Under Northern Lights (The Six Series Book 6), page 1
Under Northern Lights
The Six Series, Book 6
Copyright © 2017 Sonya Loveday
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and
incidents are either product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manor whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
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Cover design by Sonya Loveday
Formatted by Sonya Loveday
Editing Services by Cynthia Shepp
Published by Sonya Loveday
Created with Vellum
And so we’ve come to the end…
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Thank you for taking this journey with me.
Did you enjoy Under Northern Lights?
About the Author
Books By Sonya Loveday
The hairy beast’s eyes met mine, unblinking.
It startled me, but I didn’t dare move in case it took it into its walnut-sized brain to charge.
“Shoo,” I said, keeping my hands held loosely at my sides. “Shoo. Go away,” I repeated, but the moose kept staring placidly at me through the window.
I’d traveled quite a bit for Cole Enterprise, but never to such a remote outpost as Nome, Alaska. The guys would laugh their asses off if they were here to witness my first run-in with a two-thousand-plus-pound bull moose and the fact there was only a window between us.
I wasn’t sure if I should move. Maybe I should draw the curtains and make a mad dash to the back of my house. What was the correct protocol for a stalker moose?
When I was told about my assignment, I was excited. The wilds of Alaska had sounded almost romantic. The adventure itself, not so much. And the cold? Good God, the cold! What was it the British said, it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey? I highly doubted a monkey, let alone a brass one, would hop a plane to go on an Alaskan adventure, but if it did, it’d totally end up with frozen cojones.
Why the hell hadn’t Nova been in Haiti like she was supposed to be?
And worse? I wasn’t going home, or what I called home, for a while.
My mission was two-fold. Pick the property to house another Cole Enterprise location, and then do everything I could to convince her to join the team.
As far as Cole Enterprise intelligence knew, she’d left Haiti and hung up her stethoscope when she returned to Alaska. The most recent intel said she’d came back home to take care of her ailing grandmother.
Her parents had divorced when she was twelve. Her father took off to Virginia once the paperwork was signed. Her mother stayed long enough to see her graduate high school and bounced the next day. Cole Enterprise found record of the mother living in Southern New Mexico with husband number three and their eight-year-old son.
Did she know?
No stranger myself to broken families, I compared our lives, realizing there were no comparisons at all. As far as I was concerned, the Bennetts were my mother and father. Life before that was something I never looked back on. When I was young, it had hurt too much. Now that I was older, I saw the pointlessness of looking back on the things I had no power to change.
The silver lining, should one need it to justify all the horror, was the life I’d created for myself. The friends I’d made. I knew in my heart they were put in my life for a reason. Maybe it was to make up for all the things I went through that no child should bear witness to.
The Six had been my rock. My support system. My family. I’d worried, a lot, when graduation rolled around. I knew we’d stay friends, but I also knew life would put a wedge between us that we’d be powerless to remove.
But something bigger had kept us all together. Fighting for the same cause, yet allowing us to be different. Individual.
The moose snorted, fogging the window from the other side.
“Shit!” I hissed as I jumped, grabbed the curtain, and then yanked it across the rail.
It slid with a screech, and something heavy bumped the window casing. I spun, hands covering my head in case the window shattered.
Seconds later, with my heart thundering in my chest like a stampede of wild horses, I straightened and reached out, pulling back the curtain just enough to see outside. The moose was gone.
A sigh of relief burst from me, and then I laughed. “Damn moose.”
I’d researched Nome before coming. Not much to it with Nome being such a small city. Knowing my way around would make things much easier for me, especially if an emergency came up. “But what kind of emergency could there be here?” I asked the empty room as I picked up the small piece of paper with her address written on it.
Nova… her name echoed along my thoughts.
Would she be happy to see me after I’d left without saying goodbye?
The first step to any mission was, well, the first step.
My first step was to stock the house and ensure I was ready for the climate challenges of Alaska. At the top of that list was buying the right clothing. T-shirts and jeans wouldn’t cut it—no matter how many layers I put on.
A chill rolled through me just thinking about stepping outside wearing the only winter jacket I owned. People might not believe it got cold in Alabama, but it did. We bundled ourselves up in sweatshirts, jackets, jeans, and sweatpants to sit in front of a fire while we blew steady streams of vapor out of our mouths when we talked. When winter cleared out, we got blistering hot summers that made people want to peel off their clothes and jump into the nearest body of water to cool down. Pretty much, it was the best of both worlds. I seriously doubted that even on its hottest day in Alaska, no one in their right mind would think of stripping down and jumping into any body of water other than a hot bath.
Thermal underwear would be needed. And soup. Adding those items to my list, I stuffed it into my pocket and scooped up my keys. “Time to suck it up.”
Downtown Nome, while small, was a hustling little seaport with folks coming and going. Some in vehicles, some walking. I’d acquired a small pickup when I’d purchased the house. Well, technically it wasn’t me who purchased it. Really it belonged to Cole Enterprise, but for security purposes, my name was on the deed.
I bought the property online after seeing a handful of pictures, and then locating it on our satellite imaging. When the ink was dry on the contract, Cole Enterprise sent someone in to set up wireless communications and a back-up generator so that no matter the weather, I’d be fully functioning with power and internet access.
The sooner I had Nova
Nadia and Grant couldn’t leave Scotland at the moment to start all over again. Knowing they trusted me for such a huge project sort of baffled me, but made me proud at the same time. Although, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would mean for the Six having another new facility.
An even better question was, who the hell would run it? I couldn’t see any of my friends raising their hands to voluntarily take a position in the arctic tundra. We were tried and true southerners who didn’t do the cold.
And at least it wasn’t January. Yet.
“Noni, have you taken your medicine today?” I asked, staring into her eyes. Eyes that always reminded me of melted chocolate.
Her nose wrinkled, brows pulling together as she pondered my question. “I don’t remember.”
I wanted to be angry. Wanted very much to snap at her and demand she take better care of herself, but the truth was she couldn’t help it. Knowing that knocked the feeling of selfishness I carried on my shoulders up a peg or two. Even though she’d all but pushed me out the door when the chance to travel halfway around the world had come up, I still felt guilty for leaving her to seek my own life.
I swallowed the sigh I felt building. After grabbing her pill container, I dumped the medicine into my hand. “Here, Noni, you hold these and I’ll get you some water.”
Her fragile hand shook as I transferred the pills from my palm to hers. “That seems like an awful lot,” she said, eyes darting between my own and the assorted mix of medicines she needed to take.
I nodded, understanding how overwhelming it had to be. “Remember though, some of those are vitamins.”
She snorted. “Vitamins. It’s a wonder they haven’t come up with an anti-aging pill yet.”
I selected a small glass from the overhead cabinet, filled it with water, and then handed it to her, waiting as she took each pill. “Wouldn’t that be nice?”
She pushed the empty glass into my hands and rolled her eyes. “Scientist. The only good thing to come out of them was the polio vaccine.”
She was feisty, my Noni. “Not true. What about insulin? The chicken pox vaccine…”
“Pah! The chicken pox vaccine. And how many kids still get it?” she said, waving her hand to dismiss the question. “Back in my day, we fought it on our own. Calamine lotion, a cool washcloth, and a whole lot of patience. No wonder most kids these days are such pansies.”
“Noni!” I said, trying my hardest not to laugh. It only encouraged her, and she didn’t need any encouragement on speaking her mind. She had that part covered.
“And don’t get me started on male enhancement medicines. What, I ask you, is the point of some eighty-year-old man worrying about that part of his body? Seems to me he has better things to think about, like making sure his affairs are in order and praying for the last eighty years of misbehavior. At least then, he might have a chance at getting past the pearly gates. Wouldn’t surprise me if half the male population, deceased that is, isn’t standing along the gates of heaven, scratching their heads and wondering why the devil they can’t get inside.” She made a huffing noise and pinched her lips together, her knobby finger coming up with a stern shake before continuing, “Find a smart one, Nova, but make sure he’s humble and worthy enough, or you’ll never see him on the other side.”
I caught her hand up in my own and pressed it to my cheek. “I will, Noni.”
“I’m hungry,” she said, patting my shoulder with her other hand. “We should go see what Stanley has on special.”
Just like that, the subject was changed.
“I’ll get our jackets,” I said, letting go of her hand.
“I’d like to wear my cardigan,” she announced.
“Okay, but you’ll have to wear your jacket over top of it,” I said, moving to the front closet.
“Whatever for? It’s spring, Nova,” she replied sharply.
I sighed, blew out another deep breath, and squared my shoulders as if preparing for battle. “No, Noni, we’re in September now. The wind will cut right through you, and the last thing you need is to catch a cold.”
After draping the jackets over my arm, I added the cardigan to the top and closed the closet door. I waited for her to bolster some sort of snarky reply, but I was met with silence.
She trundled into view. “Oh, good, you have my cardigan. Looks like it’s going to be a cold day. The weatherman said this winter will be the coldest it’s been in some time.”
A warning rang through me as she pulled her cardigan on and then stuffed her arms inside her jacket. It was in the eyes where I could see it, if I looked close enough. Her memory, or lack of it, went in and out like the electricity before it completely went out in a winter storm.
At her insistence, Noni and I walked to the Bering Strait Cafe just down the street. By the time we made it inside, she was red faced and wincing because her legs bothered her.
“And how are my two favorite girls today?” Stanley Lewis asked as he helped Noni out of her jacket.
“Flatterer,” Noni said, tugging her cardigan back into line. “We’ll have whatever’s on special, Stanley, and something hot to drink. Coffee, Nova?” she asked.
“Tea. Thank you, Mr. Lewis,” I said, guiding Noni over to what she thought of as her table. Her real reason to sit there was because it gave her full view of the road out front. It was often a reliable source of entertainment back when I was younger, and Noni’s mind wasn’t slipping. She knew all the gossip. Could tell stories about anyone walking by, and give back stories on their family as well.
We usually ate at the cafe for the better part of the week because Noni didn’t remember going and would insist we either have lunch or dinner there. Mr. Lewis, being a friend of Noni’s, knew her condition, and he was a Godsend most days. His menu hadn’t changed since the day he opened. But in Noni’s case, he always seemed to have a special on hand for her, and it was always different. I wondered if it was because he knew she needed well-rounded meals, and that I was nothing more than a passable cook… like Noni herself?
He’d shocked her the first time he offered her the special of the day. I remember her waving him off with a chuckle when he claimed it was something new he was trying out and then went on to tell her what he’d be teasing her taste buds with. Secretly, I thought it was his way of hitting on her since they were both widows and lonely. He kept the ruse up for over a year, which was long enough for it to stick in Noni’s long-term memory. Unfortunately, it was right after that year mark when things began to slip. At first, it was small things, things most people seemed to forget because they were too busy remembering all the bigger stuff.
Noni’s mind had been sharp, trap-like, so when she couldn’t remember bits and pieces of her day, it was more than concerning. Not one to mince words, Noni put her foot down and said, “For Heaven’s sake, child, everyone forgets things once in a while. I’m old. It’s bound to happen. Don’t worry yourself over the trivial things when there’s so many other important things needing your attention.”
“So what’s on special today?” Noni asked, squinting at the little chalkboard hanging by the register.
It was another thing Mr. Lewis did especially for Noni. If anyone else asked for the special while Noni and I were there, they’d get a sharp look, which told them to pipe down and order something from the menu. Most folks knew Noni and what was happening with her mind. It was a comfort of sorts, even in these overwhelming times.
“Looks like fresh Haddock, wild rice, and coleslaw,” I said, wiggling my eyebrows at her as Jan, Mr. Lewis’s only waitress, set our steaming mugs down in front of us with a smile before darting back to the kitchen.
“Well, if he keeps that up, I’ll be in here every day,” Noni said,
My heart expanded, lifting as if filled with helium. I loved hearing her laugh, but I especially loved hearing her laugh when something tickled her.
We were the only two in the cafe since it was past lunch and too early for dinner. It made it easier when Noni was having a bad day, as I’d come to think of them. On her bad days, I tried to keep her home with bribes like dinner and a movie with popcorn and soda as incentives. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and when it didn’t, our day went from bad to worse, especially if we showed up at lunch or dinner.
On her good days, I’d ask her to tell me stories about when she was little. It fascinated me hearing about how her family had come to be in Alaska. And the stories she’d tell were ones that shouldn’t be forgotten.
“Noni, tell me about when you first moved to Nome,” I said, wrapping my hands around the mug to thaw them out.
“You’ve heard that story a million times,” she said, chuckling.
“Make it a million and one?” I asked, quirking my brow as I smirked at her.
Her head tilted as she looked at me. “All right, but then I’m telling you about the time my brother went ice fishing with Papa and caught a polar bear.”
Intrigued, I almost asked her to tell me that one first, but decided against it. I really loved hearing about how her family had packed everything they owned, traveled through endless countries, and then sailed the Bering Sea just so her father could be a gold miner in Alaska.
SONYA LOVEDAY SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Relevance (The Six Series, book 2.5)Relevance (The Six #2.5)A Very Merry Sixmas (The Six Series Book 7)What It Takes (A Dirt Road Love Story)
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