Sunday, June 25, 2017

Guardian Angels – Protection (19)

Kip sat in the back seat of the car with Jamie in his lap, making very certain Jamie couldn't see what was happening while the police dealt with Stewart's dead body. Only when the ambulance drove away did he release his tight hold on his son, although he didn't let him move. He asked Cass, belatedly he knew, "Are you all right?"

"Yes. He never even came close to hitting me before I took him down." She knelt by the car door, looking at him closely. "Your throwing yourself on the ground helped, as well as Jamie's making it to the car so fast. At least I didn't have to worry about the two of you at that point."

"My angel took me here," Jamie told her. "Real fast. Like that!" He snapped his fingers.


"Honest, Dad, he did. I swear. Right at the same time you fell down."

Kip frowned. "I… I didn't fall. It felt like someone pushed me, which is crazy. Maybe I stumbled?"

"You probably have an angel too," Jamie said, nodding his head hard. "I bet so, but you can't see him because you're grown up, maybe."

"I don't feel too grown up right now," Kip muttered. "I feel like a scared kid." He looked at Cass and Mack, who had joined them at that point. "Is it really over?"

"It really is," Mack replied. "Cass nailed him, but then we knew she would. We were just here…in case."

Something finally sank in and Kip glared at them. "You planned this whole thing, knowing he'd undoubtedly be here. You put our lives in danger without even warning me!"

"Kip," Cass said quietly, "if we'd told you, you wouldn't have acted naturally."

"Naturally? Naturally? We were huddling in the doorway and then trying to make it to the car as fast as possible. How's that natural?"

"It's exactly what he'd have expected. That's why he was waiting behind that bush"—she pointed—"at the end of the building. Best guess is he figured he'd shoot you, beat it around the building, and make his escape before I could react to what was happening."

Kip looked at her in shock. "You knew he was there?"

She smiled slightly in reply. "Who do you think fired the first shot? I spotted him, but I needed to wait until he moved enough for me to get a good bead on him. He was stupid enough to half-stand to see over the bush and that's all she wrote. I got him in the shoulder, he decided to shoot back, and I nailed him."

"It sounded like a gun battle."

"Only because you're not used to being around gunfire," Mack said, patting Kip's shoulder. "Now I suggest we all go back inside before the reporters descend."

Kip looked around and realized there were two TV trucks, as well as a lot of spectators, behind the crime scene tape the cops had strung up. The last thing he wanted was for Jamie to have to face cameras and microphones. Setting Jamie on his feet, he got out of the car. They walked quickly into the building, with Cass and Mack right behind them. Only when they were all in the elevator did he begin to feel safe. He wasn't the least surprised that Jamie clung tightly to his hand on the ride up and all the way into the apartment.

When they were inside with the door locked, Kip took a deep, relieved breath. "I think…"

"Don't think," Mack said. "Just relax and try to unwind. Jamie, do you want something to eat?"

"Uh-uh." Jamie shook his head.

"Kip, do you?"

"I think I'd probably lose it if I did." Kip sank down on the sofa and Jamie immediately huddled beside him.

Mack's phone rang at that moment. He answered, saying "Send them up".

Two minutes later, Kip heard the sound of running feet in the hallway. When Mack opened the door, Emily dashed in with Rob not far behind her. She slowed down when she saw Kip and Jamie, coming to a stop in front of them.

"You could have called to say you were all right," she said angrily. Then she was hugging Kip tightly, tears streaming down her face. "When Officer Smith told me what happened… My own husband didn't even bother to tell me what they were planning." She glared at Rob.

"And spoil the surprise?" Kip said with a shaky laugh.

"Surprise my ass. Damn it, you could have been killed."

"But we weren't," Kip replied, untangling from her embrace. "We're fine. Well…we will be, once it sinks in that it's over." He smiled wanly, taking her hand. "Be glad it happened here, not after we got to your place where Stewart might have shot both of us in front of your family."

"It was equally well protected," Rob put in. "I just didn't let Emily and the kids know, because I didn't want them panicking. He wouldn't have gotten within five hundred yards of the house."

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