Sybil Bartel: Contemporary Romance Author

Heartless: Chapter 1

HEARTLESS - The Alpha Bodyguard Series

Chapter One - Ronan

Sitting in one of the cubicles at Luna and Associates, I stared at the picture on my cell. My attention half on the details, half on my surroundings, I heard my boss come up behind me.

Without turning around, I gave the photo one more cursory glance. “André.”

“Mierda,” André Luna swore in Spanish. “Still not sure how you can tell it’s me, but it gets me every time.” He leaned against the desk and crossed his arms. His shrewd gaze taking in the photo on my screen, he tipped his chin. “Keeping up with current events or taking a walk down memory lane?”

I closed out the image of the detonated IED, and shoved my phone in my pocket. “Last deployment,” I answered vaguely.

Luna nodded as if he understood. “One of yours?”

It should’ve been, but I’d missed it. I’d only caught its twin placed two meters away and disabled it before giving the all clear. The armament carrier moved on my go and, seven seconds later, took the hit. There were no fatalities that day, only minor injuries, but it didn’t matter. I’d fucked up. It was the second time in my life I’d completely fucked up.

Ignoring Luna’s question, I turned in my chair to face him. “What’s up?”

Luna studied me for a beat, then he inadvertently gave me one of his tells. His gaze drifted over my head. “I got a call a few minutes ago.” He looked back at me. “It was Vance.”

I didn’t react.

Luna fished. “You heard from him recently?”

“Define recently.” Every muscle in my body controlled, I gave nothing away.

Luna held my gaze, then he muttered under his breath. “Dios mio, amigo. He’s your brother.”

Twin brother to be exact. “I am aware.”

“He said he tried you first.”

I remained silent.

Luna frowned. “So you really aren’t on speaking terms with him?”

I evaded Luna’s question. “What did he want?” Last I’d heard, Vance was in Europe.

“He’s working for Adam Trefor’s outfit, Alpha Elite Security.”

I knew who he was working for. AES, a private military contractor, billed themselves as the world’s leading provider of security solutions, but they were mercenaries. High stakes, higher price tag. Vance had served, same as me, and we were identical, but that’s where our similarities ended. Vance fed off of anything high-risk, but he didn’t like to get his hands dirty. “If it’s related to AES, Trefor would’ve called you.” I knew Adam. Despite hiring my brother, he was solid.

It was Luna’s turn to evade. “Maybe.” Scanning the office, he paused.

I waited.

Luna’s gaze met mine again. “Vance asked for a favor.”

Hiding my surprise, I made a calculated guess. “Security for a client.” Vance wouldn’t ask for a favor for himself, not from me, not from Luna, not from anyone. It wasn’t his MO. He was religious about not getting into any situation he couldn’t resolve himself. Or he used to be. A problem with a client seemed the only logical reason he’d call Luna.

Luna snorted. “How’d you guess?”

I may not have seen Vance in years, but he never changed. “What was your answer?”

“He asked to be met at the executive airport.” Luna glanced at his watch. “In thirty-seven minutes.” He looked back at me. “I said we would.”

“We,” I stated.

It wasn’t a question, but Luna answered it anyway. “He specifically asked me to bring you.”

“And you agreed.” Again, it wasn’t a question. Luna was a professional first, loyal second, and a shrewd businessman third. He would not only take the call, he’d do the favor because it would ensure quid pro quo.

“Yes,” Luna confirmed.

I didn’t blame him. Luna didn’t know the reason I didn’t keep in touch with my brother. He only knew there wasn’t any love lost when I filled out the hiring paperwork. In the in case of emergency contact section and the next of kin section, I’d listed Luna himself. When he’d asked why it wasn’t Vance, I’d said we weren’t close. Luna hadn’t pried, and I didn’t offer any more information.

Resigned, I stood. “With traffic, it’ll take thirty minutes to get there.”

Luna pushed off the desk. “You good with this?”

“Yes.” No.

“You lying?”

I didn’t answer. Instead, I took my Sig Sauer P320 X5 Legion from the desk drawer, holstered it, and asked specifics. “Parameters?”

“He didn’t say to gear up, so I’m assuming it’s a client meet and greet.”

I gave Luna the full weight of my stare in a single glance. “Never assume anything where Vance is concerned.” It wasn’t a warning. It was the best advice I could ever give him.

“I get it.” Luna nodded once. “Point taken.”

He didn’t get it, but he would. Probably before the day was out. “Let’s go.”

♥ ♥ ♥

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