Authors: Dale Amidei
Tags: #Suspense & Thrillers, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Fiction
Table of Contents
One Last Scent of Jasmine
By Dale Amidei
Copyright 2016 Single Candle Press
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from Single Candle Press, PO box 91153, Sioux Falls, SD 57109.
Cover design by Dale Amidei
© Single Candle Press February 2016.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, locations, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Registration with the United States Copyright Office pending.
I dedicate this novel to those who have taken their oaths seriously. These go to God first, and then to country, and after to those whom the keeper loves. Ordered otherwise, no one could go to war, and sometimes circumstances demand this. For those who have been to the dark place, you must know doing so under righteous priority made each of you admirable beyond expression.
"... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
-The Apostle Paul, Romans 3:23
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
- August Wilson
Chapter 1 - The More Things Change
Fairfax County, Virginia
It was after midnight, and Terrence Bain Bradley sat in the kitchen of his wife’s expansive Fairfax County home. The Colonial was the centerpiece of a horse property which had been her father’s gift on the occasion of her
marriage. Now her second husband lifted the glass of Scotch from the granite-topped island in front of him for another sip. He heard the ice therein tinkle at virtually the same time as the onset of noise announcing her overdue homecoming … the vibration emanating from the motor operating her garage door.
Friday had been a bad-to-the-bone fourteen hours finishing a work week nearly as intolerable. People overseas died in the service of their country yesterday, caught in the maelstrom of violence seeming to engulf one piece of American-held ground after the other. This time around, CIA was dead set against revealing the Agency’s involvement in placing personnel inside the command structure of the losing side. Bradley had found no reason to countermand the consensus of the Agency’s Director and Deputy Director of Operations.
Two more black stars go up in the lobby in Langley. Two more Covert Action Star awards will be on my desk Monday for me to sign.
Bradley heard the door of her crossover slam in the garage. There was time for another sip of his Scotch.
At least I’m not the one who will call the families.
Her keys rattled in the entry door, and Janine Harrison-Bradley—his wife of just under a year—stepped in. A startled expression appeared on her face once she saw him sitting in the kitchen. Jan recovered, he noticed, as quickly as possible. Her dominant hand went to her tousled hair while the other tried to cover the incriminating state of her disheveled clothing. “Terry … you’re
” he replied, forcing the words. She walked over to the bar, looking contrite, and then angry, and then resolute all within the space of a few moments, he observed.
“You’re not as late as you thought,” she commented. “I didn’t even see your limo on the road.”
Bradley smirked. “No. Once things get to a certain point there’s nothing left to be done.” He shot her a look over the rim of his nearly depleted glass of whiskey. “Know what I mean?”
“Oh, I know what you mean, Terry. Believe me.”
He set the tumbler down in front of him, folding his hands. A heavy sigh followed. “Janine, where have you been?” he asked, knowing his eyes must have fairly pleaded for the truth this time.
Setting her purse down on the breakfast bar, she straightened, her hand going to her hip. “Fucking Alec Harper,” she said in a deliberately brutal tone. A disgusted expression took over her face immediately afterward. “At least, I
Bradley sighed again, his head dropping. “Goddammit, Janine.” He felt his heart palpitate.
It’s a good thing I got some Scotch down while I had a chance.
all about it
. How long did you let me go before you decided to put an end to it?”
What the hell is she talking about?
He sent an angry look her way, only his confusion mitigating the rage he felt. “Jan, are you insane?”
She slammed her hand down on the granite surface beside her purse. “No, Terry. I am
Scared nearly to
by what you did to me tonight.”
What the hell happened to her out there?
“Janine, I don’t know what—”
“Oh, don’t give me that. My
, at least you could be
The sheer irony of her barb struck him, and his brow furrowed. “Oh,
Yes, Jan, let’s go there. How long have you been riding the Chairman of the Equestrian Board, for instance?”
Reddening, her grimace turned into a snarl a moment later. “Since I gave up on you being home on nights like this one.” She took the following silence and turned it into a moment of reinforced determination. “Terry,” she added, “this thing I thought we could make work isn’t going to happen. Not in the way I thought. Not after what happened tonight. I won’t live like this.”
He picked up his jacket from where he had cast it on the countertop. “Yes, Jan, for the first time since you got back, I think you might be right.” Traversing the kitchen, he headed toward the entrance she had used only a few minutes previously. The Director of National Intelligence realized his hand was trembling as he lifted the keys to his Tahoe from the hooks near the door. He turned his head enough to see her there, staring at his back. “I’ll send some people over for my things,” he informed her.
“As long as it’s in the daylight, dear.”
She looked, he thought as he held the panel open, as if she wanted nothing more than to see it close behind him.
It’s over then. I should have known better.
“Good-bye, Janine,” he said, knowing his tone conveyed more than just words.
“Good-bye, Terry.” Her inflection was a fitting end to their brief conversation.
Bradley stepped out into the garage, still lit by the activation of her remote, and pulled the knob until he heard the latch click into place. He thumbed the illuminated button which began the grinding ascent of another overhead door. In a matter of seconds, he heard her lock the dead bolt from the inside.
Yeah, doesn’t that say it all, though? It’s time to find myself a room, I guess.
Her hotel was on the outskirts of Washington Dulles International Airport, from whence yet again an Air France flight would be winging her back across the Atlantic. Dr. Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt, her still-damp body wrapped in one of the hotel’s soft, terrycloth robes, looked into her steamed bathroom mirror. She tried and failed to tally the number of international air miles—both legitimate and covert—she had accumulated already this year.
One that’s barely half over. You’re turning into a real jet-setter, kiddo.
She wiped the mirror as best she could. The high-temperature cascade of her hot shower had helped relax those muscles left positively
by postoperative tension. Adrenaline, she knew from its physiological symptoms, still lingered from her unsanctioned, late-night social work.
It’s probably a good thing I’m leaving the country … after what I just did.
Roughing one of the smaller hand towels through her bobbed, auburn hair, she tossed it onto the rim of the bathroom’s tub. Turning, she looked her reflection in the eyes once again.
Here we still are, Boone. Making our decisions and then living with them.
“You think we’ll ever get better at it?” she asked the woman in the mirror.
The soft knock at the nearby entrance door came just afterward, almost as a reply, and caught her by surprise.
Oh, God. Who is this?
Boone took the few steps to where her small pistol lay on the dresser and only then went to the door, approaching it as silently as possible before lifting herself up on her toes to use the peephole.
Terry. Shit. Oh shit oh shit.
She swung the door guard away and unlocked the dead bolt, her hand clutching Little Swiss yet hidden behind the panel. Cracking open her room’s door, she managed, “Terrence … this is a …
“Boone, dammit, I know it’s too late. I just remembered once I knocked that you’re flying out tomorrow,” he said.
Look at him. He’s not angry. He’s miserable.
Boone felt a crushing wave of regret.
Well, you told Janine tonight to straighten up her act or let him go. Looks like it didn’t take long for her to decide, did it now?
“Nonsense, Terry. It’s a late morning flight. Come in.”
He accepted her invitation and moved inside, still looking remorseful. She relocked the door without a thought and moved past him, returning Little Swiss to the P290’s shoulder holster. With a mental start she suddenly realized her night’s working clothes, black from her mock turtleneck to the supple leather of her riding boots, were still strewn where she had left them: on the first of the room’s two queen beds, the one also holding her luggage
. Relax. You wear black a lot. Get your game on, Boone honey, or you’ll blow this.
“So, Mister Bradley,
” she said in an officious tone, “is this unexpected visit business or pleasure?”
Boone. Sorry. I don’t have anyone else to dump on right now.”
Damn you, Becky B. You’ve just broken up a marriage
. “Terry, what is
” she asked, giving up her usual Euro attitude as Bradley took another step and sat heavily on the edge of the second bed. Mere minutes ago she had planned on occupying it—alone.
That would still be the best idea, girlfriend.
She gathered the front hem of her robe into a more modest display and leaned backward against the room’s faux cherry dresser.
Sighing, Bradley shrugged. “I get home earlier than I thought.” He raised his hands, looking around as one would at an empty house. “Janine comes in a few minutes later, looking like she’s just back from prom night. Hair messed, clothes torn up, the whole nine yards.”
“Next thing I hear, my wife’s informing me she’s been …” he seemed to reevaluate his initial choice of words, “having a damned
Boone realized she had clenched onto her own arms and tried to relax her hands. “Terry, I’m so
You don’t deserve this.”
With an exasperated sound, he countered, “Ah, that’s just it. Maybe I do.” He continued before she could interject. “Never home. Busy saving the world … or at least trying to salvage the parts Washington cares about.”
To Boone he looked only a little better for having told someone. She watched his eyes turn back to her.