Emmanuel cleared his throat. "I've an announcement to make. I apologize for the deception, but my name isn't actually Emmanuel. It's Jesu - "
"WE KNOW!" yelled all the archangels, Horsemen and demons lords.
This was, privately, Nina's favourite version of Alice – not something she was proud to admit. It seemed abusive, somehow. She suspected herself sometimes of goading her, riling her up, just so she’d break open, wild beauty spurting out like hot blood. Perversely, all that heat cooled and soothed Nina's own burning core. But something in there must have shut down, some furnace, because she didn’t feel a thing now.
“We’ll have some stories to tell when we get back, that’s for sure – we’ll probably all need to be naked when we tell ‘em – maybe for “show and tell” at a Club meeting. Spain was great, and now we’re going to the French Riviera. I’ve dreamed about this since I was a little girl, and now I’m getting to do it, for real!”
I felt like punching somebody, but nobody was around. I gulped down two cups of coffee while trying to replay the events of last night in my mind. I was 99% sure the other car had been following me, but even if I was right, I couldn't be sure it was the same car that hit me. A lot of things can happen in the rain.
The stirring in the brambles along the creek bed caught his attention, and the burly young man silently paused and drew forth his .30-06 rifle. The powerful knotted muscles in his arms, honed by hard work behind the family’s lone mule and a thousand other tasks around the farm, sprang forth in sharp relief as he readied his weapon to fire. He did not immediately shoot. “Only a fool fires at something without first seeing the target” he heard the words of Woodrow Hopkins coursing through his memory.
Whatever might have happened next was completely obscured by the hastily-redressing teenage couple exiting the brushy cover at the water’s edge. Scampering and laughing as they ran hand-in-hand, they were completely oblivious to the rifleman at the top of the rise, or any danger they might have faced from him or the bear, if it had been nearby.
The aggrieved Hopkins stood up ramrod straight with a chiseled look on his face, helped his tear-stained wife to her feet, and held her close before gently guiding her to the door. There he paused, looked back at the banker who had been his friend and spoke in a voice that was loud enough for all to hear and sounded as though it would melt solid granite,
“Mel Tifton, my friend, don’t let this go bad or we’ll all be sorry.”