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Excerpt from Feathers & Blood:

Cali leaned against a pillar pretending to be looking at the train schedule. Jared sat casually on the bench across the food court eating his breakfast.
Then someone caught her eye.
It wasn’t Delia.
It was that guy from the bar. Rafe’s friend. The one who was bleeding through his shirt. Shawn, was it? Coincidence?
Shawn was wearing a dark jacket, one that looked pretty heavy for this time of year. He moved in a slow, deliberate zig-zag pattern around the station. Stopping every so many feet to look over at the bench.
The bench Jared was occupying.
Son of a bitch.
Her first instinct was to warn Jared somehow. She looked at the payphone bank then realized she did not have his number. This was something they should have discussed.
Fuck it.
Shawn was standing at Cali’s ten o’clock only a few yards away.
She walked over to him.
“Shawn?” She asked pensively.
He did not flinch. He calmly looked over his shoulder in search of the voice’s owner. He spotted Cali and smiled.
“Hey, Kenzie’s friend – uh – hold on I remember – Kayla.”
“Close. Cali. Small world ain’t it? You catching a train?”
“Yeah. Err uh no, I’m meeting someone,” Shawn stammered, not making eye contact.
“Would her name be Delia by any chance?”
That got him. His shoulders stiffened. It was subtle, but it was all the confirmation Cali needed.
“Delia? You’re meeting her here right? Maybe not here. But that’s who you’re waiting here for.”
“I don’t follow.”
Cali shrugged, smiled.
“My bad then, total misunderstanding. I’ve got to go, but it was good seeing you again.”
He forced a weary smile and nodded. “You too Cali.”
“And if you do see Delia, tell her she’s in over her head.”
She did not wait for a response. She turned on her heals and walked away.
A solid three seconds passed before Shawn grabbed her arm.
“How deep Cali? How deep is she in?”
“From the looks of things I’d say six feet. But you don’t know her so why do you care?”
“Fuck. Yes I know her. That’s why I’m here.”
Cali looked over at Jared. The bench was empty. Jared and the briefcase were gone. She glanced around.
“Where’d he go?” Shawn turned just as Jared appeared from behind.
“Cali, care to introduce me to your friend?” Jared didn’t wait for a response. With one swift movement, he grabbed Shawn by his arm and led him into the men’s room. Cali followed, but stopped short of the door.
A couple startled patrons scurried out. One zipping up his pants.
Jared stuck his head out. “You too, Cali.”
Cali reluctantly obliged. Locking the door behind her.
Jared had Shawn against the wall between urinals, palms flat, feet spread as he patted him down.
He pulled a 9mm from his waistband, checked that the safety was on, then slipped it in his jacket.
“Nice piece.”
He shrugged. “It’s Philly man, everyone carries. Doesn’t mean I wanted trouble.”
Jared took his phone too. Shawn protested, “Hey man what gives?”
“Where is Delia?”
Shawn spun to face him.
“Why should I tell you?”
Wrong answer.
Jared grabbed him by the shoulder, kicked his legs out from underneath him and slammed his head into the urinal. He hit the porcelain with a thunk.
Cali cringed.
Jared didn’t let him fall. He maintained his grip and straitened him up, propping him back against the wall. Jared’s gun had materialized during the exchange and he had it pressed into Shawn’s cheek.
“I’m not going to ask twice.”
“Fuck man. Jesus.” Shawn spit blood onto the ground. “Okay I get it, I’ll tell you. But first you gotta understand – I’m here cause I owed her a favor. I’m in the dark here, I’ve got no idea what this is all about.”
“Then help us out Shawn,” Cali chimed in.
“Thirtieth Street Station. I’m to get on the train with the briefcase and bring it to her at the station. She said it was a clean exchange. I’m no idiot, I knew there was a reason she did not want to retrieve it herself, but like I said I owed her one.”
Jared holstered his gun.
“Take us to her.”

© S.L. Eaves

Excerpt from At Any Cost:

“I’m fine in the fire
I feed on the friction
I’m right where I should be
Don’t try and fix me”

Planes fly low over the pay-by-the-hour motel.
Lockley stands outside the door to her room, leaning against a porch pillar that doesn’t look like it could support a feather. The cigarette shakes in her hand as she brings it to her lips.
Lacerations run down her face and neck; small streaks of dried blood caked to them. The bags under her eyes beg for sleep. She stands in the cold light of day looking frail and malnourished.
Cole’s truck pulls up. She straightens. Forces her hand to stop shaking.
He steps out, buttons his suit jacket as he adjusts its fit, a smug expression on his face.
“You look like death.”
“And you look like you’re expecting a punch in the stomach.”
He loses some of his composure, laughs off her retort as he approaches.
Lockley exhales a stream of smoke. Cole lowers his sunglasses from the bridge of his nose and they exchange hard stares.
“Nice digs. You bedding down for awhile?”
She shakes her head.
“My flight leaves in a few hours.”
“Where to?”
Lockley scoffs, “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
Cole smiles, relents.
“I suppose it’s better if I don’t.”
He glances around.
“Maybe we should do this inside.”
“I’d prefer we didn’t,” Lockley doesn’t budge.
“You got the whole town thinking you burned up in that crash on the bridge. They pulled the car out yesterday. It was so chard and mangled, they aren’t even bothering to comb the river.”
She nods.
“Anyone else besides me and Tom know the truth?”
Silence. Cole reaches into his jacket and removes a thick envelope. He hands it to Lockley who eyes him wearily as she accepts it.
Weighing it in her hand, “This doesn’t feel like a quarter mil Cole.”
“It’s fifty grand.”
“Uh huh.”
“Look I need time to get the rest together. It’s not like I have that kind of money lying around.”
“You had it for your brother. I should know, I have the transcripts.”
Cole’s frustration is palpable. He hates not having the upper hand and it shows in his demeanor.
“Tell me where to send it and I’ll have the money to you in the next few days.”
“The deal is a quarter now, a quarter after Tom’s … passing.”
“I know what the deal is. The money’s tied up in investments, I’ll have the full half a million ready in a few days. Cash.”
Lockley sighs, “Okay.”
She hands him a slip of paper.
“If you think I’m telling you where I’m headed you’re dumber than I thought. I’m not giving you my new name either. Send it to Jane Smith for all I care, just make sure it’s there within 48hrs of completion. A dollar short and you’ll be making headlines not writing them.”
“And how exactly do you plan to pull this off? I know my brother’s death was an accident. I don’t peg you for the cold-blooded breed.”
“This is my small town you’re slumming it in, Cole. You want to throw money at a problem to keep your hands clean, that’s fine, but don’t go around asking questions better off unanswered. People like you don’t have the luxury to underestimate people like me. I bet you couldn’t even look your brother in the eyes when you asked him to kill Tom. Why don’t you go back to your big city office and hide behind your mahogany desk and that Pulitzer you use as a paperweight? It’s where you belong. This, right here, this is where I belong. Stop fucking with the status quo, my life’s already shot to shit thanks to you.”
“And you don’t think I have the balls to clean up my own mess?”
“I think you’re scared and desperate. A dangerous combination. Especially when there’s money and status on the line.”
“In other words, something to lose.”
Lockley nods, “I’m trying to capitalize on your situation and keep my head above water. I think I’m worth more to you alive than dead, so you’ll pay me what I’m asking and I’ll finish what you started.”
Cole lets out a long sigh. Runs his hand through his greasy brown hair.
Lockley crushes the butt of her cigarette under the toe of her shoe.
“Just make it look like an accident okay. I don’t want anyone suspecting.”
“You should go, you wouldn’t want to keep Tom’s wife waiting.”
Cole glowers, “You think you’ve got it all figured out don’t you?”
“Here’s what I do know: I possess the evidence against you. My disappearance, my new life, is gonna cost money. You want Tom out of the picture and I don’t exactly see people lining up to do the deed.”
“You two seem pretty close. You sure you can do this?”
“Way I see it, Tom’s fate is already sealed. You’ve seen to that. I need money sure, but I also need the cops off my trail and to know you’re not going to stab me in the back. Literally. If this’ll make us square than so be it. I’m just trying to survive over here.”
“I don’t think the cops will be a problem any longer,” he shoots her a sly grin and starts for his car, “And as long as Tom is six feet under, I got no problem paying you. I don’t want the cops sniffing around anymore than you do.”
Lockley pinches the envelope, “Prove it Cole, prove it.”
Cole opens his driver-side door. Leaning over it, he calls after Lockley as she heads for her room.
“Hey Lockley, do me a favor. Don’t come back for your funeral.”

© S.L. Eaves