Unwanted Danger (Danger Incorporated Book 9)By: Olivia Jaymes
With a tired grunt Caleb Faulkner heaved the last cardboard box onto the kitchen counter and wiped the sweat from his brow. It was a hot and humid day and his t-shirt stuck to his skin from his exertion. He should have hired someone to do this but he hadn’t been thinking all that clearly when he’d planned this move.
The small Craftsman style house would be home for the next three months or so while his mother recovered from a mild stroke and the federal government obliterated over a decade of hard work.
His good friend Jon Rudnick placed a lamp on the floor before heaving his large frame into a leather-cushioned easy chair. Jon had been a close friend for a long time and had recently retired from the Navy SEALs to open his own security firm with a few friends. “I think that’s the last of it. Hell of a way to spend Labor Day.”
“Doing hard labor? I can’t thank you enough for the help. This would have taken me all damn day if you hadn’t been here. Dad’s not getting any younger and he shouldn’t be hefting boxes if I can help it. I’m trying to get him to retire but he says he’d be bored as hell.”
Caleb grabbed two beers from the refrigerator and handed one to Jon who rubbed the chilly bottle on his forehead before twisting off the cap. “It’s no trouble. Ali’s got a late summer cold and she’s taking it easy this weekend. I’ll pick her up some chicken soup on my way over to her place.”
“Looks like you’re all domesticated now.” Grimacing, Caleb took a long draw on his beer and sat down on the couch. “But you look happy.”
Jon picked at the label on the bottle, wet from condensation. “I am happy, so that makes one of us. You can punch me if you like but you don’t look too happy for a man that’s moving back to his hometown and his roots.”
That was the problem with old friends. They knew a person inside and out.
“Let’s just say that a month ago the thought of moving back to Applewood was the furthest thing from my mind. Then one case gets blown out of proportion and I’m on indefinite suspension while I’m being investigated. They think I botched the case and all because some rich guy got busted and he’s got all his wealthy cronies throwing their weight around in Washington and making things difficult for me at work. This wasn’t how I pictured my life.”
Caleb had always assumed he’d be with the FBI until he retired. Until this incident his career trajectory had only gone one way.
“Your life or your career?”
Shrugging, Caleb took another drink from the already half-empty bottle. “What’s the difference? My career is my life.”
Jon shook his head, a smile playing around his lips. “There was a time I would have said the same.”
“But not now?”
“Not now. I have a life and I have a career. There’s more to me than being a former SEAL. I don’t want to be one of those guys that hang out in the parking lot of their old high school talking about their glory days. That’s a shit way to live.”
Caleb sat back and propped his feet on the coffee table. “It’s easy for you to say. You have a new career with your security business. I’ve got nothing. I told Dad that I’d help him with his carpentry jobs but I can’t imagine doing that for the next twenty or twenty-five years. Day in and day out. No excitement. No adrenaline. Don’t tell me you could live without that. You crave it just like I do.”
“Sure, but there are other ways to get that. Take up sky diving or something. You can do whatever you want. The only one holding you back is you. I have to ask—do you even want to go back to the FBI after getting jerked around like this?”
A good question, and one Caleb didn’t have the answer to. Yet. But the subject was never far from his mind. When the investigation into the handling of the Morton case was complete and Caleb was found to have handled it by the book, he’d have to make the call of whether to stay here in Applewood or go back and try and salvage what he could of his career. He’d worked too damn hard to simply chuck it away without a second thought.
“It’s what I do,” Caleb said after a moment. “I’m not sure I can do anything else. My childhood dreams of being a cowboy or an astronaut are long gone.”