Pick Your Poison - Roxanne St. Claire

Roxanne St. Claire - Bullet Catcher #8.5 - Pick Your Poison

Pick Your Poison (Bullet Catcher #8.5)
Roxanne St. Claire


Chapter One

“You’re firing me?” Benjamin Youngblood looked up from the paperwork his boss had just slid across a polished mahogany table and started to laugh. “Are you fu—”

“Don’t.” Lucy’s hand shot up, silencing him. She cut a glance toward her adjacent office, the door between that sanctuary and this war room wide open. “Little ears. And, yes, this time I’m serious.”

He blew out a breath and stabbed his fingers into his hair to drag back the locks, way too smart to defy Lucy Sharpe and drop an F-bomb within hearing distance of her toddler daughter. Also way too stunned to tease her about how much motherhood had changed the Bullet Catchers’ fierce and fearless leader.

Because it sure as hell hadn’t softened her.

“Lucy, this is ridiculous. I saved that son of a…” He caught himself, pausing to choose each word carefully. “I made the only decision I could make under the circumstances and I’m very sorry if that… that…” How could he describe Governor Roy McManus in childproofed words? “That self-involved, ego-maniacal, hypocritical blow-hard missed a photo op.”

“That blow-hard was our client. Was.”

“And there was a breach in security and a credible threat to the principal, so I called the shots the way I have been trained since the day I walked into this place.” He gestured to include not just the war room, but Lucy’s whole Hudson River valley mansion and the international security firm it housed.

“You made a very costly decision, Ben.”

“To hold him on the tarmac while we assessed the situation, and not allow him near the rope-line where I believed an assassin was waiting? Would have been a helluva lot costlier if he got off that plane and met a bullet in his chest.”

“Your job is to take that bullet if need be.”

“My job is to make sure that bullet isn’t ever fired.”

Lucy crossed her arms and regarded him silently, the dramatic upward sweep of eyes that hinted at her Polynesian ancestry only adding to the air of Zen calm that helped her build the Bullet Catchers into the most elite protection organization in the world.

“What?” he asked when the silence lasted a beat too long.

“You know why you’re in this office at least twice a year having to convince me not to let you go?”

He grinned. “You love to see my pretty face?”

“Your face isn’t your problem, your gut is.”

Like hell it was.

“The same gut that’s kept me alive on a daily basis?” He leaned forward, determined to make his point before she cut him off. “The gut that’s kept a few high-powered ambassadors, senators, and European princes alive, too? The gut that screamed ‘trouble’ when Governor McManus landed in Tampa and that last threat came through my private phone line, untraceable and containing personal information about the travel schedule that no one but his damn wife could know? That gut, Lucy? The one I need to do my goddamn job?”

“Your gut and your short fuse.” All the Zen evaporated as she pushed back from the conference table and power-strode across the room. At the entrance to her private office, she peeked in and then closed the door without making a sound.

“They help me do my job,” he said. “And you are the queen of instinct calls.”

“Your job and an ‘instinct call’ have to be done without interfering with a client’s work. That’s why politicians and CEO’s and legions of other world-beaters hire the Bullet Catchers—because we don’t hinder their success or stop their campaigns while we keep them alive.”

“McManus’s re-election campaign would have come to a screeching halt if the bastard was dead.”

She didn’t answer, slowly crossing the war room, a sea of computer monitors blinking non-stop behind her, all broadcasting the whereabouts and assignment status of every Bullet Catcher on the planet. Those screens tracked easily over forty bodyguards, investigators, weapons experts, and the occasional reformed thief.

His light, he noticed, had been snuffed out. Shit. Ben had been with this company for almost six years, taken off the mean streets of L.A. at twenty-two, back when he was just a little Comanche, a little Cree, and a whole lot of trouble. He’d been saved by one of Lucy’s top men—when he should have been killed by the guy—and trained to be a key player in her organization.

His life had purpose now, and he’d do anything, absolutely anything, to keep this job. But when Lucy made up her mind,