Home > Fatal Reckoning (Fatal #14)(9)

Fatal Reckoning (Fatal #14)(9)
Author: Marie Force

“I’m...surprisingly all right and strangely relieved for him.”

“I can understand why.”

“You didn’t know him before. He was just so vibrant and full of life.”

“Like his daughter?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

He tipped her chin up and kissed her gently. “Whatever you need, I’m right here. Terry cleared my schedule for the week, so I can be with you and the kids and the rest of the family.”

“More kisses would be good.”

“You’re in luck. I have an endless supply with your name on them.”

Her joy at being reunited with her beloved husband helped her contend with the grief that had marked this surreal day. And while her heart ached over the loss she’d sustained, it soared with love for Nick. Soaring highs, crushing lows—the story of her life. And Nick... He was the highest of highs. Kissing him, touching him, being loved by him, somehow made everything better than it would’ve been otherwise.

Kissing her with a week’s worth of desire, he smoothly rolled her under him before easing back from the kiss to gaze down at her with concern, love and desire.

She reached for him, raising her hips in invitation. “I’m okay.”

He kept his hazel eyes open as he joined his body with hers. “Samantha... I can’t bear to be away from you.”

She curled her arms around his neck and her legs around his hips, feeling complete for the first time in a week. “I feel the same way. No more traveling.”

He dropped his forehead to rest against hers. “I told Terry if they want me to travel, you have to go with me, or I’m not going.”

“Can you do that?”

“They’re not going to fire me.” He kissed her lips and then her neck as he moved in her, filling her heart, soul and body the way only he could. “This was one of the longest days of my life, knowing you were suffering and I couldn’t get to you.”

“I felt almost worse for you than I did for myself. I knew you’d be losing it because you weren’t here.”

“I was losing it, and I hate that I wasn’t here when you needed me.” He picked up the pace, and they clung to each other, chasing the release that occurred in a moment of near-holy perfection, his body straining against hers as they came together, the tension inside her subsiding in the aftermath and leaving bone-deep exhaustion in its place.

She had wondered if she’d be able to sleep tonight, but safe in the arms of her love, she found the peace and comfort she needed to close her eyes and let it all go until the morning.


SCOTTY CHOSE TO go to school because, he said, that was what his gramps would want him to do. “He was always telling me that there was nothing more important than a good education,” Scotty said over his usual bowl of cereal. “I’m going to try to take school more seriously for him. You think that would make him happy?”

Holding a cup of coffee as she leaned against the counter, Sam smiled and nodded. “That would make him very happy. He wanted to see you reach your full potential.”

“He was always saying the sky was the limit for me.”

“He really believed that.”

“Are you sure you don’t need me here today?”

“I always need you here, but I’ll be okay until you get home. You’re going to miss school for the funeral, so it’s a good idea to go today so you don’t get too far behind.”

He polished off the cereal, downed a glass of OJ and then stood to put the dishes in the sink. “How old do I have to be before I can have coffee?”

Sam handed him her mug, enjoying the surprise that lit up his expressive face.

He took a sip. “It’s kinda bitter.”

“It’s an acquired taste. Have some more.”

He took a second bigger taste. “Not bad.”

“Go brush your teeth.”

As he dashed out of the kitchen, he passed Nick, who was coming in. “Mom let me have coffee.”

Nick raised a brow in Sam’s direction. “Did she, now?”

“He had two sips. No biggie.”

“Don’t get him addicted to a morning boost or he’ll be a bear like you are until you get your fix.”

“A bear?”

“A gorgeous, sexy, delightful bear.” He kissed her forehead and then her lips. “But a bear nonetheless.”

“Only you can insult and compliment me all in the same breath.”

“It’s my special gift.” Resting his hands on her hips, he gazed down at her. “How’d you sleep?”

“Surprisingly well thanks to you and your special bedtime remedy.”

“It fixes a world of hurts.”

She put her mug on the counter and wrapped her arms around him. “Yes, it certainly does.”

“What do you need today?”

“You, right here with me.”

“Nowhere else I’d rather be every day, but especially today.”

“We’re meeting with the department rep at ten and then the funeral home. We probably ought to have Brant and Debra at the meeting with the rep so they know what we’ll be doing and when.”

“I’ll let them know. Anything else you want or need, you just tell me.”

Scotty returned to the kitchen, backpack on his shoulder, and came to a stop when he saw them wrapped up in each other. “There’s a child in the room.”

Nick smiled at Sam as he released her. “Nothing to see here.”

“I suppose some kissing is to be expected in light of her loss, but let’s keep it respectable. Alden and Aubrey are too young to be exposed to such goings-on.”

“Go to school.” Sam tried not to crack up. That would only encourage him.

He grabbed the lunch Shelby had made for him the night before and tucked it into his backpack. “Later, peeps.”

“Have a good day, and if it turns into a rough day, call us,” Nick said.

“I will. You take care of her.” Scotty nodded to his mother.

“I’m on it. Don’t worry.”

Scotty was almost to the door when he turned back. “Hey, Mom? Do you think I could maybe say something about Gramps at the funeral?”

“I think that would be awesome.”

“Okay. I’ll work on it.” He was out the door like a shot, talking to the agents who would accompany him to school.

“I can’t believe he didn’t take the chance to stay home,” Nick said.

“He said Gramps would want him to go, and you’ll be glad to hear that he’s going to start taking school more seriously, also because Gramps would want that.”

Feigning shock, Nick rested his hand on his heart. “Don’t mess with me about this. It’s too important.”

Sam laughed. “It’s true. He said it.”

“I need a minute to process this development.”

“Don’t start calling Harvard quite yet. We still have to get him through high school math.”

“True.” He checked his watch. “Let’s go rouse our littles so they’re ready when Shelby gets here.”

Bringing a second cup of coffee with her, Sam went ahead of him up the stairs to the bedroom Aubrey and Alden were sharing.

Sam sat on the bed next to Aubrey. “Good morning.”

The little girl looked up at her with big eyes. “Is Mommy here?” Then she seemed to remember what’d happened.

Every time they asked for their late parents, Sam’s heart broke all over again for them.

“Sorry.” Aubrey hugged her stuffed bear a little tighter. “I forgot.”

“It’s okay, sweetheart. That’s apt to happen for a while.”

“I heard somebody say that your daddy died too.”

“He did.”

“Are you sad?”

“I am.”

Aubrey sat up and held out her chubby little arms to Sam, who leaned into her embrace, closing her eyes against the rush of emotion.

Nick cleared his throat and turned his focus on Alden, who was watching them with the wise, knowing way that made him seem older than his years. He had witnessed the horror at his home the night his parents were killed. The therapist had told Sam it was hard to tell what he would remember later, but it was possible the memories of the awful night that had changed his life forever would never fade completely.

Sam and Nick worked together to get the children washed and dressed for school.

As they trooped down the stairs to see to breakfast, the front door opened and the Secret Service admitted Freddie and Elin. At first, Sam was so shocked to see them that she didn’t immediately react. “What are you doing here?” She greeted her partner and his wife with hugs.

Freddie held Sam for a long moment. “You know what we’re doing here.”

“You didn’t have to come home.”

“Yes, we did.” He released her but kept his hands on her shoulders. “What can we do?”

“Since you defied my orders and came home when I told you not to, will you be part of the honor guard with the rest of the squad?”

“Of course I will. What else?”

“I don’t know yet. Can I get back to you?”

“We’re here for whatever you need.”

“We’re so sorry, Sam.” Elin’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. “For the rest of my life, I’ll never forget him getting us pole-dancing lessons as a bachelor party gift.”

Sam laughed at the memory. “Trust me, neither will I.”

“He was the best,” Freddie said.

“Yes, he was. I’m sorry that your honeymoon was interrupted. He would’ve hated to be the cause of that.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it,” Freddie said. “There’s talk of a candlelight vigil at HQ tonight.”

“Is there?” Sam asked, touched by the gesture.

Freddie nodded. “People remember what happened to him, Sam. They’ve never forgotten.”

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