I hope you are enjoying the exclusive scenes so far and that you also enjoy checking out Boot Camp too.
My thoughts: You know, since I’ve been blessed with writing about Aeron and her buddies, I notice how much her stories boost me. When I’m not feeling confident or happy, even scenes without her in tend to lift me and remind me that love never fails.
When I was rewriting Renee’s intro into the story, this scene introduced a character who has been chatted about but never quite explored. I really love Renee in this scene because you see another side to her when she talks to Lilia and Nan, and although she does believe, sometimes it takes a gentle positive word of someone around you to instil you with the confidence to use your heart to guide you…
Full Circle exclusive.
Copyright © 2018 Jody Klaire.
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Please note: all scenes are the intellectual property of the author and that online exclusive scenes may differ from the published version.
Renee sat in the shade of the redwood trees the opposite side of the river to Nan’s cabin. The sun was hazy and warm but with a cooling breeze that made the water nearby ripple with flecks of sunlight. If she squinted enough, it could almost resemble the glitter that fell from someone’s lips when they spoke the truth. At least, that’s what Aeron described it as anyway.
Renee looked down at the breadcrumb pieces her father had left. They were beaten up and battered with weather damage from the years they’d been stashed up on Black Ridge Mountain but somehow they still worked. She’d asked Bess if there was some code her dad might have used that she was missing but Bess couldn’t remember.
“You look about as happy as me,” Lilia called from across the river. She had her apron on with flour up to her elbows and streaking through her reddy brown hair. “You want some company?”
“Sure.” Renee smiled even though she didn’t feel like talking. She’d talked to countless people since Aeron had gone missing and her inner soldier just wanted to get on with it. Problem was, with nowhere to charge off to, her inner soldier was redundant and feeling it.
Lilia took off her footwear, rolled up her pants and apron, and waded over to her. “I remember Bess trying to teach me how to meditate once,” she said as she perched next to her as ladylike as could be. “I’d sit there for two minutes and start talking. I could never stay quiet.”
Renee chuckled. “No matter how much psychology you had me ingest, I still can’t clear my mind. I don’t know where people put all the thoughts.”
Lilia “uh hummm’d” and leaned onto her knee with one elbow. She looked like she had never left the cabin sitting there next to the happy, bubbly swirl of the river. It was a good change from the guarded mysterious boss she’d known from the CIG base. “I tried blowing the thoughts, I tried acknowledging them and moving on, I even tried telling them where they could park their hinds.” She smirked. “But… they outnumber me.”
“That’s how I feel. The only time they focus is when I’m in combat or…” she drifted off and fiddled with the pieces.
“Or…?” Lilia asked like she had guessed.
Renee tucked her hair behind her ear. Yes, her boss was also her potential mother-in-law.
Lilia touched her knee. “I can just read it off you.”
And potential mother-in-law was as freaky as her daughter.
Renee sighed and held up her hands. “When she kissed me.”
“On the mountain?” Lilia’s eyes twinkled like she knew better. “Or when you were supposed to be undercover on an assignment?”
Boss, potential mother-in-law, freaky, and clearly good at finding out gossip.
Renee cleared her throat. “Well, there were those times… yeah.” She glanced at the river and fiddled with the pieces in her hands.
“Oh, there’s been more?” Lilia chuckled. “And there was me thinking that my daughter was all sweet and innocent.”
Renee winced. “Well, she… we… sort of… my mom walked in.”
“Oh dear.” Lilia laughed. “That’s never fun.”
“Sounds like you know the feeling yourself?” She flicked out the sides of the plastic breadcrumbs that helped them to slot into the reader. “Can’t imagine your mom went crazy.”
“Are you kidding me?” Lilia leaned back onto the grass. “We got caught by Mrs. O’Reilly and dragged back here by the scruff. Momma had me writing out that kissing boys would just lead to babies.” She smirked. “Second time, Papa caught us and Eli got thrown in the river and made to trudge home in the cold.” She smiled up at the sky. “Third time, Momma caught us in the mill and I got grounded and had to clean spuds for a month.”
Renee liked the thought of the young love-struck Lilia being as dumb as she’d been. She was certain that, if Aeron had been around when she was a teenager, she wouldn’t have cared how many potatoes she had to clean if it meant kissing her.
“They gave up hollering after a while,” Lilia said with a cheeky smile and nodded to Nan who appeared in the gap between them, arms folded. “I guess they knew I was set on him.”
Nan wagged her finger. “An’ that just led to babies like I told you.”
“Yes, but I like babies.” Lilia shrugged and stared at the river. “I miss my baby.”
Renee fiddled with the pieces and absent-mindedly slotted one bread piece into another. “I like and miss your baby too.”
Nan smiled at them both. “Good thing those two weren’t running around here. I don’t like to think what Blondie would have gotten up to.”
Renee pursed her lips. “I get the feeling that Aeron would have been leading me as much.” She slotted another breadcrumb in. “I could have done with her influencing me.”
Lilia chuckled. “Haven’t you seen enough from Bess what happens when a Lorelei woman is a teenager and set on wrapping you around her finger.”
“’Cause you never did the same with Eli?” Nan pulled out her knitting and clicked away, cross-legged, white hair bobbing around.
“We get it from you.” Lilia wagged at finger at her. “Don’t think I don’t know you and Papa were kissing in Mrs. O’Reilly’s field first.”
Nan beamed and her cheeks flushed. “It was normal in my day to get married young.” She waved it off but her flush grew until it shot a cloud of pink sparks from her. “He was all kinds of handsome… still is.” She gave a wistful sigh and pinks and golds shimmered around her like someone was giving her a kiss on the cheek. She waved it off then cleared her throat.
Renee slotted another breadcrumb into her stash enjoying the dreamy look in Nan’s eyes. They were so much like Aeron’s but they didn’t carry the same color. Lilia’s seemed to be a fusion of Nan’s twinkle and shape and Aeron’s grandpa must have provided the rest. “What does he look like?”
“Papa?” Lilia asked.
“Yes. I don’t know a lot about him.” She slotted in another piece and Lilia and Nan exchanged a smile.
Lilia pulled out her cell phone and flicked through the pictures. “Papa didn’t like pictures all that much but there are a few of him from when Bess and I were growing up.”
She showed Renee the phone. It was a picture of another picture which was on a wall. Looked like the cabin so it must be Lilia and Eli’s room. Aeron’s grandpa was grinning a full Aeron-grin as he carried a young Bess on his back and a giggling Lilia under his arm. His skin was a far darker shade than Aeron’s but the same beautiful reddy-brown color. His face almost shone with light, his powerful muscles, even though he was far shorter, were clearly where Aeron got her aptitude for athleticism. Like her, he had reddy-brown hair and his was tied back with a band but a few strands fell into his face.
Renee’s heart thudded, feeling where Aeron got her calm, quiet strength from. He even held himself like she did. “I see why you fell in love.”
Some kind of warm gentle breeze brushed her cheek and she shoved in another breadcrumb hoping to hide the blush.
Nan chuckled at her. “See, now you know why Shorty got you in a look.”
Lilia nodded, eyes full of affection. “Aeron’s voice comes from him. He never needed to raise it. There wasn’t an angry bone in his body.”
Pinks swirled around her too and she giggled like she’d been tickled.
Renee flicked in another piece. “Did he laugh like her?” She focused on the sound of Aeron’s soft laughter. Her heart filled with it and she slotted in pieces without care. It was laughter that could ignite hope and light. Laughter that was infectious and unguarded. Laughter that was fuel. She snapped in another piece.
The breadcrumbs whirred in her hand.
She looked down at them. They made a larger breadcrumb. “I didn’t know they did that.”
Lilia smiled at Nan who started wagging her knitting needle at the pink swirling glitter. “You are gonna need a nap. You ain’t used to swooshing places.”
Nan faded out and Lilia grinned at Renee.
“She told me to piece it together,” she mumbled and stared down at it. “Do you think it’ll work in a reader?”
“I doubt it will in a modern version.” Lilia stuck her tongue out much like Aeron did when thinking. “Maybe Bess has something that will help.”
Renee placed the contraption in her pocket and took her shoes and socks off.
“You hungry?” Lilia got to her feet and held out her hand.
“No, but I want to stand in the river.” She shrugged. “I don’t know why. I just feel like I should.”
“Then I’ll help you.” Lilia waded half way across and stood on top of a rock. “If Aeron was anything like Papa, she’d stand here.”
Renee cocked her head then followed Lilia onto the rock. It felt warm and tingly to her feet—like Aeron was close somehow. “She said that stone retains memories and feelings sometimes.”
“Yes, and she stood on it a lot when you came back from Caprock.” Lilia smiled, squeezed her hand and waded the rest of the way and wandered——socks and shoes in hand——back into the cabin.
Renee closed her eyes.
Feels good just to be back home and even better that Renee is around. Didn’t much like her being mad at me. Love listening to her talk, does that make sense? Hearing her talk ‘bout nothin’ in particular makes my gut wriggle in ways I can’t explain. Must be an ailment. Must be. I don’t feel other folks’ feelings… they must be hers… yeah. I don’t get to feel nice stuff.
Renee hugged herself, along with socks and shoes, and sighed. Dimwit. Did Aeron think that she went around kissing people for fun? Did Aeron think she kissed Frei like that? She smiled to herself. Did Aeron really believe that kissing someone who made your entire being glow with joy was an everyday thing?
Renee stepped from the rock and waded over to the grassy bank. How could Aeron think sheer bliss in a simple caress was anything other than love?
“I’ll find you… I’ll show you… I’ll look you straight in those big brown eyes and tell you you’re a dimwit for ever doubting it,” she told the air somehow knowing Aeron would hear it. “I’ll tell you I love you right back and I’ll marry you and I’ll make sure every freaking rock and blade of grass knows that I love you so if you ever doubt it again you just have to stand somewhere and it’ll hit you.”
A gentle breeze carrying every scent of Aeron fluttered through her hair.
“I love you.” She yelled it to the mountain.
The breeze fluttered stronger still.
“I love you so wherever you are… tell me where you are so I can come there and show you.” She yelled it louder.
A gentle laugh rippled through her as if her heart had been injected with Aeron’s touch and she turned and headed into the cabin feeling for the first time in months that they would find Aeron.
Renee stopped at the door and blew a kiss to the river. She’d sent her love and was as certain as Mrs. Squirrel loved nuts that Aeron couldn’t help herself and wouldn’t be able to resist… but send love swirling right back.