Panic flips my stomach. Untangling myself from our delicious, post coital embrace I stare at Christian, not sure I heard correctly. I broke the law? My subconscious fists her hands in her hips, her lips pursed with disapproval. “What do you mean?” with wide-eyed shock I wait for him to clarify.
“Baby,” he looks taken aback, like he expects me to understand. “You knew who the father was but you made a conscious, false declaration on an official document.” I’m relieved that there isn’t a trace of recrimination in his tone but in no way does it exorcise the shadow of fear inching its way into my mind.
Apart from exceeding the speed limit on very rare occasions I’ve never broken any laws. “Could I go to jail?” Surely not, I think. Not for something so trivial but I desperately need to eliminate the possibility in order to clear my fogged head.
Christian laughs then abruptly bites back his amusement when he sees the dread on my face. “No baby, I don’t think so. Unless it’s on a really big scale and you’ve profited from it in some way.” He strokes my hair, his calm confidence rubbing off on me.
My whole body goes limp with the unburdening breath I exhale. Before I can help it I apologise, “I’m sorry. Again.” Averting my gaze to hide my inevitable flush of shame as the realisation of my seemingly endless stupidity dawns.
His suddenly rigid form captures my attention, forcing me to meet his steely stare. I stiffen at the sight of his downturned mouth. The stern warning on his face is enough, his silent message loud and clear.
I know he wants me to let the guilt go but how can I? Everywhere I look I see the results of my senselessness. If I can’t apologise – not that I think it carries much weight anymore – all I’m left with is humiliation stemming from my carelessness.
Ever perceptive he picks op on the dejected slump of my shoulders, “You did what you felt you had to, I get that you did it through some misguided notion to protect me but we both carry an equal share of guilt where this is concerned. Let’s deal with it and see what we can fix?”
He pitches it as a question, eager to solicit my cooperation. I’m so grateful for his infinite capacity for forgiveness, especially where I’m concerned. Who knows what else will pop up in the future? Every time I think we’ve reached the end of my disgraceful list of blunders we stumble over another, it’s depressing.
I nod; my baby-blues morose. “Okay.” As always I’m overtaken by him. So flawed and yet so perfect, perfect for me in every way. Hugging him close I giggle through my shallow tears, I’m still naked with him buried inside me.
Sheepish he looks down to the place where our bodies are joined. With a crooked smile he shrugs, unabashed, “I told you I could never get enough of you.” I feel him twitch inside and I gasp; in spite of our shared passion from moments ago he’s still substantial.
Revelling in my stunned reaction he quirks a salacious brow but withdraws with an intimate, whispered promise, “Later.”
He helps me off the counter and passes me the various bits of my discarded clothing, all the while eyeing me like a starving man would a hearty steak. “Have you no shame?” I tease, try as I might I can’t supress the blooming bodily blush that’s spilled onto my skin.
Grinning wickedly he answers, “Not where you’re concerned baby.” To prove his point his stare intensifies sending shivers rushing up my spine. Not for the first time I wonder if it’s possible to screw yourself to death.
I just go redder when we catch up with Taylor and Brandon; they must know exactly what we’ve been up to. Keeping my head down I try my best to avoid them as we make our way home.
Back at the villa we share a shower and then, Christian takes me to bed. With a searing, intense slowness that leaves my heart aching with affection for him he makes love to me. The last thought I have before sleep steals me away is that I couldn’t have asked for a better honeymoon or a better husband.
Because of our late-night escapades we oversleep, something Christian at least, is never guilty of. With mere minutes to spare after our packing frenzy, we meet Chris and our parents for the flight back home. Much as I’ve loved our alone time I’ve missed my baby boy desperately and I’m keen to spend some quality time with him.
After hugging my folks, fighting hard not to show how my mom’s tearful cuddle affects me, we leave her and Bob at the domestic departure terminal in the first class lounge – compliments of my generous husband – before heading to the Grey Enterprises jet.
I already saw my dad off at the hotel. Ray has decided to take in the scenes so he rented a car for the drive back to Montesano. Beforehand he made me promise that we’d come to visit soon. In the tight clutch of his embrace I felt his love along with his forgiveness and it set my mind at ease, at least where the footing of our relationship is concerned.
In the brief drive to the airport Christian checks his e-mail. A task that was heavily neglected over the last few days. My head swings to him, eyes big and berating when I hear him swear at his phone under his breath. Children are like sponges, I don’t want Chris’ vocabulary to develop quite as colourfully as Christian’s can be.
He remembers himself and touches his lips with his fingertips, “I mean duck!”
His face, startled and repentant along with his replacement word has me chuckling. Duck indeed!
I wonder if it’s work or threat related. I look at him, hoping that he’ll explain what’s riled him. Our faceless threat is now constantly niggling at my mind, like a rigid finger persistently poking at me for attention. Leaving our blissful bubble behind has sharpened my focus on the ugly, looming thing again.
“Sorry baby.” he says when he catches me watching him expectantly. “Ros,” he holds up the mobile. “Our wedding story has broken and it’s everywhere. I was hoping that the smaller publications won’t pick it up until tomorrow but I guess news of “Business Tycoon and Publishing Mogul First Love, Second Time Around” is a scoop too big not to splash. He makes a pair of air commas, mocking the headlines of one of the papers.
I groan. I hate the media frenzies surrounding everything Christian does. If the reporters weren’t so pushy and obnoxious it would be easier to handle but they’ll say and do almost anything to get you to react to something. I dread moving through their vicious, flashing throngs.
Hopefully they won’t be expecting us back so soon after the wedding, or that’s the plan at least. Christian wanted to run the story shortly after the wedding so that we could sneak back to Seattle while everyone assumed we were still honeymooning. Another reason why the Bellagio is so great, you can count on their discretion.
In the plane I concentrate to keep my mind off reporters and looming dangers, focussing instead on Chris. We listen and laugh as he tells Christian and me about mini golf and all the junk he’s been allowed to eat, spoilt rotten by overindulgent grandparents and one very adoring aunt. I smile knowing that I’m going to have to get a little creative with his food this coming week.
“Will Mia also stay at our house?” he asks grinning at her as she wiggles playful fingers at him from across the aisle.
“No honey, Mia has her own house but I’m sure she’ll let us visit and we’ll see her when we get together as a family at granny Grace and gramps Carrick’s house.”
His face falls, “Why can’t she stay with us?” his voice wobbles and takes on that whiney tone that’s guaranteed to drive even the saintliest parent nuts.
Even though it’s annoying it isn’t serious but Christian’s face is a picture of horror, it’s the first time he’s witnessed something other than the model child that Chris has been so far. I supress the urge to giggle and take my little boy’s face in my hands, “Buddy, I know that it’s been great fun spending time with Mia and granny and gramps but just like gran and pop in Savannah, they all live in their own homes. We’ll have play dates with them whenever we can.”
He looks at me, eyes large and shiny with tears, his bottom lip quivering. From the edge of my vision I see Christian watching us, taking in the scene – keen to soak up some parenting skills. He’s not normally a sensitive child, usually an explanation like that would set him straight but I suspect that something else is on the brew here. With insight only motherhood can give, I realise that in spite of enjoying himself with his new, extended family there’s been some very big changes in his young life lately – this is a cry for attention and reassurance.
When the first tear spills down his plump cheek Christian lifts him onto his lap. “Hey champ, don’t cry. We’ll see so much of Mia you’ll be sick of her.” He grins at Chris whose tears turn to big sobs. Kicking with his legs, protesting his seat on Christian’s lap he holds out his arms to me, his pleading look only compounding the heart wrenching sight.
Bewildered, Christian lets him go and I scoop him up with open arms, pressing his unhappy face into the crook of my neck. I catch Christian’s stunned expression tinged with sadness; I’m sure he feels rejected.
My free hand reaches over to take his, squeezing gently while I try to convey with a look that he shouldn’t feel excluded. Sometimes you just need your mommy. Chris is crazy about his new dad and thrilled to have him in his life but I’ve been his source of love and comfort for so long it’ll take time for him to learn to rely on Christian the same way.
Christian’s worried frown remains while I cuddle Chris making soothing sounds for him to hear. When he’s calm again I keep him close, speaking softly in his ear. “I know lots of things have changed buddy. We have a new daddy, new grandparents, new house; mommy is sometimes alone with daddy. All these things are big and new and maybe a little scary but instead of just me to love you, you also have daddy now. I want you to know that we love you very much. Even if things are changing, our love for you will never change. We will always be there to help you through things.”
I let his hair sift through my fingers, giving him all the time he needs to think about what I’ve said. His shuddering body pulls away from mine, searching my face, maybe in his own way to confirm the truth of my words. I give him an open smile.
Bolstered by assurance he regains his sunny disposition. He wriggles out of my arms, offering us a wave over his shoulder as he takes on his last opportunity of this trip to enjoy his grandparent’s and Mia’s doting.
Christian looks after him with what can only be described as melancholy. Lacing my fingers through his I attempt to stop his train of thought, “Don’t take it so personally. That’s what kids do. Awful as it sounds they’re extremely selfish little beings. They want what they want, how they want it, when they want it and they’re not wise enough to understand that they might hurt someone in the process.”
He nods, still wistful as he stares at his son, now being indulged by his aunt’s attentions. “He’ll leave us one day.” His timbre low and thick with emotion.
I gulp at the very dark turn his mind has taken, another example of how closely his childhood hurt is threaded with his current self. “He will.” I confirm; no point in denying the inevitable. “But if we do our job as parents properly he’ll be happy. His life will be filled with healthy, meaningful relationships that will include us. Maybe even a family of his own. Don’t miss the pleasure of having him in your life now because you’re too worried about what will happen in the future.”
Finally his gaze cuts back to mine, “you’re right. I just…, I want what you have with him.”
More words that end up being punches in my emotional gut but I make an effort not to wince – this is so not about me. “Firstly a mommy is a very special thing for a small child. No matter how much a child loves his father there will be times when only a mommy will do. Ask any parent.” I smile a lopsided smile, thinking of all the times I’ve had to patch skinned knees and kiss his bumped head.
“Secondly, and you may not know this but you’ve made incredible strides with him. He adores you and more importantly he trusts you but like any relationship you need time. Time to get to know each other. Before long you’ll see him defer to you and slowly, as he grows up, you’ll become the one whose approval will mean the world to him.” I press our clasped hands against my cheek.
My gorgeous husband gives me his shy smile, making my belly turn upside down. “Wow Mrs Grey, very insightful. Thank you. Maybe you should ditch the writing and become a child psychologist.” Through his flippancy I see his gratitude; it shows just how troubled he was by this.
I swat him against his arm, relieved to be on safer ground again. “I can’t do that! I’ve already spent my advance! And what will Julie Logan do with her time?”
He chuckles, looking down at me with love so warm it makes me tingle, “I’ll find her something to do.” He dismisses Julie with a flick of his graceful wrist. “If psychology isn’t your thing maybe barefoot and pregnant is.” The warm glow of love morphs into a devilish smirk, impossibly handsome and just a little bit frightening.
I thought we agreed that waiting was best!
I splutter; I should know by now that he holds the competitive edge on teasing. “Uhm…, well.” My eyes cut to my lap, I watch myself straighten my skirt to hide the ruby sting of my cheeks. “I think I’ll stick to writing thank you.” The indignant tone in my lilt embarrasses me a little more.
I find Christian’s face still soft with amusement but turning serious, “you’re not thinking of backing out of that promise are you?”
I shift so I face him with my whole body, disconcerted by his unease. “No, no. Not at all. I just thought we agreed that we would wait.”
His thumb strokes rhythmically over my hand, the movement keeping him occupied for a beat before he speaks, “We did,” he says in a way that lets me know a but is coming. I notice him working on a swallow. “But I’m very keen for that wait to be over.”
Two things strike me at once. He’s nervous. The way he doesn’t meet my eyes, choosing to keep them focussed on our joined hands and that he’s being honest and open in communicating with me in spite of those nerves. Nerves I know I have a big part in. On some level he must wonder if I will bolt again.
My heart lurches, I want to reward the honesty but instinct tells me to stick to my guns regarding the baby. The reverential tone he uses when he talks about the idea gives me an inkling of how much he wants one. If marriage is about compromise I may have to resign myself to a baby – sooner rather than later.
For now though, the only concession I’m prepared to make offers only a short term solution. “Thank you for being honest with me and I can see how much you want this but can we at least wait until this dark cloud isn’t hanging over us anymore?” Our threat not something I want to name in the same sentence as our future and a possible baby.
“Fair point, well made Mrs Grey.” His rueful grin a very reluctant capitulation.
We fall silent for a minute, each grappling with the reality of returning back to the real world.
“So, Julie Logan.” Christian gives me a sidelong glance, gauging my reaction. The last time we had this conversation we fought.
I snort, remembering that hiring her was yet another example of his overbearing nature. “What about Julie?” My heart surprises me by quickening its pace. Maybe I’m more excited about publishing my books than I thought.
His answering grin tells me he too remembers our argument. “You still prepared to work with her?”
“Yes. Absolutely.” Looking away I let an idea for a book cover flit through my mind. “Actually I’m quite excited.” Turning back I find him delighted, he lifts my hand and presses a sweet kiss to the back.
“I’m glad to hear that Mrs Grey.” Like idiots we beam at each other. A moment of complete happiness, if only we could bottle them.
“So when do you want to start?” his thumb is back again, skimming over my hand like he has to maintain some sort of physical contact with me.
Getting a read from his face is too hard so I bat the question back to him, “When would you like me to start?” I flutter my lashes, doing my best impression of a compliant, deferential wife.
“Well played Mrs Grey.” His smile is half amused, half admiring. “As long as she can come to you at Escala I don’t mind. We also have to get Chris an au pair or a tutor. I don’t want him going out to a school under the circumstances.”
My soaring mood takes a nosedive, I hate that we’ll be prisoners in Escala but I do understand. The last thing in the world I want is for something to happen to Chris. I used to be a much bigger risk taker before I was a mom. “Okay.” I say, trying to sound bright but feeling resigned to my dull fate.
Christian does a double take, “Okay? No arguments?” he gives his head an incredulous shake, “If I’d known being a mother would make you so agreeable I would have gotten you pregnant straight away!”
I narrow my eyes at him, “You’re such a chauvinistic brute!”
This time he laughs out loud, “I can’t fault you there baby. Pretty and smart. What more could a man ask for?”
“Best you remember that Mr Grey.” I wink and plant a kiss him on his jaw.
That went quite well, I think – a potentially sticky conversation that turned out just fine.
We both take a drink of our bottled water, Christian still chuckling to himself. When he speaks again his features are a bit more serious, something in the shade of his blazing eyes tells me we’re heading for another conversational minefield. “Seeing that that went so well,” his words echoing my sentiments from a second ago as he takes a breath, “under what name will you publish your books?”
Uh-oh! Did I speak too soon?
Wilting I look to him for clues. In the past his possessiveness prevented me from distancing myself from him in any way, especially by name but I can’t tell how he feels about this. Seeing that deferring to him just worked so well I decide it’s my safest course of action. “I must admit that I haven’t thought about it. Obviously I was going to do it under Steele but a lot has changed in the last few weeks.”
I don’t want to offer using my new name outright, I’m way too curious to see what his thoughts on the matter are.
He eyes me, dubious. “You’re playing that game again Mrs Grey.” His stern tone is offset by the lopsided, amused curve of his full mouth. Caught out I can do nothing but give in to the heat colouring my face.
He’s too damn observant for his own good.
His answer couldn’t have surprised me more, “If you’re going to go with your own name I would like it to be Grey but I want you to consider using a pen name. Anonymity is a very precious thing baby and it’s not like we lead low profile lives as it is.”
Impressed I concede, “You make a good case Mr Grey.” That’s his gift, his special talent. The flair I’m convinced has made him the success that he is. He always finds a different angle, looking at things in an unusual light. Respect is just another feeling I can add to the myriad of wonderful things I feel for him. “I’ll give it some thought.”
He gives me an enigmatic smile before squeezing my knee and turning his attention to his laptop. Being away from work must’ve taken its toll; idly I wonder how many fires are screaming for his razor sharp wit and if he’s as pleased with our painless discussion as I am.
After a deep breath I tackle the dreaded task of starting a draft of the e-mail I’d like to send to Jose. There are so many things I want to say but I decide to keep it simple. I’ll steer clear from long, rambling explanations and just get to the point of apologising.
From: Anastasia Grey
Subject: Long overdue
Date: 27 October 2016 11:15
To: Jose Rodriguez
I hope this mail finds you well. I never got the opportunity to apologise; I’d like to do that now. I misled you about the reason that Christian and I split up. He never kicked me out because of the pregnancy; I left because I was too terrified to tell him. I understand that you might never find it in your heart to forgive me but I want you to know that I know what I did was selfish, cruel and wrong. I used you and your affection that I used to hold so dear. We were friends and I abused that friendship beyond endurance. I am sorry – unreservedly and completely.
You may not be aware but Christian and I have recently been reunited. I wanted to tell you personally. I hope in time that you can let go of the hurt I caused you.
With an uneasy flutter of nerves I rest my hand on Christians forearm and hold out my iPad to him. He looks to me and then to the screen. The nearly imperceptible downturn of his mouth the only indication of his distaste. His eyes rake through it, assessing. The tight nod of approval I get can barely be described as endorsement but I’ll be damned if I was going to argue about this. It will have to do.
“Thanks.” I say, a little annoyed that I’m feeling compelled to thank him for consenting to an e-mail that I deem almost as necessary as breathing. Once I’ve saved the document I close my iPad, restless now. I really, really hope we won’t be stepping into a pack of paparazzi when we get off the plane.
“Baby?” Christian drags my thoughts away from fighting the paps off Chris.
I turn my head to meet his lovely slate gaze, “Mmhh?”
I see a flicker of hesitation in his eyes before his steely self-preservation sweeps it away, “I’ve arranged for your things in Savannah to be sent to Escala, what do you want to do with the apartment?”
I can’t help cracking a grin realising what his small show of reluctance was about. He’s asking me what I’d like to do before he does it. Yay! Of course he shipped our things without asking but I guess it was the obvious thing to do so the point is moot.
“Thank you Mr Grey, how very efficient of you.” He snorts, knowing that my comment is tongue-in-cheek, the ribbing sarcasm delivered with a sweet smile. “I guess I’d have to lease break or sub-let. I’ll look through the stipulations of the agreement when we’re home and decide.”
Again I catch that fleeting hesitancy, “Uhm. Yes, I’ve done that. We’ll be breaking the lease. I’ve already instructed the lawyers to authorise the penalty payment.”
Oh boy! So he asked only because he thought he knew what my decision would be. Seems I only have the illusion of free will.
I bristle, “Well then, thank you for asking.” This time the sarcasm is all but friendly as I cross my arms over my chest, grumpy.
“Baby, don’t be like that. It was the apparent thing to do.” His inherent insecurity where our relationship is concerned has him grabbing my hand again, the contact giving him comfort in his uncertainty.
I angle my body toward him, squashing the exasperation down with a firm effort. “It may have been the apparent thing to do but asking me when you’ve already made the arrangements seems…, seems…,” I shake my head, trying to find words that are less insulting than pointless and ridiculous when frustration throws my hands up in defeat.
He open his mouth to speak but I cut him off as another thought strikes me, “Don’t you dare spin this with your clever words. I saw your wavering, you knew exactly how I would feel about it but you did it anyway, maybe only now remembering that you are supposed to include me in these decisions.”
It counts in his favour that he has the grace to look sheepish. Already melting I opt to look on the positive side, at least he did ask. That’s a step in the right direction, right?
With disturbing skill he sees my softening and goes in for the kill, his distraction technique flawless and devastating, my ire forgotten in the face of his full HD smile, “You think I’m clever?”
Another swat on his arm has us dissolving in giggles; he rests his head against mine. With the frostiness banished I get that it’s easier for him to apologise and he does it so sweetly. “I’m sorry baby.” His mouth curls into a self-deprecating line, rueful. “I’m trying.” His lips meet mine in one of those soft kisses that never lasts long enough.
Who can stay mad at that?
My lips are still very much aware of the feel of his luscious mouth when his mercurial self moves onto something else. “So. Talking about accommodation,” he twinkles at my dazed expression. “The house on the Sound…”
The open ended statement is thick with the promise of possibilities, my heart skids to a halt as stormy grey meets the azure of mine. “We should start talking about what you want there Mrs Grey.”
Christian sees my frown; the warmth in the way he looks at me never fails to make my toes curl. “You know, do you want to renovate or rebuild?”
Understanding rears its ugly head, he couldn’t part with it because it held too much of us but he could’nt face renovating it either. Inwardly I sigh.
I curl my arms around his, resting my head against the bulge of his bicep I supress the urge to say I’m sorry, “Can we go and have a look again? I always thought it was beautiful, it just needed some love.” My voice is wistful and dreamy, just thinking about the meadow has me imagining all sorts of things, maybe even little babies.
My subconscious tsks at me.
He kisses the top of my head, “Sure. It would be fun to show Chris.”
Sitting close we cuddle through our decent into Seattle in introspective silence. With all my heart I hope that the transition back into the real world won’t be as fraught as the last time.
Chris handles our parting with Grace, Carrick and Mia better than expected, proving that it was not the underlying problem after all. I can’t help the pride that blooms in my chest when I see how well he adjusts to things.
After the hurricane of going on a date with someone and returning married to Christian all in the space of a few short days, getting home is glorious. A tranquil oasis in the sometimes tumultuous chaos of our lives. That and the fact that we saw zero paps at the airport and none here at home casts me in a grateful mood.
I relish the thrill of seeing my things alongside Christian’s in his closet.
Not that it ever left, my subconscious is quick to remind me of the painful discovery I made of my old things still hanging in waiting on the rail.
Choosing to ignore her, I glide into the bathroom so I can enjoy the sight of my cosmetics next to Christian’s mouth-watering aftershave. Next to might not be the right word, I think. The vanity is so vast the twin basins are easily three feet apart.
Yep, I’m well and truly back in the lap of luxury. Maybe this time I can try and embrace it with a bit more grace.
Chris’s shriek thumps me down to earth; the lap of luxury has gotten a little less quiet and a lot busier. “Mommeeeee!” I turn just in time to catch his excited body leaping into my arms. “Come and see mommy, daddy put milk on the glass with a button!”
He wrestles free from my hold and drags me to the great room, babbling non-stop about the glass and milk, delighted as only a child can be.
We find Christian standing next to the wall of glass that makes up the whole side of his apartment. The exquisite view including the buildings surrounding the Escala column and the city sprawled below. Bemused he’s apparently following Chris’ orders to stay where you are.
Chris nods his head at Christian, giving him the signal that they’ve obviously agreed upon. He presses a button on a remote control and in an instant the room is transformed. The glass panels go from clear to opaque and Chris’ reference to milk becomes clear. They’ve turned a milky white that seems impenetrable, affording us complete privacy.
“Wow!” I breathe genuinely impressed. “That’s awesome!” I can see why Chis is so taken with this trick.
He jumps up and down, more excited now that his excitement is vetted by my response. “Can I have a go daddy, please?”
Christian crouches beside him and shows him the buttons, holding Chris finger he helps him press the correct one and we’re flooded with bright daylight again. Even I’m tempted to have a try. “When did you have this done?”
He looks up to me, forgetting Chris’ fingers poised to wreak havoc. I can see what’s coming; keeping a constant eye on a small child is a skill that’s only learnt when the destruction they can create while briefly looking the other way becomes a lesson. “I just had it done.”
I can’t hold back laughing, behind Christian’s trusting back the glass has gone crazy with a small finger in charge of a host of enticing buttons. The great room flashes from light to dark, “What the…” he mutters under his breath before he realises that it’s his darling son’s doing.
My heart jams with love when I see that he doesn’t get mad. Instead he joins Chris’s giggles and wrestling the remote out of his little hands becomes a game. Chris makes a run for the safety of his room, Christian following closely behind. I love hearing the echo of their joyous playing in the background; it makes an otherwise sterile apartment seem more like home.
The glass is clear again for which I’m grateful because I can take this rare, quiet break and stare at the beautiful city. Lost in thought I don’t hear Christian sneaking up behind me. I jump as loving arms snake around and pull me close. He drops a kiss on my shoulder and shows me the remote, the token of his victory.
Giggling I pivot into the circle of his arms, looking up his tall frame. “Where is your son Mr Grey?” I trail my fingertips over the short stubble on his cheek, always loving the feel of it under the sensitive tips of my fingers.
He cracks a grin, locking our stares with that intimate way of his, “In his room, found something else that will hold his attention for another 2.4 minutes.”
I take the remote from his hand with the intention of placing it on the coffee table so he has both hands free to hold me properly but a searing kiss prevents me. He takes my mouth; going deep I feel everything he’s trying to say. I push my body into his, always wanting more.
Breathless we break away, the intensity of his emotions written all over his face, “I’m so happy the two of you are here with me.”
Before I can answer I see him flinch, catching something from the corner of his eye. With an incredible force and speed he tackles me, his hand on the back of my head, bracing me for the inevitable fall. “Get down!” is the last thing I hear before the unmistakable pop of glass and wet slap of a silenced bullet finding its target.
Be kind and review, please.