Content warning. This story is designed for adults and mature teens. It involves sex trafficking. Rape, drugs, and nudity are mentioned. There is no “on-screen” sex, but the aftermath of rape is on-screen, including the presence of nude, partially nude, and/or drugged girls as they are rescued by the hero. There is also violence, including bloody killings, as well as rough language.
You may view the first part of the story here – http://theauthorschair.com/the-scent-of-her-soul-a-developing-story-part-2/ If you haven’t read it recently, you might want to read it again. It has changed somewhat.
In this installment, I reveal the hero’s motivation, a tragic loss that drives him forward. It contains a significant flashback, which can be risky. I thought by this time in the story the reader is ready to learn more. It provides a lot of information, but I give it in a real-time setting so it doesn’t feel like an information dump. It feels like a progressing story.
You will also notice a few hints about the family situation, enough to provide an idea of what’s going on at the home front, but the lack of details is designed to make readers want to know more.
“No problem. Hey, speaking of plates, don’t forget to alter the plate on your rental.”
“Already done. Don’t be such a worrier.”
“What kind of ride did you get?”
“A minivan. Dodge. It’s pretty nice. Power back gate and sliding doors.”
“Sounds perfect. Do you need anything else from me?”
“Yeah.” As the pain spiked, my voice dove into a tailspin. “Roses for Deb and a Lego set for Tommy. I think I got some decent cash this time, so …” I closed my eyes tightly. With no one else on the road, I could afford the risk. “Make it special.”
“I’ll have them there by noon, though Deb’ll probably toss the roses again.” Keyboard clicks sounded from the speaker. “Take care of yourself. You sound terrible.”
“Migraine’s coming on.” I opened my eyes and massaged a temple. “I have meds with me.”
“So you just keep popping those pills.” His voice took on a nagging tone. “When’s the last time you slept?”
“What’s it to you?” I grabbed the bottle from the passenger’s seat and flicked off the lid. “You’re my manager, not my mother.”
“And you’re my paycheck. I have to keep you alive.”
“Good luck with that.” I pushed the terminate button, tossed back two Excedrin, and swallowed them. The caplets slid down without need for water. My throat knew the drill. But no meds could block the nightmares that were sure to come. Migraines were warning beacons. Sleep would dredge up the Halloween horrors. But I had to get at least a couple of hours … for Amy’s sake.
The scent of her soul followed the highway. Amy was probably less than ten miles down the road, and my plan had to be executed during daylight hours. I could afford to get some shut-eye.
After pulling into a rest area and parking in a dark spot, I slid my holstered Beretta from under my seat, laid it on the passenger’s seat, and covered it with the ski mask. I then opened the bag, took out an envelope of cash, and stuffed it into the glove compartment.
My gaze rested on the off-white bunny in the bag—Beans, they had called him. I pulled him out. Soft, yet worn, he was about the size of a two-liter bottle and carried Amy’s now-familiar scent. He would definitely keep my nose on the trail.
Leaving the engine running, I adjusted my seat, leaned back with Beans in my arms, and closed my eyes. Although my head pounded, exhaustion would soon overwhelm the pain. Sleeping in agony was nothing new.
As always, the dream started in sunshine—Deb, Tommy, Emily, and me walking hand in hand on a paved path through Timber Park, all dressed in pirate costumes complete with eye patches and foam swords. Deb looked stunning, as usual. The descending sun shone on her shoulder-length auburn hair, and her bright smile drew my gaze to freckles that sprayed from her dimples across her button nose like a shower of sunshine. It was hard to tear my eyes away from her.
I walked with a stuffed parrot perched on my shoulder, pinned there by Emily’s careful hands. Decked out in perfectly arranged purple silk and purple barrettes in her silky smooth brown hair, she was definitely more meticulous than most eleven-year-olds.
“Don’t let Rupert fall off,” she had warned. “His head is barely attached.” Even in the dream the pins felt like bird claws pinching my skin, pain that throbbed in time with the headache’s pulses.
As we drew close to the pavilion where the Halloween party would take place, clouds rolled in and darkened the sky. Soon, thunder rumbled in the distance.
Tommy shuddered and pulled close to Deb. Even at the age of fifteen, he didn’t shy away from a public display of fear and a need for his mother’s touch. Such was the way with his autism.
I slowed our pace and eyed a storm cloud on the horizon. “Looks like we might have to head home.”
Deb ran her fingers through Tommy’s unruly mop of dark hair. “The invitation said to go to the Russells’ house if it rains. I think it’s not far past the pavilion.”
“We should hustle.” I glanced again at the threatening sky. “Nothing’s stopping that storm.”
Emily reached up and chirped, “Carry me, Daddy.”
I smiled. Who could resist those lovely brown eyes? When I scooped her into my arms, she compressed one of my biceps. “You’re so strong!”
I gave her my usual response in a throaty growl. “To keep you safe from the wolves.”
As she held the parrot in place, we jogged ahead, though in the dream we seemed to be going nowhere—four figures rushing through streaming mist. Cold rain fell. Thunder boomed. Tommy cried out in terror.
With the pavilion in sight, I grabbed Tommy’s hand and quickened the pace. Deb held his other hand and hurried with us. We rushed under the shelter and gathered at the center, just out of reach of the windswept rain.
“Looks like we’ll be here awhile,” I said as I scanned the park, deserted except for a costumed clown, likely another partygoer. Clutching a fistful of candy canes, the clown ducked his head and ran toward us, water dripping from his saturated green wig and streaming down his smeared makeup. He called out, “Make room for the Candyman!”
When he came within a few paces, lightning struck a nearby tree. The clown flew back, and we all watched him slide on his bottom.
That was my fatal mistake, not paying attention to the tree as it fell and crashed onto the pavilion roof. The structure collapsed. A beam slammed onto my head and knocked me out.
Pain shot through my body and jerked me awake. Still hugging Beans, I exhaled and glanced from side to side. Emily was gone, just as she had been when the storm’s cold rain revived me. Dazed and covered by rubble, neither Deb nor Tommy had seen the clown—the Candyman—take Emily.
Like a phantom, she had been spirited away. An odd aroma remained, though at that time I didn’t realize that it was the scent of her soul. I learned of my new gift too late to help her. The memory of her scent stayed with me, even to this day, but I never could find it in the air again.
I raised the back of my seat and pushed Beans into the bag. Dawn’s light allowed a view of its purple material. I shifted my gaze to the finger-length wooden cross hanging from the rearview mirror and caressed the purple ribbon tied around the center. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered. “I couldn’t protect you from the wolves.”
I inhaled and again detected Amy’s scent. A bang on the head had given me this gift, and it seemed that the recurring headaches renewed the power, though every pang brought a fresh reminder of the moment my own little girl fell prey to the wolven fangs.
A tear found its way to my cheek. I swiped at it and slapped the van into gear. For Amy’s sake, and for Emily’s, I had to press on.
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Categories: Story Development