Excerpt from UnderStory

Excerpt from UnderStory by Lisa J. Lickel
Published by Prism Book Group
November 2016

This scene is from Chapter 46, Wednesday, after Cam is detained for questioning regarding his Internet search for information regarding the murder his grandparents witnessed in Milwaukee in the mid-1960s Open Housing Marches. He is on his way to meet with a potential legal representative at the newspaper office when he runs into his rival.

Cam had borrowed Lily’s car to get home last night. As he drove back into Barter Valley in the morning, slipping around on the car’s bald tires, for his appointment with Minerva Thorsten, he kept a running commentary of his current situation spiraling in his head. Stone cold stupid. This whole deal with him and the Internet and research was a separate thing going down from the case Forbes was on, just like the man said. Cam could not believe him at first.
Uncle Sam was monitoring his personal business. But Cam had beaten a mess before. He’d been acquitted. He wasn’t on any sex-offender registry or felon watch-list. He didn’t think so, anyway. How ripped from the headlines was that? “Illegal Wire Tapping in Small Town Library.” “Free Speech Rights Stomped Again.” “Sex Trafficking Stopped.” All of Matt’s dreams would come true when he broke both stories. And if Matt was right, this Minerva was the perfect legal representation for a person whose constitutional rights were being violated.
He parked, pulled up his hood and jumped frozen waist-high piles of snow to get to the newspaper office. At least the weather was changing. The high temp might make zero today. The dogs would be all right. They’d stay together, keep warm. He’d water them later. What day was it? Logan possibly had his truck ready. He caught a glimpse of a shadow on the walk, the prickle that something was in his way. He stopped and looked up. And swallowed. “Hi, there, Ole. What’s happening?”
Ole took off his gloves and cracked his knuckles. He slowly pulled the gloves back on. “Lily isn’t like the other girls around here. She sorta got a little stuck-up from living in the cities, but she’s still a nice girl.”
After the big guy’s little display of assumed prowess, Cam decided to refrain from eye-rolling, sighing, or any other possibly misunderstood gesture of superiority. Besides, he liked Ole and felt a little sorry about maybe taking Lily away from him…if he could even pretend like that. “I agree she’s a nice girl. Pretty early in the morning for a conversation like this, pal. And I’m on my way to an appointment. Spot you a coffee later?”
Ole plunged right on. “And good. She’s not going back there with you, all alone, to stay at your place again.”
At this, Cam let out a chuckle. “I agree she’s not going back there alone.” He watched Ole’s jaw muscles clench and held up a hand. “It’s not what you think, man. I care about her safety, and it’s not safe out there.”
The other man snorted as he breathed in. His mouth opened. “I kin keep her safe.”
Cam nodded as if he agreed and said softly, “Or your mother can.”
Ole’s apple cheeks turned an even darker shade of red, while his expression became wounded.
“Just so we understand each other, brother,” Cam said. “I trust you. Lily trusts you. We don’t trust anyone else.”
Cam swallowed and wiped his mouth as he watched Ole stride away, each step like a league, until he disappeared around a corner. A hugely smiling fox-faced Sven drove the snowplow past and honked.
They had to have been fraternal twins.
Ten seconds later, Matt moved his face from the computer screen at the Freeman office to notice Cam stood at his side. “Buddy! I gotta tell ya, this is the third most exciting thing to happen in Barter Valley. Since I can remember, anyhoo. Take a load off.”
Cam set his coat on the back of a chair and rubbed his hands. “Third?”