Kit (Chicago Blaze #8) - Brenda Rothert Page 0,2

wife. I can’t imagine having to live with someone who stalks at this level.”

He shrugs. “It’s a team effort, Lynch. Everyone in the newsroom knows your routine. Now go to your presser and take some messy notes in blue pen. You can do it, I promise.”

“I’m going to start working remotely,” I mutter. “This is ridiculous. You guys are stealing from me.”

Theo laughs. “How about this, Lynch? You hang out here for five more minutes, and I bet I can find every last one of those pens for you. Just sit down at your desk and we’ll start a timer. Five minutes.”

I look at my watch. I have exactly enough time to walk to city hall and arrive at the press conference on time. And I’m never, ever late. Theo knows that.

Looking at my desk chair, I consider staying for the five minutes. Well, I try to consider it. But I just can’t. I can’t be late for a work thing. Or for anything, really. And while Theo is actually a decent guy who’s just teasing a co-worker, he doesn’t know how much it hurts me to be reminded how neurotic I am.

I wish I could show up to work at a different time every day, and grab whatever pen is handy, and just be generally on time rather than precisely on time. But I’m not made that way. And Theo isn’t the first person to point out my anxiety-driven tendencies.

“Keep the pens,” I say, shrugging and slinging my tote over my shoulder. “I have more in my bag anyway.”

Theo laughs as I walk toward the elevator, glancing at my watch yet again to see how much time I have.

Chapter Two


* * *

I cringe as a bead of sweat falls from my teammate Easy’s face onto my forehead as he spots my bench press set.

“Yeah, I can tell you liked that,” he says with a grin. “Open your mouth and maybe the next one will fall in there.”

I exhale hard as I push the bar up and set it back in the rack. “Fuck you, motherfucker. Wipe your face off.”

He pulls his T-shirt up to mop off his sweat, asking, “What’s next?”

Our team trainer’s newest intern, Josh, looks down at his clipboard and responds with a grin.

“Battle ropes.”

My teammate Porter releases a drama-king-worthy sigh.

“I know, I know,” Josh tells the three of us. “Battle ropes have a bad rep. But I’m going to show you guys how to do these as a full body exercise instead of just punishment for your shoulders.”

I’m six-three. Josh can’t be more than five-ten. He’s a college senior with a lean but muscular build who eats, sleeps and breathes fitness and nutrition. And he’s been assigned to work with the second line of the Blaze for the next few months—me, Easy and our team’s newest member, Porter.

“Dude, if we don’t all make it to the first line after all this, I’m going to make sure you never work in this field again,” I tell Josh, giving him what I consider my most intimidating glare.

Josh parts his lips and widens his eyes to about twice their normal size.

“Kit, quit fucking with him,” Porter says, shoving my shoulder. “The kid’s going to piss his pants.”

I break into a laugh, and Josh manages a cautious smile, still not sure if I’m joking.

“Don’t let this guy scare you, man,” Porter tells Josh. “He’s big and kind of intimidating, but he also wears scrunchies around his man buns. We call him Fabio.”

I shrug and say, “I’m not ashamed of my scrunchies. Rubber bands always get tangled in my hair, man.”

“Or you could just get a fucking haircut like the rest of us,” Easy says, shaking his head.

I gesture at him with my thumb and tell Josh, “Don’t listen to him. He’s just jealous of my lustrous man mane.”

“Hey.” Our team captain Anton calls out to us from the other side of the room. “If you guys ever wonder what the difference is between the first and second lines on this team, it’s that you guys run your fuckin’ traps while we work out.”

I give him the finger and look over at Victor, who’s lying perfectly still on an exercise mat.

“Yeah, looks like Vic is really busting his ass over there.”

“I’m resetting my chi, asshole,” Vic yells.

“Can we start the ropes now?” Josh asks, standing nearby with the end of a thick black rope in each hand.

“Alright, man,” I tell him. “Some advice. You’re in charge of our training right now,