Rookie Dallas Marshal Sean Mercado, and Canadian cop Nicholas Fournier, are pulled into Jubilee and Kieran's lives after a near death experience for Jubilee who is shot during a bank holdup that leaves him seriously wounded.
Former Canadian Special Ops Nicholas Fournier never dreamed making a deposit at a Dallas bank for his ailing aunt would change his life, but it does. He meets US Marshal Jubilee Mason who in turn introduces him to Sean Mercado, a new recruit to the Big D. Nicholas is still reeling from a romantic fiasco where he threw caution to the wind traveling to Texas to meet a guy he met online.
Though planning to fly back home, he's tempted to spend more time with the hunky Louisiana transplant and learn about the US Marshals. He soon finds there's a lot going on in this hectic Texas city and it ain't just summer rain.
“Okay, if you want to get the Vampyre Hearse today, all you have to do is tell me the names of the four little African-American girls the U.S. Marshals escorted to school in nineteen sixty on the first day of integration.” My lover, Kieran Fox, sat on the edge of our bed, a new Toys R Us gift card in his hand as our little boy, Juan, stared longingly at it.
“Daddy.” Juan sounded exasperated. “Ask me something easier.”
“That is an easy question. I know the answer.” Kieran gave me a sly wink. “Don’t you, Jubilee?”
“No, I don’t. And don’t show off. Ask him something he can answer.” Actually I did know the names of the girls, since it was not only a proud moment in American history but one of the finest in the U.S. Marshals’ accomplishments. Juan was so sensitive and struggling so hard to learn English I didn’t want him to feel bad.
“Okay, okay.” Kieran rolled his eyes. “All right, Juan, who’s the best U.S. Marshal ever?”
“Wyatt Earp,” Juan said confidently, his longing gaze fixated on that gift card.
“Wyatt Earp?” Kieran looked scandalized. Juan grabbed the card and ran. “Hey, kid, he was only a Marshal for six months!” Kieran shouted after him, then glanced over at me.
I shrugged. “Don’t look at me. You’re the one who spent all weekend showing him those movies. He thinks Wyatt’s your hero.”
“Well…” Kieran took his rolled-up socks, slipped them onto his feet, and slid into his boots. Hot damn he was a fine-looking man. He looked so sexy in his jeans that caressed him in all the right places.
“The only thing about Wyatt Earp that I envy is that he got to shoot up a mess of people and all they did was take his badge away.”
“Don’t get any ideas,” I joked.
“A fella can dream, lover. You going to the bank?”
Little pitchers have big ears as my mom used to say. Juan returned to the doorway, his new wallet in hand. I knew exactly what was in it. His school ID card, a piece of paper with all his emergency phone numbers, the five dollars I’d given him for helping me with chores, and now the gift card. He was so proud of having things to put in that wallet.
“Are we going to the bank, Daddy? Can we go to the toy store, too?”
I couldn’t hold Juan’s gaze as I gathered my things. We’d so looked forward to the first official day of his school break. Instead, I had to go the bank and re-sign the direct deposit forms for our mortgage on the three-bedroom house we had just bought in the suburb of Colleyville, Dallas. And Kieran was on his way to Washington D.C. to escort a convicted serial rapist.
We had been renting an apartment for the last seven months, looking for a town house, possibly a condo, but this sprawling ranch house was so amazing and even had stables and a horse. The horse’s name was Fairy. He was a boy…so this seemed like fate.
Kieran was getting ready to fly to D.C. with Sean Mercado, a rookie Dallas Marshal whom he was helping to train. Both Kieran and I work for the oldest branch of law enforcement in the nation. Kieran and Sean were going to extradite a violent rapist who’d been tracked down in our nation’s capital, right back here to Dallas. I watched my lover strapping on his firearms, checking that he had everything.
He was in a bad mood and I didn’t blame him. He’d tried so hard to hide it from Juan who seemed oblivious—thank God.
“No, baby,” I told the little boy who to me was our son in every possible way. I pulled him closer to us. “I’m going to take you to Aunty Pauline’s and I promise you I’ll pick you up very soon and we’ll go to the toy store and we’ll get ice cream, too.”
On Saturday, we’d received a letter from Child Protective Services telling us that we were unlikely to be able to legally adopt six-year old Juan because we’re gay men. We’d put off dealing with it to enjoy our weekend with our son. Now, reality was biting us in the ass.
We were stunned by the letter and the malicious intent behind it. Never mind that Kieran saved the child who’d been sold into sexual slavery by his own parents who sent him from Mexico with a sex trafficker we’d finally nailed.
As long as Kieran lived I knew he would never forget the way Juan was presented to him when Kieran was posing as a brothel owner.
“It’s six, male, Mexican. Fifty grand.”
It’s. Juan had been viewed as a disposable object of sexual gratification. This didn’t seem to matter to CPS. And never mind the fact that we had survived numerous impromptu visits from CPS and had passed each and every test. Our caseworker loved us. But according to CPS we were good enough to indefinitely foster Juan, but not good enough to claim him as our own.
Kieran was furious. He wanted to leave Texas for good, but leaving for good meant losing Juan for sure.
I smiled at Juan now. I’d take him over to my sister’s to spend a couple of hours with her. I wanted to talk to Mr. Lindstrom, the bank manager, about a reference. I had a nine-thirty appointment to sign the papers and I could broach the subject then. Dang. We had references up the wazoo and it didn’t seem to help. Now we had to pony-up money for psychological tests and mediation—with CPS. Mediation? I’d always thought couples getting divorced needed mediation, not couples trying to adopt.
“We need to call Luke,” Kieran said, referring to our attorney. “Look, I’ll be back tonight. The war isn’t over, sweetie. We’ll take care of it tomorrow. Just have fun with Juan after you go to the bank. What would make me happy is knowing you’re adding to the Vampyre Castle.” He raised his hands. “I vant to suck your blood!” He started making spooky sounds.
Juan shrieked ecstatically.
“Okay,” I said. I knew there was enough money on the card to buy Juan the hearse and a couple of swamp creatures, too. We’d invested a small fortune in all the accoutrements that made up this latest craze for kids.
For Juan, the kid who’d never had a single toy of his own his life, it was like Disneyland.
Kieran kissed me. We all left the house, Juan clinging to Kieran’s leg. “Don’t go, Daddy! Don’t go!” He wept hot tears.
I knew how he felt.
Kieran picked him up and held him in one arm, putting his other arm around me. “I love you both.” He kissed my cheek and whispered, “Sorry I’m grumpy, babe. I’ll make it up to you.”
“Yeah, you will.” I gave him a swift kiss and we exchanged looks that held a lot of heat. I took possession of Juan.
“Marshals don’t cry,” Kieran told our son, who just cried harder.
“I know…do you want to wear my hat?” I asked Juan. I’ve become quite the master of distraction lately. I took him back inside and fetched my hat as Kieran drove off. I did what I had to do to get Juan excited again.
“Which toys do you want to take?” I asked Juan.
“Mmm…” He put a finger to his lips and thought about it. “I want the werewolf and the mummy.”
Back in the living room, his Lego Vampyre Castle and all its accessories had taken over the joint. He and Kieran had built a fort of bed sheets and sofa cushions over the weekend and I’d relented and let them keep it a few more days.
We picked up his chosen toys and closed and locked the front door. We walked over to my SUV and I buckled him into his booster seat in the back. He pretended to hate the thing but I knew he secretly liked it. It comforted him and made him feel special. He’d told me and Kieran he’d never had a child safety seat in Mexico. He’d had a lot of beatings though. There were many faint and several still-healing scars all over his body and he had night terrors…terrors that were slowly subsiding.
No…Kieran was right. The war for Juan wasn’t over. I kissed my tiny man’s little face and he reached into the mesh bag attached to the back of the seat in front of him. He searched around for his can of bubblegum designed to look like Band-Aids. I could smell the one he began to chew. Lime.
I put my marshal hat on top of his head and we were on our way.
“Daddy, did you know there are nine hundred and forty-nine pointy pieces on the Lego Vampyre Castle?” he asked, stuffing another piece of gum into his mouth.
I roared with laughter. The kid sure came out with the most random, fascinating things.
“No, I didn’t know that.”
He kicked his little feet, pleased that he’d told me something new. I watched him anxiously in the rearview mirror but he seemed okay now. Wolfman was giving the mummy a serious beat down. I hoped this wasn’t the sign of a damaged mind.
It was a pleasure to drive through our suburb, which had a delightful, small-town feel. With acres of farms and orchards all around us, it felt so good here. Though it was spring, it was already warm. There was a hum on the air. I liked living in a place with low crime and where families made up forty-six percent of the population. Juan was going to the same school as my sister’s twin boys, Andre and Philip. It was wonderful how my nephews had taken so quickly to Juan. They were so protective of him. Everyone was on Spring Break now.
“Daddy, can I keep your hat on when I go inside?” he asked me as we rolled up to my sister’s bright and sunny three-bedroom townhouse. It had been part of the deal when she moved here to start work with the marshals. When I looked back on our lives just seven months ago in dreary, rural Lone Trail, I felt relieved it was a thing of the past.
“Sure you can, sweetie.”
Pauline and the boys opened the door and greeted us.
Juan started to tear off with his cousins.
“Hey, mister,” Pauline called out. “Can I get a hug?”
My little boy ran right back, his eyes shining with happiness.
“Are we going for ice cream when you get back, Daddy?”
“Yay!” the boys shouted and took off running for the living room.
“I’m sorry about the letter, babe,” Pauline said, looking over her shoulder to make sure the kids weren’t listening. “You’ll only be a couple of hours, right?”
“At the most.”
“Cool. I have to be at work by noon. Are you sure you can handle all three boys until tonight?”
“Of course,” I said, loving the sound of all three kids’ laughter.
She gave me a hug. “You’re a lifesaver. I can’t believe the baby-sitter got strep throat. At least she warned me this time.”
I gave her a cheery wave and took off. Chrissy had turned out to be a very unreliable baby-sitter for all of us. We’d have to hunt again. It wasn’t easy. Finding a good baby-sitter seemed impossible. They all started out okay and within a week or two there seemed to be some unwritten rule that they began acting wacky.
Outside the building, I roared the engine to life and headed on over to First Bank on Colleyville Boulevard. I parked out front and walked inside. There were about twelve people waiting in line. I glanced toward Mr. Lindstrom’s office. All the offices had glass walls so it was easy to see that it was empty.
A man approached me. His nametag said Richard. “Good morning sir. May I help you?”
“Ah…yes. Thank you. I have a nine-thirty appointment with Mr. Lindstrom. I have to sign some direct deposit forms for my mortgage account. When I was in last Friday your computers were down.”
“Oh…yeah…that was a mess. Look, um, Mr. Lindstrom is running late but let me see if I can find the paperwork for you. Shouldn’t take too long.”
He escorted me into one of the glass-walled offices and held out a chair for me. He moved behind the desk and switched on the computer. He fussed around with papers and keys and some electronic gizmo and gathering them all up again said, “I’ll be back.”
I swiveled in my seat and watched him go back out to the main floor. It was a fairly new building and gave the appearance of being slightly tropical with its pale green paint, dark wood trim, and palm trees all over the place.
In the queue of people I was startled to see Chrissy, the baby-sitter. She was chatting animatedly with a man who stood behind her. I could see she was trying her best to be friendly and…God help her, flirtatious. He wasn’t having any of it. She happened to glance in my direction and I saw her mouth drop open. I gave her a little finger wave. She turned on her heel and left the bank. The man she’d been talking to moved forward. I saw the bump under his sweater top.
I’ve been around enough assholes in my life to know bad news when I see it. He kept glancing around furtively, looking nervous. Shit. He could have been a cop but I didn’t think so. I looked over at Richard, who still hadn’t returned. He was standing at his desk talking on his phone. I was certain we had trouble brewing. I tried to tell myself I’ve been a marshal too long and had so much shit happen in that time…but no. I could feel it in my bones.
Richard was still talking. I tried signaling him but he didn’t even glance in my direction.
I looked outside the main double glass doors and saw the security guard animatedly talking to a girl. They both held coffee cups.
Mr. Nervous in the bank line looked fidgety. I saw a black SUV pull up and idle out front.
Shit. And double shit.
I had to move. If I stayed here I was a sitting duck. I got to the floor as soon as I saw the backdoor of the SUV open and a man in a black balaclava getting out, an AK 47 in his grip. I hit the floor and tried to call 911.
Aw, shit! My cell phone was locked. Sometimes it seized up and if I tried too many times to unlock it the damned thing assumed I was a cell phone thief and it would ask for a security code.
Shit! I rolled on my belly along the floor. I looked under the desk for any sign of a panic button. None. That was weird. I thought all banks had them.
I heard the screaming now and the voices telling everyone to get down on the floor.
I reached up to the desk and yanked down the phone. I couldn’t quite huddle underneath it, but I called 911.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Put your wallets, purses, and cell phones in a pile in the middle of the floor!” a man’s voice intoned.
“This is U.S. Marshal Jubilee Mason and I’m at First Bank on Colleyville Boulevard.
“Why’s that phone lit up? Who’s on the damned phone?” another male voice yelled.
“Three or possibly more men have invaded the bank and are holding approximately twelve people hostage,” I said. “They’re armed and dangerous. One of them has an AK 47—”
“Sir, are you sure? None of the panic buttons have been activated.”
“I’m very sure. I think it’s possibly an inside job,” I said. “Why are you asking questions? These guys mean business.”
I heard the door to the office open.
“Sir…sir…are you there?”
I heard the footsteps and braced myself, ending the call. I could die right here. Kieran and Juan’s faces flashed before my eyes. I’d done everything I could.
I had a gun in my ankle holster but couldn’t reach it. It was Richard. He looked down at me.
“Who are you calling?”
“My…sister. She’s babysitting for me.” I showed him my cell phone. “It’s locked…I couldn’t get it to work.”
He gave me a weird look.
“Did you tell her?”
“No. I got her voicemail.”
“Sure you didn’t call 911?”
“Yeah. I mean, no, I didn’t.”
He took the receiver from me and heard the dial tone.
“What’s your sister’s number?”
I told him. I couldn’t believe when he pressed the buttons. I prayed she wouldn’t pick up the line. She didn’t. I could just see her cursing the damned phone when she had our three caballeros to deal with.
“Huh.” He hung up the phone. “Voice mail.”
I nodded. I took a chance. “She’s babysitting for me…my son was upset. I…I…heard the noise out there. I wanted to hear my little boy’s voice.” My own cracked and tears sparked my eyes.
I already knew that Richard hadn’t even looked for, let alone glanced at, my paperwork. He had no idea I was a U.S. Marshal. Let him think I was a sap who called his kid instead of 911.
“Give me your wallet and cell phone and come out and join the party.”
I swear my blood froze. If he caught a glimpse of the bigger wallet in my pocket he’d see my federal ID and marshal badge. He’d shoot me for sure. I gave him the money wallet and my cell phone.
“Get up, cowboy,” he said. He waved a small handgun at me. He might have had it on him the whole time but I didn’t think so. I took a note of it being a Sig Sauer. Not as big as the one in my ankle holster, which, thank God, he hadn’t noticed.
He ushered me into the main room. I saw all the people lying on the floor in a sort of haphazard circle. I saw a woman and two children huddled close to her.
Oh, boy. And to think I might have brought Juan here! The idea sent a rapid chill through me. I tried to walk slowly so I could take in the entire scene. A couple of frightened people glanced up as I approached.
The armed men were all in black, their jump suits the kind that hid a multitude of things such as bulletproof vests, extra ammunition, hand grenades…I didn’t know what to expect but had to be prepared for anything.
“Pick up the pace. Hands up, buster,” Richard said to me, poking my back with the gun. As soon as I could, I’d shoot this mofo. He thought he was goddamn Rambo.
Richard dropped my wallet and cell phone into the pile with everyone else’s. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
“Eyes down! Eyes down!” Another man, the apparent ringleader, shouted. “Kiss the fucking floor, motherfuckers!”
Richard nudged me again and I got down on the floor. Four men.
It worried me that Richard wasn’t wearing a mask. This didn’t bode well for the crew’s intentions of releasing us all.
I was worried that they’d see my ankle holster but the crying children beside one of the women distracted the ringleader.
“Shut up!” he screamed. He was already coming unglued and this operation hadn’t even started yet.
I heard a car screaming to halt out front. Two of the men ran for the door. Through the glass doors I saw the weeping bank manager in his pajamas, handcuffed and his mouth duct-taped. Two men in masks shoved him into the doorway as soon as it opened.
This worried me because I was pretty sure the vehicle had a getaway driver and the SUV the initial crew had rolled up in, probably had one too.
I glanced back over at the ringleader and realized he had the same body type as the man I’d seen waiting in line talking to Chrissy. He’d walked in to make sure everything was okay. He’d kept an eye on Richard, but he’d been nervous even then. He was a desperate man. That didn’t mean he was bright. But desperate men were dangerous men.
But if I survived this and he got away with the cash, I could identify him.
Mr. Lindstrom took one look at us all as they shoved him in the door. I saw the horror in his eyes. Now I knew why he’d been late. He’d been held hostage, too. I knew he had a wife and kids and hoped they were okay.
For one brief second our gazes locked.
“Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way,” the ringleader said. “Open the vault and get the money and we’ll be on our way.”
Mr. Lindstrom said something that didn’t sound like a yes, but was hard to understand since he had the tape over his mouth.
“That didn’t sound like a yes,” the ringleader screamed. He wacked the bank manager in the head with his gun. I stared in disbelief as Lindstrom went down. Blood poured from the wound.
“Are you crazy?” Richard screamed. “He’s the only one who knows the codes!”
“You said you had a backup plan,” the ringleader said.
“No…I told you we needed him.”
Shit. The ringleader knelt and tried to waken Lindstrom. The kids were snuffling now, their mother the only one allowed to move as she put an arm over them trying to calm and quiet them. I looked around. Richard was in panic mode.
“I’ll get the first aid kit,” he said and sprinted from the room.
Lindstrom started to come to, which I wasn’t sure was a good or bad thing.
I was looking at all the exits, trying to figure out my game plan when I caught the gaze of a tall, well built, dark-haired man. He was dressed in jeans and a short sleeved navy blue T-shirt.
Cop. He was a cop. I could just feel it although I couldn’t say why. There was just an air about him I recognized. His hand reached up toward his cell phone in the pile. Shit. I shook my head and he stopped. I saw the tattoo on his inner forearm. It looked like some sort of military tattoo.
Richard returned. He and one of the other men got Lindstrom to his knees.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Lindstrom moaned when they ripped the tape from his face.
No, he wasn’t fine. One of his teeth had fallen out with the blood.
“God, he lost a tooth!” Richard was a queasy sort for a bank robber.
He held gauze from the first aid kit to Lindstrom’s face. Lindstrom coughed up blood. Man, he’d hit that floor hard.
“Get him to the vault,” the ringleader screamed.
I used the moment all four masked men, and Richard were distracted to reach down to my holster and liberate my gun. I shoved it under my shirt.
The ringleader sensed something happening but turned to find all of us lying there, still. The dark-haired man caught my gaze again and winked. He pointed to the door.
And I knew.
“Hot damn,” the ringleader screamed. “Cops are here!”
Richard would know I’d called 911, except that he was busy screaming at Lindstrom now. Something about “override.” I had a feeling whatever had been the computer problems on Friday, the vault now wouldn’t open.
“The codes won’t override. I can’t do it,” Lindstrom whined.
Outside, I heard the stunning sound of gunshots being exchanged. The robbery crew obviously had armed accomplices out there.
When I glanced over and saw two masked men at the door I freaked. How many of them were there?
The dark-haired man had reached his cell phone now and palmed it. I had no idea what he thought he could do with it…text the bad guys?
The two masked men out front suddenly ran. I heard police sirens. Lots of them.
That guy I suspected might be a cop was staring at me. He was trying to communicate something to me, but what?
His cell phone was on now and I was worried the bad guys would catch him.
I saw him slide the phone under his palm and with the other hand he made a sign with his fingers. A few people around us were looking now. Holy cat! He was trying to tell me he was armed, too!
Okay. I had backup. He seemed to be looking at me for instructions. Yeah, well, that made sense since I had my gun hidden in my ankle holster.
Two of our captors returned from the back room.
“He got the codes to work. We’ll grab the money and—”
“Attention. This is Lieutenant Frank Jervis from the Colleyville Police Department. We have the building surrounded. There is no chance of escape.”
A phone in the bank rang.
“Answer the phone and identify yourselves,” the lieutenant instructed from outside.
The gunmen stared out at him.
“Whadda we do, boss?” one of them asked the ringleader, who kept peering out of the glass doors.
“Start baggin’ up the money. We’ll show these assholes we mean business. We’ll start shooting the hostages one by one. Startin’ with these damned noisy kids!”
The phone kept ringing as he pointed his rifle, but I was quicker than he was, plus he wasn’t expecting me to be armed. I grabbed my gun and fired off a shot that hit him in the head. He flew back and hit the ground. His gun went off. Everyone screamed.
And then all hell broke loose. I fired at another bad guy as that dark-haired guy got his own gun from under his shirt. He shot Richard, who’d grabbed one of the children. Richard was armed but the weapon flew out of his hand.
Two of the captors started shooting back but I got one in his shoulder and my accomplice shot at his knee. He crumpled to the ground.
I gave the dark-haired man a thumbs up. He nodded.
The stomping of feet distracted me. I fired off one more shot at a gunman, who fired at me. We both missed. That other guy tackled one of the gunmen then a couple of the hostages opened up the doors and fled.
I exchanged another volley with the robber I’d missed and got him in the shoulder.
Several cops ran in, weapons drawn. Richard moaned as they dragged him to his feet.
“He shot me,” he whined, pointing at the dark-haired stranger.
“You’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” he replied.
The man didn’t talk like a Texan. He had a different kind of accent. In fact, he sounded like…Kieran. Canadian? I looked for Mr. Lindstrom and found him on the floor inside the vault. My dark-haired friend was right behind me. I saw the moneybags in various stages of being packed and ready to ship out but stepped over them and knelt to feel for Lindstrom’s pulse.
When I turned, the guy looked at me. “My name is Nicholas Fournier—”
“My accent, eh?”
“Yeah, and your name.”
“Well, I just wanted to say you’re impressive, and when there’s a nuclear war, I’m going with you!”
I smiled and shook his hand. “And I’d want you right there with me, buddy.” I saw blood on my hand and wondered where it had come from.
“My name is Jubilee Mason,” I said. “Are you a cop, or military?”
“I was in the military, special ops, a few years back and then well…I joined the OPP…ah…” he said when I looked miffed. “Ontario Provincial Police. Detective, vice squad.”
I nodded. “Oh.”
There was so much going on around us, yet I was fascinated to meet another Canadian in Dallas, not to mention a very good-looking one. What was it with these Canadian men? Were they all so damn handsome? This one looked like a Greek god, bronze skin, jet black hair…shit…and blue eyes. And my Kieran…well, he could stop traffic.
“What brings you here?” I asked, reminding myself that even though I was a married man, at least under Canadian law, I hadn’t gone blind. It was okay to look. Shit, Kieran did it, too, although he denied it.
Nicholas Fournier gave me a faint smile. “I’m on vacation actually, came here to meet up with someone I met online. Let me tell you, never do that stuff. It’s a big mistake.” He shook his head. “I’m kicking myself now.”
“Everyone gets taken once in a while.”
“Yeah, well,” he muttered, then sighed.
“Got lucky you being here at the bank.”
“I came in to check on my account. I was actually born in Texas.”
“Oh, so you’re a dual citizen like…” I paused. No need to explain my life history, although I felt as ease with this guy for some reason. Maybe because he reminded me of Kieran in some way.
He lifted an eyebrow.
“Ah, just this guy I know…” I smiled. “So what’s your story?”
“Yeah, my parents were both war correspondents. My mom is from Greece, my dad from Canada. In eighty-six, when Reagan was president, there were some navigation exercises around the Gulf of Sidra, an attack went down by Libyan missiles and the United States responded with missiles. My parents met during that time and fell in love. They were working on another story a few months later and I was born in Houston.”
“Romantic story.” I smiled.
He smiled back. “And you’re some kind of a cop as well, right?”
“I’m a U.S. Marshal.”
“I’ve always been interested in that branch of law enforcement.”
“Oh, we could use someone like…”
I felt a presence and saw Chrissy. What was she doing here in the vault? I saw her hand go up and, too late, I noticed she had a gun. She fired a shot, then another. We dropped down.
Somebody grabbed her and she screamed.
“Richard’s gun,” Nicholas muttered. “Man, she got awfully close to you.”
I was feeling really strange now. My heart was beating rapidly and my legs had started to shake.
“You okay?” he asked, placing a hand on my shoulder.
“No. I’m not.”
He was staring at me. I glanced down, and that’s when I saw the blood spreading. Fuck. That’s why I hurt so bad. I’d been shot.
I sank to the ground with Nicholas Fournier’s voice ringing in my ears.
“Just hang in there, Marshal. I’m gonna get you some help.”
I floated out of my body. Oh the pain…the pain was so tremendous I didn’t want to go back. I wanted the floaty, golden warmth I was feeling to remain. I didn’t want the pain anymore. I looked at my crumpled body. Shocked that I’d been shot.
All I could think was that Chrissy had been here but I hadn’t even realized. I knew it was her…oh God…she’d posed as one of the hostages. I thought she’d left the bank but she’d either gone to another part of it…or left and come back.
And then I saw Kieran’s face. No…I couldn’t be without Kieran. I couldn’t leave him behind.
Ice cream. Would Juan be worried that I hadn’t come home yet? How did I get back to the pain anyway?
I floated for a bit, then saw my sister running into the bank screaming. She had all three boys with her and they were crying.
Nicholas had the paramedics with him. It was the look on my son’s face that sent me back.
My son who loved me. I wished I could have shown that to CPS who didn’t think I was good enough to love him back.
I struggled to return, as Nicholas Fournier spoke to me. I saw the cops holding back the boys, all three fighting to get to me. I didn’t want to leave them. Then I heard my father’s voice.
“Go get ’em cowboy.”
And then the world went blank.