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“Know him how? From theGarden?”Alicia asked, eyes wide with excitement.

I nodded. “Yeah. We were… friends, kinda.”

Wilder pushed away from where he’d been leaning against one of the tables. “Do you think you could get in touch with him?”

I scoffed. “Not unless he wants to be in touch – we know how this works. Unless he wants to be found, he’s a ghost,” I explained.

“Even ghosts can be summoned,” Wilder shrugged.

“Yeah, and obviously somebody did. But I’m not trying to end up like Tommy Turner because I wasn’t minding my business.”

Alicia shook her head. “So… what, we just let it go? All of this, for nothing?”

“The goal was to save May and Amelia, I thought?” Wilder asked, eyebrows raised.

“Itwas, but—”

“But nothing,” I interrupted. “You wanted them safe, they are – take the win. Because if what I know about Isaiah holds true, things can very quickly change. We follow this path, it puts a target on all of us.”

Wilder huffed. “So what, we’re scared of this dude? Why? We got the same fucking training.”

“Not exactly,” I answered, shaking my head. “And besides that… it’s not about being scared, it’s about beingsmart. We’re gonna get in touch with him, for what? To do what, exactly? Turn him over to the police? Get him to apologize? What’s the purpose?”

“Answers!” Alicia insisted, but again, I shook my head.

“That hasneverbeen our place, getting all the answers. We’re not superheroes, or cops – we’re mercenaries! Hired guns playing spies. We complete the mission and then we go back to base and wait for orders.”

“We’renotthose brainwashed soldiers anymore,” Alicia snapped, crossing her arms. “Or hell, maybe that’s what floats your boat, but it doesn’t work for me, not anymore.”

My head reared back. “Maybe it floatsmyboat? I was minding my goddamn business until Wilder brought his ass in my face. I got pulled back into something I never wanted.”

Alicia pushed out a deep sigh, then lifted her hands. “I get that. And I’m sorry. You were never supposed to be a part of any of this, and I wish you hadn’t been dragged into it. But the fact of the matter is, you’re here now. And yes, May and Amelia are safe, which was the initial goal. Can you look me in my face though, and tell me this feels settled, with this new information up in the air? Does this really feel closed to you?”


It didn’t.

But I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do about it, since no matter what Alicia – or Wilder – said, reaching out to Isaiah was the furthest thing from a real option in my mind.

Not that I would know where to start anyway.

So instead of trying, I was drinking.

After walking away from that conversation, I’d shaken off the tail Alicia put on me when I left her compound, then found myself at a bar well off the beaten path of the strip. I got a bourbon neat and savored it slow, letting long-suppressed memories float up from their prison to dominate the forefront of my mind.


At least, as much as I’d been capable of such a feeling back then.

Not romantically either – we came to theGardenaround the same time, trained together, got paired together on missions often. We were each other’s back up, part of each other’s cover. We talked, we laughed, we agreed on how wrong it felt when we had to play a couple.

But we did the job.

Every job.

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