I’m still waiting on my new computer (which will take a week or so) and then I will start work on bringing you Full Circle… and making sure the series is up and available to buy with some shiny new additions so for now, I hope that you enjoy reading this week’s scene and please feel free to cheer my very old laptop that has risen to the challenge to help me bring you the blogs this week.
About this scene: I really loved getting into Abby’s story in this book because she is such a tough character to figure out. Renee’s perspective is often clouded by how their relationship finished and how Abby got married while she was MIA. In the novel I get to show you Abby’s side (which even if you just want me to get to whether Aeron and Renee get together…) hopefully you will warm to Abby though, especially when you get to know her!
Abby Fleming was a woman whose layers seemed set to rub each other raw until her entire body and mind ached. On the surface, she was at the top of her career; she was in charge of Internal Affairs at the FBI; was married to a nice guy; had two loving daughters to match, and two even more loving huskies.
Underneath, her position was dictated to her by her father-in-law; her husband bored her senseless; her kids loved her and begged her not to go away for work, and her huskies just reminded her of who she’d bought them with: Renee Black.
Abby shut off the engine and stared at the house she’d bought with Renee; the garage door Renee had painted; the porch they’d sat on; the mailbox Renee put in, and the two huskies they’d “reared” together. Martin knew little of who she’d been in love with when they’d met. He’d assumed that the man—— Renee—— had left before they started their relationship and he had been unaware how it had continued for a year with him being held at distance. He didn’t know she’d been grieving when Renee went MIA; that she’d agreed to marry him because it guaranteed her promotion, and that she was shallow, inside and out.
She tapped the wheel. It had been easier to just get on with it when she’d thought Renee was gone but knowing that Renee was in love with Lorelei hurt.
Renee would have never have done that for her… or would she? Renee was a hero, a decorated, highly-respected pain in her butt. How could anyone be as interesting to live with?
Abby shoved open the car door and tidied herself up, zipping her handbag up——to stop the huskies chewing the contents——and took off her heels——to help her balance when the girls clambered up the stairs to launch-hug her——and sucked in her chin——to make her feel better when Martin was giving her a hard time for doing her job.
“Mom?” her eldest girl said, peeking her head around the door. Edwina——His pick——or Eddie as everyone called her. “Hey, Mom!”
Another face, Bertha——his pick again or “Bertie” as everyone called her——She was sure he just wanted a boy——the youngest grinned much like Martin did. “Mom’s home!”
Thundering filled the air as two over-excited kids and two bouncing huskies launched at her: Sasha——the biggest gray and white husky stole her handbag, while Misha——the black and gray husky snatched the bag of dog treats she’d fished out. She threw open her arms in time to catch a dual air attack from Eddie and Bertie which slammed her backward into the door. She grunted, glad she’d made Martin take the coat hook off the back… that used to be painful.
“Hi,” she wheezed.
“Did you get the naughty agents?” Bertie asked, smothering her face with kisses. “I told daddy that I want to tell people off when I grow up.”
“You already do,” Eddie muttered, trying to break Abby’s ribs with a hug.
“Is daddy home?” Abby tried freeing herself, not sure if she should use Renee’s trick with the dog treats and try it with the girls.
“Yeah, he’s gardening.” Eddie rolled her eyes. “He cuts the lawn with the nail scissors.”
Abby scowled. “My best nail scissors?”
Eddie looked to Bertie and they both shook their heads.
“Really… so you’re both sticking to that story?” She wrestled them off her and put her hands on her hips. “Do you want me to get the lamp out?”
Somehow Martin had filled them with the idea that she interrogated people by lamplight. She didn’t like to ask why or where he got the idea.
“No…” Bertie looked down at her shiny shoes. For some reason she polished them constantly. If she’d been as tidy in other areas, Abby might have worried but, no, the shoes were perfect but she had holes in her white tights, a skirt two sizes too small on backward and her sweater inside out. “Maybe?”
Eddie rubbed her hands over her dungarees——another of Martin’s ideas——and fiddled with her hair-tie. “Depends if you’re going to yell… again.”
“I don’t yell all the time,” Abby muttered and wagged her finger. “But I will if you give me more cheek.”
Eddie rolled her eyes and bounced off with Misha who’d eaten treats and bag by the look of it.
Yes, Abby Fleming, the inspiring head of IA…who had a lot of authority at home.
Bertie grabbed her hand and yanked her through the hallway, into the kitchen and out of the back door. Martin was on his hands and knees, glasses slipping to the tip of his nose, his face contorted as he held a tape measure up in one hand and snipped the lawn with her best nail scissors.
“What are you doing?” She muttered, leaning against the doorjamb.
“Oh, hi,” Martin said like he was as happy as she was that she was home. “John down the road has the perfect lawn, says he cuts it to uniform.”
Like Bertie with her shoes, Martin was focused on the garden being perfect when the house looked like she’d driven through it. He didn’t look much better, oh no: he was wearing trousers half way up his waist so they were too short, his shirt tucked in just to emphasize it, braces, top button done up, floppy blonde hair and his attempt at growing a moustache which even she could beat… and, for some reason, he had no shoes on.
“We have a gardener.” She tried to imagine Renee doing anything as close to dull only, even when she was detached or distant, Renee would have mowed the patch of grass like an elite agent, done it with style, and it would have been far more precise.
“He does the watering,” Martin said, sitting up onto his knees and sliding his glasses up his nose. He’d forgotten to take his nasal strip off. “John doesn’t have a gardener.”
“Why do we care what John does?” She folded her arms. John was in his eighties and his garden did look nice but then he spent more time out there than inside with his wife.
“You want the house to look good.” Martin flexed his nose and eyebrows in a squint. “Dad likes a show home.”
And a reminder why she needed to tow the line. “He’s not living here though, is he?” She raised her eyebrows. “And he’s not the one who’ll need to remove my nail scissors from somewhere.”
“Mom!” Bertie sniggered and went back to shining her shoes with a rag from Martin’s “toolbox.” Abbey doubted he knew what any of the tools were for but her father-in-law liked to think Martin was a man. Men did manly things… like pay other people to do it in his case.
“Do you have to be so abrasive,” he snapped. “It’s not good for them to see you talking to me like that.”
Bertie was too focused on her shoe to care and Eddie was wrestling both huskies next to the pond.
“Then stop stealing my scissors,” she said, leaning on the railing to glare down at him.
He glared back. “So did you trash some poor agents career this time or did they actually do something?”
She laughed. “You’d rather I let criminals wander free?”
He went back to his grass cutting. “I’d rather you try being a wife and mother for once.”
“Oh, nice.” She leaned on her fist. How many times had they had this argument? “You knew what I did for a living before you decided to follow me around.”
“Yes, but you pretended you were worth following,” he shot back, focus on the grass. “Then I married you and you take every opportunity to go…” He glanced up and down her. “Wherever it is you go.”
“If you’re worried, why don’t you ask daddy… he’s clearly giving you tips on being good company,” she pushed off the railing, her head pounding already.
“I did. He told me it’s none of my business.” He scowled, then squinted. “All you feds are the same: arrogant assholes.”
“Then why did you marry me?” It wasn’t as snippy as she’d meant it to be. It sounded like she really did want to know. Maybe she wanted to ask herself the same question? But she knew that answer and it made her remember she was shallow.
“I can’t remember,” he said, snipping away. “Must have been drinking.”
“Yeah, me too,” she turned and strode inside, setting about picking up after him, the girls, and the dogs. She needed to focus her efforts and find out what happened to the CIG team and if their disappearances, Colonel Black and his son being lost on the mountain, and the attack the current CIG team were related.
She sighed… only, her mind… her layers felt as organized as the house around her.