Second Chance's Kiss
Chapter 1 Reveal
Meghan barrels through the door as I step in, and I close it behind us. My hand lingers on the knob as I look around our little cottage. It’s three bedrooms with a large kitchen and family room combined, and a formal dining room off the kitchen. We've only lived here a year. When we got here we didn't have anything. Now the walls are lined with recent pictures and some old ones the team brought back from their quick trip to London last year. I smile at my new life as I turn to watch my daughter.
"Go get out of your uniform, sweet girl, then do your chores," I holler to her back as she runs for the kitchen.
"Can't, Mum. Going to get a snack then head to Dr. Nic's so I can play with Fang and Dane."
"Meghan, I said something," I yell over the screech of the stool sliding across the floor as she pulls it to the cupboard where the snacks are kept.
My little six-year-old has become a social butterfly over the last few months. She's always been social, but lately she only wants to spend time with Dane. Maybe it’s a crush. Can't let all her overprotective uncles find out. Every day after school Meghan tries to go to Dane's house to play with his puppy. Although puppy is a relative term for the seven-month-old nearly eighty-pound English mastiff that dwarfs my little girl.
I want her to socialize, but she also has to learn responsibilities. Over the summer I decided to start her on chores, nothing too big. She only puts the silverware away. I'm not ready for her to become a big girl, but I know she needs to do these things. I want my daughter's life to be different than mine was. At her age I had already been in over eight homes. I shake the memory off as I prepare “the mom” voice. I hate raising my voice at her, but when she doesn’t listen I’m left with no other option.
"Meghan Jane Anderson, please go get changed now and put the silverware away! Dane has homework, so you'll be getting there by the time he gets done." Dane is eleven and in advanced classes, so he has homework most days.
She turns toward me, her long red hair is up in a ponytail and swings with the action, smacking her in the face. Her blue eyes zero in on me as if she's sizing me up. Her bottom lip pops out and her eyes sparkle.
"Mum, I want to go to Dane's, then I'm having a tea party with Grandpa. He said so," she replies in her sweet little voice that usually makes me cave.
"Sweetie, Grandpa Greg is at the office. And you won't pull the fake tears you use on the guys on me. I need to get back to the office and you need to change out of your uniform, now." I’m in full mom voice mode. I can't give in or she'll walk all over me. She already does it with Grandpa.
"Okay." She huffs and storms off to her room. I can't help the smile that comes to my face.
I love how Greg has her call him Grandpa. We have no biological family; the team has become our family. Most of the men here served with my deceased husband, Christopher, and they took my daughter and me under their wings when he died. Duncan, who was best friends with Christopher, is Meghan's godfather. When a crazy man wanted to use us to get Duncan's wife, Maya, to come out of hiding we were brought here to Scotland near Dundee, where Maya owns over two thousand acres of land the compound sits on. I was thankfully able to retain my job as the receptionist for Securities International, the company they all work for, or own.
I pull my mass of red curls over one shoulder and head to the kitchen to finish Meghan’s snack. The loud shrill of an alarm fills the house, jolting me from my progress. I'm instantly on alert as the sound reverberates through my body. My phone pings in my pocket, and I pull it out to see a text from Timothy.
Timothy: Rebekah, Duncan is on his way back to you. This isn't an exercise. The compound is under attack. Get Meghan and be ready.
My skin tingles from fear. Fear I haven't felt in a long time. I turn toward my desk tucked into the corner of the family room and reach under to grab my bag, it's always there and ready for me. The urge to protect and run dominates me, pushing the old me to the surface, but I push back and remember I can't let that me out. The fine hairs along my neck prickle with awareness. I grab the little purse I carried today and throw it into the bag. I'll need both of them if shit gets real.
"Meghan, we need to go. Uncle Duncan is on his way here." The front door bangs open as the words come out of my mouth, and in walks Duncan, a six-foot-eight-inch muscled mass of anger. His dark hair and blue eyes are flaring with fire. He reaches into the front closet and pulls out two backpacks, one is smaller than the other. I've never touched them after I watched Derek put them in there a few months ago. I’ve never even looked. Derek told me they were go bags for if there was ever a problem. He's always making sure Meghan and I are taken care of. I trust him to protect me like I've never trusted anyone before. Not even as a kid.
"Let’s go. Maya is waiting at the office. I want you in that jeep in thirty seconds or I'm carrying you both." Duncan’s loud directive causes me to jump, and I can tell he’s worried.
"Uncle Duncan?" We both turn as Meghan steps into the room with her hands covering her ears. She’s wearing her Princess Aurora dress and holding her new doll from Derek. "What is all that noise? I didn’t do it."
"Meghan, I told you to change, not get into an outfit. Come on."
Duncan lifts her up into his arms before I can rush her back to her room to change. He turns and grabs my hand, then drags us both out of the cottage.
"Come on, princess. That’s an alarm your Aunty Maya set up." His voice is gentle over the loud alarm, but I can still hear the edge of concern.
Meghan’s eyes widen, and she pierces her cupid bow lips together as he carries her to the open top jeep.
I look back at my haven. I thought I finally had a home. "Come on, Rebekah, now." He pulls on my hand, propelling me to the passenger side.
"What’s going on?" I pull my hand from his. I want to ask where Derek is but can't give away how scared I am. He was angry when he left earlier, but not at me.
Derek and I have grown close since I’ve been here. He’s a widower too, but I know he’s still struggling with his loss. Lately we spend every moment he’s not working together. My heart skips a little beat. Will I see him again? I push the question from my mind, I can't dwell on that now.
"Meghan, we don't have a booster seat for you in this jeep, just cinch your seatbelt tight, we're going to drive fast. Buckle up, Rebekah."
"What's going on, Duncan?" I ask again, hoping this time he'll answer me.
"You'll be briefed when we get to the office." He nods his head to the backseat, indicating he doesn't want to discuss it in front of Meghan. I climb in and buckle up.
He takes off fast, heading to the center of the compound where the main office is located. When we pull up Greg comes running out and grabs Meghan from the back seat. His six-foot muscular frame doesn't look like he's fifty.
"Meg, baby, looks like you're going to a party." He chuckles as he carries her into the office.
"Grandpa, I want a tea party." Meghan pouts.
"Soon, baby girl. We need to get inside." He turns to Duncan. "Ten minutes out. No comms from Derek and Dani. Raul called and said he's on the ground and heading to Broughty Castle. Owen directed him there, something about a hand off is supposed to be happening, but it's a trap. Mikayla is off compound today, but we've gotten a message to her. She confirmed she took Dani off compound. Joshua is about to come unglued, so you better hurry."
I hear it all and stop, no communication from Derek. My heart doesn't beat for a while, not him too. I can't lose him too. My mind flashes back to the day I was notified Christopher was never coming home. I feel a hand on my back and look up into Duncan's face. He was there that day. I start to pull away, and I see it in his eyes when he realizes where I'm going. His voice sounds gravelly, but I hear his words over the panic.
"Come on, Rebekah. It will be okay. We need to head in now." He tries to push me into motion, but I stand my ground.
"No, we need to find Derek." I shake my head back and forth. I won't lose him too.
"Rebekah, Timothy is pulling up his tracker now. Come on." The gruffness is gone from his voice. He stares me down, looking at me like I'm a trapped animal.
I feel trapped. I need to see him for myself. I need to make sure he's okay.
"Sweetheart, we'll find him." Greg adds as he turns to see me standing there in the open. "Come on, darling."
"Okay." I follow them through the large glass doors into what is supposed to be our conference room. The table is pushed to the side, and an opening in the floor with steps leading down is visible.
What is this?
I'm pushed down the stairs and look around at the large space. There are rooms separated by what appears to be glass walls. Tommy, Isabella, and the other kids are in a room with Renee and Patrice. Greg carries Meghan over that way and gets her settled. I watch as Dane and his dog, Fang, move to her side. I need to keep an eye on her in case I need to run. Greg walks back to where I'm standing on the steps just staring around.
A shelter was under our office, and from the looks of it we could stay here for a while.
Leave it to Maya to plan for the apocalypse.
"Bekah, come on down here. I promise we'll find Derek," Greg calmly says as he steps up and takes my hand. His warmth and the spice scent of his cologne soothe me, and I step closer to him.
I feel like clinging to him but I'm worried about allowing myself to care too much. Every time I care people are taken from me. I'm just a burden. He and Derek have forced me to care about them so much already.
Now Derek is missing.