Posts tagged “Precautions

Chasing Truth: Chapter 37

Posted on 06/03/2020

      Reese was sitting on the couch with his eyes on the TV when Mari let herself back into the house. He glanced at her before turning back to the game. She settled into the armchair, trying to think of the best way to approach him about her newfound plans. There was no good way to start, especially since she was certain his default response would be to deny her. She blew out a quiet breath.

“Why don’t you just say what’s on your mind?” Reese asked the TV.

She wasn’t going to get a clearer opening than that. Gathering what bits she’d already pieced together in her head, she launched in.

“I need some one-on-one time with Tyler. No babysitter. We’ll stay inside at his place. That way there’s no danger, no exposure.”

He didn’t look away from the TV, not even when she fell quiet.

“Was that your idea or Tyler’s suggestion?” he asked finally.

“Does it matter? I want to spend some time with him.”

He nodded like he had the answer to his question. “Has he told you what his problem is with me?”

“I already told you. He gets jealous.”

“From the moment he realized I wasn’t your brother? You don’t see that as extreme in any way?”

“What are you getting at, Reese?”

“I just asked a question.”

“He didn’t have a problem from the moment he found out you weren’t my brother. He had a problem when Blake left and you stayed. Wouldn’t you if you were in the same situation? A man neither you or your girlfriend know is all of a sudden staying with her?”

“It started sooner than that, Mari. If you think back, you’ll see that. Have him come back over here and I’ll give you privacy like earlier. Problem solved.”

She considered countering his words, but getting him to agree to her evening plans was more important than the issue between him and Tyler. “He’s already setting things up at his place.”

Not to mention changing the plan now would be a clear sign to Tyler that Reese was interfering. She didn’t want that headache.

“I’ll be leaving in a few days. Can it wait until then?”

“Not really.” She needed to hear what Tyler had been up to when it came to Blake.

“Another night at least then.”

“Okay, I’ll put it like this. I’m not asking. You’re here to protect me and that’s great. I appreciate it, even if you haven’t actually had to protect me from anything. I don’t need protection from Tyler, so we’re going to enjoy a quiet night alone. Tonight. You get the night off. I’ll call Blake for you if that makes it easier, but this is happening.”

His head turned then and, if she wasn’t mistaken, there was just a hint of amusement in his eyes.

“You really need that time alone, do you?”

She folded her arms across her chest, trying to keep a leash on her rising annoyance. “Yeah, and I could use some space from you too.”

His face didn’t change. Neither did his tone. “Do we have a problem?”

She almost wished he would’ve snapped at her or gotten upset. His even-keeled response made her feel guilty. He’d been easy to get along with, even amusing to talk to. Her arms dropped.

“No. I didn’t mean that. What I really meant was I could use some time that feels normal, when I can forget that my biological father felt the need to leave a man here with me for my safety. I can do that alone at Tyler’s.”

“I can understand that,” he allowed. “The fact Blake felt that need is why I’m reiterating it’s only a few more days and asking you to wait.”

“We haven’t had any issues, Reese. No one has even looked at me funny. I’m not saying go home early. I’m asking you to let me have a normal night.”

He leaned back without a word. She wanted to push, but there wasn’t much left to say she hadn’t already pointed out.

“I’ll take you.”

“Just-” Mari pressed her lips together as his agreement sank in. He was saying yes!

“That works,” she said as she unfolded herself from the chair. “I’ll be ready to go in about 30 minutes.”

She showered quickly and hastily packed a bag. She didn’t think Reese would change his mind, but she didn’t want to risk it either. She slid her feet into a pair of sandals and threw the bag over her shoulder.

Reese stood at the window with his hands in his pockets. His head turned at her entrance.

“Is your gun in that bag?”

She blinked hard. “Umm…no.”

“I’d feel better if you took it with you. Just a simple precaution.”

She hadn’t expected him to give in at all. If he wanted her to take the gun with her, she would, even though she wouldn’t need it. She retreated to her bedroom without protest and removed her gun from its case.

He preceded her out of the house and waited for her to get into the truck before getting in on the driver’s side. They rode in silence. For the first time, it felt awkward. Mari struggled to fill it, but couldn’t find the right words, so she settled back in her seat and watched the scenery. Occasionally she’d give some direction until they turned onto Tyler’s street. Reese pulled into the yard she directed him to, putting the truck in park.

“You have my number on that phone?”

She nodded as she lifted her bag from the floor. “Tyler can take me to work in the morning. I’ll meet you there.”

“I’ll pick you up here.”

“That works too,” she agreed easily. Her hand gripped the door handle before she hesitated and turned back. “I promise we won’t go anywhere. I know this isn’t easy for you. Thanks for agreeing.”

His only acknowledgment was his nod. Mari accepted that and opened her door. Tyler was standing in his front door when she hopped out of the truck. With a quick wave to Reese, she strolled around the hood toward Tyler. She waited for the smart remark about Reese dropping her off. It never came. Tyler took her bag from her fingers, leaning in to kiss her firmly.

“Come in. I’ve got a great night planned for us,” he promised against her lips as he took her hand and guided her inside.

<< Chapter 36                        Chapter 38 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 29

Posted on 10/01/2020

“When is he leaving?”

Mari sprawled out on her bed with the phone tucked against her shoulder. The day had been fun, but it had also been long. Exhaustion made her eyes heavy.

“In a day or two,” she told Tyler absently.

 “I didn’t expect him to leave so soon. Then again I didn’t expect him to come out here at all. Have you made any plans to stay in touch? Visit?”

She lifted her shoulders in a small shrug even though he couldn’t see it.

“Not really. Nothing solid anyway. I mean, I guess I assume we’ll talk on the phone at some point. This whole thing was just…a lot.”

There was silence from Tyler’s end for a moment. “I get that. Confirm with me once you know when he’s leaving for sure.”

Mari opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling. “Have you been doing…whatever it is you were planning on doing?”

“I thought we agreed you were going to let me worry about that?” he prodded gently.

“It was a simple question.”

“Then yes. Now will you let me know when he’s leaving for sure?”

Mari pinched the bridge of her nose and let her eyes close again. “Yeah.”

Before she could get comfortable and wrap up the call with Tyler, a knock sounded on the door. She sat up with a groan.

“I’ve gotta go. Somebody’s at the door.”

“Who is it?”

She pushed up from the bed and padded over to the door to look through the peephole. A smile tugged at her lips when she saw her father standing there.

“It’s Blake. I’ll talk to you later.”

Ending the call without waiting for a response, she opened the door. 

“I’m surprised you aren’t passed out,” she greeted with a tired smile.

“I was close,” he admitted. “I had something I wanted to discuss with you though.”

Curiosity raised her brow as she stepped back to let him inside. He sat down on the couch and she curled up on the opposite end with her elbow propped against the back. 

“What’s on your mind?” 

“I want Reese to stay here with you for a little while.”

Mari straightened immediately. “Why? He’s your bodyguard.”

“I would feel more comfortable if someone was here to keep an eye on things for a little while.”

She didn’t dig too deeply into that, instead choosing to focus on him. “If Reese is here with me, then who’s with you?”

“I have other people I can count on if I need to.”

“But Reese is the one you brought here, which means he’s the one you trust the most.”

Blake paused with his lips parted before he gathered himself. “I can see you’re planning to be difficult about this.”

“I’m bringing up valid points. If you want to call that difficult, then fine.”

He heaved a heavy sigh. “Yes, Reese is the one I trust the most, which is why I want him here with you for a few days. Just in case. I don’t expect any trouble, but I don’t want to take unnecessary chances with you either.”

She paused thoughtfully, turning over his words. He wasn’t expecting any problems. That was good and she couldn’t deny the relief filling her knowing that. This was just another part of him being careful.

“Okay, I’m not saying no to that. I’m saying I’m not sure Reese is the one who should be the one staying with me. And you said a few days. How long exactly are you planning for someone to stay here?”

“A week or so.”

“That’s a long time to be without your guy. Gage could just stay. People know him here, are used to him so there wouldn’t be anything to explain. If Reese stays, we have to explain who he is somehow.”

“Calling him a family friend should be enough. Gage has already been here for a while. He has some things he needs to see to.”

“Does Reese know this is your plan?” she asked curiously. “What does he think about it?”

“You know, when I pictured this conversation, I saw you bowing out to my expertise and accepting my already-made plans.”

“How on Earth did you come up with that scenario?” she asked, laughing in disbelief.

“I still can’t figure it out myself,” he admitted with a chuckle.

“I want to talk to him about it myself. Alone.” Because she had a feeling Reese wasn’t keen on the idea of letting Blake head back without him either. 

Blake considered her and she wondered what he was thinking, what he would say.

“I don’t want you any closer to this mess than you already are. I considered when I brought Reese that it might bring you in more than I wanted. It would be better if you let me keep as much distance between you and my life as I can.”

“It’s too late for that. At least with Reese. He’s been here this whole time. I know who he is. We’ve talked. Trying to go back now doesn’t make any sense and if he’s going to be staying here for another week, it’s definitely not avoidable. I want to talk to him.”

“You’re a very hard woman to argue with.”

“So don’t,” she suggested with a grin.

Shaking his head, he pushed to his feet. “I’d like to settle this tonight if possible. I’ll send Reese to you now if that works.”

“That’s fine.”

He turned for the door then hesitated. He turned back a moment later.

“May I have a hug?”

The quietness of the question, almost as if he feared her rejection, melted Mari. She unfolded from the couch and wordlessly wrapped her arms around him. He pulled her close. She thought she felt the gentle press of his lips to her thick curls. A soft sigh escaped him and he squeezed her before letting go.

“Thank you. I’ll send Reese over now.”

“You may want to give him a fair warning in case his expectations are anything like yours were,” she teased.

His laughter shook his body and widened her smile.

“I think I’ll do that.”

He walked out the door then, leaving Mari still smiling. She settled back down on the couch. Meeting her father and spending time with him hadn’t gone anything like she imagined. She hadn’t expected to like him, to joke and laugh with him. She wanted a chance to build a real relationship with him and yet Tyler’s accusations sat in the back of her mind. If Blake were the criminal Tyler suspected he was, that would change everything. There was an inch of worry, of doubt that maybe it wouldn’t, though. She wasn’t sure what to do with that. 

There was a rhythmic knock on the door before Reese let himself inside and pulled her from her thoughts.

“I’d prefer you keep this locked,” he said closing the door and tapping it.

She bit back a smile. “I’ll remember that.”

“Good. Blake said you wanted to talk.”

“Yeah. Has he run this little babysitting plan of his by you?”

Reese’s gaze went carefully blank as he came farther inside. “We’ve discussed me remaining here for a few days after he leaves. Precautions are smart.”

“I won’t deny that and I’m definitely not saying I’m able to handle anything that might come up, but I think I’d feel more comfortable if he didn’t break pattern by leaving his right hand guy behind.”

Reese blinked and she continued on.

“I suggested Gage stay on for a few days if he’s truly worried or he can send someone else to stay with me although I understand the less people who know about me, the better.”

He continued watching her with that steady gaze. “Do you have a problem with me staying?”

She waved the question away. “It’s not about you. It’s about who you are to him. You’re not just a bodyguard. I don’t have to know everything to see that much. To me, it just seems like maybe someone would want to take advantage if he was running around without his usual guy.”

He tipped his head to the side as he studied her.

“It would be nice to get to know him before something happened to him,” she mumbled looking down at her hands as she locked her fingers together.

“You care,” he acknowledged. “And that’s good. Blake knows how to be smart and careful. Gage will travel back with him most of the way to make sure there aren’t any issues.”

Mari frowned thoughtfully. She couldn’t find fault with that plan. There was no doubt that Gage could be trusted with his own brother’s safety.

“Well.”

He laughed. “Any other objections or concerns you want to share while I’m here?”

“This isn’t going to be a lockdown situation or anything like that, right? I still go to work, hang out with my friends, do all the stuff I normally do with no problems?”

“Right.  You just do all of those things with me.”

“And when my very nosy, super-in-my-business best friends ask me who you are? Or anyone else for that matter?”

“I’m a friend of the family visiting for a while. Stick to the truth.”

He was clearly a friend of Blake’s who was indeed her family so he was right. 

“We keep it simple then.”

“Simple’s best.”

She nodded and rubbed the palms of her hands over her thighs.

“Mari.” Reese waited until she looked at him. “There shouldn’t be any issues. If there are, I’ll be here to handle them.”

She blew out a breath. “Yeah, I’ll be counting on that.”

<< Chapter 28 Chapter 30 >>

  

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