If my dog doesn’t like you, I don’t like you.
“What’s that in your beard?” James asked me.
I shrugged and kept eating my sandwich. “What’s it look like?”
“Jizz,” James answered instantly.
I snorted and flipped him off.
“Then my best guess would be mayonnaise, since I’m eating a sandwich and all,” I said dryly.
He laughed and went back to his nap, kicking back as far as his chair would allow, which incidentally wasn’t that much.
We were waiting on Luke, our boss and the team leader of Kilgore SWAT, to get here so we could move out.
Everyone was ready to go but him.
Bennett was on the couch in Luke’s office with Foster on one side and Miller on the other. Jason was on his computer in the corner of the room. I was sitting on one of the visitor’s chairs and Michael was sitting beside me.
Then there was Nico, always the loner, standing in the corner of the room gazing out the window.
These men were my family.
I had my own family, of course, but I wasn’t close to them. They were my half brother and sister from my mom’s other family. I liked my sister well enough. My brother was a little weird, but what sixteen year old wasn’t weird?
Well, this one was weirder than most, but he was a good kid, which made him all right in my book.
My mom and my stepfather, however, weren’t my favorite people.
“Jesus, where the hell is Luke?” Michael asked.
Michael was impatient lately.
He was normally a saint, hence how he got the nickname ‘Saint.’ Today, though, he was acting off his rocker, and I had an idea that it had a lot to do with the woman I’d seen him out with three nights ago.
I’d been out on a date…well ‘date’ was too strong of a word. More like I’d been out for drinks with a girl, and I’d seen Michael and a woman together. A woman that looked suspiciously like Nico’s little sister. However, I wasn’t one to pry into other people’s lives, so I kept quiet about it.
Not that I wasn’t extremely interested in knowing what was going on; I just knew how much privacy meant to people.
“I’m here. Let’s ride.” Luke burst into the office long enough to be seen, then left just as quickly.
“So, what’s going on?” I asked, licking my fingers clean.
“Holdup. It took so long because I was trying to talk the chief into allowing us to go. It’s out of our district, but not by much. Pierson, Tide and Associates,” Luke said as we made it to the armored truck and started piling in.
I opened the door for Mocha, my dog, and shook my head as she refused to get in.
We had a love hate relationship right now.
She loved to make me look stupid, and I hated to be made to look stupid.
We were still learning how to interact as a team, her and me.
Mocha had been very attached to her previous owner, Trance, an officer that’d trained her out of Benton, Louisiana. A forty minute ride from where we were located.
When Trance had left her with us, me in particular, he’d had high hopes that we’d get along fine. And we did, for the most part. As long as I did what she wanted, when she wanted it, that was.
I’d tried letting someone else on the team try, even Foster and Miller, who happened to be Trance’s brothers. She actually hated them and wanted nothing to do with them.
And right now, she didn’t want to get into the truck.
So I got in and closed the door. The doors behind us closed as well.
Nico looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but I hadn’t. Not yet anyway.
“Just start to drive, she’ll get in when she realizes we’re serious about leaving,” I said, answering his unspoken question.
He shook his head, but started to pull out of the garage slowly, unsure if it was going to work.
We didn’t even make it out of the garage before she started to bark.
Nico came to a stop and I opened my door.
The instant the gap was big enough for Mocha to fit through, she was sitting in my lap, eyes staring out the window.
“I thought you said she was getting better,” Nico muttered as he pulled out of the driveway and into the street, lights and sirens running.
I pulled the cord that activated the horn and grimaced. “She’s doing better. We would’ve had to get to the road before she would’ve done anything a few weeks ago.”
“Whatever. As long as she’s willing to work when she needs to, I don’t care. It’s just weird, though, that she’s been with you for nearly a year and she’s not any better. Just show her who’s boss. That’s what I have to do with Hamburger. Let him know who the alpha is, and he calms right down,” Nico said.
Hamburger was Nico’s wife’s dog. A fuckin’ massive Saint Bernard that was, honest to God, two hundred pounds. He would also slobber on an intruder, while giving him kisses, rather than protect any of them. Mocha would protect me, but only grudgingly. Mostly because she considered my home her territory now, and wouldn’t abide any intruders entering her inner sanctum.
My bed, for instance, was only allowed to be occupied by her, me and my cat, Rayburn.
The last time I’d tried to bring a woman home had been just that. The last.
She’d gone fuckin’ nuts and scared the poor girl to death. Sally…or Sandy…whatever her name was, had to be scratched out of my book. She’d refused to ever come back, and I’d been inclined to let her.
I mean, if a little barking scared her, what would my job do to her?
Mocha’s attitude didn’t just extend to the one woman, either. It extended to many women. She’d been the only one that couldn’t handle it.
The others just put up with the noise. It wasn’t like their mind was on that anyway. That, or I wasn’t doing my job correctly.
“Shit, the news vans are already here. So are the Times and the News-Journal,” Nico muttered.
“Go through them and park at the back of the first block on the right. Don’t answer any questions. And Downy, keep the dog away from Susie, the reporter, this time. I realize she’s still scared of her, but there’s no need to torture her,” Luke growled from his position in the back.
I snorted. Susie. Her name had been Susie!
“Sir, yes, sir,” I said sarcastically.
Then I put my game face on.
It wouldn’t do to let the reporters and newscasters see me smile.
* * * * *
I hunkered down into the small space between the desk and the wall, covering my head and praying hard I’d live to see the sun rise another day.
Loud, raised voices started up again in the vestibule of the law firm’s main waiting area, and I felt bile rise in my throat.
My office was three doors down from the commotion and, although I was but a lowly secretary, I still needed the room to keep up with the massive amount of paperwork I was expected to wade through on a daily basis.
Which I was thankful for right that moment.
The men had come in the front door while I’d been in the restroom, walked straight past my office, not bothering to check and see if the others had even been in the office, before they went directly to find Mr. Pierson.
When I’d heard the raised voices, I’d crept down the hall and about fell over when I saw the two men surrounding my boss, Tate Pierson. Tate wasn’t a bad guy.
Although more touchy feely than I’d like, I didn’t want him to die.
I’d immediately called the police to tell them about the situation.
That had been thirty minutes ago, and I was getting worried. The argument was escalating, getting a lot worse than what it’d started as. Now there wasn’t any negotiating going on, only yelling about how Mr. Pierson had been successful in acquiring the divorce for his ex-wife. He was also yelling about having to pay her lawyer fees as well, even though, from what I was hearing, he’d been the one to cheat.
A large black form edged up to the glass of the front of our building, and my eyes widened as six men dressed in all black, with massive guns pointed in all directions, looked in on me.
I was spotted quickly.
I’d told the lady on the line where I was when she’d asked. I assumed that was how the man that was currently heading in my direction found me so quickly.
There was a beautiful German Shepherd at his side, but I knew immediately it wasn’t just any ordinary pet.
No, this one was deadly.
She was wearing a vest over her chest area, and her eyes were highly aware and scanning the area. She clocked me in a matter of moments, but dismissed me as no threat to her being.
The voices were what held her attention, and mine as well.
They were getting louder and more threatening. I just knew that, at any moment, words were no longer…
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
My heart jumped into my throat just about the time what felt like a bag of cement dropped onto my shoulders.
When my eyes opened and I started to struggle, the thing, which I now recognized as the man who’d made eye contact with me when he came into the door, held me immobile despite my struggles.
“Don’t move,” he growled.
Despite his holding me in place, I still managed to move so my foot was between what I expected were his thighs, though I couldn’t be sure.
“I said don’t move,” he hissed.
I couldn’t help it. My mouth ran away with me when I was scared, which it did. “I have a Charlie horse in my ass.”
I think I surprised him, because he went even more still, if that were possible, and raised his head slightly to look at me.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Shots were being fired rapidly, and couldn’t help it, I flinched.
But his eyes. His eyes held me steady, kept me focused so I didn’t freak. They were a beautiful green with golden flecks. They were the only thing I could see with the huge black mask over his face and the black helmet covering his head.
I couldn’t even see his skin at all, in fact. Nothing but his eyes.
Then something was yelled from the other room and the weight pinning me down, as well as those beautiful eyes, were gone.
His weight lifted from me faster than I could snap my fingers, and the moment we’d shared was gone.
In its place was a lot of questions. And a lot of visuals of the aftermath that I could never forget.