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Chapter 7: A Father’s Worries

Cosmo paced the living room. All his hopes and hard work were finally coming together. He was excited. “This is major.” Implanting the chip would come later. He would respect Lilly’s wishes and make her part of the process. Her clever mind would see the logic. Later when he was out of the picture, Lilly would have Skye. He would have accomplished that much for his daughter.

Still, he’d breathe easier when the chip was in his possession and D. C. in the rearview mirror. He picked up his mug and coffee sloshed out. “Damn.” He put it down, tore off a paper towel, and sopped up his mess. His hands were shaking. “Yeah, well I always got the shakes before a battle,” he murmured. “And that’s what this.” He was in a war to keep his baby safe. “Hurrah. Bring it on.”

Lilly was crying. Again.

The sound of her pain ate at him. He massaged his stomach. The tofu had turned to acid. Maybe he had an ulcer. He stretched and like a boxer worked out the kinks in his neck. Back and forth his head bobbed ear to shoulder.

Down the hall, hysterics had given way to a coherent stream of complaints.

Cosmo chuckled, “Great lungs. Every word clear as a bell. Even with fifteen feet and a door between us. The girl’s got endurance.”

“I know you are listening,” Lilly interrupted her rant to screech.

He laughed. Then the door rattled on its hinges. “Watch it now! No more kicking the doors or walls. Use your words.” Lower he said, “You know all of them.” Man how much longer can she last? These displays of theatrics always left her exhausted.

Crossing to his desk, Cosmo sat down and reached under his chair. He fiddled with something and a secret compartment dropped down. He’d better suit up for his meeting. He extracted several items.

He pulled up one leg of his black sweatpants and strapped on a small caliber .25. A backup piece to the glock. A set of five paper-thin six-inch throwing knives in their nylon sheath fit neatly into the lining of his long coat. They were not easily detected in a pat down. He was already wearing combat boots and a Kevlar vest. He unwrapped a new burner cell phone and tucked it in his inside pocket.

Terry was a good guy. They had fought together in Afghanistan, but that was a long time ago. His skills of evasion might be rusty. He could be followed. A remote location, far from home yet easily accessed made the warehouse perfect for the exchange.

Cosmo trusted no one with the location of his home, not even a friend. His informant had warned him, “Nautilus is in D. C.’ Extra precautions were necessary and like a good Boy Scout, he’d go to this meeting prepared.

He would wait until Lilly had cried herself to sleep and then head out. He checked his watch.

Coffee mug in hand, he crept down the hall and put an ear to Lilly’s door. Yelling had turned into sobbing. He leaned against the wall. God…Lilly please forgive me. I did it all to protect you. He shivered.

He heard her sniffling and yanking copious amounts of tissues from the box. She’s wiping her button nose. Thank goodness she doesn’t have a honker the size of mine. Cosmo chuckled.

She heaved, gave a long drawn-out sigh. It was a signal she was coming down from her tantrum. Tomorrow they would forgive each other. Pandora’s box is open and they’ll cope. Then…it wouldn’t get any easier.

Tonight’s scene would be amateur theater compared to their next discussion. He would explain her birth, Nautilus, and most important how he had found and cared for Skye. A job Lilly would assume as she moved on without him.

God…if you’re listening, hang in there for my Lilly.

What had he done? What was he about to do…to his very own daughter? She had described herself as a lab rat. Implanting a chip would reignite that argument. She wouldn’t be wrong, but they had come too far. It would be dangerous to her health to stop now. If only the damn pills would kick in. His formula had to work.

“I hear you moving around out there. I hate you!”

“Lilly, please. Come on baby. Don’t go to sleep mad.” He took a deep breath. “Hey, what’s the best hug?” It was a nightly ritual that started when Lilly was old enough to reply, ‘the next one from you.’ But tonight, he received only silence, the most painful form of dissent.

“I love you, baby. Tomorrow is moving day. But I haven’t forgotten Ice cream is on the agenda. How does that sound?” Not a peep. He walked away.

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