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In His Keeping


Page 71




He may not have said I love you. But he didn't have to. Not anymore. Her insecurity over those three words evaporated and simply lifted away. Because he'd said them in every other way possible without ever giving voice to the sentiment.
And that was more than enough proof-reassurance-that he felt for her absolutely everything she felt for him. That he, in fact, returned her love. Fiercely. Without hesitation, no second-guessing.
Two halves of an incomplete whole, empty and aimless, searching for that perfect match, had finally come together in a seamless, perfect, no longer separate heart and soul.
Because now they were complete, and their souls were merged, becoming one, never to bear the heartache of separation or experience that feeling of emptiness and hollowness.
Perfection. Sweet, utter perfection. And at last, it was hers-theirs.
She could wait for the words. In his own time, he would give them to her. But it didn't mean she wouldn't give them to him.
TWENTY-FOUR
THE atmosphere in the SUV carrying Beau, Ari, Zack, Eliza and Dane was silent and tense. Beau had insisted Ari be seated in the middle row so she wasn't a vulnerable target from the windshield or the panel of glass on the liftgate on the back of the SUV. His hand was gripping hers tight enough to make her wince, but she uttered no protest, realizing that he was truly terrified that something would happen to her despite the extensive planning and security measures that had been taken to prevent such a thing from occurring.


Another vehicle shadowed the vehicle bearing Beau and Ari, with five more highly skilled DSS operatives, whose acquaintance Ari hadn't made. But if they were indicative of the rest, she knew she was in good hands.
Caleb had remained behind with Ramie at Beau's insistence, though Caleb had been extremely reluctant to let his brother go off without him. Despite Caleb's intimidating demeanor, Ari could see the true love and concern reflected in Caleb's eyes when he looked at or spoke to his brother. For that alone, she could forgive any rudeness he had shown her in the past.
They pulled up in the private parking lot across the narrow street separating it from the skyscraper that jutted into the sky, seemingly piercing the stars. They'd pulled the building schematics and opted not to risk the elevators since it would be easy enough to shut them down, trapping the occupants between floors and making them sitting ducks.
Which meant a long-ass hike up twenty-three flights of stairs. She knew Beau was skeptical that she was physically capable of accomplishing such a feat, not because he didn't believe her strong or in shape, but simply because the events of the last couple of days, the multiple psychic bleeds and bouts of debilitating headaches had taken their toll.
She wasn't sure she was up to the task, but she was determined to push past any pain or exhaustion and in no way slow them down.
She knew it was imperative that they got in and out as quickly as possible, avoiding detection. Ideally they wanted to slip in unnoticed and avoid any potential confrontation. The idea of them engaging the enemy and one of them-any of them, even the men she hadn't met-getting hurt or killed made her sick to her stomach. She didn't want to be responsible for yet more blood and violence. She'd had enough to last a lifetime, and if she never had to face it again, it would be too soon.
They'd all worn dark clothing, blending seamlessly into the night as they moved stealthily to the fire escape behind the building and the entrance to the stairs.
Dane issued a series of hand signals she didn't understand, but evidently his men did. And he must have stationed two men at the back entrance to stand guard and watch for any potential danger because the two men melted away into the darkness, rifles up, handguns at their side.
Dane posted another man at the door leading from the stairwell into the building.
He locked it, preventing anyone from entering from the inside, but then took up a post to the side that the door opened up to so he would be obscured and would have the element of surprise.
Ari hadn't been nervous before. She was too excited over the possibility of Ramie being able to locate her parents. She had utter confidence in Ramie and her abilities. But now, as they rapidly ascended the stairs on soft feet, no sound emanating from the specialized military-issue boots that were specifically designed to be soundless, as Beau had explained when he'd laced up the pair he'd slid onto Ari's feet, her nerves began to make themselves known.
Unease skittered up her spine, wrapping around her chest, constricting and squeezing until her heart began to race under the restraint. She inhaled silently through her nose, sucking in deep, silent breaths and letting them out the same way so she risked no sound of her fear escaping her mouth.
She was protectively positioned between Zack in front and Beau behind her with Dane leading the way and Eliza taking position behind Beau, bringing up the rear. The operatives that had taken the other vehicle had been strategically positioned at various points, every angle carefully considered from the eyes of someone wanting to penetrate and gain access to the group.
She knew they would have no care for the men risking their lives to protect her. Their sole focus was her. An incessant prayer quickly became a mental chant, repeating in an endless cycle in her mind, as she pleaded with God to protect them all. To side with good so they prevailed over evil.
She prayed that they would be successful and would return-every one of them, not a single man sacrificed in their bid to aid her-safe and sound, that they'd encounter no resistance so they could get back to Ramie with haste so that she could attempt a miracle.






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