Terror does not always come on you all at once. Sometimes it is a long, nagging process. One where you get that wee voice in your head that just keeps tapping on your shoulder. Something is wrong.
You can only ignore the warning in your head just so long, and then it begins to slam its ugly fist into your heart. You have to do something, but what? Who do you turn to when the terror is finally upon you—when you suddenly realize that someone you love may be in harm’s way—may even be…dead?
Maybe you take justice into your own hands.
(Due to a spoiler, I’m not providing Chapters 2 or 3)
Virginia Beach, VA
Thanksgiving Day, 2010
Just as the holiday parade was ending, Palmer joined the men. The sixty-something ex-bodyguard, ex-marine special ops, ex-lots of dangerous things was now working for Press at the mansion. Now his “team” consisted of a two-hundred-pound—and still growing—canine and a skinny little wisp of a housekeeper that ruled with an iron fist in a soft velvet glove of love and kindness.
“Might have known you’d wait until the parade was over to join us,” William said. Palmer had walked up behind them and into the room so quietly that only the large shadow he cast announced his presence.
“Yeah,” he snorted. “Me, parade, floats, dancing clowns, and bands—not gonna happen in this lifetime,” Palmer said, sarcastically. He sat across from the Senator and grabbed a plate and goodies from the side table between them.
“Well, the game will start soon. That should satisfy your blood lust a little better than a parade,” William laughed.
“Yeah,” Palmer settled back in the overstuffed chair and propped his feet up on the big ottoman in front of it. Popping a fork loaded with quiche into his mouth, he said, “That oughta do it!”
Philip Palmer had been William Andrews’ bodyguard for many years as Press and Steffi were growing up.
As a very wealthy family involved in politics, William Andrews had always made certain those he loved were protected by the very best—Palmer had been then, and still was, the best.
Now the children were grown and while the Senator used security himself when he was in DC, he no longer demanded that his children do so. Press, as a cop, carried his own weapon and was fully capable of protecting himself. Steffi—well, she was another matter altogether. She simply insisted on living a normal life.
Philip Palmer would kill any son-of-a-bitch who harmed any one of them—that was just a given.
Now days, Palmer enjoyed the quiet life of a working retirement, surrounded by the people he’d come to think of as family.
He drove Press when a driver was needed, such as to society social engagements, Andrews Educational Foundation affairs, charity fundraisers, or political events, to support the Senator.
He acted as butler when the occasion called for it.
He handled, exercised, fed, groomed, and loved the so-called dog named Jones. He drove the dog around town more often than he did Press.
He acted as a civilian consultant to both the VBPD and the FBI from time to time, as requested by Press. He didn’t take orders from anyone other than Preston Andrews.
Never, when stealthily stalking some badass through the jungles of South America, had he thought for one moment that he would have family and a home—contentment—when he retired. He had seldom believed he would live long enough to retire.
Palmer, too, was a very happy man these days.
* * *
The four men settled in for the game. The coffee disappeared, and the beer tap installed in the room’s hidden bar went into action. Chips and Lizzie’s special dips replaced the quiche. None of them worried about caloric input today!
Press and Trace were on call today, so Press opted for tonic and lime, Trace for soft drinks.
Just as Press lifted his first tonic, his phone chirped in his pocket. Two seconds later Trace’s phone chirped, too. Each man took his call, looked at the other, and made mental note of the information being given by the dispatcher.
“Damn,” Press growled, as he and Trace headed for the kitchen.
“Duty calls,” Palmer lifted an icy beer glass.
“Bad day for them,” William responded, lifting one himself.
* * *
In the kitchen, the men explained their need to leave, kissed their women good-bye, and headed for the front door.
“Well,” Rachel said, “so much for a 2:00 PM dinner time.”
“Oh, no, young lady!” Lizzie broke in. “In this house, we go on without them and save leftovers for their return. Mr. Press is very firm about his work not interfering with holidays and other celebrations.”
“Yes,” Rosemary added. “You work in law enforcement, Rachel. You understand how often this happens. Press always insists we go on with whatever celebration is in process. He’ll catch up later.”
Rachel sat down on a stool near the counter. “Our first Thanksgiving,” she sighed. She had to admit she was disappointed, but this was her new life with her new family. It had been easier to accept when she was alone—when she was the one being called out. She straightened her back.
“Well, ladies,” she smiled, “let’s get at it. 2:00 PM isn’t far away.” The smile turned to a grimace as Lizzie handed her the potato peeler.