Blind Fury (Men of Steele Book 1)(6)

By: Gwen Hernandez

Ghost slammed his phone on the desk. You’d damn well better.


EARLY THURSDAY AFTERNOON, JENNA WAS wallowing in bed when the doorbell rang. She’d been trying to nap, but was instead staring at the stripes of midday sun that painted the ceiling, thinking about Rob. Tara’s head appeared around the bedroom doorjamb a minute later. “Mick’s here. I’m going to run a few errands. Do you need anything?”

Yes. She needed Rob and the rest of her family back. She needed something in her life worth living for, because as it stood now, she couldn’t think of one compelling reason to get out of bed.

Jenna sighed. Leave it to Mick to drop in without calling first. He was a master at hijacking other people’s schedules. Rob had called him spontaneous, but she wasn’t feeling that generous.

Not that she had anything on her schedule.

She sat up and shook her head at Tara. “I can’t think of anything.” The poor woman probably needed a break. Tara had been helping her with the funeral arrangements and forcing food down her throat for the last three days.

“Okay. I’ll be back in a couple hours.” Tara gave her a quick smile and disappeared down the hall.

Jenna glanced in the mirror above the blue dresser her mom had painted for her twelfth birthday. She looked like crap. After taking a shower, she’d dressed in sweats and corralled her curls into a ponytail, leaving her pale face bare of makeup. She hadn’t been expecting a visitor. Though in all honesty, she wouldn’t have had the energy to primp even if she’d known he was going to show up today.

Bracing herself, she descended the stairs and found Mick standing on the threshold between the foyer and the living room, holding Rob’s mobility bag in one hand. His lean, six-foot-two frame filled the space, and she kept her distance so she wouldn’t have to tilt her head up to meet his brilliant blue eyes. “When did you get back?” she asked.

“We landed a couple hours ago.” Gone was his ever-present grin. A crease cut a groove between his eyebrows and his jaw was clenched tight. Shadows under his eyes and the slope of his shoulders spoke of fatigue. He took in her outfit, his gaze spreading a warm tingle of awareness across her skin.

She tugged nervously at her bulky top. “I would have cleaned up a little if I’d known you were coming.”

“That’s why I didn’t call.” He dropped the bag, walked over, and wrapped her in his arms, his familiar scent of soap and something spicy kicking her heart into high gear.

Seeing him in person made Rob’s death real, and she couldn’t stop her tears. Mick held her as she sobbed against him, pounding his hard chest with her fists, angry at him for giving her the bad news, angry that he was there to watch her fall apart.

Angry that he was alive and Rob wasn’t.

“I’m so sorry.” He absorbed her punches and squeezed her tightly, whispering in her ear, “I know, honey. I know.”

Appalled by her outburst, she pushed back and wiped her face, turning away so she wouldn’t have to look at him when she finally got the nerve to pose her question. “How did it happen?” she asked, her voice thick. Good idea or not, she needed to know.

He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly before answering. “Our lead vehicle hit an IED. While Dan and Rob and I tended to the wounded, the team became engaged in gunfire with a group of locals. Rob took a hit.”

“What about his body armor?” He’d promised to wear it no matter how heavy or hot it made him. He’d promised.

Mick gave a pained expression and ran a hand through his sandy-blond hair. “It wasn’t enough to protect him.”

So not small arms fire? Clearly, Mick was trying to soften the blow as much as possible by giving her a sanitized version of the incident. The media and Claymore’s official representative had been equally vague, as had the State Department’s investigator. She knew all the tricks after being on the receiving end of bad news so many times. In fact, she should be an expert at getting it by now. But some things didn’t get easier with experience.

“Why are you being so ambiguous?”

“Because it’s easier than telling you the messy details. It’s hard enough remembering them,” he responded, his voice rough and low.

She gave him a closer look and was surprised by the sight of his red-rimmed eyes. Had he been crying? It hadn’t occurred to her that he might be seeking comfort as much as giving it, but Rob had been his best friend. Here she was wrapped up in her own sorrow, not even thinking about what others had lost. Especially Mick. “I’m sorry. This has to be hard on you too.”