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“Hang on, I’m changing.” He finished changing his pants and called out, “Enter.”

Sparks’s face was a mask of concern. “How’s Jeremiah?”

“He’ll live. Not as if his family gives a shit.”

Sparks searched his face and then pinched the bridge of his nose. “Do I need to spin any kind of damage control?”

“I barely choked the douche bag.”

“Well, I’m on orders from General Reynolds to put you on medical leave for a week. You’ll need to go see a psychiatrist and have them clear you to come back.”

“I’m fine, Sparks. Just pissed off.”

It was true, he was, but not at Carlos or Jeremiah. Hell, not even at that dick, Neal.

Tyler was angry with himself. He should have acted sooner, taken out Carlos so Jeremiah hadn’t tried.

“Regardless, you’re on leave. We’ll shift things around to handle your squad. And don’t forget to set up the appointment—”

“Sparks, get the fuck out of my office.”

Sparks didn’t argue, just started to leave.

As an afterthought, Tyler asked, “Hey, how’re Blake and the other kids? Are they okay?”

“Yeah, Blake is shaken up, and given his history, I can’t blame him. The boys have just been asking about Jeremiah. Might be nice if you went out and gave them an update.”

Jesus, he could barely keep it together now, but to go out there and talk to the guys?

He pulled up his big-boy pants and went into the study hall, where the guys sat doing their schoolwork. The minute they saw him, they all stood up and started talking at once.

“Is Jeremiah okay? Did you see him? Is Carlos going to prison?”

He held up his hands, and they quieted. “Jeremiah is going to be okay. He had a collapsed lung, but the doctors have repaired it, and barring further complications, he should be fine. I’m going to stop by and check on him tomorrow.”

“Can I go, too, Sarge?” Meyers asked.

“Well, I can’t take all of you, but if it’s okay with everyone else, you can represent the squad. Maybe you guys can do something for Jeremiah. I know you like to think you’re big tough guys, but it would go a long way to helping Jeremiah recover.”

Tyler took a deep breath before moving onto the next order of business. “Now, if you haven’t heard already, Sergeant Sparks has put me on medical leave for a week. This means one of the other instructors is going to take over for me, and if I hear one thing about you giving them a bad time, I will be back here and making you do up-downs until you’re blue in the face. Is that clear?”

“Sir, yes, sir!” they all chorused.


“Hey, Sarge, did you get hurt? Is that why you’re on leave?” Hank asked.

“No, I’m on leave so I can get my head shrunk. They just want to make sure I’m not going to lose my shit.”

“Are you? Going to lose your shit?” Harlow asked.

Good question.

“Of course not. I’m gonna be fine.”

Chapter Twenty-Five