Let It Snow
a Beachcomber Investigations novella
An old friend sends a stranger to visit Dane to help wrestle him from his soul-crushing despair. His life of righting horrific wrongs has cost him a very high price, and worse, it cost someone he loved her life. But how can a stranger help when even Shana, his partner and lover., has failed. Can the stranger use a Christmas Eve snow storm to create the ultimate test for Dane & Shana?
Dane would be in hell no matter where he went now. He stared out his kitchen window again. This time snowflakes filled the sky, obscuring his view of the bay and the ocean. Didn’t matter. Let it snow. He wasn’t going anywhere. Or maybe he should pack his bags and leave. Head for the next war-torn abyss, the next destructive mission. Leave a mark somewhere.
Try to make up for allowing his mother to die. Maybe save someone else’s mother.
Was it strange that a grown man—scratch that—middle-aged man should feel like impaled gutter trash, so devastated by the death of a mother he’d seen only a handful of times in the last decade?
The bullet that killed Dane’s mother might as well have hit him. It had left a cannonball-size hole in him, obliterating whatever had been left of his heart and soul. Maybe there hadn’t been much there anyway. How could there have been? He’d spent a lifetime fighting the soul-killing hurt in all the most hellish places on earth. To no end. Saving some people, but not saving everyone. Never saving everyone.
But he’d survived. In body anyway.
This—his present personal hell—wasn’t about his past catching up with him. No. Dane knew what this devastation, this pain and now this numbness was about. It was all because he felt responsible for his mother’s death. Any shrink would have told him this.
The problem was—he was responsible for his mother’s death. She’d been murdered on his watch. At the hands of his enemies. It didn’t matter how much of the devastation he felt was guilt. It should be pure gut-gnawing guilt. He deserved to feel guilty as hell. He deserved to be in hell. He was exactly where he belonged.
He should have been able to protect her. Least he could have done. She’d protected him all those years. Without his father. She’d seen to it that he reached adulthood when it was not at all a likely thing.
He might as well leave. Head for Somalia. They needed some guns there and they’d been calling. He hadn’t told Shana. It wasn’t like his beach shack or Martha’s Vineyard—or even Shana—held the solace for him that they once had. Too many things happened here. Too much violence. And now death.
“I invited Cap over for eggnog.” Her voice cut him.
Dane turned around to face Shana, who stood on the threshold of the kitchen. The glint of her beauty cut into him further. She stared him down, her arms folded like she expected an argument. Like she expected to win the argument.
He wouldn’t bother arguing. He’d retreat to his bed. Bring a bottle with him. Then he remembered she’d hidden or tossed all the bottles. No matter. He wouldn’t join them. She could celebrate the season with innocent eggnog and Cap if she wanted.
The thought of Cap—Captain Colin Lynch—and Shana together stirred an ember in him, but not much. Nothing like the spark it might have created before. There was no fire to be had in his belly. Not today.
“Go for it, girlie.” He smiled. It cost him to muster that much for her. But she deserved whatever he had. She tried hard. Probably too hard. He walked by her and headed to his room half hoping she’d follow him. Then he could seduce her, lose himself in mindless sex. But he’d drawn the line short of letting her put up her body for his use to cure him of his self-pity. Besides, sex was never a simple matter with Shana. He couldn’t give her what she deserved. He’d end up feeling guilty about it. More guilt. If it were possible.
She’d been trying to save him from himself ever since she’d come to the island. It was a matter of time now—a very short time he’d guess—before she realized the futility. Then he’d be left to himself. The only company he was fit for.
He shut his bedroom door behind him and didn’t bother pulling the blinds. It was barely mid afternoon but the storm had darkened the sky to near nightfall proportions. It suited him. He’d sleep through the storm. Maybe when he woke the darkness would be gone.