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“He was very lucky. We were able to repair the damage to his lung, and barring any further complications, he should make a full recovery. He needs to rest, but if you would like to check on him tomorrow, that should be fine.”

Tyler held his hand out, and the doctor took it with a smile.

“Thank you so much. The kid is a hero.”

“So I heard. I’m sure his mother will be proud.”

Just at the mention of the woman who had chosen a man over her own kid, Tyler’s vision blurred with a red fog. He didn’t even remember driving to the Walton family home until he was standing on their doorstep, pounding on the front door.

A barrel-chested man answered the door, and the scent of pot wafted out, hitting Tyler full in the face.

“I need to speak with Virginia Walton.”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“I’m the man who has no problem kicking the shit out of a woman-beating dickhead. Get Virginia. Now.”

“Maybe I’ll just call the cops—”

“Who is it, Neil?” a woman’s voice called from inside the house.

“Some army dick who thinks he can tell me what to do in my own home.”

Suddenly, a pale, heavyset woman pushed into the doorway. “Jeremiah?”

“Your son is at Sutter Memorial. He was shot today and just got out of surgery about an hour ago.”

“Oh God.” Her eyes filled with tears, and Tyler’s attitude toward her softened a bit.

“I called your cell phone and left a voicemail.”

“It . . . it’s broken.” Her gaze shifted toward Neil, and Tyler had a feeling Jeremiah’s absence hadn’t made it easier for her.

“How’d the little queer get himself shot, anyway?” Neil asked, unaware of how close Tyler was to beating the ever-loving shit out of him.

Tyler grabbed Neil by his throat and squeezed until the man’s face turned red.

“Don’t call him that ever again.”

“You’re hurting him,” Virginia whimpered.

Just as Neil was starting to turn purple, Tyler pushed him away. The fat man stumbled back and fell into a table before he hit the floor.

Tyler spared Virginia one last disgusted look. “Your son was a hero today. He saved over a dozen lives . . . and you picked that piece of shit over him.”

That seemed to wake her up, and fury blazed through her dark eyes. “Get out of here!”

He let her slam the door in his face, shaking all over as the events of the day finally sank in. He got in his car and drove back to Alpha Dog to grab Duke.

As he walked through the door, everyone stared at him. It wasn’t until he got to his office that he realized why.


bsp; His shirt and pants were painted dark with Jeremiah’s blood.

Tyler grabbed his spare fatigues from his desk drawer and was in the middle of stripping off his T-shirt when someone knocked.

“Who is it?”