CIRCLES OF DECEPTION

By

Frances Evlin

...Risa parked her hatchback in the driveway, next to Scott’s SUV, cut the engine and mentally braced herself. God, how she hated confrontations. She’d never had to deal with them in “placid little Point Roberts” and had avoided them whenever possible since then. The few times she’d been unable to do that, they’d left her shaken, and angry with herself for not being more assertive. She knew she would face one when she told Scott what she planned to do, yet she felt she owed him that courtesy.

Sunshine—Seattle was enjoying yet another warm July afternoon—gilded the windows of the wood-frame rambler. The air smelled of fresh-cut grass, and lawn clippings speckled the concrete walkway. The front door stood open, allowing the screen door to let the slight breeze into the house.

Risa entered, dropped her handbag on the nearest chair and kicked off her shoes. Before she could call out, “I’m home,” Scott stepped into the living room.

Eyes hostile, mouth set in a straight line, he folded his arms and leaned against the door jamb. “Where have you been?”

“To the ATM. And gassing up the car.” She leaned against the back of the chair, facing him across the room.

“Yeah? You planning to take a trip?”

Why had she been circumspect? Why hadn’t she just come right out and said it? He’d guessed anyway.

“You left a road map beside your keyboard,” he said. “So where are you going?”

“To Eastern Washington. I want to look at a crop circle that’s showed up in a wheat field near Spokane.” Actually it was about eighty miles west of Spokane, but Scott wouldn’t care about details.

He shook his head. “Jesus, I might have known. A crop circle, huh? Risa, you are obsessing on this paranormal crap.”

She tried to keep the conversation civil. “I told you. They aren’t paranormal. They’re phenomena. And I’m not obsessing. I’m just researching material in case I ever—”

“Sure.” He straightened and gestured with one hand. “Just like the research you did on the little people who live under Mount Shasta.”

Naturally, he’d bring that up. “I still might do something with it.” Risa caught hold of the chair’s back. “But it’s a long drive to Northern California. This crop circle, on the other hand, is less than four hours away.”

“I can’t believe a woman with your education can be so damned gullible. If there’s one over there, the farmer made it himself, just like those guys did in England.”

Forget civility. His scornful words prompted a like retort. “Think, Scott! How many days did it take the contractor to lay out the forms for the apartment house down the street? And you say someone can make a complex design, in the dark, with hand tools, in only a few hours?”

She didn’t expect a logical response and she didn’t get one.

“I’ll bet the farmer’s charging admission to see the damn thing,” he said. “Doesn’t that tell you anything?”

“It tells me he’d be getting compensated for catering to curiosity seekers.”

He rolled his eyes. “And you’re going to be one.”

“Yes. I’m ahead of schedule with my current manuscript, and I can take a day off.”

His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. “You didn’t talk to me.”

“I’m talking to you now.” She tightened her grip on the chair. “And I figured you’d have the reaction you’re having.”

“What kind of reaction did you expect?” He waved his arms. “You spend hours on this research crap and you don’t get anything out of it, and you never will. Stick to your kiddie stories. That’s what you do. Forget the big ideas about writing a real novel.”

Damn! He knew where to plunge the knife...