The Ghost (Professionals Book 2)(8)

By: Jessica Gadziala


Making me hiss out my breath as my fingers pressed into the stitches I wasn’t used to having yet.

Stitches.

I’d been worried I would sound too vain to ask the doctor if they would scar. But one look at that ugly black thread and the way it made my skin pucker really gave me all the answer I needed.

I’d been given painkillers that I had filled before I knew I had to drop off the map. I’d taken one before walking into Quinton Baird and Associates. I figured if I dulled the pain, I would be able to think more clearly.

It did hurt.

I wanted to be strong enough to say it didn’t, but it did, a dull, throbbing ache even at rest, then a sharp, searing when I tried to twist or move too quickly.

Time.

That was what the doctor said.

I needed time.

I guess I had nothing but it now.

Waiting for the pain to settle back down to a throb, I slowly got to my feet, moving into the hall, then back down toward the kitchen, popping a pod into the Keurig before going to the fridge in search of something to eat.

Surprisingly, since no one was currently staying here, it was well-stocked with various fruits and snacks, eggs, milk, and a pre-cut salad.

I reached for the salad, taking it and the coffee over to the couch. Even though it chafed to eat in front of a TV, reminding me of a life I had left far behind me.

But, just this once, I would allow it.

My mind could use the distraction.

And this space was so quiet.

By the time I picked a show and had finished the salad, there was a distinct beeping sound outside the door - someone punching in the security code.

I straightened a little, feeling oddly guilty for drinking coffee on their couch even though it was clearly the only space meant for sitting in the main area.

“Coming in,” a voice called, deep and smooth. With none of the edge that Gunner’s voice had.

Oddly, that made me tense more.

I would have thought not seeing him again would be a relief.

“I’m Smith,” the man said as soon as he pushed the door open, doing so with his foot because he was bogged down with a ton of my bags - across his shoulders, in his hands, hanging off his arms.

“Sloane. Blythe-Meuller,” I added, thinking suddenly how hard it was going to be to give that up. My name. My brand. My identity.

“Got some of your stuff for you, Sloane,” he said, dropping the formality his boss and co-worker had continued to use for some reason. “Figured you might have something in here to help keep you occupied. I know that TV isn’t for everyone.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate it.” I also appreciated the fact that he didn’t seem to be holding back smirks or sneers like the others seemed to do.

“Don’t mention it. You alright? Settling in?” he asked, moving to pile all my things against the front wall where the windows to the street below were situated.

“Yes. Everything is well-planned-out here,” I said, taking my takeaway salad platter back to the kitchen area to dispose of it.

“We use it for clients, but sometimes we need to crash here if we pushed ourselves too hard to drive home,” Smith told me, giving me a nod. “I will bring the rest of your things up. Do you want me to grab you anything else? Food? Take-away menus for dinner?”

“I think I will be alright, thanks.”

“You’re Gunner’s case, right?” he asked.

“Yes, The Ghost, or so he is called,” I agreed, turning to face him slightly.

“He’s earned the title,” Smith told me, tone reassuring.

“May I ask your title?”

“The General,” he offered right away, not even hesitating.

The General.

I guess that made sense.

He had a certain… ex-military air about him. It was in his posture, his confidence, the way he seemed to be taking everything in at once.

“I know you don’t know me from Adam, but trust me, hon, you wouldn’t want anyone else handling this for you. He might have the temperament of a dog who hasn’t been fed in a week at times, but he knows what he is doing. He will get you safe.”

“Thank you. It’s good to hear that from someone other than the man who employs him,” I admitted, giving him a small smile.

“Gunner earns his paycheck. He’ll earn this one for you too,” he told me with a nod before going back to the door.

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