A Changed Man (Altered Book 1) (6 page)

BOOK: A Changed Man (Altered Book 1)
9.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"Indeed. Who was on shift during the escape?" Slade was starting to get really bored with this conversation now. When he got back to the den heads were going to roll.

"It was just me, Mike, Phillip and Travis sir."

"Did you send out a search team Josh?"

"Oh, yes sir! We did that immediately after realizing the subject was missing. The team took the dogs and they are still out looking.  They've been out all night."

"Well it seems you do have half a brain Josh.  I was beginning to wonder. No one leaves until I get there, is that understood?"

"Yes sir! Uh sir? Do you know when you will be arriving?"

"Yes, but you won't."

"Understood sir. You didn’t ask which guard was killed sir."

"Because I don't care!" Slade yelled into the phone and hung up. 

He was surrounded by idiots; one of the reasons he couldn't use his real name. He needed the muscle to keep the subjects in line; too bad the bigger they were the dumber they were. He'd deal with those imbeciles later. Slade set the phone back on his nightstand then rolled over and went back to sleep.



Jackie had no trouble finding the Goodwill.  She pulled up and unloaded her car.  It took her two trips to carry in all the bags of clothes and shoes she was donating. She made her way to the counter where a short and rather plump woman in her late sixties with silver hair up in a tight bun and bright blue eyes behind a pair of round glasses was tending the register. She was the epitome of Tweety Birds grandmother! Jackie had to stifle back a laugh.

"Well hello young lady, what do you have there?"

"I was hoping I could make a donation." Jackie said.

"Well of course! We are always excepting donations. It's rather hard keeping this place stocked, especially when winter is approaching."

"Well I have a pretty good mix of clothes here." Jackie pointed to the bags leaning against the counter.

"Are you new around here?"  Asked the older lady. "I don't recall ever seeing you around town."

"Oh yes, I've only been here for a short time. I just moved in to my grandmother's place up the mountain."

"Oh! You must be Evie Stone’s granddaughter! Henry Miller from the hardware store told me he met you the other day; said you looked just like Evie, and I have to say besides the huge age difference you do! You definitely have her eyes!"

"Well, news travels fast huh?"

"Small town dear.  Everybody knows everybody and if they don't it doesn't take long." She laughed, "My name is Olive Hathaway.  Your grandmother was a great friend of mine, we would sew together."

"Oh really?" Jackie asked surprised. It was great to be meeting people that had known her gram so well.

"Why yes! A group of us would meet twice a month at the recreation center and have a sewing circle.  Wonderful woman, your grandmother."

"Yes she was, thank you."

"Oh dear, I'm so sorry, are those Evie's things your donating? Where are my manners? I am so sorry for your loss dear. If there’s anything I can do please just let me know. Your grandmother and I go way back."

"That’s very sweet of you, thank you. Jackie said suddenly feeling emotional.

"So you're living out at her place now huh? I bet it gets pretty lonely out there all by yourself; or do you have a husband I have yet to hear about?" Olive giggled.

No, no husband.  It's just me."

"Well nothing wrong with that! My Charlie passed on some years back and it's been just me in that big ol’ house for a while now; doesn't really bother me. I like the quiet. Don't get me wrong, I loved my husband to the moon and back, but that man could talk the ear off an elephant!"

Jackie laughed. "Hey, are you free for lunch? I am trying to stay out of the house for a while today and I would love to talk to you some more; maybe hear more about you and my grandmother?"

"Well I think that’s a great idea! Maybe I could introduce you around some! There’s a diner on Second Street called Rosie's; they have the best apple pie you have ever let into your mouth! How bout we meet up there in about a half an hour?"

"That sounds great Olive. I'll see you there."

Jackie left the store and went back to her car, now what to do to kill a half hour?  Jackie needed lumber to replace the broken deck planks on her porch steps, something that should have been done already.  They were a bit dangerous if you didn't watch where you were stepping. She decided to head on over to the local builder supply store and see about having some wood delivered.  She only had her Subaru, so there was no way to haul it herself. She pulled in and parked. Walking up to the front door, a man came out and held the door open for her to go in. "Ma'am." The man tipped his ball cap.

"Thanks" Jackie said walking through the door.  She made her way to the counter and placed her order with the large burly man working the register.  He had a name tag pinned to his chest that read Adam. She told him how many pieces and what size boards she needed.  He took down her address and told her it would be delivered within the next two hours.
she thought. It would be there by the time she got home and she could start on it first thing in the morning. She promptly paid and thanked Adam for his time and left for her lunch date with Olive.

Jackie pulled into the parking lot of Rosie's Diner with five minutes to spare.  She went in and grabbed a table next to a window that faced the street so she could watch for Olive. She had just sat down when the front door swung open and in walked six rather big men all dressed in black. They all wore black cargo pants, black t-Shirts, and laced up military style black boots.  They definitely looked like a team of some kind. They walked straight to the counter and started talking to the lady who was working there. Jackie watched as one of the men, the one who seemed to be in charge, took a picture out of his back pocket and showed it to the woman while the other men walked around the diner looking at the patrons.
These guys are definitely looking for someone.
Jackie thought. She watched the woman behind the counter shake her head no, and with one more glance around the leader of this dangerous looking pack snapped his fingers and they all filed out the door in true military style. Jackie watched them split up once outside; with half of them going to the right out the door and the other half going left. She guessed they were going to search all the businesses on the street, probably the entire town. Men like that weren’t out just looking for a small time burglar or something.  Whoever they were searching for must have done something pretty bad. Just then Olive walked in the door.

"Olive!  Over here." Jackie waved her hand in the air.

"Did something happen? Olive asked. I just watched a group of men leave the diner and scatter up the street!"

"Yeah, I think they were looking for someone.  They showed the lady at the counter a picture."

Olive looked over toward the counter. "Oh that's Rosie, she owns the place. Rosie!" Olive waved at her. "Come here dear, I want you to meet somebody!"

Rosie came out from behind the counter.  She was a pretty woman with long brown hair pulled back in to a ponytail and big brown eyes; she was on the thinner side and looked to be in her mid forties. She walked over to Jackie and Olives table.

"Rosie, I want you to meet Jackie" Olive said. "She's Evie Stones granddaughter. She's living up at Evie’s place now."

"Nice to meet you Jackie, I'm Roseanne Barrenger, but everybody just calls me Rosie. I was so sad to hear of your grandmothers passing, she was such a sweet woman."

"Very nice to meet you too; and thank you.  It seems like she was loved by a lot of people around here." Jackie stood and shook Rosie’s hand before sitting back down.

"Oh she was."  Rosie confirmed. "Your grandmother would come in here every Saturday afternoon for pie and coffee. I always looked forward to seeing her and listening to her stories. She talked a lot about you; she was very proud of you, you know."

"Yes, thank you. I miss her so much." Jackie said.

"We all do sweetie, but don't worry; I'm sure she's still watching over you.  You were very precious to her. Now what can I get you two?"

"Well first of all," said Olive. "Who were all those hunky young men I seen leaving the diner a few minutes ago?"

Rosie laughed. "They said they were in the army and looking for a deserter. They handed me a picture and asked if I'd seen anyone who looked like that and I told them I hadn't. They left me with the picture and asked if I see him would I call the number on the back."

"Well let's see the picture!" Olive said, "Maybe I've seen him around, you never know!" She winked.

Jackie started laughing and Rosie walked back over to the counter, grabbed the picture and brought it back to their table. Rosie sat down next to Olive and held out the picture so they all could see it.

Was all Jackie could think. The man in the picture was gorgeous! He had jet black hair that hung to his shoulders and outlined his chiseled jaw; perfectly tanned skin and dark blue eyes that reminded her of the sky when a storm was rolling across the mountains. It was just a head shot, but damned if Jackie wouldn't like to see the rest of this guy. She stared at the eyes; they held something, some deep secret.  They were so intense she couldn't look away.

"Uh-Hmm" Olive cleared her throat. "You okay dear?"

Jackie pulled her eyes away from the picture and looked up at the two women. "Yeah, yeah I'm fine, why?" Jackie Blushed.

Both women started to laugh.  "For a minute there I thought you may just try and crawl into the picture with him!" Olive teased.

Jackie could feel her cheeks heating up and knew they were probably beet red.  "Oh, well, he's okay, I guess."

“OKAY!” Olive said excitedly. "He's more than okay! Oh! If I were only forty years younger I may just join that army group and help them with their search!" All three women started laughing uncontrollably, people were starting to stare.

"Well, I haven’t been here long, but I've never seen him." Jackie said.

"Me either."  Olive replied, handing the picture back to Rosie.

"Well, I guess I'll keep my eye out," said Rosie, "There’s a reward!"

"A reward?" asked Olive "Running into a man like that would be all the reward I'd need!"

Jackie laughed at the women, they seemed like the perfect people for her grandmother to be friends with; always cutting up and having a good time. She could see why her gram fit right in with these two.

"Okay, okay," said Rosie. "Simmer down before your blood pressure spikes and I have to call the EMT. Now what can I get you?"

"EMT'S! They’re cute too! With those tight white uniforms." Olive giggled. "Ahh to be young again."

"I'll have a piece of your famous apple pie and a cup of coffee."  Jackie replied.

"Just like your grandmother," remarked Rosie. "How about you Olive?"

"Oh, I reckon I'll have the BLT and an iced tea."

"Okie doke girls. I'll get Hank started on that right away!" Rosie got up from the table and headed for the kitchen.

While Jackie and Olive ate their lunch they talked about the town, and Olive told Jackie stories about Evie. They spent a lot of time together; sewing and lunch dates. Her grandmother would even help out at the Goodwill on occasion. Jackie was glad to hear that her grandmother had so many friends here and she wasn't a shut in like many older single women are.  She had a pretty full life it seemed.

"Hey Olive, did my grandmother ever mention having a handyman?"

"Well yes, she did mention that she had a young man who would come by once in awhile and help her around the house, fixing up things.  Why do you ask?" Olive inquired.

"I was just curious. Mr. Miller from the hardware store told me she would come in and buy a lot of tools; some too big for her to operate. I guess that was why. Do you have any idea who it was?" Jackie asked.

"No dear, sorry. She never mentioned a name. She said he was from out of town and was just looking to make a bit of money to move on. She never went into detail and I didn't want to press. Come to think of it, she was a bit secretive about it.  Anytime I asked how he was getting along, she would change the subject. Hmmm, I never really thought much of it until now."

"That’s okay, I was just wondering." Jackie didn't want to worry Olive by telling her about the noises she heard at night, or the shadow. Who would believe such a story? Maybe the handyman was the one who finished her shutters. It’s still strange though, thinking someone was lurking around the house doing fix ups while she slept.  Even though it was a nice gesture, it was too creepy to be considered safe. The guy could be an axe-wielding maniac for all she knew. What if he had something to do with her grandmothers’ death? The lawyer told her it was a stroke, but what if it wasn't? Maybe this drifter had her grandmother so frightened that she felt the need to keep that shotgun in her closet. Jackie didn't know what to believe anymore.

"Well I had better get back to the store. I don't like to leave old Beverly there too long on her own. She doesn't see well, and sometimes gets the ones and tens mixed up at the register."

BOOK: A Changed Man (Altered Book 1)
9.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Give Us This Day by R.F. Delderfield
Ship Who Searched by Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey
That's Amore by McCarthy, Erin
The Lunatic Cafe (ab-4) by Laurell Hamilton
Underworld Queen by Sharon Hamilton
Desde Rusia con amor by Ian Fleming
Her Kilt-Clad Rogue by Julie Moffett
Serial Bride by Ann Voss Peterson