Mark’s POV— 12/18, 1600
I stand before the Leadership Core and the CO with a clear mind and heart. I’ve done the right thing. My colleagues no longer hate me. I’ve proven myself to my boss. I’ve worked with her, not against her, even though my office failed the ‘management’ portion of the review. My men are confident in my leadership again and I leave having done the right thing.
I feel clear in the decision I made four months ago. It had been accepted. It worked out for both of us. Continue reading
The morning of day three finds all of us in the field with the NYC men. We’re assessing until noon, when we’ll stop, collate the report, discuss it, and discuss our findings with the NYC men.
I’m not sure how I keep getting the bad assignments instead of Bobby, but this is the absolute last time we flip for a duty. This is the fourth client call today. Jorge’s a smart man, tough in a negotiation and firm on the details. He negotiates better than Ric, which is saying something.
NYC is making an impression on Wall Street. Ric wanted to make an issue out of the fact that NYC management wears suits and ties all day, but we watched. We got it fast. Clients walked in and out of RM-NYC all morning, starting at 0700. The men dress for the clients and Jorge gets Les’s decorating scheme. Putting our men in suits and ties, with obvious gun holsters to remind everyone that we’re still a security outfit first, means the clients walk in and are smacked with multiple reminders that this is a business and we’re business people.
We aren’t hoods with guns. We have skills and we’re willing to protect you, for a price. Continue reading
AN: All of these stories are running simultaneously. Unbeta’d.
Les’s POV—Day Two of the review
Lacing my bros meals with laxatives yesterday was child’s play. Literally. Now it’s time to make them pay but I decide to pull in the queen of payback herself for the biggest target.
“Hey, Steph.” I smile, hoping to relax her, but she tenses up. “I could use your help.”
“With?” The tone is both guarded and aggressive. Sigh.
“A little payback.”
“Well, I was hung out of my window naked. Seems only right I get them back.” Continue reading
Bobby’s POV—Day 1
I leave Tank in the gym, contemplating the size of our organization, and follow Lucia to her office. Day one of the review is going well and I’m looking, searching, for something to ding NYC on. I haven’t found anything yet. Everything I see says that Les made the right decision leaving Javi in place each time.
This branch has rebounded.
Lucia unlocks her office and I follow her in and take a seat at the small table she crammed into her prep room. I see how Lucia is working on the office paperless initiative. Her office is unremarkable, a place clearly used to process receipts and paperwork. Her fax machine is overflowing with solicitations and her printer contains coupons to clip, but the scanner is whirring sheets of paper through at a fast clip. Otherwise, there’s nothing personal in this office, nothing that says Lucia! Continue reading
A/N: So many of you reminded me to take it easy that I’m doing just that. I’m sorry for not keeping to my publishing schedule this week, but I agreed that rest seemed to be the winner.
So, this is an extra chapter that’s not on my upcoming chapters page. I’ll move everything around later today.
Finally, unless otherwise stated, Hector’s always speaking Spanish.
Day one of the review. I’m excited to do this.
Les gave us a reprieve last night and agreed to allow us to sleep in peace, so we kept tradition. We camped out in his living room, played PlayStation, and ate Chinese. We got caught up on each other’s lives.
Les finally told Ric he’s over ‘the incident’. He understands. He accepts it. He wants his friend back and he’s trying to think of something for him and Steph to do while she’s here.
Ric looks relieved, although he’s hiding it. Hec looks thrilled. Continue reading
“I need the background on your time under Magic.”
I reach forward and adjust the heat. Mack has it at sauna levels in this SUV. I peel out of my heavy coat as his jaw tightens and he glances at me. It’s noon and Queens is quiet. No real traffic from LaGuardia back to the office, so I need Mack to talk fast. I boot up my computer while waiting for Mack to reply.
“Yeah.” No. His face clearly says something is wrong (shoulders hunched, jaw tight, eyes squinched), but he’s not ready to talk yet. Fine. I’ll get it out of him before this is over. “I started at eight. Lookout. Moved up the ranks and by sixteen, I had five blocks.”
“Yeah. Sixth sense. I listened to it.” Continue reading
This scene was originally scheduled to appear at the end of the chapter. However, my beta and I agreed that the chapter was already too long and this didn’t necessarily add anything you didn’t know, so I’m sharing it as a Deleted Scene. Enjoy!
I pour my glass of wine and kick back. Shelby sticks her head through the door. “I’m headed out. You OK?”
She waves and closes the door behind her. I call Roberto and check on him. He’s done with his homework and he and Arturo are doing father-son stuff tonight. In other words, ordering a pizza and watching wrestling.
Fine. As long as that homework is complete.
I slip off my espadrilles and get comfortable, then queue up the fourth recording. Stephanie Plum. Now that was a surprise. I wasn’t prepared for the woman I met today. I expected another soldier, another guarded, terse individual I’d have to squeeze to get details from.
The first RangeWoman? I was expecting an elite solider. Continue reading
The city of Miami, or Coral Gables, has not gotten the newsflash that it’s winter. It’s 85 degrees and the heat and humidity is forcing people to stay in their bikinis and shorts much longer than they planned. The sun is beating down on the city relentlessly and the UV index means that fair skinned people (like me) are being forced to stay indoors.
That’s a problem right now.
Inside our home, Ranger and I are conducting a miniature Cold War. The temp inside our house might say 75 degrees, but Ranger’s cold mood brings the wind chill down to about 50. My hot-tempered annoyance is keeping us level at about 65.
After I flat out refused to apologize, we managed to avoid each other with a skill and patience the USA and USSR never had. If Ranger is in the bathroom, I stay in my closet. If I’m in the kitchen, he stays in the office. When we meet, it’s the Cuban Missile Crisis; we wait to see who blinks first. Continue reading
The three men remaining looked down at the bodies of their former colleagues in silence.
“Fucker,” Julio said and kicked dirt in Tony’s face. That’s about as close as Tony would come to a burial by his ‘friends’.
Nacho merely looked at Tony. They had been close. Same RangeMan class, best friends, partners. Well, partners. No one was friends with Tony. You simply had ‘allied interests’.
He looked around. They were in a jungle. That much he knew. They were in their cargoes and he had a knife. Since his mouth was wired, that was his information to share if he wanted. Continue reading
Ranger’s staring out of the window, looking at the inlet that runs along the deck outside the house. He’s looked calm all morning, a welcome change.
Sex really is a mood lifter.
He turns and finishes cleaning the kitchen. I’m putting food away. Breakfast was silent.
He finally heads to the office, me trailing behind, and opens the French doors in the room. The morning breeze wafts into the room, the smell of jasmine carried on the breeze. Ranger’s home is beautiful and I love being here. We spent yesterday unpacking and talking. I pointed out some things I want to change and, although nervous, he seems to be OK with them.
I had to promise to buy a shoe rack. Continue reading