A Beautiful Funeral (The Maddox Brothers #5) - Jamie McGuire Page 0,1

outside the door. Whispered voices hissed, unhappy and persistent. I took a step to stand between Liis and the door and then turned, positioning my body between whoever was outside and my daughter.

A nurse pushed through, looking disheveled and a bit shaken.

“Everything okay?” I asked, remaining alert. From the corner of my eye, I could see that Liis was awake and ready to react.

“Um, sure,” the nurse said, pausing when she noticed our posture. “Is everything okay in here?”

“What was the noise outside?” Liis asked.

“Oh,” the nurse said, pulling on a pair of gloves as she stood by Liis’s bedside. “It’s a fight to get into your room. Those agents outside don’t play around.”

Liis relaxed, and I walked over to the rocking recliner just a few feet away from her, pulling back Stella’s blanket to check that she was fine.

“The director just wants me back at work ASAP,” Liis said, settling back against her pillow.

“Not happening,” I said.

In truth, if the director had his way, Liis would have given birth at the office. We were at the end of our largest case, and Liis was the most trusted translator and analyst at Quantico. I’d been the case lead for eleven years, which was more than half of my time in the Bureau. My youngest brother, Travis, had been undercover, but when the shit hit the fan and his wife was threatened, Travis executed Benny and a few of his men. Abby handed over all the info she had on her father, Mick—another one of Benny’s pawns—getting us closer than we had ever been to finally wrapping up the case. Benny’s underboss and eldest son, Angelo Carlisi, was just about to go down, and everyone wanted the investigation locked down tight.

Liis and I had spent hours in the director’s office explaining to him our position on our new family. The risk was so much higher, making us all the more eager for a conclusion.

“I’ll just bring her to work. The director can change diapers,” Liis joked.

“He might take you up on that,” I said with a smirk.

The nurse wasn’t amused. “Is there a chance the agents could … I don’t know … look at my face and remember it an hour later? The pat downs are getting old.”

Liis and I traded glances but didn’t respond. We understood her frustration, but more than just the director knew that Liis and I were responsible for bringing half of the Vegas organized crime families to justice. Benny’s death had made everyone nervous. We were the FBI’s top agents on the case with a baby on the way, and one of Benny’s men was in custody and very close to testifying. They had already targeted us twice, so the Bureau wasn’t taking any chances. We’d had agents shadowing our every move as soon as Liis’s baby bump became prominent.

“Stella might as well get used to having two special agents for parents,” I said, pushing off my toes. The rocker swept back and then forward, a gentle motion highlighted by something creaking with sleepy rhythm in the base of the chair. Memories of rocking Travis when he was a toddler, still in diapers, came to the forefront of my mind. His shaggy hair, chicken legs, and the sticky ring around his mouth—a telltale sign Grandpa had been over. He’d bring over five suckers in his pocket and always leave with one. Children ate candy, and Dad was passed out drunk in the bedroom while I was keeping the boys from playing in traffic. I’d stopped being a child when Mom died.

The nurse nodded, but I could see by her expression she still didn’t understand. Before leaving, she glanced at Stella with pity reflecting in her eyes. I planted my feet on the floor, stopping the chair. Stella fussed, and I patted her back while deep in thought. Stella was loved before she was even born, a shiny new nursery and a full bookshelf waiting for her at home. That someone would feel sympathy for our daughter had never crossed my mind. We were fully capable of surviving whatever the Bureau put in our paths, but now I wondered how it would affect Stella.

“Did you call your dad?” Liis asked.


“Everybody else?”

“I asked Dad to give it a day. I don’t want to spend all day on the phone.”

Liis sat back and closed her eyes. “I guess as an only child, I don’t think about things like that,” she murmured before drifting off.

I draped a thick cloth over