“Call whoever you have in the FBI,” I said softly. “Don’t ask for her. Ask about him.”
He didn’t move at first. Silence filled the room for a few seconds, and then he reached over. His hand grabbed mine and squeezed, just for a moment, before he stood.
When he walked out, his shoulders seemed to sag in disappointment, and he looked as if he’d aged ten years.
He left through the bedroom. I heard the main door closing as he stepped out into the hallway.
A second later, I heard the soft tread of footsteps over the carpet.
I hadn’t moved.
The door hadn’t been open before Kai shut it. Whoever was coming toward me had been in the wing the whole time. They’d overheard everything.
Tanner stood in the doorway. “I can’t believe you did that.”
Yeah. Neither could I.
Tanner and Jonah kept me company for the day.
They didn’t talk about him, and I didn’t ask. We acted like we were friends having a movie marathon. They ordered pizza—or had someone make it. It just showed up, carried in on trays with anything I wanted to drink.
Tanner had a beer, and Jonah was drinking a green probiotic drink. I’d had one earlier as well. I kept to my tea for the rest of the evening. All day long, no matter what we did, I felt unbalanced. My hands weren’t steady, and I knew it was because I’d given Brooke up.
I had broken my oath as a 411 operative. Would I be able to continue working with the Network? They would’ve understood. Hell, Brooke wasn’t even an official client, but she was my client. She had been my person to help, and I’d given her up. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t told Kai where to find her. I’d assisted him in getting closer to her.
After the fourth movie, Tanner grabbed the remote and turned it off. “No more.” He dropped it on the coffee table and sat back, his arms hugging a pillow over his chest. He burrowed into the couch, his ass toward me and his head in the corner.
“I’m fucking tired, and no more superheroes,” he said, his voice muffled. “I’m superheroed out.”
Jonah yawned, stretching his arms on the other side of me. The couch was ridiculously big, with thick, plump cushions, so I barely registered he was there.
Jonah groaned, standing up. “What time is it? I feel like I could sleep for a week.”
Tanner snorted, still in that corner. “So says the real-life superhero. Give it up, little bro. You’re going to be bouncing off the walls by tomorrow, wanting to go off and rescue people.” He rolled over to sneer at his brother. “Save lives and shit.”
Jonah frowned, another idle yawn coming over his face. “You sound pissed about that. Why you pissed?” His eyebrow went up. “I’ve saved your ass a few times.”
I looked over Tanner, trying to see any scars.
Tanner rolled his eyes, sitting upright and rubbing a hand through his hair. “I’m giving you shit because Brooke ain’t here to do it for me. That’s what she does. She looks out for you, checks in with you, and gives you enough shit so your head don’t get all swollen up from being the saint in this family.”
Tanner sounded irritated.
Jonah grunted, grinning. “Yeah, right. She doesn’t give me shit. I’m the brother she adores. She gives you shit so your head doesn’t pop off and float away.” Laughing to himself, he grabbed the beer bottles on the coffee table and the paper plates with leftover crusts.
He took them into my kitchenette area. I had a small sink, a mini fridge, a small microwave, and a coffee machine. All I really needed was a kettle for some tea, but I was growing a taste for coffee since being with the Bennett family.
As Jonah put the trash into the garbage can, a pillow whipped past my head and hit him square in the back.
Tanner growled, “Stop being perfect. We have staff to do that shit.”
Jonah’s mouth opened, his frown deepening. He finished putting the trash away. “You drunk, Tanner? You can be a dick at times, sober or not.”
Tanner laughed, rolling over to stretch out on the sectional. His face smashed into the cushions once again. “Damn straight I’m a dick. And you know what? I would be more of a dick if Kai weren’t so, so, whatever he is.”
Jonah came over to pick up more of the trash.
I stood to help him.
“No, no. Sit.” He waved me back down. “We came in here and made a mess.”
“See!” Tanner barked. He flung a hand up. “He’s being perfect. It’s annoying.”
“You’re annoying.” Jonah put down the paper plates and went over to his brother.
Tanner didn’t know he was there until Jonah grabbed one of his legs and yanked.
Tanner’s entire body came off the couch. Jonah kept pulling, sweeping him clear over the coffee table. All the garbage went with him, and Jonah finished with a yank so Tanner went sailing, almost to the wall.
“What the fuck?!” Tanner was up, charging his brother.
Jonah braced himself.
Tanner hit him in the chest. His arms wrapped around Jonah’s waist, and planting his feet, he body-slammed him to the floor.
Jonah twisted out from under him, tucking a leg around Tanner’s and flipping them over.
Tanner wasn’t to be outdone. The two of them wrestled all the way to the main door, and after a bit, I started to hear their laughter.
“Check!” Tanner slammed Jonah back into the wall.
Both were panting and sweaty now, their faces red, but their smiles relaxed me.
“Ah!” Jonah laughed. “Get off me. You win.”
Tanner relaxed, and Jonah shoved his arms off, kicking him the rest of way.
Tanner laughed too, falling back to collapse on the floor, his arms spread out. “Fuck.” He was breathing hard. “That was fun. We haven’t done that forever.”
Jonah scooted up, his back resting against the door and a lopsided grin on his face.
“Yeah.” He was still panting. “I work out, but forgot how damn heavy you are.”
Tanner rolled over and whacked him on the leg with the back of his hand. “Shut it, little brother, or I’ll kick your ass all over again.”
“Yeah, right.” Jonah shoved at Tanner’s leg. “You used up all your juice in that match. I’d take round two.”
“Fuck you!” Tanner bolted to a sitting position, pointing at Jonah.
Both paused, staring at each other, then began laughing again.
“We’re fucked up,” Jonah said, shaking his head.
Tanner grunted, falling back down. “Speak for yourself. I’m a stud. I’m not fucked up. I do the fucking up.”
I coughed where I’d been sitting on the couch, watching. I’d loved it. I knew I had a stupid grin on my face. This was something I hadn’t had growing up. Blade, Carol, and I weren’t like this.
I’d once thought of them as family, but seeing Jonah and Tanner—no, Carol and Blade were friends. Co-workers. Not family. I didn’t have this with them. If Brooke had been here, she would’ve been in the middle of it or laughing and shouting from the sides. Hell, she might’ve been coaching Jonah.
Another cough ripped up through my chest, and both of them snapped to attention. They got to their feet, coming over.
I waved them off, covering my mouth, and turned away from them. “No, no. I’m fine.” Cough. “Really.” Another cough. “I’m done.” Two more coughs. “Now, I am. Really.”
I couldn’t stop until Tanner had left the room, and Jonah went for his bag. He brought it over along with a glass of water. I took a sip, and it helped ease the coughs. He pulled out a cough drop and gave it to me. I eased back against the couch, my chest feeling weak.
“That sucks. I’m sorry.” I waved toward where they’d been. “I didn’t want to interrupt that.”
Jonah shook his head, pulling out his stethoscope and kneeling beside me.
I leaned forward, knowing what he wanted.
He lifted my shirt enough to put it against my back. “It’s fine. I think we both forgot you were here, actually. We haven’t wrestled like that forever.”
I breathed deep.
I exhaled. Slowly.
We repeated the process another three times before he moved to my front, his face looking away as he listened.
He was moving back, his stethoscope hanging around his neck when the door opened again.
Kai came in first, with Tanner behind him.
I felt zapped by his presence, and I sat up straight.
“You okay?” Kai’s concerned eyes looked me over, lingering where my shirt was pulled down an inch before frowning and sliding his gaze to his brother. “Is she okay?”
“You said she was outside in the rain the other night?”
Kai nodded, standing against the couch, right behind me.
I tried to ignore him.
My heartbeat skyrocketed.
Being around Kai was stressful.
“She was. You think she got sick from that?”
Jonah gazed at me, frowning. “Yeah, maybe. She’s got some wheezing in her lungs. Plus, she’s been under a lot of stress.”