Alibi (Brantley Walker Off the Books #5) - Nicole Edwards

Chapter One

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Brantley Walker expected today to be a long day, starting off with a visit from Ryan Trexler and Hunter Kogan, the men in charge of running Sniper 1 Security, the largest private security firm in the state.

They were here at Brantley’s request, and since this was somewhat of a job interview for the soon-to-be disbanded Off the Books Task Force, he figured it needed to run smoothly, hence the reason he was already three hours into his day and it was just now oh-eight-hundred.

He walked into the kitchen as Reese was pouring a cup of coffee.

“You only got seven miles in this mornin’. Somethin’ wrong with you today?”

Brantley could hear the teasing tone, and he appreciated it. If Reese knew Brantley was stressed about this meeting, he wasn’t calling him on it, but he was certainly doing his best to distract him. For a moment, Brantley’s brain flipped back to a few hours ago when Reese had woken him up with that sexy mouth doing sinful things. Needless to say, it’d been one hell of a way to start the day.

“Too much shit to do,” he said, forcing a smile and accepting the cup Reese passed over.

“I just got a text. RT and Hunter’ll be here in a few.” Reese’s tone was calm and collected as usual. “We’ll have plenty of time to introduce them to the team, even have time for questions. Then what’s left? We get to spend the afternoon at the park with the rest of the town?”

Brantley nodded, staring into his coffee mug. “Yeah.”

And that would be the second half of his ridiculously long day.

After he fielded questions from JJ, Baz, Trey, and Charlie regarding the fact they were no longer state employees, Brantley was going to spend the afternoon at the fantasy festival. Coyote Ridge’s first one of the year.

Despite the name, it wasn’t in the least bit kinky, he’d been told. It was a new festival added to the calendar this year, one meant to kick off 2021 with carnival games and rides designed specifically for the children of Coyote Ridge.

As for why Brantley was looking forward to it … well, it certainly wasn’t for the games and rides. No, his reasons were a bit more selfish: he was simply looking forward to some downtime with Reese and if it meant congregating with the rest of the town, so be it.

He just wasn’t sure he could get in the spirit of it today. Ever since they learned that Juliet Prince was involved in the false kidnapping scheme that resulted in JJ’s house being blown to smithereens a week ago, he hadn’t been sleeping much. It didn’t help that they had no idea where the woman was or her next move, but something in his gut said they needed to be hypervigilant.

Brantley’s watch buzzed at the same time Reese’s did, which meant only one thing.

“Looks like they’re right on time,” Reese said. “Why don’t you go out and greet ’em. I’ll head to the barn, start the coffee.”

Brantley nodded because he would take any direction offered. This was foreign territory for him. He had never applied for a job in his life. Well, unless BUD/S, which stood for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL counted. But this wasn’t an endurance test that would allow his body and mind to prove his worthiness. This would require some schmoozing on his part and Brantley would be the first to admit, it wasn’t his strong suit.

With Tesha, their four-legged partner, leading the way, Brantley went to greet their guests.

Stepping out onto the front porch, he steeled his spine, geared up for convincing these men that absorbing the Off the Books Task Force was the best thing to do for everyone involved. Granted, he knew they were already leaning in that direction based on what RT had told him, but they’d driven two hundred miles from Dallas to Coyote Ridge on a Saturday, no less, to seal the deal.

“How was the trip?” Brantley asked, holding out his hand to RT after the man deposited his helmet on the handlebar of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R.

“Perfect way to spend a Saturday mornin’,” RT said with a wide grin, shaking Brantley’s hand in return.

“I told Reese I was still thinkin’ about gettin’ one of those.” Brantley nodded at the sportbike.

“Worth the investment,” RT replied. “You’re more than welcome to try it out if you’d like.”

Brantley grinned. “I might just take you up on that later.”

The other man strolled around, running one hand