Jon Reagan’s got a bulging artery in his brain. He should stay calm, not chase bail skips. Avoid bar fights and shootouts, not get snarled in love triangles. The cops have hauled him downtown more times than he can remember—concussions aren’t great for memory, and he’s had a lot of them. He visits his shrink twice a week to cope, while his crew seem to go out of their way to create more drama. He’s got to make a change or die.
SEEker 5Chapter 1~“I know you don’t like me,” Rees mumbled over her coffee cup.Why did I ever agree to this meeting? “It isn’t that I don’t like you.”“My brother said y’all had trust issues.”Getting shot at, splattered by another guy’s gray matter, can create insecurities.“Granted—” She paused a hard-count. Yep. Difficult to justify some things. “You didn’t meet us first off when we were at our best.”Yet Roger fell in love with her. How can a man love a woman who held a gun at his spine, threatened to kill him? Timing is good, visiting Shrink-lady immediately after this.Maybe I needed to deflect. “Understand you accepted the offer on your house.”Rees nodded. “All happening so fast.”So there wasn’t much to drag her back to Atlanta. That was too bad. Tampa looked like her new home. Whether that was good for the fraternity or not. Weird, Roger not slopping a bowl of cereal with me every morning, these days. Off breakfasting with our possibly sociopathic crime trender.“Amelia good?” she asked.I nodded. Neither of us have been shot in over a month.“Augie has been lobbying Roger relentlessly.” What? That sounded like it just blurted out. She changes topics really fast. And I’m not the best at keeping up with a linear conversation. I’m pretty certain there was a level of mixed frustration and irritation in—I guess it was a complaint. Augie had never said a word to me, about anything specific with Roger. But then he’s been pretty busy with his security business. And shacking up with Denny.“Don’t look so surprised.” Rees’ soprano tilted alto.What?“Roger talks about your dumb look. You do have it down.”What?“You have the twelve-year-old innocent look down pat too.”That wasn’t fair. I’m innocent by nature.She cleared her throat, looked down at her coffee cup. “Nothing personal. But I think Roger will live longer if he goes back on the force.”Not necessarily. If people shoot at us, they’ll hit me every time. I attract bullets. Besides, it’s about being happy with what you’re doing, not just being safe. A long life is probably overrated. He loves the adrenaline rush he gets from going Juan y Juan with a skip. Loves not having to say yes sir to anyone. He certainly doesn’t use that expression with me.Besides. He looks great in the Mueller Brothers black polo and tactical vest.“Bounty hunters don’t belong in the twenty-first century.” Her voice rasped. She’d practiced that sentence. Did she think she’d get an argument from me? But the pastime has paid well. No other way I’d be living in the fraternity house, driving a fifty-thousand-dollar Rubicon.“But y’all are more vigilantes.” That wasn’t fair. Well. That’s what truly earned the big bucks. If I’m going to get shot, I should at least be paid well for the privilege.“I’m not going to get used to you not talking.”Meh. Most people eventually do.Rees pointed to the wall. “You like that black paint?”Funny. Why do people love to argue so much? I guess with the lights out at night, the mauve would look pretty black. So no point arguing with her. It’s all relative.She sighed hard enough to pull a groin. “You’d make a great Army private.”I nodded. I always loved Beetle Bailey. Maybe Rees will get around to why we’re meeting at the diner, now, and not at the fraternity house. There’s witnesses here, so she doesn’t plan to kill me. Clearly she didn’t want anyone from the crew hearing whatever devious scheme she had to share with me.Should I ask for a coffee refill? I tapped the lip of my cup.“The chief has given me a budget for a part-time assistant,” she gushed.Hum. So?“Contract only. Won’t be a civil service position.”Did she want a recommendation? Surely Roger could help her better with that. He hangs with lots of guys who’ve left the force, for whatever reason, like avoiding scum and miscreants.“It would be cool working with Roger,” Rees said softly. “But that would be a conflict of interest, you know. The chief asks how Roger’s doing. Every Monday and Thursday morning briefing.”Maybe I could ask around at school. Always plenty of vets going back to school with tons of security experience.“Roger said you’re so anal, you’d be perfect.”What?“Yeah,” she said. “He thinks more of you than I do. But I trust his judgment.”She’s great with compliments, and trusts the guy who sleeps with the chick who jammed a gun in his back. Another guy might have laughed. I just tipped my cup at our server. The conversation had finally gotten interesting. But school, picking up skips for Goldman, and a part-time for the cops might creep into my time with Amelia. I love my quiet time with Chica, too.“My job is about identifying the factors that generate crime, and keeping it from ever happening.”She should be talking with Augie. He’s the one who knows things he shouldn’t. I wonder where he hides his crystal ball.“Roger gets a big kick out of saying the chief should have hired Augie.” Rees’ eyes narrowed. Maybe she didn’t like that tease. “He doesn’t give me a lot of support.”Roger is more about trash talking. On the basketball court you can’t shut the jerk up. Getting serious about anything might trap him in reality. Settling down with one female has disturbed the nature of things enough for him already.She stopped talking while our server refreshed our coffee. Rees studied me as I added my three tiny cream cups. I waited for the tease. Roger and Michael love to razz me about softening my coffee like a girl.“That doesn’t make you a wuss,” Rees said.What?“Roger thinks it’s funny you take his teasing so hard.”That’s why he never lets up. Her eyes followed my hand as I stirred my coffee. Her face turned harsh. What’s with that?“How many men have you killed?” Rees asked. Felt like a lightning strike to the center of my forehead.Ouch. Was this about her brother, the hitman? So I looked down on the dude. He’s a murderer with no morals. I’ve killed a lot more discriminately. Only bad people. Mostly those trying to kill me. It’s usually been a kill-or-die thing with me.Her breath caught kind of funny. “Roger showed me the video of you taking on those four thugs who came after Denny.” I looked up from my coffee. Her eyes had welled.This turned in an odd direction. And what was up with all the emotion?“You come across so laid back. But you have ice in your veins.”Why’d she think that? I’m a cuddle bun. Just ask Chica.Something drew her attention toward the front of the café. A moment later her eyes rounded and her mouth opened. If it was Roger, I wouldn’t have looked. It would have been a made-