Brighter Than the Sun

Page 9

“Sorry,” she said sincerely. “Let’s just say my last teammates weren’t exactly an ideal set of people to work with. They talked too fucking much about shit they had no business talking about. If they’d talked less and actually did their fucking jobs, I wouldn’t have gone down on my last job with them and then been forced to take an extended leave of absence that resulted in me never returning.”

“That’s just fucked-up,” Terrence growled.

P.J. stepped forward and put her hand on Allie’s arm, a surprising gesture since P.J. wasn’t exactly known for being the warm and fuzzy type.

“Trust me, Allie. There are no better people to have at your six. I should know. They’ll talk shit, yeah, but they will always have your back, and that you can trust if you trust nothing else.”

Allie blinked at her ferocity but then studied the set of her jaw and gave a clipped nod that told Joe she was reserving judgment.

“I’ll keep this short and sweet since we’re long past short and sweet,” Sam muttered. “Steele, I’d like you and your team to hang around base for a couple of weeks to assist with training the new recruits. Both Rio’s team and Nathan and Joe’s team will be conducting all training exercises here, and we can split off by specialty and get in one-on-one time in addition to team drills.”

“We don’t often get this much time off between assignments,” Garrett said, picking up where Sam left off. “And I plan to keep enjoying my time with my wife and daughter as long as the calm lasts. To that end, we’ll be reporting for training four hours in the mornings Monday through Friday, or at least until things go to shit and we get called out.”

“Anyone ever tell you what an optimist you are?” Nathan grumbled.

“And,” Sam said, a smirk forming on his lips, “I have a special treat for all of you. Allie will be heading up a training course on explosives: dismantling and disabling, how to tell when you’re fucked and when you’re not. Baker, you of all people should appreciate that.”

“Oh, fuck you all,” Baker growled. “For fuck’s sake. It was one time and it was forever ago! Let it go already.”

Allie’s eyebrows lifted in question.

“I’ll tell you all about it later,” P.J. promised with an evil grin in Baker’s direction.

“Hey, it wasn’t all bad,” Renshaw defended. “It did finally get boss man and Maren together.”

“Why do I get the feeling this is going to be one long-ass story?” Allie asked in resignation. “Are you guys ever serious about anything?”

The room filled with laughter.

“They’re all long stories,” Skylar said, her eyes twinkling with merriment. “And I haven’t even been here as long as most.”

“We’re serious,” Joe said in an even voice directed at Allie. “We’re serious about not fucking up and dying. That should be all the serious you need.”

Her eyebrow went up and he could swear she sniffed at him in disdain. Skylar noticed the interaction and her expression darkened. P.J. caught Skylar’s eye and the two women stood in silent communication for a long moment, their displeasure evident. Shit. If Joe was Allie, he’d be pissing himself right about now. Having one of the two women on his ass would be intimidating enough. But both Skylar and P.J.? If a grown man wasn’t shaking in his boots over that double threat then he was a fucking fool. He hoped for Allie’s sake that she lost the chip—or rather boulder—on her shoulder pretty damn fast or things were going to get ugly.

“Rio, you bringing Grace and Elizabeth for a visit?” Donovan asked with a grin.

Rio gave him a look that suggested he was an idiot. But then he didn’t even dignify it with an answer. He motioned for his team to fall in and they simply walked out of the war room.

Joe chuckled. “You can’t ever accuse Rio of not being consistent.”

“She’s good,” Garrett mused, his gaze still on the closed door where Rio and his team, with their newest recruit, had exited just seconds before. “Damn good. She’ll be a perfect fit for Rio’s team. If the chemistry is right. When we hire a new recruit, it’s a crapshoot as far as how well they mesh with their team. Their skills aren’t in question—otherwise they wouldn’t be hired. It isn’t all about skills. A recruit has to fit seamlessly into their team or shit’s going to go south damn fast. But I swear it’s like fate or some hokey shit I don’t understand because we couldn’t have found a better fit for Rio and his team than Allie even if we’d created an entire checklist, personality profile, whatever. It’s like a fucking gift got dropped right into our laps, and as freaky as it is, I’m not going to waste time pondering the statistical improbability of ever finding a recruit that would fit into a team that has no fucks to give and does it their way or no way but gets the job done every damn time regardless and just savor that we scored in a huge way. Like hitting the badass, take-no-prisoners lottery or something.”

A series of chuckles rose and Joe rolled his eyes. “Um, dude? You just did waste a fuck ton of time pondering the statistical improbability of finding Allie.”

Garrett scowled. “Fuck you. Are we done yet? I’d like to spend what’s left of the day with my wife and daughter. She’s already walking. Can you believe that shit? She’s a genius. Clearly takes after her mother. Not a smarter baby in the world.”

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