“Where’s the remote?” Terry rushed into the living room.
“Here.” Anna snatched it off the table, passing it to him. “What’s going on?”
Terry switched the channel to the news.
…After careful consideration I will be stepping down as Governor of this great state. I’m not fully capable of running this state with the heaviness on my mind and heart for my daughter. The safety of my family and those around me are the most important things and I will use this time to be closer to them...
“What’s going on with Summer?” Thomas asked.
“She was hospitalized and submitted to the mental floor for attempted suicide.”
“That’s not why he’s stepping down. He doesn’t give a damn about that girl. He’s up to something.”
“I know he’s not working with Crystal. She would immediately cut ties, especially with someone of that stature.” Anna added.
“Any luck with the flashdrive?”
“Just guess what’s on it?” Terry handed it to Thomas.
“A lot of McNeil’s dirty work.”
“You wish. It’s blank.”
“What?” Anna frowned. “Maybe someone got to it and erased what was there and Dray didn’t know.”
“That’s little far-fetched. He seemed to be a little smarter than that.” Thomas looked over the flashdrive and read the words engrave on the back. Where it all began.
“Check again. Its something were missing.”
“I’ve checked it. There’s nothing there, Thomas.”
“Check again.--Hey, Turn that down.” Thomas said as he pulled out his phone. “Hello?”
“I need your help.” He pressed the speakerphone button.
“Governor McNeil or should I say former Governor McNeil.” He remained quiet, so Thomas continued. “Out of all the people you could call you decide to call me.”
“She’s after me.”
“Good.” He said with absolutely no remorse that earned him a look from Anna.
“Hear him out.” she mouthed, but Thomas paid her no attention.
“You have ten seconds to tell me something worth staying on this phone with you.”
“She won’t stop until she has me. Do you know what that means?”
“You can use me as bait.”
Thomas looked around at the blank faces. So they couldn’t believe what he said either. “I need to think about it.” He stroked his beard while he pretended to think then said, “I think I’ll take my chances without you.”
“Why did you do that?” Anna yelled in outrage as Thomas ended the call. “He has a point. Listen to him.”
“He’s scared. We don’t need him.”
“We have no info on Crystal’s location, a dead assistant, and an empty flashdrive. He can get us Crystal. Isn’t that what you want?”
“The only thing McNeil can get us is a bullet in the head!”
“Terry, say something.” She reached out to the other man for help, but they both knew there wasn’t much help for her on the subject at hand.
“He doesn’t have to say a damn thing. You’re not stupid, Anna, and neither are we. I hate when you do that.”
Anna crossed her arms. Her attitude activated. “Do what?”
“You just want me to say it, huh? You know who she’s really after.” Thomas looked at Terry, then back at her. They both knew it was time for her to face the truth. “This has been about you from day one.”
She recoiled, ready to deny, but Terry stepped in before she could speak. “He’s right, Anna.”
“Why don’t I just call her up and throw myself at her.”
Thomas paused. “The better question is why hasn’t she called you.” Or at least tried to retaliate. There was something that they were missing.
“Everyone take a deep breath. Anna?” Terry turned to her. “Crystal waited years to come after you again. This woman has the patience of a saint and the resources to hide from two of the best trackers. We’re dealing with a very determined woman.”
“She’s won’t be found until she’s ready.”
“Then we’ll wait and when she shows, we’ll be ready.” Thomas threw over his shoulder before disappearing out the back door.
“So now that we went over gun safety, it’s time to test one out.” Terry said to Aria as they stepped off the deck.
Aria watched as he prepared the guns. “Have you always been in the business?”
Terry laughed. “I was in the military.” He handed her the gun. “Here.”
Aria followed all the steps he showed her and was becoming a nature already.
“Nice posture. Great aim.” He encouraged.
“Thank you. I never thought I would be one who would enjoy shooting a gun.”
“I’m surprised Thomas hasn’t beaten me to this.”
“If you would have given him a little more time, I’m sure he would have.”
“He’s a great man. They all are.” She nodded, focusing on target. “I’m surprised you chose Graham though.”
“Why?” She fired her first shot, missing the target.
“There’s nothing wrong with Graham, it just seemed like you would be more into David.” He shifted her arms back to how she had them in the beginning. “You’re thinking too hard. Let the gun do the work.”
“It’s funny you say that, David was never really a fan of mine. And Graham just was right for me, you know.” She smiled. “What about you and my mother?”
“Have you met your mother?” He laughed. “We have a complicated relationship but we’re friends and co-workers mostly.”
“Yeah, she’s something.”
Terry could sense the conversation was taking a turn, so he changed the subject.
“So, I hear you and Graham trying for a baby?”
“Something like that.” She fired another shot, this time making the board.
“I think that would be nice. I would love to be a grandfather.”
She lowered the gun and turned to him.
“I wasn’t a wonderful father but maybe I could be an amazing grandfather if you allowed me the opportunity to be around.”
Aria thought it was raining until she touched her face and found the water was coming from her eyes.
She wrapped her arms around Terry. “I would love that.” She cried. “I’m happy you’re here…Dad.” Terry’s arms tightened around her. “I love you, Dad.”
He threw his head back as he cried out. This was the moment he never thought he would have.
Thomas looked out into the yard and saw the embrace between father and daughter and his heart warmed, but he couldn’t deny that he also felt sadness.
“Get away from the window. You look like you just dropped your first child off for college.”
He turned to see Zora sit a bag on the counter along with a cake box. “This is my house I can do what I want.”
“It’s pathetic, Thomas. Let her enjoy her father. You did what you were supposed to do and brought them together. Plus, you have three men that still need raising.” She nudged him as he came behind the counter to see what she brought.
“Well, let’s see how your brat turns out.”
Zora threw her head back in laughter. “Well when it comes to that, I might need a little help from you, Mr. Tucker.”
“Insult me, then ask for my help. Seems like someone else could use a bit more raising herself.” He watched her pull items from their restaurant, but the box had his attention. “What’s in there?” He nodded.
“Micah made me another caramel cake. I thought I would share some with you.”
Thomas was all for that. He pulled up a stool and waited for the food. “Where’s David?”
“He dropped me off for a few hours while he brings some of my things to his house. I knew Aria would be over her with her daddy and I didn’t want you stalking her from the window.” Zora grabbed two plates from the cabinet and started plating them with ribs, mashed potatoes, and kernel corn.
“You’re becoming right at home, I see.”
She paused before handing him the plate. “I never really had a home.”
He took it, but surprised her when he grabbed her wrist with his other hand. “You do now.”
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