It would take Hodge time to get used to Gunner’s family. She’d used a little magic to help Raven deliver her twins without any pain. The Bishops were crowding her, wanting answers Hodge wasn’t ready to give. She was a loner, and all these people around her would take some getting used to. Gunner felt the same way and told his family to just go home. His mom wasn’t too happy about that.
To the world, Gunner was retired from his service with the military, but he was too good at his job to just stop. Someone had placed a price on Gunner’s head. He just had to figure out who. They’d come close once, but Hodge had sensed the threat and took care of it. But more attempts were inevitable. Would Hodge be able to intervene the next time?
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Raven Addington was happy with her life the way it was. She and her daughter, Molly, were doing just fine on their own, despite what her mother had to say about it. Merriam, Raven’s mother, never had anything nice to say about anything, so why should now be any different.
Sawyer Bishop had turned in his notice at the police force. No matter how bad he needed the money, he wasn’t about to let a hot-headed partner make him a mark for an early grave. His parents needed his help on the farm, so he was happy to leave the force.
Sawyer was supposed to be on desk duty, but they were shorthanded, so he took the call that came in from the 911 dispatch. It would be his last, and then he would be a poor but free man.
When Sawyer arrived on the scene, it was bad. The poor woman had been beaten until she was unrecognizable and barely breathing. Although he didn’t know her personally, he knew Raven Addington was extremely wealthy, and that bothered him more than he cared to admit. Being a Bengal tiger, he knew from her scent that she was his mate. Her station in life was so far above his, he didn’t think it was going to work. But when she coded in the hospital, he had to make a quick decision and hope it wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass later.
Sasha Harvard had returned to the small town in Ohio because Hailey Riddle, a ghost, had led her there. Sasha had been speaking to the dead for as long as she could remember. In working with the police, Sasha had been in the field, helping to look for Melinda’s spirit when Melinda Havard had found her. Melinda told her that they were sisters, and the man that had killed her thought that she was Sasha. Melinda had done the best she could to deliver the child she was carrying before she succumbed to her wounds. The child was marked like Sasha, and the dead would find her when she was older. Melinda wanted Sasha to raise her child, and she warned Sasha that the man who had killed her would come after both her and the child because of what they could do. Sasha pulled out the business card of Sawyer Bishop, the officer in charge on the field, and told him that she’d like to meet him at his house and to send someone to pick her up.
Chandler Bishop knocked on Sasha’s door to pick her up. He heard a scuffle inside and broke down the door. A man was standing over Sasha with a baseball bat, and she had been beaten. When Chandler yelled at the man, he just disappeared. Sasha was shocked that he’d seen the man. Chandler thought the man was a vampire, Sasha told him the man was dead.
Chandler had found his mate and could see the dead now too apparently. And the little girl, Pip, her niece, would be theirs as well. A ready-made family and he couldn’t be happier. But would he and his tiger be able to keep them safe from both the living and the dead?
the living and the dead?
Wesley Bishop was helping out a friend by letting Emmie stay with him. He knew she wasn’t his mate, but she was good company. Emmie was hiding from her abusive brothers. When she asked Wesley to take her to the bank, she was meeting her best friend Penny and Penny’s grandfather, Joe, to go over their accounts, Wesley readily agreed.
Wesley thought Penny was about the prettiest woman he’d ever seen—feisty too, and when her scent hit him like a freight train, he was the happiest tiger shifter on the planet.
Penny, not so much. Like Emmie, Penny’s family had a way of getting their point across with a heavy fist. Trusting a man wasn’t easy for her.
Wesley was no quitter; he’d convince his new mate to trust him if it was the last thing he did. And keeping her safe was proving to be more difficult by the day.
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Dressed in her blues, Hodge looked over at Gunner. He, too, was dressed in his dress blues, what the service considered dressing up. His, however, were covered in medals and ribbons all over his blouse or jacket. Plus, his arms were decorated with patches and other items that she was sure no one, but he and a few other people had ever obtained. Hodge did know that if he were promoted again, he’d be in a whole new level of medals. He looked over at her while the funeral that she’d been brought to today proceeded. His wink, something that he did quite well, didn’t deter her from thinking this was a colossal mistake in them coming together. Tuning out the minister, she wondered what anyone would say if they knew she didn’t know this man any more than she had the other three that had died over the few days since she’d been rescued from the vets’ hospital. But, as a vet, she wouldn’t know how to do anything else but to honor his death the way he’d deserved. The same with Gunner. The man’s family, a young wife and three children needed to know that someone from the veteran’s administration would be there for her.
No one had since her husband had been brought into the States and treated for wounds he’d acquired while serving abroad—treated poorly, as it turned out. Hodge knew all too well what kind of treatment they and herself had received there. Captain Penhall had been killed by an enemy, not on foreign soil but right here at home. Also, the man that had taken his life was a friendly. A doctor that should have been helping him and the others instead of hurrying their deaths along, as he had “better things to do than cater to losers.” His words rang through every newspaper in the world when they were leaked from his military trial. The doctor did not have a friend in the world, it seemed, after that. Today was the fifth day she’d been out of the hospital. She wasn’t any happier than she had been while there, but at least she wasn’t hurting, nor did she feel she was going to be killed off every second—just a few times a day rather than all the time, as it turned out. She was, however, still very weak. Her body had had an infection so bad that it was a wonder she made it through Gunner changing her. Hodge looked over at Gunner when he touched her arm. It was time, he told her. The folding of the flag was something she’d seen done a hundred times, much more than she thought should have been necessary. But this was the first time she’d been one of the few that were helping at taking the draped flag from the casket and preparing it to be given to the wife of the fallen. Not only that, but it was going to be her duty to hand the flag over to Mrs. Shirley Penhall. It was an honor all within itself to do something so profound. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Mrs. Penhall nodded, her face red from the tears she shed in her sorrow. “If you need anything, please make sure you let me know. I’m here for you.” “Thank you so much, Captain.”
Nodding once, she moved back to stand with Gunner. Nothing could have prepared her for the overwhelming need to have him hold her. It was crippling, this need, and it took everything in her power to remain stiff and ready when the guns were fired for the man’s funeral. She’d not realized that the entire Bishop family had attended this funeral. Hodge didn’t know why she was surprised—they’d attended each of them so far. They all dressed for the part too. Sawyer was in his police uniform, and the others in nice suits that looked as if they’d been made with them in mind. When the family was leaving, she made her way to the car, leaning heavily on the cane that she’d been given. “I could help you with that if you’d let me.” She told Gunner that he’d helped her enough, she was already a cat. “I meant that I could carry you. You don’t weigh all that much, so it wouldn’t be that hard to pick you up.” “Such a charmer you are. No, I don’t want you to pick me up. I’m fine walking. Besides, wasn’t it you who told me I needed to get up and moving more?” He told her not to the point of exhaustion. “I couldn’t not attend this funeral. It’s not right that anyone within a mile shouldn’t attend this one because the man gave up so much to fight for us.” “He did. So did his family.” She was at the car by then and leaned against it while looking at Gunner. “Are you looking for a place to stick a knife? It won’t work, you know. We’re both immortal. I believe you were told that.” He grinned like he was off his meds or something. “I know that, but you can’t fault me for thinking about it. Don’t you have someplace to be?
Like, I don’t know, overseas or something?” He said he was retired. “Sure, you are. Like I’m retired. I doubt very much either of us would be able to retire after all we’ve been through. I know for a fact that you’ve seen shit that no person should.” “And how do you know this?” She said that her bedroom was just down the hall from his. “You hear me cry out? I’m sorry for that. I’ll sleep in another room from now on. Or outside. I don’t mind if—” Hodge punched him in the gut. When he stood up again, she drew back to hit him again. Before she could, Raven told her to stop. Glaring at her, she asked her why the fuck it was any of her business. “I don’t know, but people are watching us, and I didn’t want you to be slapped all over the front page of the paper. They’re just waiting for something like that to happen.” Raven looked at Gunner. “Behave yourself, Gunner. Wait until she’s fully recovered before you start driving her to beating the shit out of you.” Raven just stood there, rubbing her belly. There was a stiffness in her stance, more so than there normally was. Hodge moved closer to her and put her hand on her large belly. When Raven knocked it away, Hodge put it back and told her to fucking standstill. “You’re in labor.” Nodding, she saw the first bit of fear on her face. “How long? Do you have them timed?”
“They just started while we were standing there. But they went from little twinges to something powerful.” Hodge asked her if she realized that shifter labors were different than human labors. “I was told they’d be quicker, but not too much else. I’ve been putting off getting things ready.” “Ready or not, here it comes.” Hodge helped her to the other side of the limo they’d been standing next to. “Breathe. And don’t give me any shit about what I’m about to do.” “What can I do?” She told Gunner to make sure that Sawyer or the others didn’t come here. “All right. I can do that.” He kissed her on the mouth, then took off. She was still staring at him when she realized what she’d been doing. When Gunner disappeared over the hill, she looked down at Raven, who was lying on the back seat of the limo. It was good, she supposed, that they didn’t go for little cars. Not that she thought any of them would fit in one. The limo was going to be perfect. However, this was going to cause some shit to hit the fan. But this was an emergency. “Look. I can do this thing. I want you to just do what I tell you, and it’ll be over in no time. All right?” Raven asked her if she was going to be all right. “You’re an immortal, moron, what do you think?” “Snarky. Just what I need. All right, you do your thing. But I’d like Sawyer here at some point. He’s the father.” She nodded and looked up over the hill again to tell Gunner to bring Sawyer and his brother Quincey. They might need him. This link thing was kinda nice when things like this shit was happening. “What is it you want me to do?” “I want you to listen to my voice.
The timber of it, the calmness of it. Do you hear it? The way that I’m calm? That I’m not upset?” Raven said she did. “Close your eyes for me. Close them and think of something that is calming to you. No matter what it is, it calms you to the point of relaxation.” “Do I need to tell you what it is?” Hodge told Raven that she could see it, but to tell her calmly what it was, describing it in detail. “I’m sitting at my desk. There is no clutter on it. The board in front of me is cleared. I’m going to make it home on time today, and I’m excited about that.” “Good. Now, put it in a bubble above your head. I want you to be able to open your eyes and see the bubble there with you doing just what relaxes you. Do you see it?” She said she did. Hodge saw Sawyer coming down the hill and reached out to him to tell him to keep his fucking mouth shut, or she would shut it. “Reach your hand up to the bubble now, Raven, and touch it. It will attach itself to your finger, and I want you to bring it closer to your head. Like you’re able to see into a building from all levels.” What can I do? She told Sawyer to wait for her to tell him. That’s my wife there, and if you hurt her— You finish that, and I will hurt you to the point where you wished you weren’t immortal. Now just stand there while I finish this for her. Talking to Raven, she told her to bring the bubble over her head. It would be safe, she could breathe, but she could make adjustments in her work environment to get ready for the next day. Hodge kept up the magic she used to calm someone while she delivered the baby.
“All right, Raven, I want you to stay where you are and tell me what it is you see now. Look out the window from your office. Below you, there are others. Family that has come to bring you home to them to have dinner.” “Yes, I see them. Sawyer is there. And Molly. Even my grandma Holly.” Hodge handed the baby to Quincey and waited for Raven to speak again. “They’re waving at me. I can see them. Oh, Andi, this is the most wonderful way to relax. I have to have you do this for me again.” “You have no pain, do you?” She said she didn’t, and Hodge stuck her tongue out at Sawyer. “All right, Raven. You’re going to go to sleep now. Close your eyes, and then I want you to take ten steps in relaxing the rest of your body. Start at your toes. Relax them so that they’re not stiff. Then your calves and knees.” As she worked her way up the other woman’s body, relaxing her as she went, Hodge delivered baby number two. She’d known all along that there were twins, but not what the sex was. A boy first, then the daughter. Both of them were healthy and looked wonderful. As soon as Raven was deep into her sleep, Hodge fell back against the door and slid to the ground. It wore her out something terrible to do this, and she also fell into a deep restorative sleep. ~*~ “If you ask me that one more time, Sawyer, I’m going to pound your head in so far that you’ll need to start talking from your fucking ass.
I don’t know. All right? I don’t know what she did or how she did it. I only know that your wife is fine and dandy. And so are your children. Now, I want you to back the fuck off before I really do test the theory about all of us being immortal.” Raven came into the living room where he and Sawyer were. “Don’t. Just don’t ask me.” “I wasn’t going to. But I noticed that you don’t have any juice in your house, so I had your cook order some. Is he really an army grunt?” Gunner nodded and said that they were in the same holes together. “Well, he’s a great cook. I had one of his cupcakes. He said that he bakes when he’s nervous. Sawyer, leave your brother alone and go see how your parents are doing with the babies. I can’t believe I feel this good after giving birth to two nine pound children.” When she went toward the kitchen and Sawyer to the living room, Gunner made his way up the stairs to the bedroom where he’d put Hodge when they’d gotten home. She was still in the bed, but she wasn’t sleeping like he thought she should have been. “How are the twins?” Gunner told her they were both doing fine and dandy, something that he’d caught himself saying a lot today. But he explained to her that their parents were going to die. “Yes, I heard you telling Sawyer you were going to hurt him. By the way, who else besides them knows what happened out there?” “My family. Was it supposed to be a secret?” She shrugged and sat up in the bed. He started to help her, but one glare in his direction had him standing back. “Would you tell me what you did? That way, I can get them off my back and on to their own homes. I’m not used to having this many people in here at one time. It’s too much.” “Why do you think I’m still up here? I’m not good around people either. In fact, you being in here is pushing it. Are you all this hulking?” Gunner laughed. “From
where I am, you look to be about seventy feet tall. Sit down, will you? You’re making me a nervous wreck.” He sat down but was up again when she staggered a little going to the bathroom. She allowed him to help her, and that made him think she really shouldn’t be up and around just yet. But he knew better than to point that out to her. If nothing else, she was a fighter. “My mom is directing the cook to make you something brothy. I don’t know what that means, but Grunt, as he likes to be called, knows and is currently making it. I think he’s afraid of her.” Hodge asked him if he was. “Of course, I am. She’s my mother, but she is also the one person that can make me feel about two inches tall when I get out of line. Which I do quite often, but not where she can see me.” “Good to know. So when you piss me off, again, I can just go and see her.” He helped her as far as the door, and Hodge grabbed the vanity before turning to him. “I have a little bit of magic given to me by an old witch. I don’t know if she gave me more, but that one spell is all I’ve ever used of it. As I’m sure you’re aware, sometimes there isn’t time for a doc to come around and pull a bullet from one of your men. Also, men cry like babies, and it would keep them quiet too. I’m going to pee, then I’m going to go back to bed. I suddenly feel like death warmed over.” “Do you think she gave you more?” It took her a few seconds, but she did nod. “All right. We can work on that if you want. Or not. The very fact that you delivered Raven and Sawyer’s children is putting you in good standing with the rest of the family.” “What about you? Am I in good standing with you?”
He leaned against the door frame and told her that she was his mate, his everything. “Didn’t really answer the question, now did it? Go away. I have to pee, and I can’t if you’re going to be lurking right outside the door. Go get me something to drink. Please? Don’t hurry back.” “I’ll go and get it for you if you promise not to try and do anything but go from the bathroom to the bed.” She promised him she couldn’t do anything else. “If you can’t make it back, Hodge, I’ll carry you. Don’t overdo it again. I can’t stand to see you this weak.” “I can’t either. I might be here when you come back.” The door shut, but she didn’t engage the lock. “I’m not locking it in the event you have to come carry me back. I don’t want you busting down a door just to find me laying on the floor with my nooks and crannies hanging out.” Gunner was still laughing when he entered the kitchen. His mom was there, as was Penny, Raven, and Quincey. They all turned to look at him as he moved to the refrigerator to get out something to drink for Hodge. Mom asked him what was going on. “Nothing. She’s up and in the bathroom now. Weak, but stubborn about it.” He looked at Raven when he continued. “She said that she got a little magic from a witch once and that she has been using that particular thing on her men when they’d been shot. It also kept them safe, as the person was no longer feeling the pain they might be in and crying like a wimpy baby in the field. Are you satisfied with that answer?”
“No. And I’m sure you’re not either. She delivered twins from me, and I didn’t know a thing was going on.” Gunner asked her if she was mad about that. “I’m not. But I would like to know where she got it. I know you said witch, but I’m also sure you know witches don’t go giving out magic to just anyone.” “That’s all I know. If she wants you to know more, I’m sure she won’t have any trouble telling you. I’m not trying to be rude here, but I’d really like it if you all left us alone. She’s not very good around a bunch of people, just as I’m not.” Raven pointed out that they were family, not strangers. “No, you’re right. But you’re still in the house of two people that have spent a better part of their adult lives with only the grunts around them. It’s a little noisy and disconcerting for both of us to have to share much space. I’m sorry about how that sounds, but you have to understand that we’re different than the rest of you are.” Raven stared at him, and he wasn’t worried. Gunner, too, had a few tricks up his sleeve. Raven could read minds—all of them could, but not one of them would get past the barrier he had in place. Not unless they wanted to hurt themselves. “Come on, everyone. Gunner is right. We’re only making the situation worse by hoping she’ll come down here.” Mom looked at him before leaving the kitchen. “You take care of her, Gunner. All right? I know you will without me telling you, but she isn’t as strong as she might think she is.” “I think she’s stronger than even me.” Mom asked him how he’d come to that. “She hasn’t had any trouble at all ordering me around.
Nor does she have any trouble telling me she needs help. I don’t ask for help unless I’m dangerously close to losing it all. That makes me dangerous. Her? Well, she is going to keep me sane, I believe, and that will take someone with a strong heart and strong will. Which I’m thinking she has by the bucket full.” “I worry for you, Gunner. I always have. You know that, don’t you? That I love you?” He kissed her on the cheek and told her he loved her as well. “I want you to be happy. Will you be, you think? The two of you holed up in here all the time without family around all the time?” “We both need to re-establish ourselves in the population, Mom. That’s all. Like I said, we’ve been alone for the most part, and it’ll take us a little bit to get used to having a social life again.” Mom smiled and told him that social would be good. “I think you’re right. Don’t worry about us, Mom. I’m sure that if Hodge needs help with me, she’ll call you. She’s going to make me a different man than I am. One that you can be proud of.” “I’m always proud of you, Gunner. Always know that. No matter what you do, how you do it, I will forever be proud of you.” She kissed him on the cheek, then slapped him none too gently. “Don’t run me off again, young man. I’m still your mother.” “You are. And I’m sorry.” She left him there, with not only his juices to take to Hodge but some soup that Grunt had made for her. Gunner wondered how this was going to go. Two people living in a huge fucking house with no one but a cook. He decided that he was going to
need staff too. Someone to come in and clean up. Now that he was in the house all the time with Hodge, he figured it could use a nice going over once in a while. You’re talking to yourself. Or something like that. He told Hodge he was making a list of things he needed to get done. I’m still in the bathroom, by the way. I don’t think I can make it to the bed again. I’m sorry to put you through all this. I promise you, it’s no problem. I have some juice and soup that Grunt made. She asked if his name really was Grunt. No. His name is Alexander Parkinson the Fourth, but in the service, everyone referred to him as Grunt. It sort of stuck, you might say. Gunner got her out of the bathroom after helping her wash up a little. By the time he got her into the bed, she was nearly asleep again. He asked her if she’d take a little of the soup. He fed it to her, as she wasn’t in any shape to feed herself. “I think I overdid it today. This entire week, as a matter of fact.” He told her how they’d been running since she’d been released. “I have been sick before, but nothing like this. I feel just so zapped all the time. That infection, it took a great deal out of me.” “When you were rushed to the hospital, Quincey was in the ambulance with you. He told me that you coded twice while on the way. He didn’t know what you’d had done to you, but he ran a lot of tests. I guess he’s still waiting on the results.” She asked him why his brother would even care. “You’re my mate, and in turn, his sister. You should have seen him when he came out of the emergency room when you were taken up to your room. He looked like he’d gone a couple of rounds with you and didn’t come out on top.”
After feeding her about half the soup, Gunner watched her as she drifted off to sleep. He could have sat there all day and watched her, but he wouldn’t get shit done. Reaching out to his mom, he told her that he needed some staff. I see. You do know they’re going to be in the same house with you and Andi, don’t you? I mean, if you hire them, they’re going to show up for work. He told her that he was sorry. Again. I know, Gunner. But I can worry about the two of you and tease you a bit. Is she resting? Yes. Hodge ate some soup and a few cookies that Grunt sent up to her. Right now, she’s sleeping. It’s worn her out going to these funerals while trying to heal too. I hope she sleeps for a couple of days. It might do her some good. Mom told him it couldn’t hurt, that was for sure. Then she asked him if he was going to call her Hodge. I think so. I guess it suits her more than Andi does. You can call her that as well, but I’m sticking to Hodge. Call it a pet name, if you will. I think it does suit her, but I’m still going to call her Andi. He told her that was fine by him. I’ll get you a staff. While I’m at it, I’m going to be looking for things to fill out your home. Why do you only have two rooms on the main floor filled? I was sleeping outside until Hodge came along. It just never seemed the right thing to do, filling up a house that no one was living in. Mom asked him if he still slept outdoors. Not much since I brought her here. Once or twice. Mom, I have terrible nightmares, and I felt safer where I had room. I’m working on them. See that you do. And Gunner, you stay safe. I don’t want to be reading the paper and find out my son has been hurt. I know you’re still going out—I see it in your eyes.
So whatever you’re doing, please make sure you’re doing it safely. He told her he would. I love you, Gunner. You’re the only son that I never worried about getting into trouble. Never doing one of those silly things that young boys and young men do. You’ve always shown that you have a good head on your shoulders, and you know how to use it. Thanks, Mom. She told him again that she loved him. And I love you with all my heart. Even with my mate here now, you’re still the number one woman in my heart. I hope someday you say that to Andi. A girl like her, I don’t think she’d get into pretty words or romance, but she’ll need to hear that you love her. He said that he’d tell her, daily. But only when she was ready to hear it. Good. I’m going to hold you to that. All right. I’m going to start making a list. I’ll talk to you later. Let us know if we can do anything for the two of you. Gunner kissed Hodge on the forehead and left the room. He’d done nothing the last few days but try and keep her safe. He should have realized this a couple of days ago, but she was more than likely being safer than he was. He’d even given her a gun to put under her pillow so she’d feel safe. Going out into the waning sun, he stretched every muscle in his body before shifting to his other half and taking off to the woods. It only took him an hour to make his body feel better. Running as his cat, he could do things with him that he could never do as a human.
When he reached the fake dead tree that he’d had been put in the woods for him, he pressed the keypad to allow him access to the rooms below the tree. When the tree moved back, he took the stairs down to his lair, locking the door behind him. Gunner would have to bring Hodge out here soon. He knew it was about the safest place to be when someone came calling that wanted him dead. There were enough factions that had his nickname high on their list, but no one that he knew of had his real name. If they did, they were dead before they could tell anyone. Ghost. That’s all the people he was after knew him by. Even the people he worked with only knew him as Gunner, and not the name that he was called. Someone that could slip in and out of a situation and never be seen. He had four messages from his handler and two messages from his attorney. Answering the ones from his attorney, he was glad that the man was going to fax him the information he needed to put Hodge on his accounts, as well as having her the beneficiary to his insurance. He’d never claim it, but no one knew that but him and his family. One of the messages from his handler told him that his money was in the account set up for payment. Making sure there were no viruses on the thing, he opened it up and transferred the money to one of his many accounts. Just as he answered the last email from handler number seven six-eight, he got another message from them. He read over the job description twice before he realized he wasn’t supposed to be getting this, and it wasn’t a joke. Printing out a copy of it, he was ready to answer it when the email simply disappeared. Looking at the printer while it geared up for the job, he hoped the fuck he’d gotten it. As soon as it started to print, he got another email from his handler that told him he’d been hacked.
There wasn’t any way Gunner’s computer had been hacked. Also, there wasn’t any way for them to tell if he’d been the one that had his computer fucked with. As soon as the printer was finished with its job, he took his phone out and took pictures of it. Then he set to work on where it had come from. After an hour, he knew that it had come from his handler. The IP address on the computer had been the same. Now all he had to do was figure out why someone had put a hit out on him and mistakenly sent it to him to be done. Something was really fucked up here. The third email he got from his handler, he ignored, as he had the first two he’d gotten from her when the email stated he’d been hacked. Something was wrong here. Something dangerously wrong. As he was shutting down his computer and turning on the tracker, he was ready to go back to the house. He was nearly to the stairs when he turned back and picked up the letter. He wouldn’t ask his family for help on this, nor would he tell them what he’d gotten. First of all, they’d want to help him out. Secondly, they’d be hurt if he told them, of that he was positive. Going back to the house, he was both surprised and pleased that not only had Hodge gotten up, but she’d made it to the kitchen with his friend and cook. “Everything all right?” He told her he wasn’t sure. “Well, that’s not terribly helpful.
I wanted to tell you that I got the strangest email while I was resting. I was going to show it to you, but you seem to be really stressed right now. I can help you by listening if that will take that scowl off your face.” “Tell me what you think is strange about an email.” She stared at him for several moments, and then he put out his hand, knowing somehow that she’d printed hers as well. “I’ll tell you about what is going on later. I need to think first.” “All right.” Handing over her email, she watched while he read what it said. It was the same email he’d gotten. However, he noticed something on hers that he’d not seen on his own. She’d printed it up with who it had been sent to. It looked to him as if it had been emailed to everyone on the sender’s list. Instead of telling her, he handed his to her. “I printed it out in your office. I hope you don’t mind. Why would someone send out a hit on you? Or, for that matter, why would they send it to you and I? I don’t know any of these people.” “I don’t know. But I intend to find out.” He looked over her email with all the names of the recipients on it. “Are any of these people here, are they people that you’ve worked with before?” “No. The only name I sort of recognize is the first one. The president. I mean, I can’t for sure say it’s him, but that’s what he goes by, correct?” He told her he thought so. “Perhaps this would be a good time for you and I to have a long talk about shit. You know, just airing out our dirty laundry. Like, you tell me what it is you do for a living with the special services, and I’ll tell you what I did.” “All right. But first I have to show you something.” She said she was game. “How are you feeling right now? I mean, up for a walk?”
“Yes. I think I was just stressing out over all this shit and had me a good nap. Then taking a chance, I took a long bath to soak. I feel tons better.” She watched him as he paced the room. “This is going to be bad, isn’t it? Something I’m betting your parents don’t even know about.” “No, they don’t. I’d like to keep it that way too.” She nodded. “Come on. I want you to see what I’ve been doing. But if you don’t want to know, or it’s too much, let me know now.” “I want to know. I want to help you.” Gunner wasn’t sure she could, so he just nodded. “All right. I’m ready. Let’s take a walk.”