“Sobriety Check” – Excerpt from The Matriarch: Guardians

GuardiansRightfaceebookcover2014Janiss’s eyes snapped open, immediately wincing at the bright red and blue patrol lights flashing in her rearview mirror. Outside of her car door, a policeman shined a light into her face.

How long had she been daydreaming?

After turning the key on her ignition to roll the automatic window down, the clock on the center console told her it was 5:30 AM. It had only been about twenty minutes and sunrise was still over an hour away. Whew! For a moment, she wondered why Travis and Cole wouldn’t have noticed her if they had passed by; she assumed they came back through Weston since she knew Cole lived in that direction.

“Are you having car trouble?” the man asked. She recognized him: Officer Strickland.

Janiss smiled. “No, sir. I was feeling a little tired, so I pulled off for a few minutes.”

He nodded. “Are you okay to drive now? You shouldn’t be parked out here all alone like this. If a drunk came around that corner and lost control, they might not see you in time.”

“It’s just a little farther, thank you.”

“Good night, then,” he said with a proper tip of his flat-rimmed hat.

Janiss hadn’t seen the officer since she and Ian had met him up at the Locust Knob cemetery. She wondered for a moment if he recognized her.

Officer Strickland started to walk away, then stopped. “How’s your uncle doing, by the way?”

That answered that; he was pretty sharp for an old guy. “He died a little over a year ago,” she said with a sad expression. “There was a fire.” It was harder than she thought not to smirk at that.

“Sorry to hear. Good night, ma’am. Be safe.”

Janiss started her vehicle as the patrol car drove away.

“A fire, huh?” she heard Daniel say from the passenger’s seat. “That’s funny.”

She couldn’t look at him. Guilt had started creeping in about Eric, and she knew he already knew everything.

Daniel put his hand over hers. “It’s not like I wasn’t there.”

Janiss turned to him with a look of both horror and disgust.

He grinned; that damnable, all-forgiving smile. “It’s okay,” he said. “Eric’s not as together as you used to think he was. You’d be good for him.”

Janiss sighed and checked the road for early morning traffic. “I’ll take it under advisement, Sigmund Freud. Now, shoo.”

GuardiansRightfaceebookcover2014Daniel was gone when she looked over again, but a dark chuckle from the backseat drew her attention. In the rearview mirror, black eyes stared back at her as she caught a glint off of his bared fangs.

“That goes double for you,” she added.