Riley was growing restless. They had been discussing their course of action for nearly three hours now. Deciding which kind of warning to send to Ad Hoc proved to be harder than they thought. Every little thing had an implication. Riley knew Will was trying to avoid war as much as possible. Who could blame the guy though? If it did come to war, Will would be the one who would have to deal with everything. Kieran usually just made executive decisions, while Will had to manage so many other things. Riley rubbed his forehead. It was now nearing evening. Their stomachs were beginning to rumble, which is perhaps why tensions were mounting.
“No. No violence toward their living assets,” Will said to Brennan. Riley noticed Brennan couldn’t empathize with Will’s situation. He just kept pushing violence.
“What else then? They seem to be content just taking our drugs and kicking our asses. Who knows if they even have any of their own? Maybe they’re goingto slowly drain us of our income.” Brennan responded.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Is it easy having your job and being a pacifist, Will?” Brennan smirked at Will. Will slammed his good fist on the arm rest and stood, both fists clenched.
“You’ll be kissing my ass before this is through,” Will spat back.
“Will!” Kieran scolded. Will looked over at his friend. Kieran shook his head, so Will backed down and slowly sat again. Riley personally wouldn’t want to fight Will- even if he was injured.
“…Like his injured-ass could hurt me,” Brennan said to himself.
“Brennan, don’t tempt me to let him, because, I assure you, he could,” Kieran responded. The rest of the men in the room snickered. Brennan pouted.
And then, high pitched very loud noises filled the air. The sounds were followed by other sounds, like, windows breaking and men screaming. Will and the others instinctively hit the ground. But Kieran couldn’t. He was still in his chair. Riley watched as Will crawled over to his friend, while Kieran unbuckled the belt keeping him in the chair. Will was about to pull his friend down, when Kieran’s head was thrown to the side, and he went tumbling from the chair. He was hit. Will screamed, and hurried to Kieran’s side. Riley crawled over as well, following Will’s lead.
“Shit! Kieran!” Will screamed, grabbing his friend. Kieran moved, pushed himself up on his elbows to look at Will. Riley could’ve cried he was so happy. The right side of Kieran’s face had been grazed by the bullet. It had run along his cheek and taken off a part of his ear, but he was okay. Blood ran down his face.
Kieran was okay, but nonetheless, Will looked extremely pissed off. Riley watched as Will pulled out a gun from his ankle holster with his good hand. Will looked at Riley and Murphy and nodded towards the front room. Riley nodded back, but Murphy seemed frozen solid. So Riley followed Will out into the front room. The shooting had stopped. All the windows had been broken in. All the men were on the floor, either wounded or covering their head defensively.
Will signaled to Riley to head towards the front door. Riley did as he was ordered. Will was his superior. Riley got into position next to the front door. He pulled out a pistol from his shoulder holster and looked back to Will. Will was peeking out the window cautiously. Nothing happened as he surveyed the outside surroundings. Finally, he gave Riley the signal to move out. Riley’s arms were shaking, but he opened the door slowly. Unfortunately, the guards outside were dead. Riley was crouched down, and swung out into the doorway, holding his pistol out in front of him. It was completely silent on the street other than a dog barking. Riley stood, and pushed the door open the rest of the way to look over at Will. When Will made eye contact, Riley nodded.
“Okay,” Will spoke. “Seems to be all clear.”
A gunshot rang through the air. The men all covered their heads again, and Will dropped to the floor. Riley, though, felt a searing pain ripping through the flesh on his right leg, sending him spinning. He crashed into the doorframe and leaned over to grab his leg. Sticky wetness crept through his fingers. He had been hit. Upon further investigation, Riley noticed it was shallow.
“Get down!” Will yelled to Riley.
“Not necessary,” Riley responded. “The shot came from in here.” Riley looked around the room and spotted a man close to his right whose hands were shaking and gun was smoking. The rest of the men looked at him.
“I- I’m so sorry…” the man stuttered, he was pale, and staring at the rip in Riley’s jeans which was staining his calf red.
“Go home,” Riley said to the man, sighing. The man ran out the door and disappeared into the night. The idiot had basically pissed himself. Riley’s men were starting to make him look bad. Will walked over to Riley.
“You okay?” Will asked.
“Just a scratch,” Riley replied. Will nodded and headed back into Brennan’s office. Riley limped after him. The men were beginning to stand up and come to their senses.
Brennan and Murphy were helping Kieran back into his chair. He was holding a cloth to the side of his face, trying to slow the bleeding. The cloth was stained red. Riley could see that Will was concerned. He was so busy noticing Will’s concern that he almost didn’t realize Kieran was staring at his leg.
“What happened?” Kieran asked Riley.
“A hit in the line of duty,” Will cut Riley off. Kieran nodded to Riley.
“Good job,” Kieran said to them both.
“We have to get you to the hospital to get stitches,” Will said to Kieran.
“The bleeding will stop,” Kieran shrugged it off. Will crouched down so he was eye level with his friend.
“Kieran, the bleeding hasn’t even slowed.”
Kieran was silent for a long moment. “Alright. Riley, come with us. You need medical attention as well.”
They left the warehouse heavily guarded. The chauffeur had been killed in the shooting. Will sighed wearily. There was much to be done. Brennan had followed them out to the car. Riley left Will to give instructions while he and Murphy helped Kieran into the backseat of the car. Brennan’s men took the chauffeur out and put him with the dead guards. Riley climbed in back with Kieran, while Murphy got in the driver’s seat and Will sat in the passenger seat.
On the way to the hospital, Riley was so tired he almost fell asleep despite his bleeding wound.
* * *
Lia was worried. She had been worried all day ever since Kieran had left. She tried to hide it from Lilly, tried to hide the sinking feeling in the depths of her gut. But at times, Lia had inkling that Lilly felt it too. They played in the garden after being dropped off at the mansion again. Lia and Lilly played hide and seek for a while; until Lilly was tired. Then Lia put Lilly to sleep for a nap and had dinner made for when she woke up. After dinner it got dark, and they watched a Disney movie in Lilly’s play room. Even at a young age, Lilly had a plasma screen television in her play room. And afterwards, Lilly was tired again.
So Lia carried Lilly to her room on her hip, with Lilly’s head on her shoulder. She read Lilly a few chapters of a new story. And right before falling asleep, Lilly looked at Lia.
“I miss Kieran,” she said in a small voice. “He loves me even though mommy and daddy are gone.” And then Lilly closed her eyes and was instantly asleep. Lia pulled the cream colored wool cardigan she was wearing tighter around her body. For some reason, what Lilly had said gave her chills. Lia turned out the light, and looked back in the room. The unicorn nightlight in her room made everything a dim pink color. Lia closed the door and went into Kieran’s room to make his bed. After she made his bed and tidied up, she wandered around restlessly. Finally, Lia went into the kitchen to get Kieran’s medication from Joe. She put the meds in her pocket, but put a glass of ice water on his nightstand. And then she wandered around again.
Finally, she saw headlights in the driveway. Lia rushed to the foyer. She was half angry, and half relieved with her boss.Half angry?She scolded herself. Who was she to have to right to be mad at him? He was her employer. Still, though, she couldn’t shake off the emotion that quickly. Murphy, Kieran and Will came in the front door. They all looked exhausted. Murphy was pushing Kieran, who had a square gauze bandage on his face.
“Lia,” Kieran greeted her with a nod.
“Sir,” Lia responded. “I’ll take it from here, you boys look like you need rest,” she said to Murphy and Will. They nodded gratefully and stalked off to their rooms in the mansion.
Lia pushed Kieran’s chair down to his room.
“Lia?” Kieran asked.
“Yes, sir?” she responded.
“Please call me Kieran.”
“Okay sir, I mean- er, Kieran,” Lia said. It felt uncomfortable to her, and slightly unprofessional. But she did as she was asked.
“I’m sorry I had to leave today,” Kieran continued. Lia was silent. “It was pretty… imperative.” Lia didn’t ask anything. She pushed him into his room, and put his pajamas on his lap. “I’m sorry, Lia, but can you help me change tonight? I don’t have any energy left. I didn’t eat any dinner.”
“Sure. Would you like me to get you some food?”
“I’m too tired now. I just want to sleep.”
Lia didn’t understand, though, why she had to turn away to keep him from seeing her deep blush. Why was this, a problem? He was unfairly handsome. But it was just work.Just work, she kept repeating to herself. She helped him change, and tried very hard not to stare.
Then she pushed him to the bathroom to pee, and eventually helped him into his bed. He leaned back on the headboard, sitting up. Lia knew he was perfectly capable of sitting up and down in bed himself.
“Here is your medication,” she handed it to him, and pointed to the water next to him.
“You’re excellent,” he responded. She blushed again.Whywas she so bashful around him right now?
“Goodnight, sir,” she said, turning to leave.
“Wait, Lia. I’ve had a rough day. Can you tell me what you did with Lilly?” Lia smiled at his request. She recounted the day to him, minus the end part when Lilly had whined for him. She knew it would make him feel worse. He listened with a smile. Lia sat on the bed next to him, her curiosity finally grabbing a hold on any sense she had left.
“What happened?” she asked timidly, looking at his face. Kieran looked her up and down for a moment, before reaching up, and pulling the gauze off. There was a line of stitches on his face, and small bandage over a section of his ear. Lia suddenly felt sad and overwhelmingly concerned at the same time.
“Kieran!” she said, raising her hand to her mouth. Without any control, her eyes began to water. Kieran watched her for a minute, before his expression softened.
“Gunshot. It just grazed me,” he said gently. “I’m okay. I promise.” Kieran smiled for her.
Lia laughed and wiped the tears away, feeling dumb. She made eye contact with those beautiful, sparkling eyes. Kieran reached up and tucked one side of her hair behind her ear. At first Lia was afraid, but his touch was gentle. She was convinced since her heart was racing so fast that it was going to jump out of her body and run the border to Mexico. His touch gave her skin goose-bumps in response. It was like a soft electric shock. He dropped his hand, and they were silent. Finally she stood.
“You need some rest,” Lia said. Kieran nodded in agreement.
“Thank you Lia. Goodnight.”
Lia left his room, her knees shaking.
* * *
Carol was getting tired of waiting. So it was a relief when Will called.
“We need you down here as soon as possible,” he said, skipping old formalities like “hello.”
“Okay. I can come down now if you want,” Carol responded, thinking it would be a bad idea to be a smartass.