“Jayce hated kids, and I think Michelle actually loved him. He talked her into the abortion and paid for it. When Jerico found out, he instantly became a different person. It destroyed him. When he built himself back up, he shut himself off from anything that could remotely get his heart crushed again.”

Oh, God. Poor Jerico.

“Until you,” Kynan adds, causing my head to lift. The tears overflow and spill down my cheeks. “You became way more important to him than his revenge. And whether you believe he was justified in wanting his revenge or not, he decided he couldn’t put you at risk of getting hurt to assuage his own pain. He changed his mind. That’s when I knew he was in love with you.”

I wipe the tears from my cheeks and blink my eyes to push the rest out. Staring out the frosted window and seeing the hazy bodies that walk past on the sidewalk, I ask, “Did Jerico pay Jayce off?”

Because he doesn’t answer right away, I turn to see Kynan scratching his head, his expression filled with humor and guilt at the same time.

“What?” I demand. “What aren’t you telling me?”

With a sigh, he says, “Jayce didn’t give you money he had. He got that thirteen from a loan shark. He only owed twenty-thousand back, and he was charging you the extra five to make a profit.”

“That son of a bitch,” I snarl as my eyes narrow at Kynan, and I try to figure out how to plot Jayce’s death.

He holds up a hand for me to calm down. “Jerico handled it. He got the money you gave to Jayce and paid the lender off. That was his favor owed, so he and Jayce are square now.”

I nod and turn to look back at the window. “This is a lot to take in.

“What are you thinking?” Kynan asks hesitantly, and I can hear the love he has for his friend in his voice. He desperately wants this to work out for Jerico.

I look back at him with a watery smile. “I think it sucks I had to hear that Jerico is in love with me from you.”

Kynan’s eyes turn bright with relief, and he chuckles. “I’m sure you’ll hear it when he gets back.”

“When will that be?”

“No clue,” Kynan says. “Could be days, could be a few weeks. But I’ll keep you updated.”

I nod as I stand, focusing my gaze on him. “Thank you. For telling me the story… and for being his friend.”

“Want me to give a message to him when he checks in?”

I shake my head at first, because our words need to be said to each other in person, but then I change my mind. “Wait, yes. Tell him I said to please be safe. It’s um… important to me that he stays safe.”

Kynan smiles. “You got it.”

“And I’ll be in to work on Thursday,” I tell him. “Jerico promised me a job.”

His smile gets bigger as his eyes sparkle. “Then I guess I’ll see you here Thursday.”

CHAPTER 29

Jerico

I’d normally head straight home after landing in Vegas so I could get showered and rinse the stink of secret military operations off me. Ten days in the Congo, much of it just waiting as we gathered intelligence before we could act, with very limited use of showers, and I was not looking or smelling my best. I had almost two weeks of beard on my face—I was distressed to see a few gray hairs mixed among the dark—and the last shower I had was two days ago. I’m wearing a pair of black BDUs that are at least clean, and I brushed my teeth at the airport bathroom. It would have to do as I couldn’t wait another minute to see Trista.

She’d told me to be safe. That it was important to her.

At least that’s what Kynan had said on an encrypted satellite call. He’d said, “I’ve talked to Trista and she knows everything. She said it was important that you stay safe for her.”

Since then, time has stood still. I was about going out of my mind waiting for this mission to be completed. Outside of the boredom of gathering intelligence, it was actually quite dangerous when we went in to overtake the energy plant. Renegade Team Three had five members, and we were joined by three Navy seals as well as a United Nations liaison. It was more than enough power to overtake the scraggly band of rebels who had wanted nothing more than to protest human rights violations by trying to stop the flow of natural gas to Europe, thereby hamstringing the unpopular government. There wasn’t a single shot fired, and the rebels were turned over to the U.N. to deal with. After debriefing, my team hopped an outbound French military flight from Kinshasa where we flew commercially back to New York and then into Vegas.

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