Here is this week’s episode of Renee & Frei but there’ll also be a separate blog on a lovely review too. I hope you enjoy seeing Renee and Frei in action. You have a choice of two readings from me… the first where I’m attempting to put on accents and a version where I’m just reading in my voice which I hope you enjoy and… well… giggle at! (and please excuse the bloopers and typos.)
Renee and Frei ‘ A New Assignment’ Scene 4
Renee adjusted her lipstick in the mirror and studied herself. She was used to undercover. She was used to being someone else but, staring at herself, she couldn’t figure out why she didn’t feel convincing.
She steeled herself and focused on Worthington’s English accent. “I’m Roberta Worthington, ex-teacher at Caprock Academy. Divorced, with one sister, Serena, who I’m not in touch with. We’ve never gotten on.”
Aeron sat across the desk in Serenity Hills with a disaffected attitude, defensive body language, but her brown eyes were so incredible it was hard not to stare.
“Aeron Lorelei . . . but then I thought you’d read it on the notes,” Aeron said in a superior tone.
“Is this the way it’s going to be, Aeron?” Renee asked, shaking, confused… no, stunned into shock.
“That depends on you, Tess,” Aeron shot without so much as skipping a breath.
She froze and panic pulsed through every part of her.
Renee groaned. “Yes, I really need Aeron in my head right now.” She rolled her eyes. She was on duty, Alanna Lavelle needed her to become Roberta “Snooty” Worthington. She needed be her. “You were in a relationship with someone heavily involved in the slave trade.” She sighed then held up her hand to the mirror. “Actually two people if you count Owens.”
Aeron wagged a long finger at her. “I can barely stand her as it is.” She scowled in the cutest way. “Besides, you love another woman. I can’t even imagine how much it would hurt to watch you waltz off with somebody else.”
Renee stared at her. Maybe it was all the stress of being locked in the academy with part of Aeron’s feelings… but Aeron sounded… well… jealous?
She turned with the cutest pout on her face and hope slapped Renee so hard across her heart she grabbed onto Aeron’s elbow just to steady herself.
Aeron glanced over her broad shoulder with confusion in her eyes.
“There’s something else.” Renee scoured her brown eyes. The pulse rippled up and down her arm. Desperate hope shot some kind of spark through her whole body. “What aren’t you saying?”
Aeron smiled softly down at her and rested her forehead to Renee’s. “I ain’t that lucky and you ain’t that insane.”
She pulled away and turned back to the door.
Hope crackled through Renee until she hauled Aeron around to face her. She couldn’t breathe… she…“Lucky?”
Aeron nodded. Then kissed her on the forehead and hope pulsed with a warmth that tickled right to her toes. “Yeah . . . and you ain’t that insane.”
Renee looked to the door and then back to Aeron. Form words… speak… She touched her fingers to her forehead. “You think you’d be lucky . . . to be with me?”
Love, hope and sheer thrill burst through her until she wobbled. Aeron… maybe she… she sounded like she…
“Uh huh . . . You want it in writing?” Aeron said in the huskiest softest of heart fluttering voices with a smile that floored her.
Renee wobbled from the feeling. She glanced at the door again. She closed her eyes and took Aeron’s warm hand. She had to tell her, she had to show her how much she loved her… deep breath. She opened her eyes and saw the look of confused delight on Aeron’s face as she watched her lightshow. She had no idea how beautiful she was when she had that look on her face. “Aeron, I—”
Frei yanked open the door. “Why are you standing out there? We have things to do.”
Renee clamped her eyes shut, fighting the groan.
Frei raised her eyebrows. “Well?”
Renee let out a long breath, looked up at the sky then fixed on Frei’s twinkling icy blues and scowled. “Remind me to kick you, hard.”
Renee let out another sigh. “I’m trying to be someone else here, get out of my head, Lorelei!”
“Are you arguing with her even when she’s not present?” Frei asked and leaned against the door.
“Yes, I argue with myself too, why should it be different for her?” Renee folded her arms knowing she looked more like the jock, mud loving, bug fixing commander she was than before she started trying to get into character. “I could have kissed her, right there in Caprock, and you…” she wagged her finger then flicked her hand through the air. “You knew you were interrupting.”
“You are meant to be a professional. She was your junior officer.” Frei’s eyes twinkled like they did everytime she’d interrupted. “Did you forget the reprimand?”
“You’re head of CIG and you fell in love with your own POI so whatever, Urs,” Renee muttered and flapped her hands about. “I’m busy focusing, what do you want?”
“To tell you that you sound American so you’re not doing a good job and we need to meet Alanna,” Frei said then gave her the usual stoic, unfazed look. “If you will?”
“Bite me, Urs,” Renee shot at her and tottered out of the door trying to sound English as she adjusted her hair. “I hope she’s worth our while. Samson will demand we give her some fun.”
“I think you’ve given Samson enough fun which is why she got slammed in jail… again.” Frei tidied her slick, tailored-to-perfection suit and blouse. “I want a bite of Lavelle so keep your teeth sharp.” She glowered at the guy waiting at their car who tidied his jacket—a signal to switch into character—He was one of Stosur’s ex-slaves now on her highly trained staff. “Where is Lavelle?”
Renee placed her hand to the dart gun at the small of her back and turned on Frei’s signal. “I see you decided to save us coming to you?”
Lavelle lowered her eyes like Renee had come to expect from slaves. Good. She responded to societal structure. That would help give Renee a way to hold her in a conversation.
“I heard that you were interested in the property and my husband wanted to me to greet me and take you there personally.” Lavelle was lying because she eyed Frei like she might ask for an autograph. “I heard a lot about you from a friend in Texas.”
“Were they friends whose assets we happened to acquire?” Renee asked, stepping slightly in front of Frei to show she was a mistress and that the lipstick might suck but her aim didn’t.
“No, she taught there… We met at a few dinner parties… interesting lady. A bit… fierce.” Lavelle chuckled then fussed over her hair as if checking for something… ah, she was checking her ears.
“How is Harrison?” Renee asked with a guarded tone. Harrison had been a house matron who somehow had shown up in Sven’s estate—a slave owner—and was treated as being a lot more influential… then she disappeared before they wrestled the estate off Sven and returned it to Frei’s family.
“I haven’t seen her in a good while.” She checked her ears again then glanced at Frei’s ears. “But she talked about you a lot.”
Frei didn’t so much as move her eyebrows. “You attended?”
“Yes,” Lavelle shrugged then turned to Stosur’s staff member. “The house is nearby.” Her tone changed from polite to dismissive.
Renee held the door for Frei with a smarmy smile. “Wouldn’t like to see you exert too much energy.”
Frei tapped her on the lips with a finger. “You’re far better trained without Samson distracting you.”
Renee smiled against Frei’s finger. “You like me wild.”
Frei’s eyes flickered as though she wanted to laugh but instead she got into the backseat.
Renee turned to Lavelle and looked her up and down the way Frei, Stosur and Huber had drilled into her. “I’m surprised anyone who attended the academy is allowed out without…” She looked her up and down again and lingered where she shouldn’t. She was sure Aeron would pout if she’d seen it but then it was Aeron’s fault for kissing her—ugh—focus. “A close eye on them.”
Lavelle dipped her gaze. “That’s kind of you, Ma’am. My husband is very good at making sure I’m well taken care of.”
Renee didn’t doubt it. “Shame, I could’ve used some fun.” She motioned to the car. “And Locks is busy so move it.”
Lavelle got into the backseat and Renee went to the passenger door, nodded to Stosur’s guy, checked under the car, checked the horizon for hostiles, the alternative exits should they meet “friends” then got in, tapped the dash, belted up, and tapped her finger to her insert.
“Moving,” she said before covering it with straightening her hair. “… is always so taxing, don’t you agree, Locks?”
“We wouldn’t have to move if Samson hadn’t gotten into trouble.” Frei stared out of the window as if not noticing the way Lavelle gazed at her.
Renee fought the urge to roll her eyes. Aeron had fans wherever they went but Frei seemed to build her own following too. She just made dinner and tried to keep them getting into trouble and did she get fans? No.
“Is the house bigger than that dump we were stuck in for months?” Renee asked then checked every rooftop, tree and post as they drove along the exclusive street of yet another gated community. Most people did it to keep criminals out but she was certain Lavelle and his ilk had gates to keep their “assets” wandering off.
“It has seventeen bathrooms, fifty bedrooms and extensive acreage,” Lavelle said like she was a pro at selling houses. “We inherited it.”
“But you sell it instead of keeping it?” Frei asked then trailed her finger over the window—her cue for Renee to probe.
“Yes, my husband isn’t a rich man. We get by.” Lavelle was producing shorter answers and her gaze flicked to the driver like she was starting to feel vulnerable.
“He must be rich to get your acquaintance.” Renee turned to the driver then past him and noted a smaller house which either had lots of gardeners with hedge trimmers or really didn’t want visitors.
“I know it must appear that way.” Lavelle fussed over her presentable skirt. “He doesn’t know where I attended school. I don’t intend to tell him.”
“Then hopefully you didn’t sign the pre-nup,” Renee said as Frei adjusted her trouser leg—the cue to stop probing. “Either way, you seem happy but… if you get bored we’re always open to making new friends.”
Lavelle glanced at Frei then touched her wedding ring and stared out at the estates they drove by. “We live in such a pretty neighbourhood but not as affluent as this. My husband grows wonderful arrangements of flowers though that I think would put even these estates to shame.”
Renee met Frei’s eyes and she raised an eyebrow.
“You like gardening?” Renee asked, trying to understand the odd change of subject.
“No, I like to cook. I prefer decorating.” Lavelle smiled then gazed lovingly at her ring. “He is so very patient with me. I do hope you are able to meet him.” Her smile became ever more doting. “He is wonderful to me.”
Renee doubted it. “Maybe I could get you to decorate then. I don’t have the touch and Locks… she spends too much on trinkets.”
“Who said I pay for them?” Frei asked in her monotone. “Gifts from friends.”
Lavelle nodded enthusiastically. “My husband has lovely friends. Their wives are all so kind to me.” She sighed a delighted sigh. “I’m not sure I’m good enough at design to be a professional.”
“I’m not professional enough to critique you,” Renee said with her best snooty accent. “We should ask your wonderful husband.”
Lavelle beamed. “I could ask… I’d like that.” And she looked like Aeron did when you gave her pecan pie. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
Frei went back to gazing out of the window as they pulled up to the house for sale. They got out and Lavelle turned and ordered the driver where to park before tottering up the large steps to the porch.
Renee tottered alongside Frei. “Some personality switch.”
“Guess she really likes to garden,” Frei said like she was bored but her eyes were intensifying. “And doesn’t like her neighbours.”
Renee nodded. “And her place is supposed to be ten miles away… so where was her car?”
“Yes, and no slave would be able to walk anywhere outside their estate alone,” Frei said then furrowed her brow.
“No, but free-people who like their husband’s horticulture skills do.” Renee shrugged as they headed into the front doors. Lavelle was going to be a difficult person to figure out.