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WolfSinger Publications

 

Don't Write What You Know;

Write What You Care About -- Passionately!

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Blind Eye
- F. Lynn Godfriaux

Blind Eye
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Mattie Lamont Tyler loses both parents in an apparent car accident, then finds herself estranged from her only sibling when her sister Angela elopes with a new boyfriend. But Mattie, a photojournalist with (ironically) a phobia of guns and violence, is blind to dangers around her until Angela ends up on the critical list in an ICU six hundred miles from home and Mattie's husband, a Southern Ute who appears to be a quiet, unassuming weather forecaster, stops answering his cell.

Before she can figure out what's going on, Mattie is kidnapped by Hawk, a ruthless stranger with accusations Mattie does not understand. Her own survival and the lives of her loved ones depend on whether Mattie can see beyond her "blind eye" into unknown inner strength.

From the plains of Oklahoma to the mountains of Southwest Colorado, Blind Eye sweeps the reader into a frantic race against greed, lies, and pre-meditated murder.

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Prologue

George Digby Lamont blinked but his vision wouldn’t clear. Butterflies filled his chest, fluttering around his heart with uncomfortable heaviness. He glanced at his wife, Ginnie, who seemed lost in thought as she gazed out the passenger window of their Land Rover.

Should he say anything? Pull over? Find an emergency facility?

He returned his attention to the two-lane highway and blinked several times in an effort to clear the blur in front of him. Flat, empty, brown Kansas prairie spread under an expansive Kansas blue sky. The January midday sun held no warmth. He rubbed the front of his thick plaid long-sleeved shirt as the discomfort in his chest increased. Sweat beaded his forehead and he fumbled with the collar buttons to ease the sudden constriction around his throat. He didn’t understand what was wrong. He’d felt fine this morning when they started their trip to visit their daughter Mattie in Colorado. And though in his sixties, he’d never had heart-related problems.

He heard Ginnie moan and snapped his head in her direction. Her color looked awful. His eyes widened with alarm as she slumped over.

“Ginnie!” He tried to yell, but his voice barely made it beyond his lips. The sudden blast of a truck horn jerked his attention to the two-lane highway and he squinted, frantically trying to clear his worsening vision. Rubber bands wrapped tighter and tighter around his chest until he couldn’t breathe. He caught a whiff of the sweet pickles he and his wife had been eating, felt his head begin to spin, heard again the thunderous, deafening blare of a truck horn.

Screeching tires, exploding glass, and impacting steel ripped the afternoon air as the oncoming eighteen-wheeler slammed head-on into the careening Land Rover.

 

Chapter One

I can’t believe this.

The thought became a boulder that took up all the room in my head, then rolled slowly, painfully into my chest and stomach. I gazed through the tinted glass of the long, black limousine that belonged to the funeral company and wondered how everything outside could be light and normal when everything inside me was dark and strange.

The limousine crawled down Main Street in Shawnee, the small Oklahoma town where my sister Angela and I had spent our youth, where our parents had raised us with love, gentleness, and joy. It seemed as though every car in town joined the slow procession to the cemetery. Jeremiah, my husband of almost seven years, slipped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me close. His warm, solid body enveloped mine, and I leaned into his black leather jacket and wished he could lift the boulder away from my heart. Angela, motionless within the folds of her knee-length black wool coat, huddled against the opposite window. Long, thick, chocolate brown hair hid her pale face. A glance down at her nails, normally long and beautifully polished but now bitten to the quick, told me she felt the same boulder in the pit of her stomach.

My only recollection of our parents’ graveside service was the January wind that lashed through my outer protection and froze my inner boulder into a massive chunk of ice. Even Preacher Pat’s Irish lilt and consoling words could not penetrate the cold that engulfed me. Voices grated like nails on a chalkboard as friends filed by, hugging me close and patting my hands. The wind whipped my short black hair around my face, into my normally clear, ocean green eyes, pushed me with invisible power until I almost fell over. Jeremiah’s gentle hands steadied me, then guided Angela and me back to the long, black car. Black, like the void sucking me into a pit never to let me out again. Black tires crunched along gravel until they reached thin black pavement, made the slow procession through town, the end of the awful trip no better than the beginning as we pulled up alongside the front staircase of our parents’ estate.

As we drifted to a halt, a man wearing a charcoal gray wool overcoat appeared from the endless line of parked cars and strode to the left rear passenger door. He reached for the handle when the limo doors unlocked, opened Angela’s door, and leaned down.

“My poor, dear Angela, come with me.” Avoiding eye contact with both Jeremiah and myself, he helped my sister from the car. The collar of his heavy coat hid his face so I didn’t get a clear look at him, but I felt Jeremiah tense. The stranger wrapped a protective arm around my sister then slammed the door shut. I watched through the tinted glass as he steered her away and wondered how he had known which side Angela would be on.

“Who was that?” I asked as we rose from the car, feeling Jeremiah’s strong hands steady me when the wind threatened to blow me over again.

“I think it prudent we find out.” The curtness in his voice startled me, his black eyes narrowing on the two figures ascending the broad steps that led to the front entrance.

My husband, Jeremiah Black Bear Tyler, a full-blood Southern Ute, stood slightly over six feet and had the build of a distance runner. He rarely answered questions, listened more than he talked. He did not use contractions, a characteristic which made his personality seem formal.

Jeremiah slipped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close, protecting me as we climbed the stairs to the house I had called home for most of my twenty-eight years.

William, the family butler since Angela and I were old enough to walk, met us just inside the front entrance. The aged, bent little man hugged me with surprising strength. Flowers and potted plants crowded the large entryway, leaving only a narrow path along the broad hardwood floor. An undulating body of friends, colleagues, and strangers crowded the large room to our left. I didn’t want to talk to any of them, so I stood there and stared at the plants.

William’s shiny pink bald head nodded towards the sea of colors. “Anna and I will see to these, Miss Mattie. Don’t you worry.” He ducked his head from my stare, but not before I saw the wetness on his face. He took our coats, and Jeremiah coaxed me into the throng. Muted sounds of familiar music whisked me away from the present torment, and the boulder lifted just a little from my heart as I slid into a fog of memories.

My father, George Digby Lamont, born into immense southern wealth, left the Lamont Alabama plantation to pursue degrees in piano at the University of Oklahoma. He met my mother, Virginia Marigold Tessence Campbell, on the Norman university campus as she was working on her last doctoral piano recital. Together they devoted their lives to university and private teaching, local and regional performing, and raising and loving Angela and me. Music echoed through this house throughout my youth, continued after I married Jeremiah and we moved to Colorado. It had been a wonderful, warm, welcoming, way of sharing their love of life and music.

Gut-ripping truth forced itself back into my thoughts. Mom and Dad were gone, and it was someone else’s music that filled the house now, sounding tinny, contrived. It grated on my ears, and I wanted them to stop it and leave. I wanted everyone to stop whatever they were doing and leave. Mom and Dad, Grandpa George, Uncle Bernard, all of them dead within the last three years. Too much death, too many loving people taken away from me too soon.

Bodies overflowed every room, engaged in a muted cacophony of conversations and music. Waiters in OU colors of crimson and cream maneuvered their way through the crowd, balancing trays of wine and finger foods. Smiling (I hoped politely), I acknowledged well-wishers and looked around for my sister. Jeremiah and I entered the large dining room that adjoined the front room. Renovated hardwood flooring contrasted warmly with deep green, floor-to-ceiling drapes and tall, old-fashioned windows. Tall ceilings added grandness, made the room seem spacious despite the crowd. I caught sight of Angela and the stranger standing against the opposite wall from where we stood. Jeremiah paused and I leaned into him, then watched the stranger bend to place a kiss on the top of my sister’s long, dark hair. He seemed about my height, which neared five feet ten inches. He looked stocky, muscular rather than fat, and his thin, dark, crudely cut hair threw his features out of balance. Thick glasses made his eyes too small for the rest of his clean-shaven, acne-scarred face. I didn’t like the way his eyes shifted about, ignoring whoever was talking with him. The dark, expensive, three-piece suit he wore appeared custom-tailored, but for some reason I felt his attire did not match his personality. Maybe it was the scarring on his face. As usual I was forming a prejudice based on looks. My photographic nature, seeing everyone through the viewfinder.