Angel Rising Book 1(The Brethren Series book 4)
“You have two follow up emails to send before you do anything today, and three appointments running consecutively after lunch, so make sure you’re back here by one o’clock.” Hannah’s stiletto heels click-clacked against the tile floor in rapid-fire succession on her way to Gabriel’s office. “Oh, and Marty’s called in sick, again. You know that’s the fifth time in two weeks. Laney will be in late for the rest of the week. She has to take the kids to her mother’s since their day care facility is getting fumigated for termites. Barbara and Stanley are already out on surveillance for the Robinson case, so it looks like it’s just you and me holding down the fort. Any questions?”
“Yes. When do you stop to breathe?”
Hannah spun around and rolled her eyes as she waited for her boss to catch up. “Seriously, Gabriel, you walk way too slow. If I can walk fast in these torture devices with five inch heels, you can at least have the decency to keep up in your comfy Italian designer shoes. Now, come on. Time is freedom.” She grabbed the crook of his arm and urged him onward to his office. “And as for breathing? It’s overrated.”
“Is it now? I find it comes in quite handy on many an occasion. You need to slow down! What do you always tell me? Take a breath. Smell the flowers. I have an account with the florist now, as you know. We have pretty-smelling flowers everywhere in the building. Try taking a sniff or two yourself.”
She dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you today, Mister Sunshine. You’re confusing me. A confused Hannah is not good for my health. Where’s the Doom and Gloom Gabriel, the ultra-serious Brethren, I’ve learned to appreciate and expect over the years? Did you wake up on the right side of the bed this morning?”
He shrugged, but said nothing.
“I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen if I follow that lovely directive of yours and take a breath. You’re gonna go crazy, as if you weren’t already, which in turn will drive me crazy. You like this pace. It gets quick results. That’s what you want, isn’t it? The quicker you get into a case and solve it, the quicker you can start a new one. Am I right or am I right? Be honest now.”
She nudged his arm and swore she could hear him chuckle under his breath. Score!
“Okay! You’re right. I’m an impatient bastard when it comes to these cases.”
“So, in this instance, my exuberance, fast pace, and high tolerance for no air in my body gets you desired results.”
Gabriel shook his head and opened his office door, ushering her inside first. “I give up. You’re right. I don’t know what I’d do without you as my assistant. I don’t think we’d have gotten as many cases closed over the years without your taskmaster spirit.”
“You’re welcome. Now, about these tasks to be done for this morning’s mission—the Evans case….”
“Yes, well, there is no mission without Marty.” He shut the door behind him. “He’s lead on that one, so any morning field work is scrubbed. We have a couple of other open cases that need some research before we can move forward with them.”
“I could do it with you.”
“Well, the research is pretty cut and dry….”
“No, I mean Marty’s case. I can do the mission today. I know the case and what his plans are since I handle all the mission files.”
“It’s too dangerous for you out there. No.” Gabriel sat down in front of his network of computers and wouldn’t look at her.
“Are you kidding me right now? We have a case that can’t wait for Marty to get well. We’re talking, what? Ten kids? More? He’s already behind schedule. Every day you wait for him to get better is another day that those kids are exploited. I don’t think you want that resting on your shoulders.”
He grumbled and muttered something unintelligible under his breath. Fuming, she slammed a hand on his desk and leaned in. A raised eyebrow gave her pause. Had she gone too far? She backed down into a chair and lowered her voice.
“Don’t insulate me. I’m not a museum piece to be stowed away in one of your art galleries. I think I’ve earned my stripes here a long time ago.” Her hands had found the long bow of her flouncy, silk blouse and worried the ends into disarray. She glanced down, smoothed them out, and flattened her hands on her jeans. “You know I have.”
“Damn it! I know all too well, Hannah. It’s something I’ve never forgotten. Protecting is what I do. I can’t just turn it off because of who you are, or what you’re going to be. I’m a Protector, and you will be protected by me."