The noise. Rumbling. Roaring. Loud. Boisterous.
Right before the sound there was a tingle in the air, like the Heavens telling us that something big was about to happen, but not directing us until it was too late. It was all the warning we received—a feeling.
One second I was chasing Remy and Ensley, playing tag that made all of us laugh, and the next my Marine training kicked in so naturally it was seamless.
Grabbing Remy around her belly and picking her up, we charged to Ensley. I thrust Remy into Ensley’s protective arms and pushed them both to the ground, not knowing what the fuck was going on, but they needed to be covered.
Remy cried hysterically beneath us as I watched one by one as explosions erupted at Austyn and Emery’s houses. Another boom quaked the ground, and I curled around my two girls with my body protecting them as the leaves from the tree above shook.
What in the fuck was going on here? Homes in Sumner didn’t just randomly blow up. Hell, homes in America didn’t just blow up.
That shit was a declaration of war.
Trust me, I’d been there—in the middle of the madness, exactly like what was happening in front of me in my hometown.
Fear struck bold and hit me hard. It wasn’t for me. No, it was for the two girls beneath me. Very few times I felt fear. This time, I could feel it all around me. It was this tangible thing I felt as though I could grab it and hold on to it. As if it were waiting in the air, ready to take all of us down.
Nothing could happen to these two.
I wouldn’t allow it.
In that split second, they were the only thing that mattered. Everything inside of me had shifted. Priorities, emotions, everything was intensified as I took in the scene around us, looking for the threats.
“Oh my God. Austyn is in there!” Ensley cried, and I could feel her body shaking along with Remy’s.
I had to get them out of here.
Had to get them away.
Far away from the danger.
They needed to be safe, and that was away from here. Then I could focus on getting Austyn out.
Huge fireballs lifted into the sky, shaped like one large mushroom. My mind went back momentarily to the desert. My guys around me while everything burst into flames. Engulfing. Consuming.
Rapidly, I shook it off. This was not the time, nor the place for that shit. Focus.
Quickly and efficiently, I picked up both of my girls and moved toward Ensley’s car all the while taking charge and commanding directives. “Ensley. Get in your car and drive directly to the clubhouse. No stops for any reason. You get there as fast and safe as possible. You do not leave until I get there.”
In the position I held Ensley, I couldn’t see her face to gauge her reaction. Shock had certainly set in, but I needed her to focus on my instructions and for them to get to the safety of the clubhouse. I set them down. Ensley picked up Remy and clutched onto her, fear stark in her gaze as she nodded. Okay, she was with me. Good.
Her face was white as a sheet, but I had to continue. “You call 911 on the way and give them the address,” I ordered, needing them gone. “I’m going in for Austyn. When you get to the clubhouse, let my mom help with Remy.”
Safe. Away from here.
“Okay.” The word had some shakes to it, but I needed her to pull it together and get Remy out of here. Whatever this was, it was big, and nothing could happen to them. I’d just found them and wasn’t letting them go.
“Go!” I ordered, but she stayed still for a moment. Why the hell wasn’t she going? “What?” It came out as a bark, but she had to get the hell out of here and get to the clubhouse.
“What are you going to do? Why won’t you come with us? What about Austyn?” she pleaded, tears falling from her eyes.
I gripped Ensley on each shoulder and looked deep into her eyes, needing her to see the desperation for them to get far away from danger. “Please, Ensley. I need to focus without worrying about my girls. Take Remy and go. Now.”
Remy’s cries got louder, killing me inside. Seconds ticked by feeling like hours. Ensley reached over, brushed her lips against mine, and dashed into her car.
Fuck, that was nice. That small touch. I didn’t know I needed it, but I did. She felt like comfort.
I pulled out my phone and called my father as I took off in a mad sprint to the house, hearing Ensley’s car leaving the area and feeling that partial bit of relief.
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