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Athos

Providence Series

Book Six

By

L. Ann Marie



Book Six Continues our Providence Story with Former SEAL Miguel Saber.

Quiet player, FBI Ops Commander, military hero…Miguel climbs out of his yearlong funk and owns his asinine behavior just in time to meet Kyra with her heart-stopping smile, no name, no background and the memory of dead relatives she can’t talk about.

Our sexy Spaniard isn’t going to let her get away but has no idea of what he’s getting into.

The golden girls provide our comic relief to this story of love, redemption and acceptance.

Action and adventure comes with help from the Princes and MC.

Jump into the mystery, fast-paced action scenes, the heart-wrenching storyline and once again the laugh out loud situations. The Providence FBI Ops Office is waiting for you.

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

The Providence Series: Saber’s Athos Book Six

Copyright 2018 © L. Ann Marie

Published by: L. Ann Marie

Editors: Jo-Kat Author Services

Cover by Lori Birkett

Cover: BigStock

This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from L. Ann Marie, the author/publisher. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

*** Author Note: In my books, my characters deal with threats that are all too real in today’s society. Bomb threats, school lockdowns, hostage situations and murder are all part of FBI investigations. Keeping American’s safe is the job.

No children, seniors or cute little puppies are killed in my story. Nevertheless, the subject matter may be too sensitive for some readers.

Cast of Characters

Miguel Saber - On-Site Commander of Athos, former SEAL, brother to Rafael, Pedro and Telia, son of Helen

Kyra – Witness protection under Rafael Saber via The Director

Philip – cousin of Kyra

Télia Saber - Sister to Rafael, Miguel and Pedro, daughter of Helen, artist, wife of Ford, mother of Alejandro.

Alejandro Joshua Ford - son of Télia and Ford

Greg Olsen - friend to Garren, Myrna’s new man

Cassidy (Warner) Saber - Assistant DA, married to Rafael, mother of Micah

Micah Javier Saber - son of Rafael and Cassidy

Myrna Lecompte - Widow, Cassidy and Harper’s mom, golden girl

Donna Perez - Assistant DA, Cassidy’s best friend, former corporate lawyer, married to Dallas Perez, mother of Bailey

Bailey Amaryllis Perez - daughter of Perez and Donna

Stella - Parker’s mom, Myrna’s best friend, golden girl

Mrs. Helen Vargas - Rafael’s mom, golden girl, married to Henry

Henry Vargas - Kimberly’s dad, married to Helen

Gladys Vargas - sister to Henry

Ida Vargas - sister to Henry

Daniel Hampton Wheeler - son of Kimberly and Joshua

Kimberly (Vargas) Wheeler - Lead Investigator and Intel analyst for EROP, retired Marine, married to Joshua Wheeler, daughter of Henry, mother of Daniel

Pedro Saber - Whiney brother of Rafael, Miguel and Telia Saber

Director Price - Director of the FBI, creator of EROP

Rafael Saber - (ESAC) FBI Enhanced Special Agent in Charge of the Enhanced Resident Office Providence (EROP), reassigned Delta Commander, married to Cassidy, brother of Miguel, Pedro and Telia, father of Micah

Hampton Ford - On-Site Commander of Aramis Ops team, former SEAL, married to Télia, father of Alejandro

Joshua Wheeler - On-Site Commander of Porthos Ops team, former Green Beret, married to Kimberly, father of Daniel

Brekan Graywolf - On-Site Commander of D’Artagnan Team, former Green Beret, married to Harper Lecompte

Dallas Perez - On-site Commander of the Investigator team, Personnel agent for EROP, former Assistant SAC for NY FBI field office, former prosecutor, married to Donna, father of Bailey

Harper (Lecompte) Grayworlf - ME/Forensics on Porthos, daughter of Myrna, sister of Cassidy, wife of Brekan Graywolf

Ralph Waite - Second for Investigators and Intel analyst, former Delta

Benavides - Lead Investigator, Cyber Intel analyst, former SEAL

Susan Sprague - Investigator for EROP, former Marine Intelligence

Willow Springer - Numbers woman for EROP, also an ESA for Investigators, former Providence FBI

Marks - Lead Investigator for EROP, former lead Detective for Boston PD

Alexia - Investigator team member

Peters - Lead Investigator team member

Schneider - Investigator team member

Hank Henderson - Investigator team member

Marino - Investigator team member

Lincoln - Lead Investigator team member

Brentwood - Ops Support

Kelly - Ops Support

Franklin - Ops Support

Cannon - Food service

Ohio - Food service

Brayton - Food service

JD - Munitions Supply

Garren Ford - Ford’s twin brother

Mr. McKay - Dalton's father, ex-army, amputee, recipient of a prosthetic from Mitch Baxter

Sammy - Friend of golden girls

Curt - Old Poop, Stella’s man.

Crusty Codgers - Friends of golden girls, Bowling team

Old Poops - Friends of golden girls, Bowling team

Joe - China Royal owner

Father Rizzo - Pastor at local church

Libby - Assistant at group home

Cook - Perez’s childhood cook, who turned out to be his Abuelita

Maid - Perez’s childhood maid, who turned out to be his Tìa

Beau, Tina - Perez’s uncle and aunt

Hope - Perez’s cousin

Cousin Dallas - Perez’s cousin

Dillon - Perez’s cousin

The Baxter and MC Members

Mitch, Jess, Baxter men, Jared, Pres (Ben James), Steve Knight, Danny LaPonte, VP, Ricky Callahan, Geek, Rich LaPonte, Alex LaPonte, Ben Knight, Dakota Lightfoot, Aiyana Baxter, Jessie LaPonte-James, Christian Blackhawk, Jacob & Jeremy Blackhawk, Brantley Blackhawk, Jason Callahan, Lily Knight, Sheila Jackson, Eliza LaPonte-James, Rayne DeFario

Baxters Security

Randy

Ryder

Brad - Garren

Seth -Alejandro

Raul - surveillance

Michael - Télia



Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Epilogue

Other books

Contact L. Ann

Chapter One

Miguel

“Come to the spirit party, dude. You don’t have to be Indian.”

I smile at that. “Rafael will fucking kill me if I start the Indian shit, hermano.”

He waves it away. Everything comes so easy to Ford. “It’s about looking at the day and putting it into perspective. There’s no chanting or drums. We wear our headdresses, but it’s just for effect. Half the unit shows, dude. They aren't Indian, but they get something out of it. Wheeler might even show tonight. It was a busy day for the teams.”

“Wheeler shows?” He’s the least likely Indian around. Keeping things in perspective is what I’ve been doing lately. It sounds easy, but it’s work when you’ve fucked up like I did.

“Yeah, he shows when he’s got shit on his mind. Kimberly’s still on bedrest and it was back to back Ops today.”

I nod knowing I’m not showing. Brekan was running today with him and Wheeler so he’ll be there.

Perez sits. “I’m in.” He puts two beers in the center of the table.

Ford nods. “Donna doing okay?”

Perez smiles. “Yeah, she’s sleeping. She won a big case today but was exhausted.” He looks proud. I can’t believe Perez and Donna are having a kid. They are not a couple I’d put together. She’s so loud and he’s just the opposite. Everything he does is behind the scenes.

Ford slaps his back. “How many did you clear today?”

“Eight, but I spent most of it writing warrants and looking up wording for the international waters’ case. Next week will be busier, I’m glad the four teams will be on.”

Shit. Every couple of months we get slammed with all four teams running. I’m glad D’Artagnan got a pilot. That should help.

Ford’s watch beeps and he stands. “I need to feed my little man. I’ll be out at ten.”

“He’s a good dad,” Perez says watching him walk through the cut-out.

I nod. It surprised the hell out of me but he is. I’ll never forget seeing him throw a baby to Garren one second then on the ground with his head split open the next. I thought he was dead.

“Did Garren get the trees planted?”

I smile thinking of my buddy. “Yeah, he’s good at the plans, it looks nice.”

A woman from the bar keeps looking our way. I’ve seen her before, but it’s been a while. “You doing okay?”

Turning, I watch him. “Yeah, why?”

He takes in the bar before looking at me. “You seem distracted lately. The pool went in but you don’t seem happy with it.”

I shrug. “I haven’t been in it much. With the babies, I’m always here or at Rafael’s. It’s been a busy couple of months. I need to show my nephews I’m here for them.”

He nods, but I can see he isn’t buying it. “You need to get Pedro out of your house. He should have enough for an apartment by now.”

Pedro is still a whiny bastard. “He’s moving. He’ll be out next week.”

“Good, then you can enjoy your pool and trees,” he says smiling. The guy sees everything.

I laugh. “I will, hermano. He sucks the life out of me when I’m home. I avoid home.”

He nods. “I’ve noticed. Being around the rest of the family is good, but you need your own space too. Pedro was good for bringing everyone together and showing us what’s important.”

Looking around I think about that. I’m closer to my family than I was. Too close to Pedro, but Rafael, Télia, my mom and Henry are people I’m happy to call mine. “I wasn’t going to answer because it feels like Pedro’s whining but you’re right, hermano. Pedro got me closer to the family.”

He smiles. “You can never be compared to Pedro, but you’re more confident now than when you first got here.” His eyes are intense. He’s looking for an answer but won’t ask.

I nod in thanks. I feel like I’m thinking clearly now that everyone is close. “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt connected to my family. I was always closest to Rafael but when my dad died he changed, he grew up fast but never talked about the family we left behind. We were warned that contact could get us or them killed. It was like they just stopped existing. I knew no one and nothing about New York. Rafael was so matter of fact with everything, but I was just a kid, full of doubts and alone. Pedro was a younger version of the pain in the ass he is now. Télia was quiet, devastated and more focused on her art than talking to anyone.”

He nods with no judgment in his eyes. It’s encouraging so I go on, “I learned how to want during those years. I wanted to wake up and see Tìo Mattie and Tìa Rhea helping with breakfast, my little cousins running around the kitchen, my dad sitting at the table smiling with his coffee. Mostly, I wanted my mom to stop crying and my big brother back. Losing my dad and everything that was familiar wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t lose Rafael too.

“Over the last few months, we’ve gotten closer. Pedro did do that, but I’ll never thank him for it. He’s been in my house for two months now. That should be thanks enough.” I smile thinking it’s more than enough.

He watches me then nods. “The day I shot my father was the day I realized I lived in a prison. I was alone my whole life. The unit helped me feel like I was part of a family, even though I didn’t know what family was. Knowing they existed then losing them would have hurt more. Like Ford and Garren. Everyone could see he was broken but couldn’t figure out why. He’s so likable and outgoing, but was somehow disconnected. Like you. Now that you have that family back, you don’t have to want anymore. You’re old enough to go see who you miss and you have Rafael back.”

I watch the bar wondering how he sees so much but I’m smiling. “You’re right, hermano. Henry got me the numbers and I talk to our family in Spain again. It’s different but still feels good. My mom is happy and Rafael talks to me more now than ever before. It’s been a busy few months but it’s been good. I don’t wake up wanting or wondering anymore.” I still feel alone sometimes but I think it’s the house. I just need to get used to living away from everyone.

He looks genuinely happy for me. I don’t get why, but it has me turning away swallowing hard. His bottle hits mine drawing my eyes back to him. “Now you can find your girl.”

I shake my head. I fucked up so bad I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to find a woman. I know Harper wasn’t it. I was so sure. Harper was right. It took months and me seeing Ford with Télia to realize I had no clue what love was. Ford wanted to know everything that could possibly touch Télia. I never even thought about it. Rafael became my big brother again during that time, so it wasn’t all bad, but it was fucking embarrassing. “I haven’t been looking.” Turning away I watch the bar. The woman that was watching us is all over Mertz from Porthos.

Perez stands up. “You should start. It’s ten, come to the spirit party. I always feel settled when I leave. It’s weird because we don’t really talk much, but the hard days always seem better after and the girl is claimed, at least for tonight.”

I just smile. He doesn’t miss a thing. Pedro is at the house, that’s a good enough reason to stay for a while. I follow him to the spirit party.

Chapter Two

Four days

Miguel

Walking into Ops, I’m on edge as soon as I see Brekan. Embarrassment for how I acted weighs heavy on my mind. I need to fix it but don’t know how. Aramis is on the board. I nod to him and turn toward Robinson. “Where’s the Commander?” I ask sitting down.

“ICR. Commander Perez has a DC case closing.”

I smile thinking they should open the dividing wall on weeks like this. We go over the reports and I stamp them with a thumb. We got re-routed on the way back but they were both quick jobs.

“I’ll be right down. Vargas already called for this,” Robinson tells me.

“Vargas?” She was on bed rest.

He laughs. “Waite hooked her up to work from home. She’s been calling the analysts all morning. I think she’s pissed that she missed the manhunt. All she can really do is run reports.”

“She must be driving Wheeler crazy.” I’ll have to stop in. He nods spinning around to answer his phone. I walk out smiling. The team quiets down when I walk into maintenance. I go right to Frost and start restocking his vest. “We’re at lunch then training until we’re called.”

No one says a word. I look around wondering why. “What’s up?”

“Aramis is two away from all Sniper,” Hobbs says with some attitude.

I nod. “We’re three but that’s three that are already SWAT. The analysts, MEs and pilots aren’t usually counted in there but the new training counts everyone.”

Weeks shakes his head. “Asim, Lecompte and Keys are Sniper level.”

I nod. “Robinson and Bande weren’t military and they’re at SWAT. You’re comparing Asim, a Green Beret, and Keys, a Ranger, to a guy that ran a computer for the state department and a doctor that ranked highest in his class three years ago. Sniper is what we’re shooting for, but I’m not in competition with the other teams. I’m proud of them for making SWAT. Look at the men and their backgrounds, not the stats. Robinson logs twenty extra hours every week in the ICR. He’s still at SWAT level.”

“He works at the greenhouse with me too. Every Saturday or Sunday he’s there giving four hours,” Cabot says.

I nod. “Don’t get caught up in a competition that isn't one. It’s not fair to the men that are putting in more time and effort than you did. Sniper is an easy jump when you started as SWAT or even made it past boot camp. It’s not so easy when you start from a keyboard or right out of school.”

“We should take them out for a beer.” Souza makes me laugh.

I’ve been watching Hobbs and Stevens for their reaction. They hold the highest stats right now, so I’m glad to see what was said resonate with them. The last thing I need is competition throwing the team off. Hobbs has been pushing hard over the last month.

Stowing the vest, I walk out with half the team and we get the boxes counted and repacked. Robinson comes in just as I’m signing off and we meet the rest of the team in the dining hall. They’re still quiet but smiling.

Mondo pushes a seat out for Robinson. “What’s our week look like?”

Robinson looks surprised sitting down by Mondo. He usually sits with the Investigators. “The teams will be running full out.”

As they talk, I watch the reaction. Respect is showing as Robinson explains about the cases closing. When Hobbs jumps in with questions, I relax. “Commander?” Ohio says on the side of me.

“Spaghetti, thanks, Ohio.”

Mondo turns, “Make it two.”

Ohio leaves with seven for spaghetti. I roll my eyes seeing Pedro come out with a tray for the Investigators’ table. With all his bloated ego talk about how much money he made, he’s still working in the dining hall. He had an interview last week for a desk job downtown. I guess he didn’t get it. At least he’s out of my house.

Knowing he didn’t feel like part of the family hit me hard. I felt like shit seeing his reaction when Ford told him he was. I don’t really trust him but he shouldn’t feel alone. We’ve never gotten along but he’s still my brother. When Cassidy said she’d pay for him to move, I took him in. They thought I was crazy but he would have taken advantage of her paying and my house has room to spare. I was holding his bill and rent money until he had enough to move out. The guy is clueless when it comes to bills. Garren and Perez helped when he wanted to use his cards for deposits. Perez took his cards away until they’re paid down. This is all shit my dad talked about so I stayed out of it. I sit back when Ohio comes out with a tray. He has us served and bread on the table in no time.

“Commander Miguel to Ops.” My watch tells me.

“Athos stand readied for transport.” The intercom says.

“And so it begins.” I hear Weeks before I’m out the door.

“I have to clear the table now! I still have orders to take.”

My feet stop with Pedro’s whining. “Better than a bomb to dismantle before it kills you, your team and hundreds of people.” I hear Frost and move.

When Cannon yells, I’m smiling. Pedro is going to lose this job if he keeps it up. Walking into Ops, I stand at attention listening to the Commander talking to a contact. I hate missing kids. Lately, it’s a normal job for us. I hit my phone. “Robinson, stand readied for Ops.” I hear my voice right behind me.

“Roger, Commander,” he says walking by. He bags his laptop and moves quickly. When we do scheduled Ops, we don't need the analyst on-site, with a missing kid, he’s needed right with us.

The Commander turns and I step over. “Snatch and grab from a mall forty minutes ago. Benavides will have it on your desktop for planning en-route.”

“Roger.” I flip us on and start out the door.

“Commander.”

I look back and see Rafael and Brekan smiling. “It’s high profile. Lt. Governor’s kid.”

I shrug. “Missing kid is a missing kid. We do the job the same no matter who’s kid it is.”

Brekan laughs and Rafael nods. “I’m glad we think alike, they may see that different. Don’t take shit from them.”

I smile, I love my brother. “Never, Commander.” I hit the door jamb and double-time it to the chopper.

***

“Good job, Athos. Another day of no casualties while boots were on the ground. Robinson and Stevens, the governor is impressed and sends his thanks for that missing kid job.” I give them a minute to take congratulations. “Clear the chopper, men. we’ll be down when the reports are finished.”

With three reports, they’ll be done before we will, but I don’t say it. Laser maintenance is quick and Frost worked with the vest.

Ops is still running with Perez and the Commander when we walk in. “They're blacked out, take D’Artagnan, Commander.” Rafael goes right back to Wheeler.

Perez looks relieved. “Where are we, Asim?”

“They’re being jammed, mics are spotty and cams are static.”

“Put tracking up and drop the cams lower. Robinson, move the satellite over and get me the thermal infrared sensor. Commander Graywolf, we’re getting set up to guide by tracking and infrared.”

“Roger, Commander, we’re just moving in. D’Artagnan, slow it down until Ops can track us.”

I hear the team roger while reading the board. It’s an emergency hostage situation. “Perez, we need Waite to get inside video back up and maybe clear what’s jamming them.”

He looks over and I note the wall is open. Waite sits with Asim and starts talking. My tracking is up but I’m waiting on the satellite. Brekan must be ready to crawl out of his skin. “Robinson?”

“Switching now, Commander. Satellite just zeroed in.” I count the seconds as three but it feels like twenty.

“Mic on. D’Artagnan, hold. Commander, hot spots are all over the building. Four feet forward puts you stepping on one. D’Artagnan, freeze. Brown, next step has you on a hot spot. Target to your right, Greene. A door stands between you.”

“Robinson, what're the hot spots?”

“Excessive heat. Usually high drawing technology. I’d say sensors but we can’t get in close enough and have no video.”

The Commander looks back. Fuck. “I need to split the team. Perez, take Gagnon, County and Nance. Robinson, take Reese, Lewis and Greene.” I get rogers and look at tracking.

“I open mic’d the guides to the team members. I can take three, Commander Miguel,” Asim says.

I’m relieved. “Snipers and McMillian, Asim. Leads, watch the paths and keep them off the hot spots.”

With nods and rogers we start. “Commander Graywolf, I have you, Willis, Pells and Rhodes. Asim transferred open mics to the lead for each team member. You have seven targets walking the building, two groups huddled on the first floor in different rooms...”

***

“Video is up, Commander,” Waite says.

I nod but keep talking to Brekan. The Commander moves to Waite and I hear jammers but focus on my tracking. “Brown cleared the last target walking the building, Commander. One target in the hostage room on the second floor is left.”

He sends Gagnon, his Breacher, to get him into the room. A hot spot on the floor right in front of the door isn’t going to make it easy. Watching his tracking move, I smile. He’s fucking crazy. “How big is the hot spot?”

“Three by three, Commander.”

“I got your distraction, Gagnon.” I hear banging like a fight hitting the wall as he’s moving closer to the door.

“Target moving to the door,” I tell him and see his heat dot move fast.

The door opens and Brekan’s dot flies through. Gagnon's dot drops and he yells for the hostages to freeze where they are. I just shake my head. The body cams flash on and we see Brekan kneeling on the targets chest. “FBI. Stay where you are until we can clear the building.” He’s so calm I laugh.

The Commander is smiling. “Put the table down over the sensor and get them out, Commander.”

“Roger, Commander,” Brekan replies.

While Brekan gets his team moving to release the hostages, I watch the analysts guiding them. “Good job, Miguel. The sensors look like switch plates.” Rafael points to where Lewis has a rug pulled up.

“That many bombs?” That’s more than extreme for one building.

“They have a chemical release. Lewis is pulling the canisters,” Robinson says.

“Jesus, people are fucking crazy.” Checking my guys, I see them all clear. Brekan has the hot spots marked on the first floor and is moving hostages out. The video makes life easier.

“I got D’Artagnan. Good job, Robinson, Asim, Waite and Commander Perez. Hermano, that was some quick thinking using the infrared and tracking. That chemical would have wiped out D’Artagnan without the infrared.” He smacks my back smiling. He’s never called me brother in Ops. I swallow hard and nod. “Get your reports done. I switched your team off but they were watching this one play out in the training room with Waters. I let them know the governor was happy and they did a good job today. First beer is on the governor.”

I smile. Athos loves getting good jobs from the Commander. “Thanks, Commander.”

He hits my shoulder again and turns toward the boards. Once Robinson transfers his men to the Commander, we get the reports done and run through verifying jump boxes. The team walks out with us pulling Robinson and Bande along with them. All I can do is smile.

The bar is loud when Porthos comes in. “First beer is on the Commander, Porthos. Second for Athos,” Timmy says. Everyone cheers but Vernon and Cracker Jack, they want free sodas.

“The Commander spends more on beer. He keeps us in the black,” Wheeler says sitting down.

I laugh. “It’s in the budget for the office. Two a night. Not many even drink two. Most do one and stay for the camaraderie. Didn’t you notice the office pays the bill?”

The surprise on his face keeps me smiling. “Mario handles the tabs.”

I nod noticing Kimberly’s aunts walk in with Myrna and Helen. D’Artagnan is right behind them. Garren yells about D’Artagnan’s first beer being free and Wheeler laughs but I’m watching the aunts. They hired a woman for the daycare, but I haven’t seen her again. It’s been almost two months. She helped get them set up, then she was gone. I worked with her and Garren one day having a good time, but I haven’t seen her since. “What happened to Kyra?” I ask Wheeler figuring he would know.

“She’s been back for a week now. I saw her when I dropped Alejandro off this morning.”

Ford comes in with Alejandro and Télia, stopping Wheeler from saying anything else. I want to ask where she went but don’t get the chance.

“Dude, I heard you saved a team today. I’m glad it wasn’t mine.” Ford has everyone laughing as he puts Alejandro in Télia’s lap at the women’s table.

Brekan pushes Ford out of his way. “He wouldn’t have bothered saving your ass. D’Artagnan is worth saving. We give everyone breathing room.”

The D’Artagnan team does a mixed yell and Brekan’s smile falls. “One word!” he yells. Everyone is laughing again.

“You did good today, Miguel. The chemical is a virus. Harper and Rioux are working on it now, she said they wouldn’t have made it a week and it would have spread through the unit,” Ford says then salutes me.

“Fuck, I’m glad we didn’t kill them.” We’ve got families in the unit. That shit would have spread through to them. I sit feeling like we dodged a bullet.

A hand on my shoulder has me turning then I’m surprised it’s Brekan. “Perez was nervous without the cams. I’m glad you showed and didn’t run just from tracking. We’re here because of you. Thanks, Miguel.”

I nod feeling good that he said something and a little surprised that he said so much. “Perez is getting good with Ops but he never ran without cams. SAD ran a few that were just satellite. I never saw it, but we got the job done.”

He nods. “From when he said cams were jammed to you picking us up was maybe ten seconds. I think Robinson had our mics hooked into the satellite. Waite said he wasn’t on then.”

I smile. Robinson is so much more than the team sees. “I’m glad we were there. It was a good day.”

Scanning the bar, I see missing members from each team. They got their beer with the team and left. Rafael comes in going right to Cassidy. Télia is with Cassidy and Donna chatting with the aunts and my mom. Garren and Myrna must have the babies. The Commanders are talking about Ops. When I turn back, Perez is in his spot across from me, I give him a nod, he’s like a fucking ghost.

“Thanks for stepping in today. I didn’t know the satellite could do that.”

I’m glad to see he’s not embarrassed about not knowing shit. “If you want to know what it can do, ask Robinson or Waite. I’ve never seen it all, but we ran a few Ops without video. You need more than one analyst to do it.”

He nods. “I’ll ask. Did SAD-SOG run Ops with it?” He must be wondering why Asim didn’t tell him about it.

I shrug and Wheeler answers. “No, we didn’t run with cams and feeds. In and out with no trace. Satellite and video would have been traceable.”

“Perez, set up a class with the analysts and their support for the satellite. The only ones that would have known are Miguel, Vargas, Ford and Waite. I want everyone in Ops control up on satellite capabilities,” Rafael says.

Ford shakes his head. “I would have run by tracking and called Waite in. I’m glad Miguel landed before me. We need a spirit party. It’s a good night for it.”

I slap his back. “I’m going to my Pedro-less house and finally relaxing in my pool.”

“I’m in,” Waite and Robinson say from the table behind us.

Ford laughs when more say they’re in. “Spirit party will look good in ten minutes.”

“He’s not fucking Indian,” Rafael growls making me laugh. I walk away not caring who shows up, as long as it isn’t Pedro.

Chapter Three

Miguel

Before hitting my office, I look for something to eat. “Commander, can I have a word?”

Ohio moves around me to fill a pan with eggs. “Yeah, Cannon.” He pivots walking back toward the kitchen. He’s usually on lunch and dinner which would explain the street clothes he’s in. I hear Pedro before we get to the kitchen doors. This breaks my one day of no Pedro streak pissing me off before I even know what’s going on.

Brayton runs the kitchen for breakfast and lunch, right now he’s got a broom held out to Pedro, but the look on his face says he wants to hit him with it.

“Attention!” Cannon yells stopping Pedro’s whine. “Commander, Pedro is on his last warning. He seems to think he’s got job security. Commander Saber said he’s to be treated like anyone else. Today he was late and is now challenging his immediate supervisor, not following orders and has me interrupting a Commanders meal.”

I nod. “At ease, soldiers.” I look at my brother and the attitude written all over his face. “Pedro, this could get you fired from yet another job. I’m not stepping in for you. Rafael is not stepping in for you.”

“Me either,” Garren says coming out of the stock room making me stop so I don’t laugh.

Taking a breath, I go on. “If you lose this job, you are homeless. There’s a shelter about two miles away for the homeless that Télia might be able to get you into. She painted their building with the golden girls, maybe it’s enough for a favor. Is that really where you want to be?”

All the color drains out of his face. “I can show him the homeless neighborhood. Henry is picking me up with the food after lunch.” I love Garren. Pedro gives Garren a murderous look.

“There you go. Garren can show you after you get fired.” I look at Cannon. “Is he fired right now?”

“No, Sir, he’s on his last warning. We tried to do our part giving him six warnings instead of the three. He is better than he was, but still cannot do the job proficiently without guidance. Today, Garren was called in to help him.”

Pedro huffs like a girl. “Don’t open your fucking mouth or I’ll fire you myself.” I look at Garren. “Go to training and tell Waters you need a taser for Pedro.”

“Roger, Commander Miguel!” he yells jogging out the door with Molly following.

“Cannon, thank you for the extra chances here but I think it gave him the idea that we asked for special treatment.”

Cannon looks surprised. “We saw everyone trying to help him, I was doing my part, Sir. I did explain it.”

I nod. “Relax, Cannon. Pedro isn’t slow or mentally challenged, we checked. He’s wired wrong. If he thinks he can take advantage, he will, that’s why the Commander said to treat him like everyone else. I wish I knew beforehand, I would have explained it to you.”

Brayton glares at Pedro. “You can speak freely, Brayton,” I tell him.

“You should be ashamed. Military heroes in your family and you act like this? You couldn’t even hold the job at the ice cream cone for a day. Do you have no dignity? Garren has to watch over you like a babysitter. It took him one day to learn and do the job proficiently.” He looks at Cannon. “One more, Sir. The teams earned the meals we serve. He hasn't even earned the right to serve them as far as I’m concerned. I thought he was disabled. He’s just a fucking leech.”

“Enough, soldier.” Cannon looks at me embarrassed.

I shake my head. “He has permission to speak freely and he’s being honest. The Commander will not bail him out again and neither will I. If he loses this job, he’s done. Holiday invitations are all he’ll get from us.”

“Not from me,” Brayton says turning to his stove.

Cannon pivots so he’s facing Pedro. “Last warning, soldier. Brayton, get him on potatoes and food prep for tonight. Keep him away from the dining hall. You have the authority to dismiss him. I’ll be in at noon and will deal with him if he makes it that long.” Cannon pivots back toward me. “Sorry, Commander. I didn’t understand the Commanders orders.”

“Commander Miguel to Ops ASAP.” My watch says.

“Athos stand readied to transport.” The intercom says.

Fuck. “You’re good, Cannon. Thanks for wanting to help but he isn’t one that deserves the extra chances. He’ll just ask for more.” I look at Pedro. “Your choices today will decide where you will live next month. Be smart, hermano.”

I turn to leave. “Commander, here, you’re not going to get to eat.” Brayton hands me a wrapped burrito.

“Thanks, I’m starving.” I run up to Ops hoping I don’t get shit for taking so long. “Commander,” I say walking in.

“Active shooter at the courthouse in Pawtucket. Details on your desktop.”

Spinning around, I roger and hit the team on. Shit! I turn back. “Garren has a taser. He’s working with Pedro in the kitchen.”

He shakes his head but he’s smiling. “I’ll get it back before he leaves.”

“Thanks, Commander.”

Court isn’t even open yet. This should be quick.

***

I’m thinking about the pool when I walk into the dining hall. It looks like D’Artagnan and Porthos are finished their maintenance and restock. “Commander,” Cannon says.

“I didn’t even look at the board. Anything is good, Cannon, thanks.”

“Long day.” Wheeler sits beside me.

“Yeah. You?”

He nods. “Four Ops and I still have two hours.”

“We did seven for the day. Three were quick. I think the last was seven minutes. Stevens called green and I said go, that was it.”

He laughs. “Perez needs to clear them slower. Four teams running back to back all week has got to be some kind of record.”

“He’s got the highest conviction rate in the country and this office is highest ranked for everything.” Personally, I think it’s Perez that keeps us up there.

Cannon drops a turkey plate in front of me. “Thanks, Cannon. I was in planning when lunch went out. This looks good.”

“I’ll make you a thanksgiving sandwich for later, Commander.” He talks to Wheeler without an answer from me. I start eating and just nod. I’m fucking starving.

Pedro sits across from me but I ignore him. “Let him eat, he was in planning when his team got lunch. He probably missed breakfast too.” Wheeler warns him.

“Brayton made him a burrito,” Pedro whines like I shouldn’t be hungry.

I reach for my bag and throw the burrito in front of him. “You heard me called to Ops. I was deployed and in planning on the chopper for an active shooter in a courthouse. There was no time to eat.”

“Get out,” Cannon says loud enough that everyone turns. “You are not part of this unit, you have done nothing to earn the right to a seat at this table. Wait for him outside.”

Pedro looks like Cannon punched him in the gut. “Bye, Pedro,” Wheeler says smiling.

“I’m twenty from leaving if you need a ride.” I go right back to eating.

“Thanks, Cannon.” Wheeler starts eating like he missed lunch too.

“I’ll get you a sandwich for later, Sir.”

“Cannon, can you get food the Commanders can eat on the go for the rest of the week?” Rafael sits where Pedro was, moving the burrito out of the way.

“I’ll make sure they have it tomorrow with the boxed lunches, Sir.”

“Thank you. The only thing I saw Commanders eat today was the power bars. It’s going to stay busy through Saturday. I’ll take the turkey.”

“Yes, Sir.”

I push my plate away and drink until the water is gone. Rafael slides his over and I drink half. “Thanks. You missed Pedro being thrown out.”

“I was at the door watching. He didn’t open his mouth today and did the job. Garren says he’s still a tool but he’s quiet.”

I laugh. “Brayton thought he was mentally handicapped. Cannon thought he was helping by giving him extra chances. That ended today.”

He nods. “I should have explained, but it’s embarrassing to have to put it all in words. I just said he should be treated like everyone else.”

It is embarrassing and I wonder if Rafael was embarrassed by the shit I pulled with Harper and Brekan. Cannon sets his plate down and hands me a sandwich. “You’ll be hungry later. I’ll make sure you eat tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Cannon.”

“Commander Saber to Ops.” His watch says.

“Fuck.” He hits his watch and stands. “On my way.” He didn’t even have time to pick up his fork.

Ford comes in fast. “I’ll take it, Cannon.” He sits and starts eating Rafael’s food before Cannon answers.

“Commander Wheeler to Ops.”

“Porthos stand readied for transport.”

Jesus. At least he got half in him. “Here, maybe it’ll be a longer flight.” I hand him the sandwich.

Wheeler stands. “Thanks. Duty calls.”

“I’ll get Commander Wheeler’s sandwich for you, Commander Miguel.” Cannon moves fast. Ford laughs. I just shake my head. It’s one of those weeks.

The lot is still almost full when I walk out. Pedro is flopped against the hood of my truck.

“Most people would put the gate down and sit on that. You choose to flop on the hood where the metal is hot from the sun, then I’ll get to listen to how long you were waiting in this blaring almost seventy-degree heat.” I hit the fob and pull my belt off. Opening the back door, I take the vest and my shirt off, then pour water on my face wiping it up with the shirt. Pedro watches me from the passenger seat shaking his head as I put deodorant on. Pulling on a clean shirt, I shrug my holster on and slide my gun in.

“You could turn the A/C on,” he whines.

I nod folding the shirt and hang the vest then belt. “I could, but I’m not there yet. Why are you still here?”

He looks out the window. “Garren had training so Henry dropped us back off here. The security guy said he couldn’t take me.” So, he went to the homeless shelter. Good. Maybe that will straighten him out.

I roll the windows down opting for fresh air over canned. “I’m going to the daycare to see Alejandro and Micah.”

He gives me a look. “Just drop me at home.” I guess seeing the homeless didn’t straighten him out.

“You live three miles away, you could have walked it two hours ago when you got off. I had a busy day. My first meal was that early dinner. I’m tired and want to see my nephews before they’re picked up and I have to stop more than once to do that. It wouldn’t kill you to spend some time with them. They’re your nephews too.”

“Ford’s kid isn’t my nephew, he’s adopted.” He’s never held Micah, who can’t be denied.

I shake my head and drive. “Télia is his mother, Ford is his father, he was named after our father. It’s good enough for me.” I’m not saying anything about how they got Alejandro.

“They probably think mama will leave the kid money because of the name.”

I look at him with his pouting face and arms crossed like a two-year-old having a tantrum. “How the fuck are we related? Ford and Garren will leave Alejandro millions and you’re still waiting for a payoff from Ma? You want her to die so you can get her money?”

“I don’t want her to die but Papas money gets split evenly between all of us.”

I laugh. “Nope. We told her we don’t want it and to give it to her grandchildren. Perez wrote it up for her so it’s ironclad. Nothing happens until ALL the golden girls die anyway. Stop waiting for a payoff and work for what you want.”

“You can’t do that! I didn’t agree! I’m getting my money!” His hands hit the dash and his face changes from pout to irate that fucking fast.

Hermano, it’s done. Papa gave us money already. Ma isn’t responsible for us for life. We’re grown fucking men. Act like it. She has a husband and new life now. Kimberly will give her another grandbaby to love. Be happy with her in her life and stop expecting to be paid because you have her name.”

“Wheeler’s kid isn’t getting Papa’s money!” he screams hitting the dash again.

I slam on the brakes. Taking a calming breath, I control my voice. “Get out.”

He doesn’t move, testing that control. I pull my gun. “Get out, or I’ll hit you with the laser and drag your worthless ass out.”

“Why!” he whines.

I point my gun at his head and speak slowly. “You did nothing for Papa’s money. Ma worked at the embassy too. She has a pension that pays her for that work. It isn’t yours. She raised four kids with Papa’s money, she lived grieving him for years. You didn’t even miss him. Get the fuck out and grow the fuck up.”

“He didn’t like me. Everything was about Rafael, you and Télia!”

I round the front of the truck and open his door so fast he shrinks back. “You’re too fucking stupid to keep explaining shit to. He tried to teach you woodworking and you threw shit at him and tore apart his shop. He got you in art classes and you threw a fit because Télia was better. He coached your soccer team and you quit because it was hot. YOU didn’t like you.” I pull him out by his neck and push him onto the sidewalk.

“I’m done. Work or don’t. Live in the apartment or with the fucking homeless. You don’t get a payoff because you’re a Saber. Don’t show at my house, don’t embarrass me at work, just stay the fuck away from me.”

“You can’t leave me here! I’m telling Rafael!” he yells as I’m driving away.

I call Henry and let him know what to expect. They’re eating with Rafael and Cassidy so he’ll tell him. I don’t really want to tell Télia but she needs to know. At the daycare, I take a minute thinking about the fucking whiny bastard and his worry over kids who get money if my mom dies. My mom treats Kimberly like a daughter and loves the baby already. It’s my mom’s money to spend, I don’t think we should have a say in what she does with it. I want her alive to see my kids if I ever get my shit together.

Sliding out, I walk into the daycare. “Hi, Ida. I came to see my nephews.”

The woman is always smiling. “They’re in the baby room. I bet they’ll be happy to see you.” She hits the button for me to open the door.

Kyra is in sitting on the floor with them playing with plastic blocks. “Hi, guys. I’m just in time for blocks. They’re my favorite.”

Kyra smiles making my feet stop. I don’t know if it’s the smile, the light in her eyes, her delectable body with all the right curves, her thick hair with the big curls or the sweet voice that gets me, but something does. “Hi, Kyra. How were they today?”

“Micah is teething so he’s drooly. Are you taking him home? He has a med sheet.” She starts to get up so I put my hand out to stop her.

“No. I just came to visit and thought I’d catch them both in the same place. Drooly?”

She laughs, “Drooling a lot. I’ve been putting numbing stuff on his gums and gave him a frozen towel to gnaw on.”

I nod in understanding. “The med sheet.”

“Yes. Are you okay?”

I nod sitting with the boys. Alejandro climbs on my legs. “Long day.”

Tío, onkel,” Micah says and I lift him to my lap with Alejandro.

I shouldn’t be surprised. “Yes, uncle, tío, onkel.”

“What is tante? I think that’s what he’s saying,” Kyra asks.

“Aunt, tía in Spanish, tante in German.”

“Tante, tía,” Alejandro tries.

“Cute, guys. Garren is doing a good job teaching you.”

Micah smiles up. He’s so cute. “Tío ‘ren.”

I laugh and kiss Micah’s head. He’s cute. When I kiss Alejandro’s head, Kyra stands looking toward the door.

“I love the daycare being right here.” Ford sits by us and Alejandro goes crazy kicking.

“Papa!”

I laugh handing him over. “He knows his dad. They did uncle today.”

He nods. “Garren added German this week. They got the Spanish for the words they know. All ten of them.” He smiles thinking it’s funny.

I laugh but it’s impressive. They’re almost six months old. “I had a problem with Pedro. Télia needs to know, but I don’t want to do that here.”

He nods but watches my eyes. “Let me take them up. Garren and Télia are watching Micah until Rafael picks him up.”

“I can take him home on my way.” I stand ready to follow.

“We’ll call before you leave, he may run later than he expected and the shuttle would help. Kyra, I’m taking Micah. Rafael called Ida.”

Kyra hands him Alejandro’s bag and me Micah’s. “She just told me. Micah has a med sheet in his bag. He had a slight fever when Cassidy dropped him off but it didn’t show again. Anbesol times are on it and the tube is in the bag in case you need it. Ida wasn’t sure how long you’d have him.”

Ford looks at Micah. “Thanks. He’s with Garren for a few, so he’ll know what to do.”

She nods kissing both babies on the head. I love the smell of her shampoo or maybe it’s just her. “He does. He was here earlier and gave me the frozen towel. I need to get in the toddler room. I’ll see you tomorrow, boys.”

I laugh walking out. “Garren will have us all expert parents.”

“I was always good with babies, but he’s fucking smart. He reads everything.”

I wonder when he has time to read anything. The guy is always everywhere. We get the boys up and make it to the bar just as Rafael comes in.

Hermano, did you talk to Henry?” I ask.

“No, they're coming for dinner so I’ll see him in a few minutes.” His eyes bore into me, he knows something is up.

“Pedro waited for me to give him a ride home, I wanted to see the boys, so I headed this way first. He started with ‘Ford’s kid isn’t my nephew’ shit and ended with ‘Papa didn’t like me’ shit. In between all that, was Ma’s money and it not going to us or any grandkid he doesn’t approve of.”

Ford laughs. “Tell your mom not to worry about Alejandro.”

Rafael looks like he’s ready to kill someone. “No, it’s her money and her decision. He’s a fucking tool is right. That’s why I told her I didn’t want her money. Him expecting it when she dies worries me. Did you tell him he’s not getting anything?”

I’m relieved to hear him say it. “Yeah. He’s pissed and deciding who is worthy from the grandkids and says he’s still getting his cut.” Rafael was right, it’s embarrassing to say the words.

“What an asshole. I hope he doesn’t pull more gang shit with your mom. Tell me to kill him and it’s done. Wheeler will help.” Ford has me shaking my head. It stops me from answering which is scary because I don’t know what that answer would be.

Rafael takes deep breaths. “I’ll tell Ma and Henry. Ford, let Télia and Wheelers know.”

Hermano, I told Henry an abridged version. I didn’t want Ma upset over him again. I left Pedro in the street. I can’t listen to any more of his shit. He actually said Papa didn’t like him and his money isn’t going to certain kids. I threw him out of the truck and told him to stay away from me.”

He just nods.

“I would have shot him,” Ford says and walks to the cut-out at the bar.

“Miguel.” He waits until I look at him. “He’s our brother but he’s putting people in jeopardy. He should have gotten it with the shit he pulled on Télia. Ford is paying a fortune for her Security. I’ve got Micah and Cassidy covered. I can’t trust him not to put Ma, Henry or any kid he doesn’t believe is worthy in danger. I’m going to have Perez tell him about the changes tomorrow so he knows there’s no chance of him making anything off her death. I don’t want him anywhere near my wife and son. Who doesn’t he think should get anything from her?”

“Alejandro and Kimberly’s baby.”

He laughs. “Wheeler isn’t a man to fuck with. Out of all of us, he’d be the one I’d be afraid of.”

I wouldn’t fuck with Wheeler. “Yeah. What made him like this? Papa tried to get through to him, you did and Ma was always talking to him.”

He shrugs. “I don’t know but I’m watching my boy to make sure compassion and empathy get through. I need to go. Henry may have answers to your question. I’ll see if he wants Ma covered. I don’t know what the fuck Pedro will try next.”

“I’ll talk to Henry tomorrow, I told Télia I’d come for dinner with them.” I wipe my hand down my face. Pedro is fucking exhausting.

“Have dinner with us.”

I just ate, it will be a while before I’m hungry and I have the sandwich with the cranberry sauce and stuffing. Besides, I don’t want to spend that going over Pedro again. I smile at him. “I’m having a drink and going home. My pool is calling me.”

His hand hits my shoulder. “Don’t let him get to you. We’ll deal as it comes up.”

I nod walking with him to the bar. “Yeah. I just can’t believe we’re related.”

He laughs walking through. I wait for Mario to come down the bar. “Scotch, Commander?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

He pours and looks up at me. “With the splash?”

I nod and throw money on the bar before he slides the glass down. “It’s one of those days for everyone tonight.”

I lift the glass to him and turn almost hitting Kyra. “Hi.”

I don’t know what it is about her smile but it always stuns me. “Hi again.”

“I just needed change for the bus.”

I step to the side. “Have a drink with me and I’ll drive you home.”

She looks at Mario and I wonder if it’s for an excuse. “He isn’t a drinker. A beer and a half or scotch on tough days, that’s every couple of months.”

I give him a look. Seriously? “I’m Commander of an Ops team for the FBI. We’re not known for excessive anything but adrenaline rushes and attitude.”

Mario laughs. “It’s true. All the Commanders are trustworthy and dependable.”

She smiles again. “I’ll note it in my little book. Thanks, I’ll take a seven and seven and the ride.”

I throw Mario more money and a nod for helping me out. A table behind the Commanders is empty so I guide her over.

“Scotch every couple of months on the tough days. Does that mean someone died today?”

Thinking about Pedro, I shake my head no. “We’re FBI Ops. It’s different than a regular FBI office. We use laser when we can, which is most of the time and the mission is always keeping Americans safe.”

That surprises her. “I thought everyone was military.”

I nod. “The Ops teams are, well most of us. We have MEs, pilots and analysts that come from other branches. Some of the teams are all from military backgrounds.”

The confusion in her eyes shows a deeper interest than what I’ve seen from her. “All different branches?”

“Yeah, for Commanders, we have one FBI, two SEALs, two Green Berets and one from everywhere but came over from his last post as a lead for a mixed Delta team. Our analysts and Ops ESAs come from every military or domestic branch.”

She takes a sip of her drink and looks around. “That’s impressive and a little intimidating.”

“Intimidating why?” I like the interest and want to keep her talking.

She gives me her eyes for a second then turns away again. “I work in a daycare. My bad days are when a kid pukes on me. Yours are shoot-outs with lasers.”

I laugh drawing her eyes to me. “Today I needed a drink because of my asshole of a brother. Ops was good but it was back to back and not all Ops are shootouts.” I’m not telling her what they are. She probably wouldn’t smile at me again.

She looks relieved. “Commander Saber is an asshole?”

I laugh. “I imagine some people would think so, but he’s a great brother and friend to have. We have a younger brother that’s never been easy. Wondering how we’re related is the reason for my drink tonight.”

Her eyes squint as if trying to remember something. “Is his name Pedro?”

“Yeah, you’ve met him?” I didn’t think he ever saw the boys unless it was at the houses, even that is from a distance. He wouldn't go to the hospital when Micah was born. I even tried to bribe him with dinner.

“Garren told me about him being a tool. He has a similar look but he’s thinner, angry and smaller.” She smiles. “He struck me as bird-like. I didn’t understand what a tool was. It fit.” She smiles when I laugh.

She’s more relaxed after laughing about Pedro. The ride to her building has her telling me about her future plans. I don’t ask questions but I’m impressed with her going back to school. I wish her a puke free day tomorrow and she wishes me an easier day. Seeing she means it feels good. I drive home thinking about Kyra working for what she wants. She’s got to be in her mid to late twenties. That’s not much younger than Pedro.

Everyone in the unit changed jobs. I was nervous about leaving a job I knew for a trial program that I didn’t. Walking away from being DCs top lead wasn’t easy. With Rafael, Wheeler and Ford already in place, I felt like a newbie just out of BUDS. When Banks was reprimanded, I was hoping for the chance to move and prove myself. It wasn’t until Asim said Brekan pulled my jobs for his team and Rafael showed me the jobs’ stats, that it hit me–I was already there.

I shake my head pulling into the garage. I wasted a year trying to be everyone but me. Dropping my bag and heading for my room, I'm smiling. A year of being an ass is better than a lifetime.


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