Mind of Danger (Body of Danger #3) - Sidney Bristol


Wednesday. Elias’ Home, Seattle, Washington.

Holidays were the worst.

Elias Wood eased himself down onto the plush recliner.

Today so far he’d deep cleaned his refrigerator, the grill, his stovetop and the oven. They were the last things on his Survive the Holidays list, and he still had five freaking days until Christmas was over for another year.

Screw the assholes from last year for blowing up the God damn building. If it weren’t for them Elias could have simply volunteered to work over the holidays, ensuring his mind and body were both busy enough he didn’t care what the rest of the world was doing. Unfortunately, he worked for decent human beings. Following the previous Christmas disaster, he’d been assured of all holidays off from here on out. Problem was, he needed something to do.

It wasn’t like he didn’t have options.

He could go visit family.

His mouth screwed up, and he rubbed his tongue on the top of his mouth.

Nah, Mom and Dad had retired to a swanky old folks’ resort. They had activities and events every day of the month. He’d no doubt cramp their style and make things awkward as they tried to have their fun and include him.

Elias’s two sisters were busy with their kids and extended families on their husband’s sides. Seeing as how both had married into big families, they’d decided to keep the Wood family events to the yearly reunion and a group vacation. That said, if Elias called either sister, they’d clear enough space for him to crash somewhere and wrap him up in holiday cheer. But that wasn’t what he wanted either. He’d made that mistake exactly once and still regretted it. Too many people. Too much noise. Never a moment to himself. It wasn’t for him.

There was always the work retreat. He wasn’t unique in the company when it came to having complicated feelings about family and holidays. The main Aegis Group campus was always open, and they made sure to have a bed for anyone who wanted to stay at the bunkhouses over Christmas. The problem there was that the guys liked to take this as a chance to run drills, try out new munitions, and Elias that just wasn’t who Elias was anymore. He wasn’t front lines or active duty. He worked behind a desk and liked it that way.

Which left him out of ideas, sitting at home feeling sorry for himself.

What was his deal?

His head was a little screwed up. So what?

Elias planted his hands on the arm rests and pushed up. It was more out of habit than necessity. He didn’t feel the same old twinge of pain in his hip and knee like he used to when it came to sitting and standing. Surgery and time had healed those wounds, but he kept bracing for them, anyway.

His military career had ended prematurely, like so many others, thanks to an IED that had blindsided him while on patrols. He’d kept all his limbs, but the damage was done and his career over.

If anything he should be thankful for everything he had. Yet here he was, feeling sorry for himself.

He’d set up a good life here in Seattle.

Zain Lloyd had talked Elias into leaving his job working for a major munitions company to come head up sales and specifically the high level client services division at Aegis Group. Instead of selling people on all the ways to kill, he now promised the impossible. It was work Elias enjoyed and could be passionate about. He just didn’t understand why that work had to pause over the holidays. Couldn’t he keep at it? Was there any harm in it?

His phone vibrated in his hand. When had he picked that up? Damn thing seemed to always attach itself to him.

Elias stared at the number.

It wasn’t a Seattle call.

Maybe it was work?

He doubted it, but a guy could hope.

“Elias Wood,” he said into the device.

“Eli?” a husky woman’s voice asked.

He paused.

A lot of people called him Eli, but none of them were clients.

Who was this woman?

“This is he,” he responded.

She chuckled. “Don’t tell me you went off and forgot me, now.”

Elias paused.

There was something in that voice, the laugh. It set off pleasure sensors in his head.

She’d always known the right thing to say or do. Yet they’d all treated her like one of the guys. To him, she’d always been very much a woman.

“Jo? Marjorie-Jo?” He threw the name out there like one might toss a penny into a fountain, full of hope.

Now she laughed outright,