My mind drifted back to the life-changing day on the train in France now already eighteen months ago. Terrorist attack. They targeted the train because of some diplomat rumored to be on it. Turns out he got held up in another town and missed the train entirely. All those people died for no reason. His safety detail changed their course at the last minute because the diplomat chose to go at a later time. No bomb-sniffing dogs, no heightened security. We were all oblivious to the Intel.
It cut my career in the army short. Not due to combat but because I wanted to fuck my way across France. They gave me an honorable discharge. A handshake and a good luck. Thanks for your service, you can go now.
My next assignment stared back at me from my desk giving me a reprieve from reliving the bombing that ended my sought-after career. When my dream of army lifer was taken from me, I knew I wouldn’t be able to replace it with the police force either, so I came back to the states and took some time to think of my next occupation with more thought.
My first stop upon return was Vegas and my old friend Big John. We went out and met at Ryder’s new night club. A franchise of the one he had in California. The ‘soft opening’ was invite-only which led to a much smaller intimate crowd than his massive club could hold. This club boasted larger dance floors than the one in California and had a stage for performances. The band showcased that night played a special acoustic-only gig for friends. Brandt, Quade, and Mac attended but Chelsea couldn’t make it, busy with the kids and their extracurricular activities for school, but it still felt almost like old times. Except this time, I didn’t need to worry about anyone’s sweaty, dirty laundry.
Even JJ managed to show up looking strung out, but Social Offender hadn’t made it back on the road which led to him accepting a side gig with another band. Seeing how JJ couldn’t stand to sit still in one location for too long, he went over the road with old friends of his, the band Tanners. He filled in for their guitarist due to a recent split from the previous performer. Being they were a rowdier group than Social Offender it offered just the distraction to keep JJ busy until Social Offender put out their next full album.
They all knew about the explosion on the train. They knew I had my leg amputated leaving nothing supporting me below the knee on the left side except a prosthesis. The sympathy they portrayed was genuine, but I never wanted pity hating how it showed my weakness. It did bring about a new challenge on the professional side of my life though.
Brandt offered me a job. Not with him and luckily not road crew as those days had swept by me already even if my prosthetic could take the abuse. No, this job was with an associate of his. The guy they used for security. Louis started out with bodyguard and limo services after he moved to California and morphed his business into all aspects of protection. He needed someone with knowledge of tactile combat. Someone who could look at the houses he serviced and see where they lacked security.
At first, I turned him down not interested in what I felt was a handout, but Brandt convinced me to meet with him. After the initial meeting, I was hooked. I took his vision of home security, and he let me run with it. Security services fit a piece of me I didn’t know was missing and the business grew exponentially. Currently, I employed three others below me, all ex-servicemen. Although Louis had the idea, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. He liked what I brought to the table and now I worked with the local police making sure people stayed safe in their homes.
Things changed a lot in the year and a half since the explosion requiring me to learn how to live with my disability, albeit the loss of a limb was never easy to accept. Pity was my enemy. I never wore shorts, choosing to be miserable in the heat of the California sun rather than feel the scrutinizing glare of strangers. It made me feel less of a man to the point woman didn’t interest me anymore, not wanting them to know I was not a full man.
The women still looked though. It wasn’t as if all desire flew out the window. Eighteen months was a long time to go without sex when you got accustomed to it being an almost daily occurrence, but instead of putting myself out there and get rebuked by women expecting the perfect stud, I chose to get to know my hand better. It seemed the lesser of two evils.
Closing my schedule, I made my way to my next appointment with a smile on my face. Brandt’s house needed an upgrade in equipment, and I would be able to visit with Chelsea and the kids. Seeing him still brought back memories of her, but thankfully they were fading. He talked about Rea every once in a while. He never found out about us, and I was glad. It may have made things awkward between us and he always proved a good friend.
Rea went to work for her father. Just what her parents expected of her, and I hoped she was at least a little happy with that decision, although I assumed it had something to do with her daughter.
She hooked up with some guy right after me proving our relationship had been nothing more than a summer fling. With me out of the way, she sought out a man to scratch her itch at least for a little while. Something I couldn’t accomplish no matter how hard I tried. Brandt confided in me if he ever met the guy, he would beat him within an inch of his life for dumping her the way he did but even he didn’t know his name. Rea never told anyone and kept her mouth shut on the subject, rightfully so. Famous rock stars couldn’t beat up guys without drawing attention. He left her soon after and I guess she became humbled by being left alone and knocked up. It should make me feel better about her choices, but I couldn’t celebrate her being taken advantage of either. Maybe there was some of the boy scout mentality left in me.
Her little girl had to be about school-age by now. Brandt had a picture of her as a baby on his bookshelf in his home office and Rea looked happy holding her. It didn’t surprise me she would raise a daughter on her own. She always had a backbone regardless if she didn’t see it. Although she told me once she didn’t want kids, I knew she would be a good mother regardless. The father of her child missed out.
Opening the door to Brandt’s house I was accosted by little screaming kids of all ages. Cole and Ronnie should be turning eight soon, and Vinny was six. Little Angelica would be four at the end of summer, despite her size being so small she looked even younger than her age.
“Logan! The kids missed you.” Chelsea came to my aid, removing the kids from my legs although I kept a tight hold on Angel. She was so cute with big blue eyes and curly golden hair. A perfect miniature of her mother.
“And I missed them.”
“Well, you should come out more. You know you are always welcome.” We turned and walked out to the deck to work on the real reason for my visit. The Stennet’s built a new pool house, mainly for the kids to be able to drop their wet and sandy clothes off after a romp on the beach or a swim in the pool, but also as a stand-alone suite for guests. They outgrew the number of bedrooms in the main house and needed a place for the extended family when they came to visit. The pool house had all the luxuries of an apartment. A small living room/kitchen area. A bathroom with laundry and a bedroom with a king-size bed. It was even bigger than my one-bedroom apartment, but I couldn’t be jealous since it was just me. I really didn’t need anything bigger.
“Where is Brandt?”
Smiling her brilliant Chelsea smile, she tilted her head upward, “He is in the studio. He wants me to come and get him when either you arrive or his sister.”
Blood drained from my face as I stuttered, “His sister?”
Cole’s tug to my leg acted as a distraction for my recent pale complexion. “Cole, let uncle Logan talk to me first before interrupting.” Her attention being at her son, she missed the look of apprehension on my face. Rea was coming here for a visit.
“Rea should be here soon. She and Lena are coming for the week. The kids are so excited to have their cousin here, and Brandt and I think it is high time for Rea to have some recreational time. Her days are filled with work for the family business and Lena of course. She never makes time for herself.”
“Well, I won’t take up too much of your time. I just wanted to get the specifics of the pool house and scope out the surrounding land for the cameras.” I decided my visit would be kept really short.
“Take all the time you need. Really, I think Rea would be glad to see you. She asked about you just the other day. It would be great if you could even stay for supper and we could all catch up.” Rea asked about me? So, she still thought about me although it probably wasn’t as much as I thought about her. She was the one who got away. The woman who stole my heart.
And then beat it to death.
My face turned to stone as I contemplated what to do. I could leave and make an excuse to come back another day. As it was, I risked running into her and felt even an eternity would be too soon to run into her again. But she would be here a full week and Brandt wanted security for the guests as soon as possible, solidifying my decision.
Hurrying through the pool house, I made rapid observations, explaining to Chelsea it would only take a day or two of work to put in the security pad and monitor for the outside cameras. She and the kids followed me running through the rooms and bouncing here and there until we made a quick finish of my duties. To my relief, I could escape before Rea made her appearance.
Leaving the front door of the guest house, I said a quick goodbye to the kids when I heard Brandt call down from the deck. “Hey guys, look who I found!”