Give Me Grace (Give Me #3) by Kate McCarthy

Travis snorted. I tuned out his reply as I raised my gun with steady hands, the movement slow and silent. Taking aim, I waited, breathing softly until we heard the soft crunch of someone stalking through dried leaves northwest of our position. Five seconds later our target came back into view.

“Come to Papa,” I murmured, my lips curving in satisfaction.

“Don’t hesitate,” Travis ordered, his voice lighter than the soft breeze that carried it.

I relaxed the gun in my hands and looked at Travis. “You’re telling me how to do my job now, asshole?”

“Just take aim and shoot dammit,” Travis growled.

“Now see there? I think you’ve got unresolved control issues.”

Travis exhaled in a huff, his wide eyes busy telling me I was crazy. I probably was, but being called away from sex and morning coffee would do that to a man. “Fine. Shoot the fucker, don’t shoot the fucker, but don’t tell me…” he jabbed his finger for emphasis “…that I have fucking control issues.”

I used my gun to shove Travis’s jabbing finger out of my face. “For the record, I think you’re lying to yourself, but whatever helps you sleep at night. Are you like this with Quinn?”

A vein started pulsing angrily in his temple. Biting the insides of my cheeks, I gave Travis my back as I lifted the gun, adjusted my aim to account for the wind factor, and refocused my sights.

“I’m not controlling, I’m confident and I like to take charge. Women dig that.”

My brows flew up and I looked at him. “So now that you’re married, you’re suddenly an expert on women?”

“I like to think so. Maybe you should try getting married.”

A knot formed in the pit of my stomach.

“Quinn can hook you up,” he added. “She has plenty of hot friends.”

I forced a grin. “Travis Valentine. Best friend, pussy whisperer, and part-time pimp. Thanks, but no thanks. I can arrange my own hookups.”

“I’m not talking about hook—”

“Target acquired,” I interrupted before Travis could take the conversation any further. He might’ve deserved every bit of his happiness, but I didn’t deserve shit, and I wasn’t prepared to have a deep and meaningful over it.

Exhaling softly, I followed my target, my finger steady on the trigger as I began the countdown. Three … two … o—

I jolted sideways, almost slamming into Travis as shots hit in rapid succession up the left side of my body. Short, sharp bursts of pain assaulted my ribs. I gritted my teeth, closing my eyes for a brief moment to gain control. Damned if I let anyone see how much that shit hurt.

“Take that, Hotdog!” came Evie’s loud, high-pitched squeal to my left.

I rolled my eyes at the nickname. I surfed daily, and yeah, maybe I showed off a little because I was damn good at it. Evie found out it was called hotdogging when you surfed for flash rather than function, and now she refused to let the nickname go.

Evie was Coby’s famous little sister, Jared’s wife, and lead singer for Jamieson, but her biggest claim to fame lay in being a better shot than all of us combined. Today proved no exception.

Travis laughed loud and hard, gasping for air as the gun in his hand fell lax. Getting to my feet, I shoved my boot into his knee and watched him spill over, falling into the pile of leaves we’d scraped away earlier to create our hidey-hole. Turning, I lifted my goggles to rest on my forehead and gave Evie a murderous glare. It was entirely wasted because suddenly her body started jerking backwards. She stumbled, going down against the force of the rounds hitting her in the gut. Uh oh. Jared will be pissed.

Tim, my personal assistant at Jamieson and Valentine Consulting, staggered his short, slim frame towards Evie until he stood over her body, gun held up in the air like he was Wyatt Earp taking down the town. “Now who’s the badass motherfucker, bitch?” he crowed.

Without hesitating, I fired off a quick round and took Tim out. His body exploded in a mess of blue and green paint. His gaze dropped, his mouth open in shock as he took in the chaos covering his outfit. Tim was precious about his clothes—even the old stuff he’d dragged out for today’s occasion—so I knew shit would hit the fan at work next week. Sure enough, he was busy glaring at me, accusation in his narrowed eyes. “What the fuck, Casey? I’m on your team!”

I shrugged and grinned. “That’s for being late to work yesterday.”