Chapter 06

The bubble they’d been living in for the weekend had been so nice. So relaxing and comforting and exactly what they both had needed. Not only to get things out of their system, but also simply to recharge.

There had been take out meals and alcohol, sex and cuddling, more sex and cuddling. He had loved exploring her body with his fingertips while she was sleeping – or pretending to, it was a whole new way of knowing Bella. When she was awake, he loved finding more spots on her body that were sensitive to touch. He knew the obvious regions, but finding the intimate regions felt as if he was unwrapping a ferrero rocher chocolate and taking his time with eating it, savouring the scent, the taste.

So when Monday morning came around, he was reluctant to leave his bed, not wanting to leave the bubble even though he had to.

“So how do you want to deal with everyone? Let them know or maintain status quo?” Bella asked, coming out of the bathroom, disappointed about returning to work.

“Oh no, let’s just keep this between us for now,” he said as he rolled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. “They’ll probably know anyway but this is between us.”

She stepped closer to him and smirked, running her fingers up his side. “So we get to be one another’s dirty little secret?”

He reached for her arm and pulled her closer. “You’re pretty clean right now, though…”

“We weren’t all weekend,” she hinted. “I rather enjoyed it. I’m aiming for a repeat. And often.”

“Definitely,” he softly kissed her and let go of her. “Shuttle bus is here in half an hour, unless you want to take us in? Or would you rather get in on your own?” He turned on the shower for a quick one.

“Unless something comes up, I see no reason why I can’t go with you. Everyone knows I’m staying here already,” she replied as she watched him, a hungry smile on her lips. “If there was a meeting or something then I’d be happy to drive us.”

After making sure that there was, indeed, still a towel at the usual spot, he stepped underneath the shower. He could tell that she was watching him, even underneath the water and shook his head when he grabbed the shampoo. No, it wasn’t his shampoo. It was a different bottle – he was so lucky that he recognized his own bottles because he didn’t fancy smelling like anything but pine. Switching the bottles, he squirted some in his hand and rubbed it into his hair. “I figured you’d say that, so I cancelled the pick up.”

“Sneaky. When did you do that?” She grinned. “The only problem is that it can become complicated getting in on time eventually, if this progresses successfully.”

“We’ll just have to set the alarm clock a little bit earlier,” he grinned as he rinsed the soap out of his hair.

Bella’s brow lifted as she looked over her shoulder to the bed, recalling the last couple days. “Starting tomorrow?”

“Only if you’re not away on some assignment. I like my sleep,” he grinned as he finished washing himself and turned off the shower. He quickly dried himself off and went to gather his clothes.

“If they sent me away for an assignment so soon, I’d be pissed. Especially now. I don’t want to go anywhere,” she admitted as she followed him, waiting until he stopped at his closet to wrap her arms around him from behind. Resting her chin on his shoulder, she let out a sigh. “Leaving again would be all too soon.”

“And I don’t want you to go anywhere,” he smiled as he got into his clothes before turning around and putting his arms around her. “Especially seeing as I’m going to show off my cooking skills tonight.”

Bella hummed in pleasure as she pushed herself up to kiss him. “I look forward to it. Get dressed handsome. I’ll go make you your coffee in the meanwhile before we find ourselves ridiculously late.”


He hadn’t been able but to overhear Annie’s phone call. Was she really organising a field trip for 30 kids? Why? Was she insane? What if something came up and she’d be out of the country? He didn’t shy away from telling her that she was a masochist, it was an accident waiting to happen.

So what if it would strengthen her cover towards her sister? So what if her niece asked her? Third graders were evil. Anything involving third graders was a complete and utter no. It was her duty to say no to anything. Everything, really. She had choices. She had options, she wasn’t cornered.

“And you can say ‘no’ to anything coming out of Jai Wilcox’ mouth!” He said as he put on his headphones to listen to his package.

“Except for the next two things,” Jai’s voice sounded. Oh, Auggie was so busted. Was Bella there too? “First, we need you in the conference room. You, Auggie, Bella.”

“Okay,” Annie said amused. “What’s the second thing?”

“You can’t say ‘no’ to Joan’s next question.”

“Oh, this is going to be fun!” Bella grinned. He could hear that she was practically bouncing.

“Hey, how much coffee did you consume in the last hour?” Auggie questioned her as he held on to her while the four of them headed to the conference room.

“I had two espressos. Two.”

“Uhuh.” He nearly bumped into the door when they wanted to go through it with the three of them as Jai held back and felt Annie stop in the doorway.

“Annie, how would you like a trip to London?”

“Now that,” Auggie spoke softly to Annie. “Would just be stupid to refuse.” The words were out before he knew it. While he was very happy for Annie to go to Europe, it also meant that he had to do without Bella for as long as the op would run, and after their weekend together, he felt that this was more of a punishment.

“Are Jai and I going with Annie or are we here as a cheering squad?” Bella questioned, not exactly happy about a trip after sharing such a conversation with Auggie only hours before.

“You two are going to London too,” Joan replied with a slow nod. “In case Annie needs backup and Jai will fill you in on your side mission when you’re there.”

“Side mission…” She deadpanned, swallowing as she fought the urge to move closer to Auggie. “Right. Fine. When do we leave?”

“Your flight leaves in three hours. Briefing in ten minutes.”

Bella was not happy if her expression was anything to go by. Turning on her heel, she stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind her as she headed for her desk to start packing her purse for when her meeting was over. There would be no time for much else as she had to also pack, struggling to keep her revolving emotions under control.

“What was that about?” Jai remarked as they exited the conference room so that Joan could prepare the briefing.

“She wanted to stay stateside for a bit longer than just a few days. Don’t worry,” Auggie replied as he switched on his cane and made his way down to Bella’s desk. He could hear her slam the drawers and there was the occasional huff. “Hey, breathe,” he said as he leaned against her desk, blocking her from accessing her drawers.

She sat up straight, looking around before turning back to him and leaning forward. “I know we work for the CIA and all but this? This is a fucking conspiracy with them now. Bait and tease!” She hissed, then looked around to make sure no one heard her.

He smiled at her and reached out for her arm, gently rubbing it. “I’m not too happy about it either, but, if it’s of any consolation, it’s likely that Annie can’t have any contact and that she has to be an open book so no encryption possibilities and… I feel a bit more at ease with you having her back.” When she stayed silent, and he could only imagine that she was shooting daggers at him now, he continued. “I may or may not have accidentally been CC’ed into an email to Jai about a smuggler coming out of London and I know Joan. It’ll all be okay.”

Bella pouted as she reached for his hand. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it though,” she sighed. Noticing Joan trying to catch her eye she pulled back.

“I know, but hey, you can bring me back some English treats,” he said with a grin and pushed himself off her desk before moving in closer. “And I’ll be sure to spoil you rotten when you come home.”

She struggled to suppress the smile at the promise in his tone. It only made her want to hurry to finish these missions that much sooner. “I’ll call you along the way,” she whispered as she stood, disappointed that she couldn’t give him a kiss and likely wouldn’t see him again before she left.

“Of course,” he huffed. “If you’re not, I’ll be calling the CIA in London and hunt your ass down so I can talk to you. Now, let’s do this briefing.”

“I’m going to have to make Mom’s gift extra special,” Bella murmured as they started for the ops room. “Totally requesting personal time after this.”

By the end of the briefing, he had the imprints of Bella’s nails in his back. Annie was going to have some fun, and there wasn’t a lot about Bella’s side mission. Auggie hated it that Jai was going to fill her in later. It never meant any good. Speaking of Jai, he wasn’t all too happy about him going to the UK either, but someone had to work Annie’s mission from a CIA standpoint, and, he was also Bella’s back up.

All in all, Auggie felt as if he had drawn the short end of the stick by having to stay home.

He walked Bella out of the building in comfortable silence. Neither of them wanted to leave. “Ah, it is possible that you’ll run into Jennifer when you get home. Don’t kill her, she’s vetted by the CIA and she makes sure that I don’t get any dust bunnies in the house. Not that I can see them anyway, but you know.”

“Jennifer…?” Bella repeated as she slowed to a stop, looking over his shoulder briefly before turning her attention fully on him with a slight smile. “Now I think you should be more concerned on how this – cleaning service will greet me. I can promise I will be on my best behavior as much as possible.”

“She knows about you,” he smiled at her. “I called her in not long after you told me you’d stay at my apartment so she could make an extra sweep of the place.” He gently ran the back of his hand over her arm before adding playfully, “And when you’re driving off, I’ll give her a phone call not to shoot you.”

“She should be lucky I don’t have a gun. I should get one,” she muttered as she leaned in to kiss his cheek as normal but lingered longer than usual with a sigh. “I’ll try to make this quick.”

“Enjoy yourself, okay? Don’t rush things when you don’t need to rush them even if you feel like you should rush it.”

She pressed herself against him and her lips smiled against his skin. “I’ll work smart. I’ll call when we land,” she whispered and pecked his cheek quickly again.

He put his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Be safe and damnit, I wish that I could kiss you right now.”

“Believe me, so do I. When I get back, we aren’t leaving the apartment for anything. I don’t care what the emergency,” she breathed out. “I’ll be back before you know it. Stay out of trouble.”

“Don’t worry, mom will look after me,” he planted a kiss on top of her head. “Now go before I do something stupid.”

Bella turned and walked away, without saying another word as if she did, it would become more difficult to leave the longer she stayed. As it was, she was going to working the entire mission likely in a pissed off mood.


“Cheer up,” Jai smiled at her as they waited for boarding. While they were all flying in separately, it didn’t mean that Bella and him couldn’t sit together. This was mainly to make sure Annie was alone for her cover. “Once you’re done, you can go back to your toyboy, even when Annie and I aren’t finished yet.”

She shifted her eyes over, glaring at him at his insinuation. Her mouth opened to cuss him out before changing tactics. “What the hell are you talking about? What toyboy?”

“Our friendly neighborhood tech guy,” he smiled and motioned towards his neck. “There was a semi covered hickey on his neck.”

Her face remained unchanging as she blinked, giving nothing but that single indication away. “I wouldn’t know. I didn’t notice,” she shrugged, turning forward again.

“All I can say is ‘finally’,” he said before retrieving a file from his briefcase. “Some light reading for you for the next nine hours. Try to get some sleep while you can.”

Rolling her eyes, she reached over to take the folder from him. “Whatever. I can tell you that Annie’s surprise from you present from me is still sitting where they landed Thursday night. Untouched,” she muttered as she snuck a peek into the documents and frowned. “Just how close is this contact to them?”

“Undetermined,” Jai replied with a shrug. “Rumours say that he moves in their circle, and it’s your job to get as much information as possible. He’s a publisher, so your cover will be that you’ve written a manuscript on the ancient history of southern Italy. When we land, Mike from our London office is waiting for you with everything you’ll need,” he added and pointed to the file. “We could have sent someone else but you’re the only one who’s that familiar with them and can tell if he’s bogus or not.”

“Ergh. Timing still blows,” she sighed, stuffing the package into her carry on. “You do know I’ll be shopping for something extra special for you and blondie.”

“You’ll have most of the days to yourself, so do your worst,” Jai grinned at her. “I’m not scared.”

Hearing her flight announced on the PA being ready for boarding, Bella stood and smiled, shouldering her bag. “Glad to know I have your permission. If this trip goes belly up, I’m blaming it on you.”

“You’ll be fine,” Jai took a sip of his coffee as he followed her to board.


He had kept a close eye on when her plane would land on Heathrow Airport and waited an extra half an hour to be sure, but he wanted to hear her voice. It was stupid, really. For years they could go without a daily talk and all it took was a weekend alone to change that.

Auggie had gone home quite late and was picking at his fries when he waited for Bella to pick up the phone.

“I have a great idea for that dinner you planned to make, when I get back,” Bella greeted as she answered the phone, her lips pulling back into a playfully smile as she left the catwalk and headed for the baggage claim.

“Oh really? Did you spend the entire flight just thinking about that?”

“Hmm, no. I did think about after dinner, and before. All that in between my light reading that I’d been given to curb any boredom by Mom. She’s so kind,” Bella said with a wry smile as she glanced around quickly and grinned. “I’ll pick up something for you to wear while you cook.”

Auggie blinked at that. “I won’t even ask.”

“Oh, and by the way. You might want to wear a turtleneck to work. A birdie was so kind to point out that someone may have given you a bit of a love bite that was noticeable,” she added, dropping her voice as she grew more cautious of eavesdroppers.

“Ah,” he said nodding. “It explains why Barber was making digs at me today,” his hand unconsciously went to his neck to rub it and he could feel the slightly broken skin. “That someone sure has sharp teeth.”

“Hey. It was in the moment. They didn’t even remember doing it,” she smiled, pleased nonetheless of the gift she’d been able to leave behind while she was gone.

“And you took my shirt.”

Bella grinned as she reached for her baggage. “I needed something to sleep in if I couldn’t have you.”

“Fair enough,” he replied as he took a sip of his beer. “Get some sleep when you get to your hotel. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”

“Waiting in bed, naked, when I get home?” she teased.

“Sure, with a bow tie wrapped around my neck,” he laughed. “Whatever you desire,” he added in a low, sultry voice.

She let out a low, anticipating chuckle as she pictured the scene in her mind. “I look forward to it. I’ll call you later.”

Jai had watched Bella make her phone call from a distance, and when she hung up, he moved in. “You’re blushing. Normally when you’d pull shit like this with Auggie, there wouldn’t be any blushing involved,” he teased. “This only adds more evidence to the growing pile of it that you’re together.”

Bella’s expression dropped as she stood up stock straight and stared forward, grinding her teeth. Denying, would be fruitless. “What do you want Jai? Shouldn’t you be somewhere else? Like babysitting a baby blondie since hers isn’t allowed to make the trip?”

“No, just reminding you that you have to meet Mike when you get through customs. I’m going to wait for Annie in the Starbucks near the exit of the gate. She’s arriving in a few hours.”

“Keep whatever you heard to yourself,” she turned on him, a promise of nothing but violence in her eyes. “I don’t need to tell you twice, do I?”

“I’m more than happy to,” Jai smiled at her. “It’s just nice that you two are finally going through with it all. You deserve it.”

She blinked at him, pulling back unsure of what to say, only to shrug a shoulder at his words. “It’s an adjustment. Just don’t tell anyone. We don’t even know if it’ll work,” she murmured.

“Your secret is safe with me, I promise,” he gently pat her on the back. “And it’ll work out. You two have been doing this dance for years now, nothing’s changed.”

“A lot has changed, for us, between him and I,” she whispered as she dragged her luggage behind her and took his arm to pull him away to a quiet area away from other people. “We may have acted like this around others, but when we were alone, we were nothing more than friends. Like you and I when I had my issues with my assignment, if I believed that they were getting too close before I was ready.”

“I know, but just because you made things official between the two of you, doesn’t mean you lose that friendship side of things. Just hanging out, having a beer. It’s not like all of a sudden there’s a noose around your neck pulling you towards him all the time when you step outside of it.”

Bella drew in a deep breath and her gaze shifted over his shoulder to stare at nothing. “Perhaps not, but what happens when the past comes knocking. He doesn’t know what I’ve been dealing with all these years and it’s a big secret that he in part knows about.”

“You could read him in. You’re both working for the company, he’ll understand.”

“You know where this mission came from and it wasn’t Joan. You think you can get the DCI to approve that?”

“Sure, if you want me to arrange that,” he smiled at her. “But I’d have to tell the DCI that you two are together and that Auggie needs to be read in. Not just for your sake, but also for his. Seeing as he does hold a grudge against you-know-who and he might punch him in the face as to restore your honor and in turn, compromise the mission. Auggie has a berserker button, it hasn’t got any less with his loss of eyesight.”

Her lips twitched at the corners, her eyes coming back to his. “Give me a day or two to consider that. It may work to our advantage, but get the permission in the meanwhile so that first chance we get, I can tell him. Or you, if for whatever reason I am unable.”

“Plus, having Auggie read in could work in our favor seeing as he’s a league above all other techs. Having him on this would make things even easier.”

“More fun playing it old school if we didn’t have him. You know he’s the only tech worth anything in that building,” she grinned. Turning, she started to walk away before stopping short and spun back around. “I should mention that I dropped off a belated birthday present in the mail for your father on the way to the airport before we left. You should expect a phone call from him in a day or so…”

“Oh dear god,” Jai muttered as he passed her with a wave of the hand. “Call me if you need any help. If you’re lucky, you should be home before the weekend. Don’t forget to pick up Mike.”

“Oh I’m hoping for that as I have plans for when I do and yes, Mike. I remember the annoying, Golden Retriever name. Yes, yes. Say hi to Daddy Dearest for me,” she said and walked away in her own direction.


Making her way through the streets of London after checking into her hotel, Bella was more eager to get her part of the trip over with as quickly as possible as she window shopped in the neighborhood that Demetri Volturi was known to frequent. His office was not far, but he had a certain taste for fashion and foods. And for women. That was one thing she certainly was not about to do. Dye her hair blonde.

Playing with her cellphone, she debated on who to talk to about dragging Annie in on this. She’d overheard enough from shop girls, enough to gag and leave. It made her wonder if this was even going to be worth the trouble.

Finding herself outside of a lounge, only doors down from the man’s publishing office, she smiled as the bouncer gave her the once over and let her in. Making her way through the dark hallway, her eyes took in the room. If it wasn’t for the gaudy, neon sublighting and ridiculously low furniture, the jazz style music currently playing would be enough to draw Auggie in. Everything else, he would hate. Making her way to the bar, she took a stool that was away from others as she waited for the bartender and continued to watch the room passively.

“What’s your poison, gorgeous?” Someone sat down beside her with a big smile on his face, eying her hungrily. He had a thick, Italian accent and it was obvious that he had learned English from TV shows.

Bella’s lips twitched out of habit, debating on her angle before she spoke. “Gaja Sori Tildin 1999,” she replied. “But I sorely doubt that they’ll have that.”

“Bellisima,” the man smiled widely. “Someone who knows her wines, yes? As it happens, I have a great wine cellar at home, would you like to see?”

Turning in her seat to face him, she raised an eyebrow and gave him a playful smile. “Now, I doubt that you would have offered such an invitation to all your potential clients, Mr. Volturi. I am much too invested in my writing to risk mixing business with – pleasure,” she said in a low voice, her eyes glancing him over.

He stared at her in shock before blinking. “Have we met? You look oddly familiar, miss…?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps. I travel a lot, spent a great deal of time in Italy researching for my novel,” she answered as she leaned a little closer in. “Maybe two strangers passing in the night, or some tourist photo I had stood with. I’ve been with many groups through the years.”

“Perhaps, but I am not certain,” he said as his eyes flicked up and down her face. “No, no, I think I saw you with my cousins, in Italy.”

Bella frowned slightly, feigning confusion. “Cousins? I only just left Italy recently, and lived there over the last two years, Signore. I haven’t been with any groups during this stretch. What can you tell me about your cousins? My memory tends to run passed me when I get lost in my work. I’m sure you understand…” She batted her eyes as she reached out and ran her hand over his arm.

“Oh, they’re very wealthy,” he said, gesturing to the bartender for something to drink. “They’re considered to be royalty in some circles. Very nice people.”

“Perhaps if you tell me their names, it may jog a memory? I’ve met so many. Europe is just a whole other world compared where I am from,” she smiled.

“They’re the Volturi, of course,” he laughed as he handed her a glass of wine. “This wine is excellent. I have been drinking this all night, it’s not the one you wanted, but it’s the best that they have.”

She raised an eyebrow as she raised the glass to her nose, before taking a tentative sip. Humming appreciatively, she set it down before glancing back up at him. “I recall spending some time in Volterra years ago but it was fleeting at best. I wasn’t there with your family specifically though.”

“Perhaps you committed a crime against them and that’s why you look familiar,” he said, jokingly. “They have an entire room dedicated to people who have wronged them.”

It was a scene she was never able to forget and often dreamt about, fought nightmares against. “If I committed a crime, I doubt a family as powerful as yours would just let me walk away,” she hinted. “That is if they were truly such -”

“You are too beautiful to commit crimes, only those of stealing hearts,” he said, waving the idea away. “You’re a writer?”

“I have a historical novel on some villages of Italy. I lived in some small towns over the last couple years and have gotten to know the culture, the people. It became my home. I wanted to do something to signify my time there,” she answered, concerned about the subject change.

“You have a manuscript? I would be interested in reading that, to publish,” he smiled at her, taking a sip of his wine. “I’m famous for publishing books on Italy, even if they’re travel guides.”

Bella grinned and nodded. “I do. I have it safe in my hotel room. I actually have an appointment with you tomorrow afternoon to discuss it. I didn’t imagine I’d get to meet you here before it.”

“That is perfect. I can’t wait to lay my eyes on it,” he looked her over once again. “Are you sure you do not wish to mix pleasure and work? You are so beautiful.”

It took every ounce of strength in her not to react physically. Pushing out any emotion to cause her eyes to water, she shook her head. “If it were another time perhaps, but I am still getting over a harsh breakup and am not quite ready for even a one-night fling. Please understand, Signore. That was part of that trip, a healing experience.”

“Oh, I am sorry to hear that, bella,” He offered her a handkerchief to dry her tears. “Who in their right mind would do something to hurt you?”

“First love,” she gave a watery smile. “Edward was – different, but was not meant to be, but I’ve been given the opportunity to open my eyes and see and explore the world by his actions and am accepting it as a gift.”

“First love? Oh, bella, no one should be hurt by their first loves! It’s a crime against passion, against love and beauty! Where can I find him? I shall cut him for hurting you.”

Bella shook her head and laid a hand on his. “He is not worth any anger. Not anymore. I would not know the first place where to find him anymore if I did wish him harm. I should head back now. Thank you though, for a lovely welcome to London, Signore Volturi. I look forward to our meeting tomorrow.”

“As do I,” he smiled at her. “Again, I cannot wait to read your manuscript. If it’s as beautiful as you are, I am certain we could strike a deal and get your work published.”

“I look forward to it. I shall see you tomorrow. Have a good evening,” she said as she stood from her stool, held back briefly as he held her hand to drop a kiss to her knuckles before allowing her to leave.

Quickly, as soon as she had cleared the door, she made her way back to her room and went straight for her safe to pull out the package from her contact. Flipping through the pages, she was relieved enough that it would certainly pass the man’s scrutiny.

Taking her phone as she showered and changed for bed, she laid down and pulled up Auggie’s profile and smiled at his picture. Hitting the call button, disappointed in herself that she couldn’t even last a whole night from him, she prayed she wasn’t making a fool of herself.

“Miss me already?” He sounded slightly intoxicated. “And shouldn’t you be sleeping by now? It’s what? 3 am? 4?”

“I just got in from scoping the area out of where I need to be later for my meeting. I just had to scrub myself down from being hit on by um…my target,” she sighed as she was waiting on Jai’s call back on the approval to include him in on the mission details.

“Yes, I heard, mixing business with pleasure,” he said as he took another shot of tequila. “I am guilty of using a satellite and CCTV to keep an eye on you. Mike owed me access. Forgive me.”

She couldn’t help but be more amused than annoyed. “Perhaps. I am more concerned about what you are drinking and why. I’m completely faithful if that’s your concern.”

“I had a couple of beers,” he replied, shrugging. “And I know you are, I just felt worried. If it makes you feel any better, I heard Annie arrive at Heathrow as well so…”

“Something happen?”

“No, she’s fine too.”

Bella’s fingers toyed with the buttons on his shirt she wore. “Jai overheard our conversation, well my end, earlier. He knows. I threatened him and he’s promised to stay hush with an exception…”

“It’s fine,” Auggie got to his feet and headed into the direction of his bed, he needed to stop drinking if he wanted to be on top of his game the next day. “Don’t worry about it, okay? If Jai knows, he knows. As much as I don’t like him, he won’t tell.”

“Jai is going to work on getting permission so that we can read you in on my assignment. I mean, fully. You already know, uh, some details. So Auggie? If I don’t get that clearance in time, and you hear me asking or saying anything about whiskey, then know that my past is coming back to haunt me. Okay?” she explained as vaguely as she possibly could.

He thought for a moment in his alcohol haze, his brain firing in every direction. “No wonder moving on is hard,” he muttered as it clicked; her assignment in Italy had to do something with that idiot Edward. The idiot who caused Bella so much distress and kept him up all night a few times after a stressful day at the Farm. “If you don’t get the clearance, I will sweet talk Mom.”

“My assignment was handed to me from higher up than Mom and Dad.”

“Yeah but I take it that Mom knows about it.”

Bella sighed at that. “Yes and that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it. She has no jurisdiction over it. She tried pulling it into her purview a few times but we’ll discuss it later when I know I have the freedom to do so, and not over the phone. I just really want to get this idiot’s phone cloned later and get the hell out of dodge.”

“Yes, the sooner you return, the better. Ghosts from the past aren’t much fun to deal with by yourself,” he replied, almost dropping the phone on his face when he got into the bed.

“As soon as I see Jai again, I’ll make sure that will be at the top of his to-do list,” she promised. “I am tired of doing this alone and I don’t want to. You don’t know how many times I wanted to talk to you about it and couldn’t.”

“I may have to talk to Mom about a similar issue when it comes to my past,” he muttered. “Sometimes this job sucks.”

She snorted her agreement. “Get some rest. Mom wasn’t happy with either of us when we showed up to work hungover last time. And – thinking about it, maybe you shouldn’t cover up that little bite. Jessica seemed to have had her eye on you since I came back. I will fight anyone I need to.”

“Now that I would pay for to see,” he grinned. “You better sleep too, don’t want to be too jetlagged on your mission.”

“I’m still partly operating on Italian time. I’ll be fine, but yeah. I’ll call you when I know more – or you know…when I need to hear your voice some more.”

“Good night, Bella,” he smiled as he rolled to his side. “I’ll be at work in like… 8 hours.”

She eyed her clock and pouted. “I’ll be walking into my meet around that time. Goodnight, Auggie.” Taking a breath she hung up before either of them could try dragging it out longer. “I love you,” she whispered to herself as she stared at the phone before reaching over to the end table to set it aside and turning the light out.


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