She was quiet the entire ride from campus. Now at the Red Dog's back office, Donovan sat on the couch with Danny cradled in her lap, his head tucked into her shoulder. She was staring blankly into space.
I watched the two of them for a moment, then turned back toward Jake and Mouse. Jake, wearing a gray shirt under a black leather blazer and black jeans, sat in the highback chair behind the desk. Mouse perched again on a desk corner.
Mouse inclined her head at the pair on the couch. "They gonna be okay?"
"Hope so," I said. "That's a lot to take in."
Mouse nodded in agreement.
I looked at Jake. "Any problems?"
"They're watching the bar," he said.
"Thought so," I said. "They probed, too, right?"
Jake nodded. "How'd you know?"
"Someone tripped the back door," I said.
After the incident with David a little over a month ago, I had Tinker install a security door in the back. She'd fitted one that was armored to withstand rifle rounds and added an extra feature: unauthorized entry attempts set off the taser unit mounted in the door. The unit was loaded with three salvoes.
The first salvo had gone off.
Jake was nodding. "Makes three, then."
I gave him a prompting look.
"The other two came in the front door," Jake said. "Revell and I easily convinced at least one of them to leave. The other needed a little more coaxing."
"How much more?"
"Broken nose," said Jake. "Then threw his ass out onto the sidewalk."
"Good coaxing," said Mouse.
"They still there?" I said.
Jake shook his head. "Left. I made sure. About two minutes before you guys drove up."
"That's probably not going to stop them," I said.
"No," said Jake. "But it'll keep them on their toes."
"How do you want to play this, Kat?" Mouse said.
"The Shack," I said.
"We tried that, remember?" said Mouse. "With Natalia. Aerodyne came down on us in front of the 342 onramp."
"So we make sure that doesn't happen again," I said.
Jake said, "Need an assist?"
My stomach did flip-flops. Again. I fought down the feeling. "If you can spare it."
"Always," he said with a small smile.
The flip-flops turned into a centrifuge.
Then we were staring at each other.
And his eyes were the most striking ocean-blue I had ever seen.
"There are children in the room, you two," said mouse.
I flinched, as if someone had dropped an ice cube down the back of my shirt. I looked at Mouse. "What?"
Mouse arched her eyebrows at us and jerked her head toward Donovan and Danny on the couch.
Jake cleared his throat, leaned back in the chair, and was suddenly busy looking at his boots.
She was sitting on the edge of the couch, face flushed, eyes still red.
"Call me Kat," I said.
She nodded. "Kat." Then: "What happens now?"
"Those men will probably try again."
"Who are they? What do they want?"
"We'll figure that out later," I said. "Right now, we need to get you two someplace safe."
Donovan looked at Danny. He nodded. She let out a long exhale, turned back to me, and said, "Where?"
(to be continued...)