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“What the hell is an unsub?” I ask the room when Maddox stops talking.

Coop stops looking around the kitchen before giving me his attention. “Unknown subject, Babe. You have any Cheetos here?”

“Jesus, Coop! Could you at least pretend to pay attention?” Beck barks, causing me to jump.

I can tell Beck is frustrated, knowing there isn’t anything we can do at the moment.

“Got it,” I say meekly. “So we sit and wait.”

This doesn’t do anything to help reassure me. Regardless of how safe I feel with Beck, and his ability to protect Chelcie and me, not having answers is downright terrifying.

“Don’t worry. We’re going to catch this jackass no matter what.” Beck’s words don’t help.

‘No matter what’ is the part that causes me the most concern. The thought of the happiness we’ve just now gotten back vanishing to some unknown threat, and not knowing how to prevent it causes my heart to hurt.

“Stop, Dee. Just trust me to do whatever it takes to keep you and Chelcie safe.”

I nod my head at Beck’s words and try to keep my breathing even, but inside, my gut is telling me that there is no way possible for this to end well.

Chapter 23

“How are you taking all of this?” I ask Dee later that night while we lay in bed.

She lifts her head off my chest and rests her chin against her hand. She just looks at me for a few beats, not giving anything away, before she says anything.

“I’m scared. I know you don’t want to hear that, but no matter how safe I feel in your arms, I can’t help it. There is someone out there that wants to hurt me, wants to hurt Chelcie, and who knows who else. Beck, he could be anyone off the street. What if it’s someone I pass every day and I have no clue?”

“I get it, I do. But, you have to believe and trust that we will keep you both safe. I won’t let this asshole take you from me, Dee. I finally have you back in my arms, and I’ll be goddamned if anyone threatens what we have.”

Her eyes close briefly and she takes a deep breath. I just continue to rub my hands lightly against her back. I would give anything to take this fear from her, but I can’t. Isn’t that the kicker? I would do anything for this woman, and I am completely powerless in this situation.

“I do, I promise. I know you and the guys will do everything in your power to keep anything bad from happening, but that doesn’t change the fact that the threat is here, and we have no idea how to stop it.”

I can hear the desperation in her tone. I shift our bodies so that we’re laying on our sides facing each other.

“Listen to me; you’ve come so far, Dee. Not just with your personal demons, but Baby, you’ve finally let it all go. The pain, the fear, all of it is gone and you better believe that I will fight an army if it means I keep this look of peace in your eyes. You hear me? I refuse to ever let you feel powerless or afraid. As long as I’m here, you will never, ever, feel that darkness touch you again.” I wipe the few tears that have fallen from her eyes and kiss her lightly. “Forever, Baby. You and me forever.”

“Forever,” she echoes with a wobbly smile.

She burrows as close as she can get, wraps her arms around my body, and tangles her feet with mine. Not once throughout the night does her hold let up. My girl knows exactly where she’s meant to be, and exactly who will move heaven and fucking earth to make sure that not one hair on her head is harmed.

****

Frustrated doesn’t even come close to describe how I’m feeling right now. It’s been eight days since we all sat down at my house to put all the cards on the table. Eight long days with nothing. Not one fucking thing. The unsub hasn’t sent another letter, hasn’t called, no smoke signals… not a damn thing.

Dee’s doing her best, but I can tell she is worried. I’ve been keeping a close eye on her. My worst fear is that she will start pulling into herself again. I know from experience that PTSD doesn’t ever completely go away. Some people go their whole lives after treatment ends and don’t have a setback, while others have triggers. So far, I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that she is struggling. For now, I just have to wait and watch her. She’s promised me that if she feels like things are getting dark again that she will immediately call Dr. Maxwell.

Even through all of this, she’s staying strong, and fuck, that feels good. It’s probably the only damn good thing that’s come out of all this. I have my girl and she has herself back.

Sighing deeply, I toss my pen down on my desk and turn to the latest email from Maddox. Apparently, Adam’s last call on his cell has been traced to a few towns over. He doesn’t seem to think we should be concerned yet, but I know he feels the heat of the flames getting closer. We’re trained to trust our instincts. We didn’t spend years overseas fighting an invisible army not to have a fine tuned gut. Trouble is coming, and just like overseas, we have no idea from which direction things are going to blow.

The ringing of my phone wakes me up from my thoughts. Caller ID shows ‘Greg Calling’ and that earns another frustrated groan. He’s been calling for the last few days, wondering if he can swing by to talk to Dee. I’ve been trying to put him off, because with everything else swirling around us, I need him to focus. No matter what, when he and Dee have their talk, he’s going to feel that, and he’s going to feel it hard.

“Beck,” I bark.

“You doing okay, Brother?”

“About as good as I can be doing. Ready to pull my hair out if we don’t start getting answers soon. How is it possible for one motherfucker to be a complete ghost? And this Adam shit? He’s not even careful, and we still can’t fucking find him. We’re trained goddamn Marines and two idiots are besting us. I don’t even think frustrated comes close to how pissed I am.” Fuck, that felt good to get off my chest. I haven’t wanted to pile all of that on Dee. She knows I’m worried, but I don’t want her to take my shit on top of her own fears.

“I understand. These guys will screw up, and when they do, we’ll be there.” He sounds just as pissed as I am so at least I know I’m not alone here.

“Anything new on your end?”

“Not a thing. Maddox stayed at the office all night monitoring the computers. Unfortunately, that asswipe turns his phone off when he’s done making a call. Whatever kind of idiot he might be, he at least knows his shit when it comes to tracking.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of, Greg. He could be on my doorstep, and we wouldn’t fucking know.” I need to punch something. Pound the shit out of anything to get rid of all this stress and anger.

“You’ve got eyes on the place, and a security system that would make the White House look like child’s play. Try to take a breath for a minute.”

“Not that easy, Greg, not even close to being that easy. One day. That’s all that we have left until she’s supposed to meet some impossible deadline. And now I have her going stir crazy.” I know she isn’t used to being stuck inside without being able to leave.

“Why don’t you bring her down to the office? I know it isn’t the spa, but at least it gets her out of the house, and we can still keep an eye on things here.” The hopeful sound to his voice has me narrowing my eyes. I hate questioning his motives, but I know exactly why he wants me to bring her there.

“Don’t play me for a fool, Greg. I know you want to talk to her, and I’m not trying to stand in the way of that, but are you sure you really need to do this now? In the middle of all this bullshit, you want to open this can of worms?”

“I need to know, Brother. It’s killing me not knowing, and thinking the worst. If anything, knowing will be better than the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head. Melissa thinks the same thing as you. That I need to wait until this is over, but fuck me, I just can’t.”

“Yeah, I hear you, but this shit… Greg, make sure you really want to know because it can’t be unknown. I know you, and I know how you feel about the females in your life. I’m not even going to lie to you. When Dee told me everything, I felt that hard enough that the earth shook. That’s my woman, my life, so I felt that, and I still feel that. I know she’s like a sister to you, and it doesn’t matter if there isn’t a relationship between you two like the one I have with her. That shit will hurt.” I spit the last few words out, gripping the phone so tightly I’m sure it will snap. “Hell, I lived most of it right by her side, and I didn’t even know the half of it.”

“Right. That doesn’t change things for me. I need to know, Beck. I’ve already heard it from Axel. Izzy was in tears for almost three full days. You don’t think I get that this shit is heavy? I know, and that’s what keeps running through my head. One of the most important people in my life was in pain for years, and I couldn’t see shit. I have to know.”

We don’t talk after that. I can feel my neck getting tight in frustration, and I growl in the phone. Fuck!

“It’s not just about you, Greg. I don’t want this to set her back,” I say quietly.

“What?” he whispers, his voice deadly calm. “Set her back from what?”

I realize my mistake right when the words come out. If I had any hope of calling him off before, now it is gone. He’s going to know with those words that it is probably as bad as he has imagined.

“I’m coming over. You want to sit in on this talk, that’s fine, but I’m on my way.”

When I hear the phone disconnect, I slam the receiver down, and push back from my desk with enough force to cause my chair to crash down. Fuck me. Looks like I need to go let Dee know that a storm’s coming.

Chapter 24

I need out of this house, and not being able to just go whenever I want is probably the only reason that I’m so antsy to leave. At this point, I don’t even care where the hell I go. I just want to see something other than the walls of Beck’s home. Chelcie is handling this a whole hell of a lot better than I am. Either that or she’s just hiding it better. I think her toes have been painted and repainted about fifty times. I’ve tried to get her to tell me what’s going on with her and Coop, but she just evades the question. If I didn’t think something was going on before, I definitely do now.

This morning has been exceptionally boring. We have all the work done for the next week it seems. When all that you have is time, it’s amazing the stuff that gets finished. I’ve contacted a real estate agent that I know back in North Carolina, and told him that I want it sold. Gone. I don’t want to ever see that building again. So far, there haven’t been any issues with my clients. They know that I will still be handling their business; it just won’t be from the same state.

The policyholder that Adam had screwed with wasn’t too happy when I explained the situation. Luckily, since it had only been a few hundred dollars, they agreed to take a settlement in order to not press charges.

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