Mr. Kline gripped his wrist and squeezed, stopping Riley from completing the tearing motion. "Jobs are scarce in this community. There aren't many other companies wanting to bring other employment opportunities to this backwoods place."
Naomi gasped. Riley motioned for her to stay behind him.
"Pastor Coole, is something wrong?" A woman's soft voice drifted from the doorway.
Riley turned, and his breath caught in his throat. The heart-shaped face of an angel appeared through the slight opening. Lips lined in pink stood out from a smooth complexion. She stepped into the office and a questioning expression filled the sweet, young face as large green eyes focused on him and blinked. Once. Twice.
Thomas Kline's attention also turned toward the young woman, and the man raked a leer over her body. Riley clenched his fists. The young woman flipped strands of her unnatural colored hair, a hue resembling a brand new rising sunset, over her shoulders. Curls surrounded her neck and cascaded down her back, a cloak of multitude colors.
"Now who do we have here, Pastor." Kline stepped toward the woman. "You sure do like to have an array of woman about."
"And you like to ignore the word 'no.'" The woman strode forward, confident and menacing, the angel persona vanishing.
Kline took one long step forward and stood face-to-face with the spitfire. "What makes any of this your business?"
"From what I know, I was asked to be here, and you weren't."
Kline reached for the woman's arms. "I'm advising you to leave."
She jerked away. "Or what?"
Riley stepped between them, confusion revving his heart rate and causing his thoughts to swirl. Who was this woman, and why did she show up now? This wasn't a lost soul who stumbled onto the church and sought directions. This woman intended to be here, meant to wage war with Kline. Why?
"This conversation is over, Mr. Kline," Riley said. "The communities have no desire to sell any of the property to Peake Mining or anyone else.
"I wouldn't be too sure about, Pastor."
"I'm sure," Riley said.
"I think I'll poll the towns and see what they have to say."
"I wouldn't advise it," the woman said.
"Don't be making threats you can't back, little lady." The man cast one last look at the bold woman in front of him then headed for the door.
"Don't be foolish enough to think I can't."