If you’ve read Shadow of the Drill, you’re familiar with the character of Charlene. Decker’s long suffering lover, her loyalty is unwavering, and there’s nothing she won’t do for her man.
Aside from being the resident fixer-upper, she rarely gets involved in Decker’s work. This is by her choice as much as his.
But, things change in Winter of the Drill. Once Duncan Malone learns of her closeness to Rudy Valdez, he decides to use her to force Rudy to sign over ownership of the Toybox. After arranging her kidnapping, he has her taken to one of his “adult entertainment” studios, turns on the cameras and starts filming.
You may wonder why I didn’t have Decker find Charlene before the camera started rolling. I think it’s because, in reality, the girl usually doesn’t get rescued before something unpleasant happens. This is one of those times.
Charlene is a strong woman, both physically and emotionally, and it’s her emotional strength that is on display in the following excerpt.
* * *
Charlene glared at the man who stood at the foot of the bed, her expression one of disgust. She had been beaten, abused, and humiliated in front of the camera for longer than she wanted to think about, and she was in no mood to deal with the idiot in the Armani jeans who fiddled with the camera and avoided eye contact.
Then, a tilt of his head of his head triggered a memory, and recognition dawned.
” I know you,” she informed him in an icy tone of voice. ” I’ve seen you at the club. Rum & Coke, and champagne splits for the girls.”
She paused, searching her memory. “Jack. You go by Jack, but that’s not your name.”
“What?” He was clearly startled.
“Oh please.” Her disdain was unmistakable. “Give me a little credit. Life can be educational if you let it, and in my time or two around the block, I’ve learned to spot a phony. And I don’t mean IDs.”
Jax shifted his weight uncomfortably, caught off guard by her perceptiveness.
“Look…” he began, but Charlene was just getting started.
“So, you work for Malone. How stupid are you? He’s a killer, and if you work for him you must be okay with that. Hell, you’re probably a killer too.”
Something in his face changed, and her eyes widened. ” you are, aren’t you? That’s what you do for him. You’re a killer.”
Jax gave his head an emphatic shake. “No, it’s not like that.” He wanted her to understand that he was not like Malone, though he did not know why it mattered.
” I handle some of his business, that’s all. I find information for him. I run interference between him and…well, everyone. I schedule his crews when he needs something done. And okay, sometimes the business that I handle is a little rough, but I’m no killer!”
She studied his face, paying particular attention to his eyes. “So, did any of that rough business involve Rudy’s car?”
To respond would be to admit what was, at that point, his greatest shame, so he said nothing. Charlene, however, was not done talking.
“I’m sure Malone’s kept you busy, so let me jog your memory. Think BMW, a rainy night, and River Road. Oh, and three screaming women who’d done absolutely nothing to you.”
Her voice hardened, the memory of that night still much too fresh. “Ring any bells?”
He shrugged, averting his eyes again while shifting the paper that he held to his other hand. “Not really. Okay, here’s the deal. Malone took you to prove a point, and he plans to prove it. What they’ve done to you so far is just the beginning. But the good news is, you’ll walk out when it’s done. He doesn’t want you dead, he just wants your friend to cooperate.”
His voice took on a note of profound sadness that Charlene immediately understood. “And I want it too.”
“You’re not on board with this, are you?” A slight glimmer of hope touched her eyes. “I’m not saying you’re a nice guy, cuz you’re not. But you didn’t sign up for where he’s taking this.”
She paused, hearing agreement in his silence. “I’m sure the plan is to send Rudy the film, and hope he’ll do whatever Malone wants to get me back, but that’s not gonna happen.”
“Of course it will.” Jax could not hide his surprise. “If he’s even half the friend I think he is, he won’t wait a minute longer than he has to. No, he’ll jump as soon as he gets the disc. He’d never leave you here, knowing what’s going on.”
“Oh, you’re right about that,” Charlene agreed. “But it’s not gonna go like you think it’s gonna go. He’s not gonna grab a notary by the hand and trot down to the club to wait for your boss, so he can sign his life away.”
She laughed, finding the thought of Rudy kneeling to Duncan Malone hilarious. “I’m gonna give you some advice, and if I was you, I’d pay very close attention.”
Curious, he moved closer. “I’m listening.”
“Rudy doesn’t bow to anyone, and that’s a fact. He’s probably already looking for me and he’ll find us sooner or later. Most likely sooner.”
She paused, accurately reading his expression. “You’re thinking, ‘he’s one man, what can he do?’ But you’re wrong. He won’t come alone. He’ll bring friends, and by the time they’re done, this place’ll be knee-deep in blood. So you can stay and die with whoever’s on-site when Rudy gets here, or you can go now and save yourself a lot of pain later.”
Jax swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. The memory of his encounter with the cowboy was still vivid, and if that was the kind of friends Valdez would be bringing, he knew that he most definitely did not want to be around when they arrived.
* * *
I’m so glad you decided to stop by today for Charlene’s moment in the spotlight. I hope to be back on Wednesday with a super easy cobbler recipe that I happened upon. I hope you had a great weekend, and I also hope that Monday is kind. 😀
Shadow of the Drill
Born of Circumstance, Bred for Revenge.
A Perilous Thirst
A different kind of vampire story.
One Dyke Cozy
“HAVE A NICE DAY”
Twitter: @rhanidchae @rhanidchaaebooks