Home > Alpha (The Alpha Elite #1)(5)

Alpha (The Alpha Elite #1)(5)
Author: Sybil Bartel

Zane grasped her shoulder. “It was instant, sweetheart. We can’t give you any more details, but I will tell you this. He died a hero. His actions saved the rest of the team.”

She drank, but then she dissolved into a fresh wave of grief.

Zane caught my gaze, then lifted his chin toward the clock on the wall.

I was a selfish asshole, and Zane had been right. I should’ve waited a week.

Nodding toward the kitchen, I issued Zane an order. “There’s a list of numbers on the wall by the phone.” I’d written it myself and taped it up the week before Billy and I enlisted. The numbers had changed over the years, some were scratched out, some were added, but the sentiment was the same. It was a list of people to call in case of an emergency. A list of people Emmy could call. People she could rely on. Because even back then, despite wanting nothing more than to be a SEAL, it’d felt like shit leaving her behind.

“Call Mrs. Jansen,” I directed Zane. “The second number listed is her cell.” The neighbor was the closest thing to a grandmother Emmy and Billy had ever had.

Emmy cried harder as she choked out words through her sobs. “Y-you can’t call her. It’s too early. She’s sleeping.”

I threw Zane a look, but he was already moving. Locking down my own emotions, I took her face in my hands and held her broken gaze. “You need people here with you right now. People you can lean on.”

She grabbed the front of my uniform as understanding took. “Don’t leave me.” Fear and desperation mixed with the devastation in her eyes. “You’re all I have now, Adam.” Her breath hitched on a sob. “You’re all I have left.” She buried her face in my chest and wept. “Don’t leave me. You can’t go back.”

My chest fucking caved in as impotent anger flared. “You know how this works.”

Her head shook violently, her sun-kissed shoulders trembling, her long legs draped over my lap. Wearing only pajama shorts and a tank top, her soft, sleep-messed hair covered my chest and, God forgive me, I wanted to carry her upstairs, crawl into bed and hold her for fucking eternity.

“No, no, no,” she cried, smelling like woman, fresh sheets, and pain.

So much damn pain.

Her grief palpable, I wanted to kiss her as much as I wanted to find the assholes responsible for Billy’s death and destroy them limb by limb. But just like on a mission, I had no room for emotion right now. “I have to go back, Emmy,” I said quietly, using the childhood nickname I wasn’t sure matched the woman she’d grown into but was so ingrained, I said her name in my sleep.

Her sob was as painful to hear as it was to witness. “Billy nicknamed me that.”

Guilt crushed me. “I know.” Selfish and full of regret, I tried to justify my decision to come here today. “I’m sorry I can’t stay, but I didn’t want a stranger to give you the notification. We took leave just to get here to tell you in person so you heard it from us, but our mission isn’t over.”

She covered her eyes and wept with soul-crushing sobs. “Billy, Billy.”

I wrapped my arms around her, but I was a fucking bastard. I was already scanning the doorway to the kitchen, looking for Zane to come back and put a barrier between me and her. Drowning in guilt that her brother was dead, that I hadn’t saved him, I’d thought I needed to do this, but now I wanted an exit strategy.

I was going to kill every last terrorist responsible for this.

Zane walked into the living room with the phone to his ear. “Mrs. Jansen’s packing a bag so she can stay, then she’s on her way. She wants to know how many days.”

“One week,” I told him. “Then I’ll be back.”

Maila’s sobs paused, and she looked up at me with a tearstained face. But it wasn’t with the innocent face of a five-year-old girl. It wasn’t even with the face of the woman who’d answered the door a few minutes ago before I’d destroyed her life.

She looked at me with grief and fear, but then her features twisted with anger. “You liar. You don’t get to promise you’re coming back. I hate you, Adam Trefor, I hate you.”

Before I could process the Maila Marie Nilsen storm that’d just slammed into me, she was off my lap and aiming for the stairs.

Her slender, bare foot hit the first step, and she paused only long enough to yell at us as a sob shook her slight frame. “Get out, both of you!”

I was on my feet to go after her when a hand hit my chest.

“Brother,” Zane quietly chided. “Maybe you should give her a little breathing room. Let her process this for a moment.”

We didn’t have a moment. We didn’t even have a few minutes. I sure as fuck was going after her. “Let Mrs. Jansen in. Tell her to call the other numbers. I want Emmy surrounded by people she can trust. She doesn’t deserve to be alone.” Not like this. Not orphaned and thrust into a world where she had no blood relatives left. It wasn’t lost on me that I was in the same boat, but this wasn’t about me. I could handle myself. I always had. This was about her.

For two seconds, Zane leveled me with a look that said exactly what he thought of my decisions, but then he stepped back.

If I hadn’t been lying to myself, shutting down every damn thing in my head so I could mission focus, I’d be staring at the naked truth.

It’d always been about her.

Thirteen years ago, I’d walked into this house and a little girl had smiled at me. I didn’t know then what that weighted heaviness in my chest was.

But I fucking knew now.

I took the stairs two at a time.

 

 

Maila

 

No. This wasn’t happening. No.

My brother.

My only brother.

With sobs stealing my breath and tears blinding me, I ran up the stairs.

I’d lost everything.

Everything.

Daddy, now Billy.

I didn’t even remember my own mother.

I had no one, no one, except a stray boy my brother had brought home, but he wasn’t a boy anymore. Adam Trefor hadn’t just grown into a man, he was a Navy SEAL. A cold, calculating, impenetrable SEAL who was going back to the very same place that had killed my brother, and I couldn’t breathe.

First Daddy, then Billy, and now Adam was going back to the same world full of war and danger that had killed every man I loved?

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