Dream Shard(10)

By: Mary Wine

He was looking at the ruined pile that had once been her cell phone. “It’s for your own protection.”

“If you’re on the run, feel free to keep going after you eat.”

She poured a cup of coffee and set it on the bar. He didn’t touch it but raised a dark eyebrow in suspicion.

“I’m not the one with a pistol stuck in my pants.” She turned around and filled another mug for herself.

“But you do have a cabinet full of serious tranquilizers.”

She glared at him over the rim of her mug. “If you had time to snoop, you should have noted that none of them were missing.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t have other bottles.” He reached for the coffee and took a long sip. “Those are the habit-forming type.”

“Which is why I haven’t taken any.” It was a slip. A personal bit of information that she didn’t need to share with anyone. He eyed her for a moment, looking as if he approved of her.

“Smart choice.”

Her belly rumbled. A quick look at the clock confirmed it was midafternoon. Somehow, she’d fallen back asleep with him earlier and slept a good portion of the day away. The fatigue headache she’d had for most of the last ten months was actually missing, but it only frustrated her because she didn’t want to have anything to thank her guest for.

That last thing she needed was a case of Stockholm syndrome.

There was no way she was going to thank him for helping her find peace. She’d be grateful to the water spirits first. Even if they were working in mysterious ways.

She filled two plates and slid one up on the bar. “Like I said, feel free to keep on going, wherever you are heading.” She pointed at the front door with her fork. “I’ve got no reason to want you to stay.”

He sat down on one of the bar stools and picked up a fork, but he stared at her for a long moment. The strangest sensation burned through her head. As much as she wanted to appear poised and confident, she looked away because it felt like he was reading her thoughts.

“Yes, you do, Kalin Smith.”

Major Garrick Gennaro never hesitated.

But there was always a first time for everything.

He stood near the bodies of some of his men, his fingers too frozen to reach for their tags. The scene was a tangled mess. Scorched aircraft wreckage reeked of burnt jet fuel and human flesh. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen carnage, but this time it was personal.

It made him want to hurl.

He winced but reached for the first set of tags. The face was gone but he snapped the small metal identifiers off and brought them close enough to read.

Shit. Thompson had been just a kid. A crack shot and full of positive energy.

He moved on to the next body, performing the duty of collecting the rest of the tags. He sealed them in a small black bag before coming to a stop in front of the last corpse. The medic had already turned it over, in some desperate, vain attempt to find signs of life. The face was blackened, but Gennaro recognized the features of his Operative. The Army would be devastated to learn they’d lost one of their prime psychics.

But he was reeling from the loss of a man he’d called friend. Through all the missions they’d completed, it seemed a poor joke of fate to see the elite unit brought down by an intoxicated pilot.

The pieces of a private plane were mixed with the remains of top-secret helicopters. Crews were already beginning the clean up before the local press got a whiff of anything. Someone back on base would likely call it a stroke of luck that the accident had happened in such a remote area. Gennaro didn’t see anything favorable at all.

What he saw was the failure of his career. They’d been his men. His unit. Devon Ross had been his Operative. But more importantly, they’d been men who had trusted him to make sure they never ended up inside body bags.

He’d failed.

He wasn’t interested in excuses. The day he’d signed on with the classified unit he’d accepted that his military career wouldn’t be basic. It was going to be shrouded in secrecy but rich with the unexpected. Nothing came for free. The level of dedication necessary had been above the normal military creed. The fact that he hadn’t taken leave in six months wasn’t a factor. And he wouldn’t use it as an excuse to shield himself from taking responsibility for the fact that his men were dead and he hadn’t been there to stop it from happening.

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