Following Her

By: Melody Anne

“. . . bring me two piña coladas . . .”

The music washed over Axel Carlson as the sun soaked into his bronzed skin, and he lay back, his hazel eyes closed, mouth relaxed, mind cleared. He’d desperately needed this vacation in the Bahamas, and he wasn’t going to let a single worry in the world interrupt him.

After the way his last case went, he didn’t know if he even loved his job anymore. There’d been a time when he lived and breathed his career, when he looked forward to getting up in the morning, strapping his gun to his chest, and rushing out to catch the bad guy.

The reality was that he just didn’t know who the bad guys were anymore. Shaking his head, he fumed. Nope. Wasn’t going to dwell on the last case, or the last ten cases for that matter. For two whole weeks he’d do nothing but lie on the beach, scuba dive, and have some meaningless, drunken vacation sex.

And when that was over, he’d figure out what he was going to do next. Whether it was going back after this much-needed hiatus or starting a new career, he refused to deal with it now.

When his phone rang, Axel just smiled. He didn’t give a crap if it was the president of the United States, he wasn’t picking up his phone. But when it rang for the third time in a row, he grimaced. Why had he even brought the damn thing down to the beach?

Without looking at the caller ID, he turned off the phone. When it was finally silent, he stretched his arms behind his head and closed his eyes once again, falling into a blissful slumber.

“EXCUSE ME, SIR.”

“Go away.”

Axel didn’t bother opening his eyes. He didn’t care who was speaking to him, and he didn’t care that the voice seemed slightly panicked.

“Um . . . sir?”

“I said go away. If you value your life, that’s exactly what you’ll do,” Axel said conversationally.

There was no response, and Axel let out a sigh of relief. The man had taken the hint and left. Now, if he could go back to sleep, where he’d been dreaming about rescuing a conveniently topless blonde from the ocean, he’d be happy. It had just been getting interesting.

“You have a phone call and the man said it was an utter emergency and not to take no for an answer. He said you would threaten and bark, but if I didn’t get you on the phone then he was coming down here . . . with a gun.”

The man obviously hadn’t gone away, and the flood of words were delivered at a distraught pitch. There was only one person Axel knew who could make a grown man practically cry while wetting his pants at the same time.

“Give me the damn phone,” Axel said, sticking out his hand while keeping his eyes closed.

Almost instantly, a phone was slapped in his palm, followed by the sound of retreating footsteps.

“What in the hell do you want, Bryson? I’m on vacation,” Alex snarled at the phone.

“How’d you know it was me?”

“There aren’t too many people who can get that sort of reaction out of a poor guy just trying to do his job,” Axel said with a smile.

“Yeah, I don’t think I’m the one making the guy shake; the phone wasn’t on mute. You’re in an unusually pleasant mood,” Bryson said, laughing. Neither one of them could frighten the other. They’d been friends and partners for too long.

“Need I remind you I’m on vacation? What in the hell is so important that you had to interrupt a very good dream?”

“I don’t want the details of that dream,” Bryson said. “I need your help.”

Axel sat up. If it were anyone other than Bryson Winchester, his best friend, the man who had been there for him more times than he could remember, he’d tell the person to go to hell.

“What do you need?”

“I’m really sorry to interrupt your vacation, but my cousin’s in trouble—big trouble—and my hands are tied because I’m on a case. She needs protection.”

“Why not have someone else who is on the clock at the FBI assigned?” Axel knew he didn’t want to hear the answer.

“She doesn’t think she’s in trouble and she’s refused any help.”

“Then what in the hell am I supposed to do?”

“Help her anyway.”

“Dammit, Bryson, do you know what a pain in the ass you are?”

“Yep. And I’m calling in my favor.”

There was a long pause as Axel thought seriously about tossing the damn phone into the ocean and moving to a place with no cell service.

“Give me the details.”

Of course he was going to help. Both he and Bryson knew that. There went his vacation.





“She doesn’t even know I’m coming, does she?”

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