Big city… hey, some big cities are mentioned. That counts, right?
“Look, I don’t know why he dumped me. For all I know he got bored with me—” The rest of the words wanted to stick in her throat, but she forced them out. “Maybe he found somebody that was a little less neurotic to deal with. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It’s over. It’s done.”
“Destin, if it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t have you in here. Like you said, it’s been five years. I’m not asking just because I’m bored, or because I’m going to reprimand you for having an affair with a colleague. It’s because—” Her eyes cut to the door.
A second later, Destin heard the door open.
The skin on the back of her neck crawled and she squeezed her eyes shut. Her heart started to race and her skin felt too tight, too small. Something that might have been happiness bloomed inside her heart before it withered and died as reality shifted and settled into place.
Even before he spoke, she knew.
Opening her eyes, she glared at Oz.
“Good afternoon, ladies.”
The flight from D.C. to Dallas was a bitch and not just because he hadn’t ever planned to return to Texas.
He’d spent most of the trip telling himself he could handle walking into Oswald Group just fine and he knew he’d lied every single time. He could handle it, yes. But just fine? Not an icicle’s chance in hell.
Caleb hadn’t seen Destin since he’d walked away from her five years earlier, not even a glimpse. The case he’d just been assigned had him in a different part of the country for nearly three months and he’d been leaving that very day.
Once he’d finished, he’d put in for some personal time and then requested a transfer to the other unit that worked with psychics. It had been headed by Special Agent in Charge Taylor Jones and the man had a reputation for being a brutal, cold son of a bitch to work for. It had suited Caleb just fine—he needed work to forget, after all.
Oz and Jones had worked together to get the first unit going and for quite a while, they’d worked together, but then eventually, they’d split into separate units, handling different areas of the country.
Being in a different part of the country had sounded ideal, and working with somebody who’d work him into exhaustion had sounded even better. There hadn’t been a shortage of work, that was for sure.
The world in general was mostly oblivious of the weirder element that functioned within the FBI. Telepaths, empaths, others who connected with the spirits of the dead.
Caleb’s abilities fell somewhere in the middle. He was psychic, but his gift was classified as a sub-ability. He could pick up on random vibes and he had unusual insights, and every once in a while, he’d get a solid, real connection but his main skill was filtering.
He worked with people like Destin who had powerful but erratic abilities, let them cut through the white noise, the pain, everything that might block them from finding what they needed to find.
There had been just as much a need for him in Jones’ unit as there had been in Oz’s unit and he’d buried himself in the work, hoping to forget. Hoping, pointlessly, praying that nothing would send him back to the other unit.
But just a year after his transfer, Oz left the Bureau and when she did, several agents abruptly quit. Others came to work with Jones and the second unit was disbanded.
There had been terse whispers and rumors, but none of Oz’s former agents would talk and Jones had been there to make sure of that. Caleb had been fine with it. He didn’t want to hear about his old unit. The one thing that mattered to him, he already knew. Destin was working with Oz. She was no longer with the FBI and that probably suited her better, anyway. She’d hated rules, had felt stifled by the structure.
The freelance group took on investigative work and although very few realized just how specialized they were, they made a killing and they had a rep for being the best in the business. Which wasn’t surprising. Psychics were going to have a leg up on the competition.
As he cut through the rather posh offices, he studied the faces. More than a few were familiar. A couple waved. The others, people he knew, deliberately turned their backs on him. A nice, subtle fuck you if he’d ever seen one. Okay, then.
The others watched him with no small amount of curiosity. Ten employees. And to his senses, they all felt psychic. He might not have one of the flashier abilities, but the skill he didhave was reliable. Every person in here was a psychic and he had a feeling Oz used them to pull in some high-profile cases. All without explaining just how she managed to have a stellar rep.
He didn’t bother to ask where he’d find her. He’d seen the neat little office tucked in the back when the administrative assistant had led him up here and he knew without a doubt where Oz would be. She’d want privacy, but she’d also want to be close to her people.
The door was closed, but he didn’t knock.
Destin was there.
He felt it in his gut. And he wanted one look. Just one look at her before she managed to compose her features and hide herself away from him.
As he pushed the door open, his hands were practically sweating and his heart was racing away somewhere in the vicinity of his throat. Racing, pounding. Dancing…
Oz’s gaze cut to him and as desperate as he was to see Destin, he looked at Oz first, braced himself.
She hadn’t changed much. She was still all steel and ice, elegant beauty and deathly self-possession. Unlike his current boss, Oz did have a serious psychic talent, although it was unreliable as hell.
Caleb didn’t think she’d retired, at least not willingly. He suspected she’d come up against something ugly and the higher-ups had told her to let it go. That fit more in line with his memories of Oz. There had been several times when she’d bashed heads with people and she had lacked Jones’…diplomatic skills.
Something ugly had happened, he knew. Either she walked…or they pushed her out over it.
But Elise Oswald looked like she was doing just fine, regardless.
He was painfully, acutely aware of the woman sitting off to his side.
Shifting his attention to her, he found himself staring at her profile. Her gaze was locked on some point just above Oz’s head, like she couldn’t be bothered to look at him and he guessed he couldn’t blame her.
After all, he’d walked away from her.
He’d walked away from this woman he’d loved more than anything…Destin Mortin…the woman who had slowly been killing him inside. She just hadn’t realized it.
His heart had withered away to ashes inside his chest over the past five years and he hadn’t ever planned on seeing her again. If it wasn’t for Oz, he could have probably managed to do just that.
Now? Shit, now he couldn’t remember how he’d felt just five minutes ago—when he’d been almost level. Not happy, never that. Not without her. But he’d existed. He’d been level.
Now it was like he was freefalling all over again.
And she still wouldn’t look at him.
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Other people visiting the city today…
Mandy M. Roth