“His employment records with the city were altered.” Chad dropped a folder on the table in front of Blair and then slumped down in a chair. “About forty minutes before I started searching for Sentinels in the database. Someone went in and changed Stuart’s records to cover up for his son. One of our own.”
“Are you sure?”
“It had to be someone in this building,” Daniel said neutrally. “Our system would have notified us if someone had broken into it and frankly after reviewing David Stuart’s school records—he doesn’t have the technological chops to hack us. Financially, he didn’t have the money to hire someone else to do it. His mother is in Florida and his former step-father is no longer with our department.”
“Okay.” Blair ran his fingers through his hair and got up to pace in the conference room.
“How is Elizabeth?”
“She has been isolated at the Sentinel-Guide Center with her Sentinel. She tapped out all of her strength keeping him at bay—he must have hammered on her like a berserker. To be honest, I don’t know how she held out as long as she did. His father is furious and trying to prevent them from bonding—the Center threatened to sue them for pair bond interference. I should be down there.”
“We’ll keep working,” Daniel promised. “We’ll figure this out.”
– – – – –
“Mr. Summers, I understand your concern about your son’s future but his Guide is not and will not ever be a burden to him.” Jim sat back in his chair. “Do you realize that in discouraging your son from registering and hiring a low level, untrained empath to act as his Conservator you actually endangered his life and his sanity? Did you know that three of the last six Sentinels Jean Darcy worked with ended up institutionalized for life because she is not qualified or talented enough to keep a Sentinel safe? You do realize, of course, that only certain Guides in our system can even act as a Conservator. Jean Darcy is so low on the Guide scale that she barely qualifies to register as a Guide. The three Sentinels that managed to stay sane while in her care were damaged enough that they were isolated for months while a Guide search was conducted for them.”
“She is a registered Guide. I thought that was enough,” Adam Summers admitted, his eyes dark with anger. “Aren’t they all the same?”
“Jacob is the first online Sentinel in your family in over one hundred and fifty years. It is obvious because of this that you’re quite ignorant about the role of a Guide in a Sentinel’s life. Your ignorance on this matter is the only reason I’m not pursuing criminal charges against you.” Jim relaxed against the back of his chair and almost smiled when he felt his Guide enter the building. He hadn’t wanted to separate but they both had jobs to do and that had meant different destinations once they left the crime scene. “As it stands, your son is legally an adult and the experience of nearly losing his Guide has had a profound effect on him.”
“The girl on television—the one that was kidnapped. That’s our son’s Guide?” Tina Summers took a deep breath. “Is she okay?”
“She will recover.”
“I won’t have this,” Adam Summers stood. “My son is a strong Sentinel, a brilliant young man with a career in medicine ahead of him and I won’t have him saddled with a damaged Guide.”
The door to the conference room opened abruptly and slammed back against the wall. Jim barely got out of his seat in time to keep Jacob Summers from launching himself at his father. Jim caught him about the middle and slammed him up against the wall. “Don’t do it, son. You’re upset and rightly so. Your father has no clue what he just said; he doesn’t understand that it’s too late. This is not pair bond interference.”
Jacob didn’t struggle against his Alpha but he looked at his father with barely contained contempt. “I won’t let him hurt her.”
“He won’t try,” Jim promised. “Jacob, do you trust me?”
The younger man closed his eyes briefly and then focused entirely on Jim. “Yes, Alpha.”
“No one is going to take your Guide from you, my word as the Alpha Sentinel Prime of the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who tries will have to come through me and the rest of our pride first. Your only task, Sentinel, is to see to your Guide. When you’re upset she can feel it and it hurts her. Do you think she’s in a place right now where she can tolerate you being this angry? If you go feral on us—you’re going to hurt your Guide.”
Jacob paled and took a deep breath. “Get him out of this building. I don’t want him anywhere near Elizabeth.”
“We’re going to meet with Elizabeth’s parents and I assure you—you have nothing to worry about.” Jim lead him to the doorway ignoring both Adam and Tina Summers protests. “Rico, Julian. You’ll go back down to the isolation unit with Sentinel Summers and stand guard. No one outside of the pride may enter their isolation suite without my express approval. Understood?”
Jim watched them leave, his own anger boiling in his gut. He leaned against the door jam and took a few deep breaths as the elevator opened and Blair exited bringing Sylvia and Nathan Arnold with him. “Hey Chief.”
Blair frowned at his Sentinel and then ushered him into the room. “What’s going on?”
“Mr. Summers here nearly put his son on the record books for feral patricide,” Jim ran one shaking hand over his face and the flicked the lock of the door with a savage snap of his wrist. “Now, everyone take a fucking seat because I’ve had it.”
Blair prodded Nathan and Sylvia into seats and then returned to his Sentinel. “Do you need a break before we do this?”
“No.” Jim touched his Guide briefly and then directed him to sit. He pinned Adam Summers with a glare that had the blood draining out of the man’s face at a speed that could have been comical in other circumstances. “Let’s get something straight. Elizabeth and Jacob have completed their mental and spiritual bonding. For those of you in the room who don’t understand what that means—it means that they are bound for life. Bound so tightly that he could not survive without her. In most cases, a Guide can survive being separated from their Sentinel. However, they are both gifted enough to have forged a strong and penetrating bond. I doubt either could survive separation for a long period of time. Such primal bonds are rare and it’s considered an honor for a pair to achieve such a thing.”
“They wouldn’t let us see her,” Sylvia murmured.
“Her shields are tattered, Mrs. Arnold and I doubt she could tolerate your upset and your worry. She is in a very weak place emotionally and while she didn’t suffer the worst that could have been done to her in David Stuart’s hands—she did suffer. Her spirit animal is very wounded from having taken all of her fear on itself. It could be weeks before she is in a position to leave isolation.”
“But she’ll recover?” Sylvia asked softly.
“She has a strong mind and despite the lack of training she managed to hold onto her shields in the face of a severe beating at the hands of a man she knew to be a serial killer,” Blair responded and remained neutral when all four mundanes tensed at the description. “Let’s not kid ourselves—Stuart raped and butchered six children and all of that was right there in his mind for Elizabeth to see. He outweighed her by a hundred and fifty pounds – and if we hadn’t found her when we did we’d be burying another Guide.”
“You said they’ve bonded,” Tina Summers murmured. “What does that mean, exactly?”
“They’ve completed the mental and spiritual parts of the bonding process. The final part is sexual but considering Elizabeth’s condition that is not something we need to worry about at present. The legal age of consent in Washington stage for Guides is eighteen so legally no one is this room can keep them from bonding sexually if they wish it in just a few short months. That being said, Jacob is very concerned about his Guide’s mental well being and isn’t interested in pressuring her for something she can’t give. He isn’t going to hurt her or misuse her in any way,” Blair murmured.
“I’ve spoken with this program director at Rainier and he’s been given a week of excused leave due to his bonding with a Guide. The university has been very understanding and will do everything they can to accommodate their pairing. Jacob has registered with the Sentinel-Guide Center so he could officially claim his Guide. I asked him to consider waiting so that he could discuss this with the four of you and I’ll be frank; his response was profane and pointed.” Jim walked to stand by the one window in the room. “Elizabeth is in her final year of high school. Rainier has already set aside an apartment in married housing for the two of them—two bedrooms though even if their bond remains platonic they will likely share a bed.”
“My daughter is seventeen!” Nathan Arnold protested.
“Nathan,” Sylvia sighed and frowned. “She isn’t a virgin and I’ve had her on her birth control pills for more than a year.” She rolled her eyes when her husband glared at her. “Better to teach her to swim than let her drown in the pool, dear. What was I supposed to do? Lock her in her room?”
Blair bit down on his lip to keep from laughing, but Tina Summers snickered a little and then he took a deep breath. “Is Elizabeth still involved with the boy…”
“No, she’s refused to see him since she came online. She said he was an insincere, emotional wasteland.”
“Yes, well, teenage boys have very little hope of getting anything past an online Guide.” Blair looked at Adam Summers who still looked furious. He recognized that anger, all too well. “Jacob is an adult, Mr. Summers. He doesn’t need your permission to do anything and if you try to come between him and his Guide—you’ll lose him. He’ll turn his back on you and never look back.”
“He’s my son.”
“And your son’s first priority is his Guide.”
“We’ll see how he feels when I stop paying his bills,” Adam snapped. “Then we’ll see who is more important.”
“Shut up!” Tina Summers shouted. “Just shut up, Adam, and for the record—I pay his bills. I pay yours, too. You haven’t done any legitimate work since my trust fund matured fifteen years ago. My son wants to be a doctor and he’s going to be a doctor.”
“Tina.” Adam glared at her.
“Don’t make me do something you’ll regret, Adam. It’s all my money. All of it and I’ll be damned if you’ll cut off our son because you don’t like what he’s doing. Not after what you’ve done. I can’t believe I listened to you about not letting him register with the Center. You’re just lucky that stupid woman you hired didn’t hurt him!” Tina Adams took a deep breath and turned to Jim. “Sentinel Ellison, I understand as Jacob’s parent I can set up a trust for him and his Guide—the Center will manage their money and see to all of their needs until they are both out of college, correct?”
“Yes, the Center can help you set up a Pair Fund. In most cases, especially with young pairs like Jacob and Elizabeth—parents pool college funds and any existing trusts so that in the event they are unable to care for their children the Center will be there. Elizabeth and Jacob both will qualify for scholarships – which be filtered into their trust.”
“That’s what we’ll do then.” Tina Summers cleared her throat. “I’ve set aside money for Jacob—undergrad and medical school, plus enough to establish his own practice if he chooses to work in the private sector. If you can direct me to the right office, I’ll set up a trust fund for him and his Guide that my husband won’t have access or control over.”
“You can’t be serious!” Adam shouted. “Tina!”
“Shut up, Adam, before I ask my lawyer to review the prenuptial agreement we signed all those years ago. You’re not going to endanger my child’s life with your ridiculous ambitions.”
“What do you mean by that?” Blair asked.
Tina sniffed. “He’s been throwing parties and inviting prominent political Guide families to the house for years, trying to pair Jacob with someone with a great deal of money and political power. It’s only got worse since Jacob came online last year. I should have never played along. My dear Adam has his eye on the Governor’s mansion.”
“So what if I do?” Adam Summers demanded. “What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing as long as it’s not at the expense of your own child,” Nathan Arnold muttered. “Sylvia, come along. We’ll help Mrs. Summers and sign over Elizabeth’s trust fund as well.”
Adam Summers snorted rudely and didn’t say anything when all three of them left the room without him.
Blair chuckled. “You really don’t know who he is?”
“What do you mean?”
“Nathan Arnold.” Blair sighed. “He owns one of those big shipping companies out of Seattle. Arnold International Shipping. You know those big deep sea freight ships?” He waved his hand as he spoke. “Seriously?”
“Arnold International,” Summers muttered, stunned.
“Yep, your son’s damaged Guide is an heiress to a multi-million dollar empire,” Jim relaxed in his chair. “Congrats on alienating the new in-laws by the way. They pretty much think the sun rises and sets because their daughter exists.”
– – – – –
“From what we’ve been able to gather, Nigel’s Stuart’s employment record with the Cascade PD was altered within hours of Dr. Sandburg making the connection between the cases. It was accessed from a terminal in this building in an office on the third floor. An unused office that had a computer in it but that machine was snagged by Robbery when they realized no one was using it yesterday morning.”
“So too late to dust for prints?” Simon asked dryly.
“Way too late but we tried anyway. Still, it won’t help because most of the cops in the building could have touched it and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing,” Daniel muttered and then frowned. “Who would have reason to hide Stuart’s Sentinel status?”
“David’s mother, but she’s in Florida and hasn’t had any direct contact with her son in years. When I informed her of his death she told me she wasn’t paying for the funeral and hung up on me.” Simon grimaced. “Where’s Sandburg?”
“Jim and Blair are in the conference room working on the profile.”
“Why?” Simon asked. “He’s caught and he’s dead.”
Daniel shrugged. “I’m the wrong one to talk to, Captain. I know less than nothing about profiling. Chad has a working knowledge of Blair’s process but he’s in the dark on this current thing as well.”
– – – – –
Blair flipped to the next picture and stared intently. Forensics had documented the entire house in great detail and he had over two thousand pictures to filter through. The drawings the artist had done—all of thirty of them were on the wall near the white board. The conference room had become something of a horror show.
“Talk to me, Chief.”
“You want to bring the rest of the team in?” Blair asked softly. “It’s… I’d rather just say this once.”
Blair didn’t move as Jim left the room just flipped to the next picture. It was of a child’s bedroom. He knew it to be the room that David Stuart had slept in. The room was filled with toys, a small half bed that would have been uncomfortable for an adult. It hadn’t taken but a few hours to get all the information he needed on David Stuart and the picture wasn’t any prettier than it had been when they’d started.
Everyone settled in around the room table and Blair accepted the coffee Henri Brown brought with a small smile. “Thanks, H.”
“Welcome, kiddo.” Henri sat down and hunched over his own cup. “This is going to suck, huh?”
“Yeah,” Blair murmured. “Pretty badly, actually.”
“Just tell us, Chief.”
“Nigel and Stella Stuart married right out of the academy. She gave birth to their only child, David, roughly a year later. Six months after David’s fourth birthday, Nigel Stuart came online. The first Sentinel in his family ever reported and the only one of his generation. He fought getting a Guide for roughly six months, then the powers that be decided to stick it to him. They put the Guide he’d been matched with through the academy and assigned him as Nigel’s partner. Obviously, working in close proximity to his Guide had the desired results and they bonded. His Guide was a man named Christopher Pike. From what I can tell of their employment records, they worked well together and their partnership on the job eventually led them to develop a profoundly close bond. I wouldn’t say they were a perfect match, but they were as close as you could get in those days. Whoever matched them up did them both an immense service.”
Blair drank deeply from his coffee cup and then sat up a little straighter. “So, within two years the wife is filing for divorce claiming that Nigel’s relationship with his Guide was unsavory. She is granted a divorce and sole custody of their son, David. Nigel had limited and supervised visitation. Stella Stuart remarried six months after the divorce was final to a homicide detective, a man named Jon Dean. He is now a Captain with the Seattle PD. Things seem to be going well until the court grants Nigel weekend visitation and his Guide discovers that David is suffering in his home life with his mother. At that point, David was nearly eight years old. The court records are sealed but the end results are damning. Nigel was granted sole custody, a restraining order is placed against his wife, and her husband. Considering David’s condition as an adult—I can’t rule out physical and/or unproven sexual abuse. Nigel put his son in an institution for the first time when he was ten years old. David was practicing self-mutilation and had attempted to kill his father’s Guide.”
“Jesus,” Simon muttered. “Just, Jesus.”
Blair nodded. “David returns home at fourteen having been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder called depersonalization which we know to be a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder. They sent him home with a cocktail of potent anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. He could have lived the rest of his life that way without a single problem.”
“As long as he took his medicine,” Jim murmured.
“Yes.” Blair swallowed. “His father was shot in the line of duty and his father’s Guide—a second father to David ate his own gun a week later. They’d been together for twenty-five years so it’s not really surprising that Christopher couldn’t face life without his Sentinel. Four months after Pike’s suicide, David Stuart took his first victim.”
“Is he a dormant Sentinel?”
“The blood work will tell us,” Blair looked at his Captain with dark, serious eyes. “The Sentinel-Guide Center will do their level best to hide that information, Captain. They’ll pressure the department to suppress it, and since there won’t be a trial…”
“Right.” Simon grimaced. “I can’t say that I blame them. The last thing we need is for the public to paint all dormant Sentinels with the same brush as David Stuart. Do we know who covered up for him?”
“I have a good feeling but nothing concrete,” Blair murmured and shared a look with his Sentinel. “Not enough to even make a case. Just a feeling.”
“Jon Dean,” Simon said finally.
Blair took a deep breath. “If David Stuart’s mother had sexually abused him he would have taken grown women. Women who looked like his mother—he would have been fixated on her; and she’d probably be dead by now even if he had to go to Florida to do it.”
“Dean has a problem with Sentinel-Guide pairs. He’s been reprimanded repeatedly for misconduct, sexual misconduct, concerning Guides. The Seattle pride refuses to place a Sentinel-Guide pair in the precinct where the man works and from what I can tell he’s got friends in some pretty high places because I can’t figure out why he hasn’t been fired.”
“Or killed.” Markus Jergens muttered. “How has he not been butchered by a Sentinel?”
“It’s never physical. Just verbal stuff.” Blair flipped open a file in front of him. “Six years ago he was reprimanded for telling a male Guide in his department that the only thing he was good for…” Blair flushed. “He said he was a “hole” and all he was good for was to “fuck”. The man’s Sentinel had to be restrained and removed from the building. The Seattle pride pulled every Sentinel-Guide pair from the Seattle PD and refused to return them to their jobs until they were all assigned positions out of the precinct where Dean works.”
“So he created David Stuart?”
“No, he just shaped the kind of killer he was going to be.”
“He altered Nigel Stuart’s records to protect himself?” Simon asked.
“No, he altered those records so David wouldn’t get caught. He didn’t want his step-son stopped. I wouldn’t be surprised if he claims the body and buries him.”
“Wait, Chief, you’re saying he was born bad? Do you know how that sounds?” Jim frowned at his Guide.
“Not born bad. David Stuart, would have been an Alpha Sentinel if he’d ever come online. He would have had to been that strong to find Guides in his dormant state. He was probably latent as an infant—latent until the moment he was torn from away from Christopher Pike.”
“His father’s Guide.”
“Yes, David imprinted on Christopher—it’s the only thing that makes sense and when he was taken away from that safety and Jon Dean started in on him… the results were catastrophic. He went dormant within days of being separated from his father and in turn his father’s Guide. He had a psychotic break at the age of four and the fractured personality that immerged afterwards was shaped and sharpened by abuse at the hands of a sadist.”
“But we can’t go after Dean?” Simon asked.
“No evidence and if they could have got him on child abuse when David was younger—they certainly would have.”
“So, he’s untouchable?” Brian Rafe glared. “Christ, that’s disgusting.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say he was untouchable,” Jim murmured. “He’s just outside the reach of the law.”
– – – – –
Heath Edwards crossed his legs at the knee and stared across the bedroom at Captain Jon Dean. The man had slept right through his breaking and entering. He watched him stir briefly and still completely as he realized that he wasn’t alone in the room. Heath smirked when the cop reached for his gun.
“It’s not there, Dean, don’t bother.”
Dean snorted in disgust. “Edwards, what the fuck do you want?”
“I want to ask you a few questions.” Heath lit a cigarette and took a grateful drag. “You’ll have to forgive me this vice—I smoked before I came online and my wife won’t let me smoke around her. Drives her batshit insane.” He took a deep drag. “How long did you know that your step-son, David Stuart, was kidnapping and murdering children?”
“I don’t know…”
“Don’t fucking lie to me!” Heath snapped. “You can’t lie to a Sentinel. You know, I’ve been sitting here thinking about it and I can’t for the life of me figure out how his father didn’t murder you for what you’d done to his son. Nigel Stuart had to know what a fucking pervert you were.”
“Those charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. That little bastard lied about me and the judge saw that.”
Heath snorted. “Whatever, give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you in your own bed.”
“You’re not above the law.”
“But you are?” Heath asked amused. “Doesn’t quite seem fair does it?” Heath stood and stretched. “You’ll never know another moment’s peace, Dean. I’m going to find out everything there is to know about you and a member of my pride will watch you even as you sleep. Privacy is a luxury and you no longer have it. We will listen, we will watch, and we’ll find out all of your secrets. You’ll brush up against us on the streets and with one deep breath we’ll know what you’ve eaten for the past week. We’ll know who you used to fuck, who you do fuck, and who you want to fuck. Then one day when you least expect it one of us is going to take you.” He walked to the bed and leaned down right in the man’s face. “And we’re going to butcher you the way Jessica Martins was killed. First we’ll beat you and then we’ll stab you until your extremities start to fall off from the fucking force of it. Maybe you’ll be dead by then… but hopefully you won’t be. We have contacts all over the world so don’t think you can escape us by leaving.”
“I’ll go to Ellison. He won’t allow this.”
“This isn’t on my order, you twit. The Alpha Sentinel Prime of North America has determined you to be a threat and he wants you neutralized. But he is a petty and vicious man—so he’d like you to suffer first.” Heath tapped his forehead gently with one latex covered finger. “And like all the other Sentinels under his command both Ellison and I have decided to indulge his mean little whims.”
“Fuck you, Edwards.”
“You aren’t my type,” Heath responded coolly. He strolled to the doorway. “Your gun is under the bed. I left you a single bullet. I suggest you use it wisely.”
He made it all the way to backdoor he’d used to enter the house before the gun went off. Heath paused and took a deep breath – blood and various other body fluids filled his nostrils and he sighed. “Well, won’t Hunter be disappointed.” He closed the door behind him and walked down a small alley and slipped into the back seat of the car. Once inside, the car pulled smoothly away and he pulled out his cell phone.
Heath grimaced at the snappy voice of the Alpha Guide Prime of North America. “It’s done, Jack. He took door number 2.”
“Fucking coward,” Kelso muttered. “Fine, good work. Any loose ends?”
“No, the case files have been sealed and no one outside the task force ever saw Sandburg’s profile. Is he a risk?”
“Blair? No, he’d never do something to risk his own Sentinel.” Jack Kelso took a deep breath. “He’ll understand the need for discretion better than most; an excellent student of human nature.”
“You act like you know him.”
“You could say that,” Jack murmured. “I’ve known Blair Sandburg since the day he was born.” He paused. “Is he happy, Heath?”
“Sandburg?” Heath frowned and rested against the car seat. His wife pressed a bottle of water in his hand and wrinkled her nose at the smoky smell he’d brought into the car with him. “Yeah, he and Ellison are a good team and their bond is nice, solid. They are… very enamored of each other.”
“Good, good. He’s special, my Blair, I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him.”
Heath’s mouth dropped open briefly but he closed it quickly. “Understood, sir.”
“Did you want to speak with Rick?”
“No, sir, I’m about to go have a very late dinner with my wife.” He hoped like the hell that Rick Hunter didn’t really want to talk to him. The conversation had taken a weird turn and he wanted off the Jack Kelso train quickly.
“Very well,” Jack Kelso ended the call abruptly.
– – – – –
“A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.
But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.
But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.”
“Maya Angelou, right?”
“Yeah,” Blair murmured. “The greatest American poet of her generation. I saw her speak once—she has the most beautiful soul.”
Jim relaxed against his Guide, his face pressed against the back of Blair’s neck. “Sometimes I feel as if I’ve caged you.”
Blair turned in his arms, concerned. “What? No. Never.” He ran his fingers along Jim’s jaw. “You set me free. I spent my whole life trapped by my gifts and in one single moment you made everything right.”
“Our first case together… wasn’t pretty, Chief.”
“I think we’ve proved to everyone we can work together in the most dire of situations. What we’ve done in the past few weeks—the work we’ve done to bring our pride together has been amazing. I desperately wish we could have saved Jessica but I know she’s in a good place now. I know she’s safe and loved.”
“You visit with her when you meditate.”
Blair nodded. “Yes, her spirit returns to me sometimes. She’s so bright and beautiful—and she totally ignores me when I tell her to move on. She says she has a purpose now and that I shouldn’t worry about her.”
“But you do?”
“How can I not?” Blair cuddled close to his Sentinel and took a deep breath. “It’s like she’s the child of my spirit now. The only child I’ll ever have.”
“You wouldn’t want any of your own?”
Blair raised an eyebrow. “Something you want to confess, big guy?”
Jim stared for a second and then started to laugh. “No, no. I figured maybe a surrogate one day.”
“Really,” Jim murmured. “I’d love to raise children with you. If not our own—maybe we could adopt. Sentinel and Guide children are difficult to place and often require special handling. I think we could handle that.”
Blair stared at his Sentinel for a while, his heart in his throat. “I love you, Jim. I really do.”
Jim laughed. “I love you. Makes us both very lucky bastards.”
Pieces of Fiction and poetry used
(in order of appearance in the story)
- Ode to Duty by William Wordsworth
- Soliloquy from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
- The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
- The opening paragraph of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Opening paragraphs to Beowulf translated by Dr. David Breeden (spoken by Jim to Blair)
- I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou
My thanks to both of my Betas for working so hard on this. Any and all mistakes that remain are mine and because I’m lazy I won’t be correcting them- HA. 😉
Thank you for reading!