was now paying attention to the conversation we could overhear. I felt a little guilty eavesdropping on my mom and Aislinn’s mom. If it bothered Ace, it didn’t show, but she rarely showed any emotions, good or bad.
“You and I aren’t that much different,” my mom said.
“I know.” Myrna replied. “Except for the lack of serial killers in your family.”
“I have a few,” Melina responded.
“The thing is Melina, our children, for better or worse are entwined, whether that’s Vladik working for the SCTU or Aislinn and Nadine being friends. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing, but you and I can and will do what we need to do to make sure that all of our kids are safe and grandkids.” Myrna told my mom.
“Have you lied to your children to protect them?”
“Hasn’t every mother? Aislinn only just found out that Apex is my younger brother. Eventually, I figure I will have to pay the piper for what I have kept from Aislinn, but my one hope is that she will always know that I did it to protect her from men like Josef Borisovich and the serial killers she has to deal with.”
“I admit I am concerned about you getting involved in this mess with Josef Borisovich,” my mom said.
“That is a big if, and if it does happen in some way, I am a big girl.” Myrna answered.
“I just don’t want the mob coming after you or Aislinn or Elle, or your grandchildren.”
“Would you come after Aislinn Cain or any of the Clachan family?” Myrna asked.
“Pride and arrogance run deep with Josef.”
“Pride and arrogance have already cost him a bit this month, he’ll keep it in check for a little while and if he does start creating problems, I’ll just get back in contact with my friends at the CIA and have the problems stopped.”
“Again, thank you, Myrna, I wasn’t sure who to turn to once the head of the FSB told me he couldn’t help me.”
“No problem, Melina,” Myrna said. “This is what friends are for. Besides, I have been out of the loop for so long, it was kind of nice to get back in and get my hands a little dirty.”
“Does Aislinn know you were CIA?” Melina asked.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
Copyright © Hadena James 2016
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