She could feel Garrett’s eyes on her boring into her back. She regretted having hurt him, betrayed his trust. At the time she thought it was the right thing to do. If he didn’t know what she was doing he wouldn’t worry. Sighing she turned around resisting the automatic urge to hide what she was doing on the computer. If felt strange , unnatural to have her research all out in the open.
“Are you hungry?” he asked her relieved that she hadn’t felt the necessity to hide what she doing. He could see over her shoulder, while it unnerved him to know she was looking for Kara it was a relief to know she wasn’t keeping it from him. He could handle knowing. It was the secrets and lies he couldn’t handle.
Blinking she looked at the time “is it that late already?”she stood up in one graceful movement “what would you like to eat?”
“How about we go out for dinner?” he asked instead. After the weeks of strain he felt it would do both of them some good to go out.
“It’ll only take a few minutes for me to whip something up,” she said as she started to pull things from the cupboards.
“What aren’t you telling me?” he asked not quite able to keep his disappointment from his voice. It had been a long time since they’d had a night out.
“I’ve told you everything,” she said slamming the cupboard shut “why won’t you believe me?”
He stared at her a moment confusion bright in her eyes. “I just want to spend time with my wife. Is that too much to ask?”
“That’s not what you said” she accused.
“It’s not what I meant,” he growled his rising “all you ever do is look for that woman. You’re obsessed with her.”
“Since when is keeping my family safe a crime?” she shouted back “she’s out there Garrett waiting for us to relax our guard.” Her eyes shimmered while her chin quivered as she fought to keep her emotions in check.
Sighing Garrett could feel his anger melting as he watched her. Opening his arms wide he beckoned her to come to him. When she was ensconced in his arms, head resting on his chest he stroked her hair. “I’m sorry” he mumbled kissing the top of her head.
“Me too,” she mumbled against him.
Chuckling a little he let the strain drain from him “let’s order in a pizza.”
“Sounds good,” she said lifting her face up “I haven’t a clue what I was going to make.”
Looking at the half opened can Garrett laughed in relief “I don’t think I could eat tuna and chili together.”
Pulling a disgusted face she said “throw it away. That’s beyond gross.”
Since that night Verity tried her best to communicate her feelings better. The last thing they needed was to let the pressure destroy them as a couple. She knew Garrett was doing the same both were tip toeing around each other trying to not upset the other.
She smiled over at Garrett who was sitting on the floor playing with Trober. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to keep them safe. “How about we go to the park?” she suggested.
Garrett looked up “do you think it’s safe?” He hated being cooped up inside the house but if it mean keeping their son safe he’d never go outside again.
“It should be,” she said turning to the computer shutting things down “we can’t continue to live like this. It’s not healthy for any of us.”
Garrett knew she was right but it didn’t stop the stabbing gut wrenching fear from tearing at his insides. He knew only too well how relentless his half sister could be. When she wanted something she didn’t stop until she got it.
“Dada,” Trober’s happy high pitched voice broke through his troubling thoughts.
“What is it little man?” he asked pushing all thoughts of Kara from his mind.
“Look,” Trober pointed towards the xylophone indicating he wanted Garrett to watch him. Giggling when he knew he had his dad’s attention he banged away at the keys.
“That’s very good,” Garrett encouraged not wanting to dampen his son’s enthusiasm for the little instrument while he secretly considered the merits of investing in earplugs.
While Garret was occupied with their son Verity gathered items for a picnic lunch. Humming softly she felt it was going to be a good day. Finishing she smiled over at her boys “I’m ready whenever you are.”
Garrett looked up in relief “we’re going to the park,” he informed the little boy.
“Yay” Trober clapped his hands. Squealing in delight when Garrett lifted him onto his shoulders.
Verity smiled up into her husbands eyes lightly running her fingers through his hair. “Did you get enough to eat?” she fretted having forgotten the chicken salad she had made the night before.
“I’m fine,” he assured her. He laughed when his stomach growled loudly.
“Liar,” she giggled when he pulled her down with him onto the blanket.
Their lips met taking her breath away. “This is the one time I wish we were at home,” Garrett said breathless from the passionate kiss they just shared.
“Mmm hmm” was her only response as she looked around scanning the area. She sighed in relief seeing Trober with one of their body guards happily playing in a nearby sandbox. As much as she knew they needed this moment of normalcy it still frightened her being out in the open where anything could happen.
“Is something wrong?” Garrett asked picking up on her unease. Sitting up he scanned the are just as Verity had moments before. He frowned as he spotted something that hadn’t been there before. “We need to go…now” he grabbed Varity’s hand rushed her from the park.
He stopped long enough to take Trober from the guard who had been watching him. “What’s going on?” Verity asked fear and guilt in her voice. What had she missed?
“I’m not sure,” Garrett gave her a rueful grimace “I thought I saw something that shouldn’t be there.”
“Like what sir?” one of the guards asked.
“Um a package” he closed his eyes trying to picture what had caused his alarm. He felt slightly foolish “it could have been just a discarded wrapper but it hadn’t been there before.”
“Don’t worry sir we’ll soon now for sure,” the guard relayed the information back to the other guards that had stayed behind to search. Nodding he hurried the family to the car. “Fred will get your things later” he said as he prepared to drive them home.
The ride home was quiet other than the happy jibber jabber coming from Trober. “They found something didn’t they?” Verity asked as they turned down the road towards their house.
Glancing in the review mirror the guard looked towards Garrett first before nodding “it was a small explosive device.”
“OMG” Verity cried “why would she do that? I thought her goal was to take Trober not kill him.” Her eyes were round with fright uncomprehending.
“That wasn’t it’s intended purpose” Garrett said. His training in the coast guards he had experience with explosive devices “if it was small enough it’d be a good distraction,” he took a deep breath looking across the seat at his son.
“If you hadn’t reacted the way you did so she could have walked away with your son while we were all stunned.” The guard said filling in the silence that had enveloped the car.
“How did she get so close?” Verity demanded as her fear turned to anger.
“We don’t know,” the guard told her.
“It’s your job to know,” she shouted “I don’t want to hear I don’t know.”
Garrett had to give the guard props for remaining calm under Verity’s accusations. Once the car was parked and Garrett had gotten Trober from his car seat he thanked the man for getting them home. He could feel Verity seething beside him but she kept her mouth shut until they were inside.
“How could you thank him?” she cried “he let his guard down. Who knows what could have happened if you hadn’t seen that package?”
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her to calm down but he knew that would only upset her more. Telling someone to calm down when while they were upset usually had the opposite effect on them.
Putting Trober down on the floor to play he took a deep breath. “You know as well as I do how tricky and cunning Kara is. It shouldn’t be too surprising that she had been able to slip through our defenses. I wish she hadn’t but she did. Yelling at each other isn’t going to help anyone.”
Slowly she nodded as the fight went out of her “I’m sorry” she gulped “it’s just she was so close. She could have….” Deep wracking sobs burst from her has she was overwhelmed by the events that just happened. How close they had come to losing their son. She felt Garrett wrap his arms around her. She clung to him as she soaked his shoulder.
She drove past the tiny house. Slowed enough to see Garrett holding the red haired witch in his arms. It was enough to make her skin crawl. The door opened and one of the guards from the park walked out. If she thought it’d work she’d flirt with him. Get him on her side.
She dismissed the idea as soon as she thought of it. Her Uncle would have have taken extra precautions with this detail then he had the last one. Plus she had no intentions of repeating her own tactics.
She stomped on the gas when she noticed the guard watching her. It was time to ditch this car she thought pulling the car over to park. Gathering what few possessions she had in it before getting out. She left the car behind as she walked towards town.
She breathe deeply of the clear ocean air. Closing her eyes she listened to the babble of children’s voices playing outside at the nearby school. She imagined coming to pick up her son. He’d come running out calling mommy excited to show her all the things he did that day. His clear happy voice as he recounted his first crush….
No she quickly crushed that thought. He’d never be allowed to date. She’d get rid of anyone who got between him and her. She would be all he would need. She smiled daydreaming about the future with her son. A loud car horn blasted her happy dream apart. She made note of the licence plate filing it away in her head. One day the driver would regret blasting that horn at her. Wake up to the family pet dead on the porch. Maybe missing that cherished family heirloom. Something would happen. She looked forward to that day.
Jeff sat in his makeshift office staring at the screen in front of him. The detail assigned to Garrett and Verity had just finished reporting. They had found a rebellious preteen boy who had admitted to taking money to set a box on the ground near a couple kissing on the ground.
He showed the recalcitrant adolescent a picture of Kara. “Is this the woman who paid you?” he asked
The boys eyes scanned the room as if searching for an escape or a trap. Finding none he slowly nodded chin jotting out obstinately “yeah that’s the broad,” he said trying to sound tough “I’m not giving the money back,” he said belligerently “it’s not my fault that guy spotted the package and ran.”
Jeff just stared at the boy. No doubt the boy would be in and out of correctional facilities in the years to come. Taking their silence as assent the boy got up and headed towards the door. He hesitated for a moment then shrugged before leaving.
Jeff steepled his hands looking at the far wall. If he were Kara where would he be hiding? He wouldn’t be able to rent anything in his own name without it becoming public knowledge. Either she wasn’t living in town or she was renting under an assumed name. He grabbed a notebook and pen. Check on rentals by anyone known to be friends with Kara he wrote down.
He rubbed his chin deep in thought. He lifted the pen making another note to check all abandoned buildings in or around town. She had to be somewhere.
Sighing he glanced at the time. He grabbed his phone and put through his daily call “yeah” an anxious voice said in his ear.
“It’s me,” Jeff said to whoever was on the other end.
“Obviously” came the irritated response.
Jeff couldn’t blame the person for being upset. Who else would it be calling everyday at this time? Shaking his head he sighed “sorry it’s been a long day.”
“What’s happening?” the voice asked instantly alert and wary.
“Kara made an attempt on the boy today,” Jeff winced at the explosion his announcement made.
“I’m coming back,” the voice said.
“Absolutely not,” Jeff told the voice. He could hear the stubbornness in the man’s voice. The intent to help. Was it wrong for him to want to keep them safe Jeff wondered.
“She needs to be stopped “came the response he expected to hear.
“Give me a little more time,” Jeff requested feeling he was fighting a losing battle.
“How much time?” the anger in the man’s voice was palpable in Jeff’s ear “I won’t stand by and watch that woman destroy their lives. Not if I can prevent it.”
There was a resounding click in his ear. Jeff stared at his phone rubbing his neck. He missed his old partner. If Zayne were still around he’d get twice as much legwork done. Verity was good but she was walking a fine line with Garrett right now. He could see her giving up detective work to keep her family safe. Not that Garrett would demand that of her. She would do it for herself to keep from letting the mystery control her life.
He glanced at the picture of his family. His kids were the most important things he had in the world. But there was a growing gulf between them. Things hadn’t been good between him and Lisa for a while now. It had taken him a while to notice. Maybe he had been gone too often but he fire was gone. he had the feeling Lisa preferred he was gone to having him home to often. What they had left was the cooling coals of the love they once had. Were they just going through the motions? No he still loved her. It just wasn’t the same as it once was. It was too comfortable. Too predictable. Not enough passion. Which left them with what they had and what they had was …. nice.
Closing the book she was reading Verity asked “did he finally go back to sleep?”
“Our little man doesn’t like sleeping in his crib,” Garrett said slipping under the covers “maybe it’s time we look into buying a bigger house so he can have his own room.”
“He does need his own room,” she agreed “maybe we can find one with three bedrooms.”
“Three?” he asked surprise lifting his eyebrows “you’re not? Are you?”
Giggling she shook her head “no but when we do have another we should have a room just in case. Meanwhile I could really use an office.”
“Oh” he sighed in relief. As much as he loved being a father he wasn’t ready for another. He leaned over capturing Verity’s mouth with his. It had been a while since they had been intimate. It felt good as he gently helped her slip from her night shirt.
She groaned in anticipation “it’s been too long,” she echoed his thoughts biting his lower lip driving them both crazy with desire.
He caressed her soft smooth skin beneath his hands. His eyes grew heavy despite his desire. “Verity” he murmured his tongue barely able to from the word.
This wasn’t right he thought trying to move his body that had become leaden. He made it as far as the door before succumbing to the tiredness invading his body.