Still The One (Family Stone #4 Jack)

By: Lisa Hughey

Acknowledgments

Huge thanks to my BIL Ed for giving the Stone Family the proper private jet.  I promise that Jack never complains about how much it costs to insure it.



As always, thanks to Kim Killion and Jennifer at The Killion Group for their expertise!!



And once again, major, major thanks to Adrienne Bell and LGC Smith for everything under the sun.





One

“I’ll be in DC in six hours.” Jackson Stone, Junior, slammed down the receiver on his office landline and cursed silently.

Nothing like the past coming back to bite you in the ass.

He rubbed his tired eyes and huffed out a breath. He had twenty things on his plate but two took precedence over everything else.

First, Jack called Shane and had him get the Bombardier Challenger 604 jet ready for a trip to DC. “I’ll be at the Monterey Regional Airport in two hours.” One down.

Second, he could make inroads with his brother Connor. Con continued to hold back and no matter what Jack said, he knew that his younger brother was still trying to make up for his hellish teenage years.

“Connor!” Jack yelled through the doorway of his office and waited for his brother to get from his office to Jack’s.

He didn’t know why Connor couldn’t just get over it and focus on now. That was how Jack handled life. The past was the past. But Jack was determined to get Connor comfortably in the family fold. This was the perfect opportunity to show Con he had complete trust in him.

At least this would solve one of his family problems. He’d have Connor run the office at Global Humanitarian Relief and Stone Consulting for the few days he’d be gone. Jack’s stomach cramped. Shit, he did not want to make this trip.

If only he didn’t have to see Bliss again.

Clearly, he needed to take his own advice. The past was in the past.

The thought of having to interact with her, to work with her, sent a dagger through his heart. He wasn’t sure whether the proximity would make him want to kiss her or kill her.

But he’d do neither. Jack had to hold on to his anger, keep it brewing and keep it high, because thirteen years ago when she’d told him they were over, she’d gutted him. He couldn’t go back to that dark, lost place again.

He’d never told a soul how much her rejection had hurt him.

Instead, he’d arrived at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and thrown himself into being the best damn recruit and graduate of Basic the U.S. Navy had ever seen.

The loss of Bliss, and what they had, took years to get over. And if there were any way that he could have avoided this request, demand really, to work with her and her agency, he would have sold his soul to do it.

Anger was the only way he’d get through this assignment with his heart unscathed. He’d long since stopped thinking about her every day but there was no question that she was the measure of how he had judged every single woman he’d dated since. And after how long it had taken to get over her, he’d been determined never to let another woman have that kind of power over him again. And he’d succeeded.

He had casual relationships with nice, hot women who never touched any part of him except his dick.

Jack rubbed his hand over his face. He needed to focus on his assignment and not Bliss.

Con stomped into Jack’s office. “What the hell is your deal?”

“I need you,” Jack said and watched unexpected happiness roll over Con’s face.

“What for?”

“Close the door for a sec.”

Con shut the door and raised his blond eyebrows. He stood in front of Jack’s desk, military stiff, feet apart, hands clasped behind his back in parade rest.

“At ease, soldier." Jack chuckled. "While I love the fact that you consider me like your commanding Lord and Master—“

Con snorted.

“You’re out of the Army now,” Jack continued. “There’s no need for military protocol in the office.”

“I’m comfortable with it,” he said simply.

Jack’s moment of amusement was gone, replaced by a somber frown. “Okay. I have to be out of the office for a few days. Unfortunately.” He shifted in his massive desk chair and his mouth flattened into a grimace as he thought about why he needed Con.

They had a little over a week to find a missing witness. The only living proof that José Fernandez was a dirty fucking bastard. On the surface, Fernandez looked totally clean. He was the poster boy for promoting safe conditions for workers and making the lives of the working poor better. He’d made his career by protesting the treatment of the immigrant and migrant communities in regards to law enforcement, after the police hadn’t given enough priority to the unsolved abductions of four teenage Mexican immigrant girls eight years ago.

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