Vesper | Nuggets From My Novels III | Refiner’s Fire Edition

Floyd Vaughn is now 15 years older than he was in The Vesper Incident. Loads has happened and he’s not the same person he was by a long-shot. While he hasn’t been my favourite character to write, he’s definitely been one of the most interesting characters I’ve written. Getting into his head isn’t pleasant much of the time, but he’s taught me a lot…like all my characters have 🙂

The Refiner’s Fire is the second book of The Castlewood Saga and it takes place 15 years after Vesper. This particular excerpt is taken from Chapter Five entitled Vesper. Here’s a little sneak peek of the Floyd of The Refiner’s Fire. Whatever happened in Vesper made him a very paranoid man and he’s less forgiving, more territorial, and nearly all the love in his soul has been sucked out of him. The Floyd Vaughn who comforted his cousin Holly in Dividing Lines | Nuggets From My Novels I | Vesper Edition is nowhere to be found in The Refiner’s Fire. But perhaps it’s not entirely his fault because the town of Vesper has a way of…changing people.

 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
2:30 pm
VenDonaLey Headquarters
1693 Albion Road
Watkins CA

Gina willed her hands to stop shaking as she created a case file for VenDonaLey’s next target. She had nothing to be afraid of, nothing and no one. She knew Floyd was coming after her, Bruce had made that abundantly clear during their confrontation, but frankly she didn’t care. Or at least, she was desperately trying not to. All she had wanted to know was what Julia Buckley was up to these days. Where she was living, if she had any friends…if she still felt guilty over how she had treated Gina. Grudges could last for years and Gina’s grudge against Julia remained alive and well. The woman had stolen everything from her. Her whole life. Stolen it all and left her with nothing but anger, the same anger that fueled every kill Gina made. Every time she sighted through her scope, she imagined Julia’s face on the other end, white with fear as she begged for mercy. Every time, Gina said no and squeezed the trigger. No one knew, not even Bruce. None of the guys even guessed at the real reason she never missed. And now….

Tears of rage welled in the dark-haired woman’s eyes and she clenched her hands into fists on the desk. She’d messed up. Her impeccable record now held a flaw and all because Davis had distracted her by bringing in burgers and fries. It didn’t matter that the death of Sawley’s wife pushed her kill-count up a notch; what mattered was for that one split second her grip slipped, her focus shifted, and she’d made a mistake.

The water in her eyes clouded her vision and she swiped at her face with a hand. She didn’t want to kill Julia, she just wanted to see if the woman was suffering as much as she was. If she wasn’t…well, Gina was coming after everything Julia held dear, starting with her son. Petty but necessary. The pain ate away at the assassin’s soul like a cancer.

Gina stood, intent on heading to the law firm’s basement for a beer. She kind of hated the stuff but she was feeling lousy so she kind of didn’t care. Her muscles tightened as the door to the underground headquarters clicked open.

He was here.

She didn’t know how he had bypassed the security system since she was the only one who could disengage the outside locks with a button on her desk. He probably had a master key or something. She always had the uncanny feeling that Floyd had them all under surveillance.

Leaning against the door, Floyd tossed his long hair out of his eyes. “Afternoon, Gina. You have a moment to chat?” He placed his palm against his forehead as if he had suddenly remembered something important. “Oh wait, actually it doesn’t matter. We’re going to chat anyway.” He pointed at the chair behind her. “Sit. I’m coming over.”

Gina slowly lowered herself back into her seat. He moseyed over to the desk as if he had all the time in the world and she realized what it was about him that scared her the most; that scared all of them. His nonchalant attitude made him dangerous. They didn’t know what was going on behind that long-haired face until Floyd made his move. Predictable in some ways, unpredictable in others, Floyd Vaughn never let on to anything unless the time was right.

He snagged a nearby chair with his foot and scraped it against the floor as he carried it with him. He plopped down next to her, angling the chair so he could see her without having to sit directly across from her on the other side of the desk. “Hi, Gina.” Smiling, he rubbed a hand against her arm. “Don’t look so scared. I just want to chat.”

Gina’s heart pounded so hard and fast, she felt sure Floyd could hear it. Jerking her arm away, she matched his lazy, dangerous gaze with her own narrowed eyes. She might as well play this game his way. “I know stuff, Vaughn. You hurt me, I tell the cops.”

“Ooo, you’ll tell the cops.” Floyd picked at a hangnail. “You can’t tell the cops anything if you’re dead, now can you.” He looked over at her and winked. “Whaddya see, Gina? If you want to play games, I have the time but I’ll beat you. You can’t think outside the box.”

He had her. Gina’s heart sank. She had nothing left to stand on, no leverage. He was right. There was nothing stopping him from eliminating her. In fact, her death would help him since the truth would also die with her. But she should have been dead by now. One of the military vets would have jumped at the chance to take out the Legend, Floyd had only to offer them the job. Gina’s eyes widened. Floyd wanted something from her. That was the only reason she remained in the land of the living.

She unwrapped a bandanna from around her wrist and ran it through her fingers. “What do you want, Floyd?” Gina kept her voice even.

“I changed my mind.” He spat the hangnail onto the floor. “I don’t want to know what you saw. Tell me about Julia instead.”

Gina squeezed the bandanna and flinched. What on earth?! Oh she was going to murder Bruce for telling Floyd. Bruce barely knew anything about what happened with her and Julia but he’d betrayed her by telling Floyd. And she hated betrayal. “Okay, so I don’t know a Julia.” It was lame but she had nothing to lose by trying it.

Holding up a hand, Floyd shook his head. “Stop lying. I’m holding your life in my hands, Gina Cruz. If I were you, I wouldn’t waste precious time by lying.”

Anger rising, Gina stretched the bandanna between her hands and pulled. “This is my past, Floyd. My personal life. I’m not sharing it with you.”

Floyd’s head shot up and he locked eyes with her. “Your past and my past have suddenly become intertwined so you better believe you’re sharing everything you know about Julia with me. And if you didn’t want to get chatty, you should have thought of that before you looked at something that wasn’t meant for your eyes.”

“I’m giving you snapshots of my past, nothing more.” Gina broke the staring match and studied the patterns on the bandanna. “Julia and I grew up together, went to high school, went to the same college and then she destroyed everything. I wasn’t a good kid and my parents have given me an ultimatum; be better or hoof it on my own. I had no money to speak of and no place to go other than my dorm room so I decided to reform. Slipped up once, went to a party with Julia, she snapped pictures of me drunk and sent them to my parents. They pulled the plug and we haven’t spoken since. Either me, my parents, or Julia.” Hatred entered Gina’s dark eyes. “She left me with nothing. They stopped paying my tuition, my room and board, my car payments, everything. I struggled along until I fell in with you guys and here we are. Not exactly what I planned for my life but pulling triggers gives me freedom from the pain.” Shaking her head, Gina swiftly tied the bandanna around her wrist. “I’m not telling you this so we can bond or something stupid. You wanted to know why I looked at the flash drive? Well, this is why. I want to take everything from her like she took everything from me and don’t you dare tell me it’s petty. It’s my life and this is how I’m choosing to live it.”

Floyd chewed on his lip as he processed Gina’s words. He hardly cared about her tortured past; he had his own sob story and he’d long ago grown tired of hearing others’. Clearly all Gina was worried about was Julia and she probably hadn’t even paid much attention to the incriminating pictures on the flash drive. Her tendency to tunnel-vision everything assured Floyd that she wouldn’t squeal unless pushed. As long as he kept his threats at bay, Gina would stay quiet. Although personal vendettas stayed out of VenDonaLey’s task-list, Floyd would let this one slide if Gina came to him asking for permission. If going after Julia meant she’d remain silent about the pictures, he’d be more than happy to assist her.

Leaning back in the chair, Floyd studied Gina. Her thick dark eyebrows arched permanently, giving her a fierce aura. Her angular jaw, sharp cheekbones, and slim five-foot-eleven-inch frame had earned her a modeling stint in the few years prior to working with VenDonaLey. Floyd guessed that was the reason behind her ubiquitous bandanna during missions. She wasn’t famous but there was always the off-chance that someone would recognize her. She sort of reminded him of Isabel but Isabel wasn’t nearly so tall and her hair wasn’t nearly as dark. And Isabel didn’t have Gina’s fire. He smiled. Ah yes, Isabel. Her part in this drama was fast approaching but he just had to get to Castlewood first. Now that this flash drive incident appeared to be blowing over, the real fun could begin.

He stood and stretched. “Well, nice chatting, Gina. It may interest you to know that I’ve already taken everything from Julia. That’s what happened in Vesper in case you were wondering.”

“Everything but her son.” Gina’s voice was hard. “I’ll finish that part.”

Floyd shrugged. “Be my guest. While you’re off gallivanting, do me a favour and find Davis. I have a feeling you’re both after the same thing.” He counted on Gina putting some of the puzzle pieces together and figuring out that Davis had also seen the flash drive’s contents. If he knew Gina, Floyd guessed she would be so upset at Davis for trying to steal her moment of glory, she’d probably take him out. It would certainly save him the trouble of dealing with the rogue lawyer-assassin himself. He was itching to get to Castlewood and find out what his parents were up to. He was giving them a few more days, a week at most and then descending upon that unsuspecting little town like the storm of chaos he was. It wouldn’t be like Vesper, it’d be better, much better.

~            ~             ~            ~            ~           ~            ~            ~            ~            ~            ~            ~

 

Next week, something more light-hearted, because I promise you not all of my writing is this dark and difficult 😛 Meanwhile, here’s the theme verse for RF

refiner's fire 3

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