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And we did it well.

We were wrapping up a mission when theGardenfell.

The coms we used in our ears to communicate with each other went down, and we lost contact. I went to the rendezvous point, and I waited longer that I should’ve, but he never showed. I looked for him all over Martinique…

Never found him.

Now, damn near two years later… there he was, live and in color. He’d been in the same damn room with me, and hadn’t even bothered to drop a hint, toss a wave, nothing.

“So you’re alive.”

I damn near jumped out of my skin at the sound of a male voice in my ear, but really… I shouldn’t have been surprised by Isaiah sliding onto the barstool beside me.

It was almost surreal having him right in front of me though – handsome as ever, with the same mischievous glint in his eyes. His golden-brown skin – at least, what was on display – bore more scars than I’d remembered though.

“Ditto,” I told him, swallowing the rest of my drink in one gulp. “Would’ve been too much to ask to get a hint before now, I guess?”

“Aww, you cared?” he teased, nudging my shoulder with his before he flagged the bartender down to order a drink of his own.

“Yeah, I cared – not that you gave a shit,” I said, once the bartender had walked away. “I would ask what you’ve been up to, but I already know.”

A smirk spread over his lips. “Yeah… that’s not going to be a problem between us, is it?”

“Is that why you’re here? Because you know I saw you?”

“You know it is. And you know I don’t want to hurt you, Tam.”

“You know I don’t wanna hurtyou,Zay,” I countered, rolling my eyes. “I should put this glass through your jaw for even saying that shit to me. Are you for real right now?”

“It’s not personal. I was doing a job, and I… assume you were too. Who do you work for?”

“Big Jake’s auto repair.”

“Be serious.”

“Iamserious,” I snapped. “I don’twork foranybody. I got wrapped up with some people who were trying to keep Turner’s mistress and love child out of his crossfire. Some bullshit happened. We were just trying to figure it all out. Who doyouwork for?”

“The highest bidder.”

I laughed. “Yeah. Sounds about right.”

“Don’t judge me.”

“I’m not. I’mnot,” I insisted, when his raised eyebrow spoke clear doubt. “I’m just saying… when we dreamed of getting away from this shit, you always said you were going to put what you learned to good use.”

The bartender slid Isaiah a glass of something dark, no ice, and he picked it up, knocking it back in one wince-inducing gulp before he pierced me with an intense gaze, and nodded.

“Yeah… I guess I did, huh?”

I nodded. “So… to answer your question, no – as far as I’m concerned, there’s no problem between us, because our interests are not at odds. Unless you’re supposed to eliminate the woman and the child too.”

Isaiah shook his head. “Nope. I’ve got rule about that anyway, but nah… this was some political beef shit. Senator Grant wanted Turner out of here, so… he’s out of here. Deep ass pockets make a lot of shit happen around here.”

“The way of the world.”

“Always has been, always will.”

“Maybe not always,” I countered. “Or at least, maybe it doesn’t have to be.”

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