Authors: Capri Montgomery
She thought about the fact that all of her clothes, her papers, everything was still in the apartment. She could see the top of her building. Parts of it seemed to be blown off, but she could still see the building and it appeared that most of the two-story structure was still standing—for her set of units anyway. She couldn’t see the roof of the building next to her building, or the one next to that one.
“I don’t suppose you would let me use your phone again,” she smiled sweetly.
“I’ll take you. But I have to stay here a while longer,” he grinned. She wasn’t sure she liked that grin—but she did need a ride, and they were supposed to protect and serve, so she would take him up on his offer. Maybe he could take her by a shoe store on the way. She was seriously going to need shoes if she planned on going anywhere.
She found a spot on the sidewalk under a shaded tree and watched the chaos around her. The ground was hot—too hot to be shoeless. She looked around at some of the other residents. At least she had on clothes. She had noticed a trend lately for people to shop in their nightclothes, but the array in front of her was just unfathomably embarrassing. One man had a towel wrapped around his waist. She figured he had been in the shower, or just getting out of it, when the emergency evacuation started. There was a woman in her bra; at least she had her jeans on so she wasn’t completely without clothes.
Eve shook her head. She didn’t think there were enough emergency blankets to go around for the people who either hadn’t bothered to get dressed this morning, or hadn’t bothered to dress in much. It was Saturday, a non-workday for most people, unless they worked retail or the office was open. For her, being a photojournalist she worked whenever and wherever, but today was her day off—the first day off she had had in months. Boy, what she wouldn’t give to have her camera on hand right now.
She felt something tickling her foot and she looked down to see what that something was. “Ants,” she cringed as she kicked one off her foot and then moved away from the spot she had been standing in.
Adam jogged up to her. “Hey, I thought you might need something from your apartment.” He pulled a pair of shoes from under the blanket he had been carrying.
“Oh my gosh, how did you—”
He shushed her. “Don’t tell anybody or they’ll all decide they want something. It’s still not safe to go in, but I have my ways,”’ he winked at her.
“Do any of your ways include getting my purse and camera?”
He shook his head. “Women and purses,” he nearly laughed. “I can’t get back in right now, but when I can I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks,” she wanted to hug him, but she didn’t. “I’m going to be staying at the Marriot. My sister is making the arrangements for me. Speaking of sisters,” she leaned in close to him. “If you can get my cell phone off the dining room table, that would be great too.”
He nodded. “Marriot; got cha. I’ll come by if I can get your stuff. In fact, I’ll come by even if I can’t. I can buy you dinner, or something.”
She could just think of what the “or something,” could be. He was cute. She wouldn’t mind getting to know him a little better. But he was a firefighter and he had just saved her life; she didn’t want him to think she had some form of hero worship syndrome or something like that.
She slipped the high heeled red sandals on her feet. At least now she had shoes, and a place to stay; everything else would have to wait. She really, really, hoped they caught this guy—although she wasn’t holding her breath on it. It wasn’t that the cops were completely inadequate; the guy was just smarter than all of them. He had been several steps ahead for the past few months—and since they had a feeling it was the same guy who started the fires last year as well, she figured he was going to be several steps ahead of law enforcement for quite some time.
She was near enough the officers to hear another call come through, another fire, this time a house fire. She had heard the dispatcher say the occupants were snowbirds and shouldn’t be in the house, but that there was still a possibility that somebody was in there. Apparently it was a hot burn and from the description relayed, Eve wasn’t sure the fire department would be able to salvage anything.
“Boy,” she mumbled. “These guys are going to be busy today.” She didn’t envy the firefighters who seemed to be needed all over the city at the moment. And she certainly didn’t envy any of the investigators trying to figure out what had just happened at her complex. She had already heard the officers linking the apartment bomb to the arsonist. She didn’t realize bomb making and starting fires were linked, but she wasn’t a criminologist either so maybe they were.
“You ready to go?”
She looked up the length of the green uniform in front of her until her eyes met his. “You’re finished here?”
“I am; they’re not.” He pointed to the slue of other emergency personnel.
“Then I’m ready,” she smiled. “Thanks for the ride.”
“You can ride me anytime,” he grinned.
” she gritted her teeth to hold in her growing hostility. “You mean I can ride with you anytime.”
“That too,” he snickered. She was starting to rethink her decision to let the deputy take her to the hotel. Did she really want to be alone in the car with this guy? But what choice did she have? If she were in her stiletto boots she could probably pull the walk, but in these sandals, there was just no way her feet would carry her to the hotel. It was just a car ride, she told herself. What could possibly go wrong during a car ride?
hat are you all doing here?” Eve frowned when she saw Thomas and Gavin standing outside her room door. They, clearly not fazed by her agitated expression, pushed past her and into the room. They both looked angry—very angry, but that’s not what held her attention. Thomas had brought somebody with him—a woman. Now this was an interesting development. She was unaware that he was serious about anybody. She had been busy with work, but they had talked every week. She knew he had mentioned a woman, but he never gave her the impression that this woman was “meet the family” special. She hoped this was a sign that maybe he was giving up on his pursuit of Sabian. She didn’t want to go through wondering if Thomas would survive again.
When they got word that he had been taken to Germany to the hospital her mother had been a wreck, and her own heart had been breaking just thinking about losing him. She didn’t want to experience that fear ever again. If he could just let it go, let this need to bring Sabian to justice finally die, then Thomas would be safe—at least that’s what she reasoned. Of course she knew her brother. She knew he wouldn’t back down. They could take the man out of the military, but they couldn’t take the military out of the man. Although it wasn’t really the military persona driving him. Thomas was always protector to those he cared about, and losing his friends that day burned his need for justice so deep into him that she was sure he would never rest until he had the justice he sought—or until he was dead. She didn’t want him dead. She wanted him safe, relatively anyway, in Boston. She wanted him working in his private investigation firm. She didn’t want him chasing a psycho traitor. And she didn’t want him in her hotel room now.
She should have known they were going to show up. When Drake found his way to her hotel room she should have known he was just the first in a long line of overprotective people.
“You’re moving back to Boston,” Thomas snapped.
“No, I’m not.” She had this conversation with him before. She had it with Gavin before too. She was not moving back to Boston.
“If this was Sabian’s work—”
“Enough,” she snapped. “Not everything is some big government conspiracy.” She tried to bring her temper under control. She knew how important catching Sabian was to Thomas. She understood that he had lost friends to Sabian’s betrayal. She had nearly lost Thomas. She wanted this guy to pay for what he’d done. She just didn’t want to risk losing Thomas to get that justice. Beyond that, not everything was about Sabian. Thomas couldn’t go around blaming the man for everything bad in their life. She just needed to make sure she said those words without hurting him.
“This was a Florida grown nutcase, Thomas. Seriously, it’s all over the news. The cops think it’s the same guy that’s been setting all the wildfires.” There were over three hundred fires burning in Florida, fifty alone in Volusia and Flagler County, and while some of those fires were lightening strike induced, others were manmade. The lit cigarette thrown out of the window was a key factor in a few—especially the one that shut down interstate ninety-five for half the day. There were about ten fires—big ones, had been arson. They, the investigators, believed it was the work of one man. She knew a few details because she was the photojournalist covering the story with Mitch, their lead reporter.
“So you see,” she patted his arm. “There’s no need for you to be here.” It wasn’t that she didn’t love her brothers. She did love them, but they had to go live their lives and they needed to realize that she had to do the same.
“Are they sure?” Gavin folded his arms across his chest. “Arson to bomb making is a big leap, Eve.”
She knew that. She wondered if the investigators were sure too, but she wouldn’t tell her brothers that. She shook her head yes. “They seemed rather confident at the press conference. Besides, my apartment wasn’t even hit. Well…it was hit by debris, and messed up pretty badly, but the bombs were in two other apartment units. If this were Sabian I would think he could have gotten it right.”
Thomas brushed his hand through his hair. Was he ready to admit defeat, turn around and go home? “Maybe,” he mumbled. “Maybe not.”
She rolled her eyes. “Who’s your friend?” She looked at Thena, beautiful, classy looking, and she wondered just how long Thomas planned to hold on to this one.
“Thena Davis,” he said as he reached out and pulled Thena closer to him. Eve smiled. He was being protective of her too. He must care for her.
“Nice meeting you,” she smiled. “I’m sorry you had to come all this way for his overactive imagination.”
“It was my idea,” she said sheepishly. “I hope you won’t be angry with him. He was just so worried about you. And he wasn’t planning to come until I asked him to.”
Eve cautiously eyed Thomas. She doubted that he wouldn’t have came on his own, but maybe he wouldn’t have, which meant Thena was a complete traitor to her cause.
She shrugged. Thomas seemed to like her. Something told her she might want to forgive her now, rather than hold a grudge. She had a feeling she might be her sister-in-law one day.
The knock on the door disturbed them all. She started to get it, but Gavin stopped her by gently pushing her over to Drake before going to answer the door himself.
“This is ridiculous,” she snapped.
“Just stay still,” Drake mumbled in the same voice he had when he showed up at her room door and insisted that he was coming inside. He had the same voice he always had when he expected orders to be followed. She didn’t know what he did when he was in the military, or what branch he worked for; nobody really seemed to know, and if they did know they weren’t talking about it—not to her anyway. Whatever he did and whoever he worked for then and now, he was definitely not a man a person crossed.
“Um…I’m sorry. I must have the wrong room. I was looking for Eve.”
“Adam,” she quickly left Drake’s side because she knew if she hesitated he would have her on lockdown in two seconds flat. “Come on in.”
“Adam,” Thomas mumbled. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Eve rolled her eyes. “Be nice,” she mumbled. She watched how Adam took in the situation in her room. “Adam, these are my brothers—Gavin, and Thomas. And this is a friend of theirs—Drake, and she’s Thena. Everybody, this is Adam. He saved my life.”
“Oh,” Gavin closed the door, but he didn’t look the least bit at ease. The man saved her life, covered her body with his own body to protect her from falling debris; they should be welcoming him with open arms.
“Adam, my brothers are crazy protective.”
Adam laughed. “I’ve been there. I’m the youngest of three. Trust me; I know how it is. I had to leave Vermont to have a minute of freedom.”
“Exactly,” Eve laughed.
“Well, I managed to get into your place and I picked up a few things for you. A few people turned their heads while I was breaking the rules.”
“I appreciate it,” she took the bag from him before realizing how heavy it was.
“I saw your safe in the closet so I brought it. I thought there might be something important in it. I packed a few of your clothes, some more shoes, I brought your backpack with your cameras in it, and your purse and phone are in this bag.” He handed her another bag before removing the backpack off his shoulder.
“Adam, thank you so much. I need all of this.” She needed her camera most because that was her lifeline at work, and a huge extension of herself. That was her personal camera. She had refused the camera the paper offered her because she knew her camera better than the back of her hand. Her camera was her baby and it had never let her down. Adam had brought the backpack she kept most of her cameras and extra lenses inside. The film and the digital cameras were now safely with her.