Their Masquerade(2)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

“What things?”

“Just things. Not for you to worry about, but because of what’s going on, I want to be cautious.”

“Cautious? Is it serious?”

“Things are going on. It’s come to my attention that some people I’ve thought of as close friends, really aren’t. I want you to be careful with whom you share things. I mean your emotions, the family events that have taken place. I don’t want you to trust so easily.”

“I’m confused. What would your job and a situation have to do with me?”

“It could affect you. Just please, listen to me. Be careful and wary of those claiming to be friends of mine. I’ve found out some things, and I’m worried about you.”

“Sure does sound like a lot of ‘things’ as you keep calling them are going on. Can’t you completely confide in me?”

“No. I can’t, because I don’t want you to get caught in the middle of something. Can you please just remember this conversation? Remember, people aren’t always who they say they are. Friends can even stab you in the back when you don’t expect it.”

“Okay. I will.”

Mariah felt the tears roll down her cheeks as she recalled the last conversation she’d had with Michael. It had been so cryptic and she couldn’t help but wonder why he’d told her those things. Who was a true friend and who wasn’t? Was there more to his death than what the department was saying? She wondered, and in her mind she prayed that she would find the answers and prove Michael’s innocence.

As she looked around the funeral home as friends and family paid their respects, she couldn’t help but wonder who was faking sadness, and who Michael’s true friends were. Jax and Jameson Spaulding were there. They had been friends of Michael’s for years. Duke, Big Jay, and Sandman were also there. Sandman was a Federal Agent. Perhaps he wasn’t to be trusted? She looked toward the right. Gunner, Garrett, and Wes were there. Gunner was a Texas Ranger. Maybe he knew something, or had been involved? Wes was a football coach. He couldn’t be involved, and Garrett was just too damn nice and worked at Casper’s. No way would he be dishonest. She took a deep breath and pressed her fingers over the bridge of her nose. All this conspiracy was getting to her. She was smarter than this. She knew what she needed to do. Applying for her master’s abroad was her best option. She wasn’t a trained killer. She didn’t have resources like the rest of these men and women did. She only had her determination and her knack for numbers.

Her brother had trained her well, and without anyone’s knowledge of a damn thing. Sure, Michael had trained her for the soul purpose of handling herself and not becoming a victim. But the things she’d learned how to do, and was capable of doing, fell into the category of lethal force. She may not be able to pull a trigger, but she would do what was necessary to seek revenge. She just needed to identify Eduardo DeLacruz.

* * * *

L.T. Montgomery swallowed hard as he waited in line to pay his respects to one of his best friends and fellow troop. They had all been a team in the special service unit for years. When they retired, they retired together.

He watched Mariah, Michael’s sister, as she looked around the room, almost as if she were in another world. His heart ached for her. He knew how much Michael had loved his sister. He had chosen to move closer to his uncle’s house, taking a position in the police department and commuting to the city. In a matter of two years, so much had changed.

Michael had become distant, and their visits with him were few and far between. The rest of the team, Quentin, Deacon, and Axel felt it, too. It seemed that they were the ones who had become dependent on one another and probably to a fault.

Seeing Mariah again brought back the memories of those visits the past two years, and a fondness for her that he really shouldn’t be having.

It was only a year ago that he’d held her in his arms and she’d tried to kiss him. He wanted that. He’d craved it every night thereafter, but he couldn’t let her kiss him. He wouldn’t give into a temptation that would only lead her to heartache. He and his team were one unit. She was young and impressionable, and Michael’s little sister.