The Shadow of Us by Tamrin Banks


Chapter One: Jefferson


“What the hell do you mean that she’s in the hospital?  How the hell did that happen?  No, don’t bother.”  I slam the door and stalk down the hall.  “I’ll be there in a couple of hours.  And if you’ve got a lick of sense you’ll make sure that she’s still in the hospital and she’s okay when I get there.  Another hair hurt on her head and I swear to god, I’ll make your life a living hell!”

I hit the button on the elevator of the top floor of the building where my security firm, Maxwell Security, is at.  When the door doesn’t close, I punch the fucking button until it does.

“No excuses, motherfucker!  If she isn’t still in the hospital waiting for me with someone on guard, I will kill you.   And they won’t find your body,” I growl and impatiently tap my foot.  I hang up on him and swear, slamming my fist into the wall.

I took my eyes off the prize for one week while I took care of a little security breach and what happened?  He assigned her to that fucker’s case and she almost got killed.  By rights, Randy Hawthorne should be the one taking care of this case and don’t think I don’t know why that chickenshit isn’t.

Cameron Calhoun is one of the toughest, slimiest bastards on the planet.  He’s the scum of the earth and manages to wriggle out of every charge he’s ever been hit with.  So Randy assigned that case to my wife knowing that she’d be in danger, number one, and if she lost, it would sink her chances of getting his job.  Little prick!

If I get the chance I might punch him anyway.  I might wind up in jail briefly but it would be worth it to mess up his smarmy little face.

I run out of the building and my car pulls up along the curb.

“Mr. Maxwell, do you need to go somewhere?”  Peter grins and steps out of the car.

“I need to get to the airport.  Quickly.  And I need two of my men, Victor and Henry to meet me at my private plane.”

“Did you call them or do you need me to get them on the line?”

I slide into the luxurious interior of the car.  The cushions conform around me so well it’s like the whole back seat was made for me.  Ordinarily, I’d enjoy the comfort but right now I’m so pissed I could care less.

“I’ve already told them to meet me there.  I wanted to make sure that you knew I need to get there quickly.  Can you call the pilot and give him an idea of our arrival time?”

“Yes, sir.  I’ve got it.”

He jumps into the car and slides up the partition like he knows I need the alone time to get myself under control.

The ride takes even less time than usual.   Even though it feels like it takes forever.  The only thing that runs through my mind on a constant loop is my lovely wife lying in a hospital bed after having been shot.  My fists clench in my lap and my jaw is so tight that it feels like it’s cracking.

“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch,” I grit out between my teeth.  Nobody will miss that piece of crap.

We pull up to my hanger at the airport and I see that Victor and Henry are already there waiting.  The pilot is talking to them and the engine’s on.

I step out and stalk up to them.  “You ready?” I growl at my men.

“Are you going to tell us what’s going on?” Victor growls.  “You know how much I hate going into something blind.”

“Cameron Calhoun signed his death warrant.  He shot my wife.”  I run up the steps two at a time, finding my seat quickly and buckling in.

Victor is right behind me, face ashen.  “Is Fiona alright?”

“According to that little slime ball boss of hers, she is.  I don’t know if I believe him or not.  But I still want to kill that fucker.”

Henry’s quiet and stoic most of the time but even he has a hard light in his aqua eyes.  “I will help you.”

“Good.  But I don’t need help with that part.  I actually need help holding me back so that I don’t kill him.  I don’t want to wind up in jail.”

Victor grins but it’s not a pretty sight.  His midnight-black eyes are cold as ice.  “That will be hard for me as well.  But I could definitely make sure no one ever finds his body.  Just in case something untoward were to happen to him.”

“I know you guys want him as much as I do.  But we’re actually going to have to protect Fiona and figure out how to trap that fucker so he doesn’t get away with it this time.  I want his ass in jail, not mine.  And I need to stay focused on that.  Not revenge.”

“Even though that sounds really good, right?” Henry’s raspy voice makes me grin.

“Yeah, let’s get this show on the road.  I want Fiona protected as soon as possible and right now she’s kind of a sitting duck in the hospital but it’s the only place I could think of where  she might be remotely safe until I get there.”

The pilot closes the door and the three of us sit down for the long flight to Pittsburgh.  I feel my mind racing even while I run through the options with my boys.

I’m going to see Fiona in person for the first time in three years.  My hands clench on my lap and I grab a drink from the tray next to me.  I toss back the whiskey, gasping at the burn.  Ordinarily, Kelly would be here but I didn’t even wait for the woman that usually takes care of me during the flight.  Nothing matters but Fiona.  I just need to see her, know that she’s not gone.  Know that I still have a chance to fix my fuck-up.

They said it was a flesh wound in her shoulder but I don’t necessarily believe that dumbass she works for.  I know he didn’t think I would come out there so he might have lied to me to cover his ass.

Big mistake on his part.  Because if I get there and she’s worse than he said, I really will kick his ass.

I stare out the window at the dark sky.  Henry and Victor have fallen asleep but I can’t stop thinking about Fiona.

I can picture her long, dark hair pulled up in that complicated knot that she likes to wear for work, thinking it makes her look professional.  It just makes me want to rip out the pins and watch it fall down around her slim, pale shoulders dotted with freckled constellations.   I can see that soft light in her hazel eyes.  The want, the need.  The love.

Until the day I told her that we needed to give each other space.  Then the light in her beautiful eyes died when she turned away from me.  And I haven’t seen her since the next day when I got home from work and her things were gone.

That same day my heart died.