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Redemption (The Protectors #8)
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My job is to save lives. But what if the one that needs saving is the one I was sent to take?
At 33 years old, Phoenix Jones once had a stellar military career ahead of him. But when tragedy struck his family, he walked away from the path he’d chosen to be there for the one who needed him most. Except fate is a bitch and when she once again takes Phoenix’s future in the cruelest of ways, he must find a new path.
When a former army buddy introduces him to Ronan Grisham, the leader of an underground vigilante group, Phoenix knows he’s found a new family and nothing and no one is going to take that from him again. So when Ronan asks him to shadow a young man who participated in a brutal crime against Ronan’s husband, Seth, when he was a child and appears to be targeting him again, Phoenix doesn’t even hesitate for a second.
Even knowing what he must do if the young man proves to have gone back to his old ways.
Because family is everything…
I can’t come back from what I did. I’m not sure I even want to…
An ugly childhood left Levi Deming with little to do but dream of a day when he’d be free of his tormenters so he could carve out a simple life for himself, preferably somewhere far away from the family who never let him forget he was less than human. But one terrible choice at the tender age of 16 changed everything…
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Redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake
“Hello, my girl,” I said while simultaneously signing the words as soon as the door opened. The little girl beamed up at me as she stood in the open doorway. Her little fingers began moving lightning fast. So fast that I had to interrupt her with a reminder to slow down. Her sheepish grin was almost too much for me.
“Phoenix, Daddy Seth is taking me to see Ace. Uncle Magnus says I can ride him.”
I smiled at that and bent down to her level since she had to crane her neck to see me otherwise. I’d never met the horse Magnus DuCane owned and had recently brought with him to Seattle after leaving Texas, but I’d heard, or seen rather, Nicole asking her fathers if she could go see the big animal often enough. I suspected the men had a horse-crazy daughter on their hands.
“That’s exciting,” I said as I slowly signed out the right words.
“Phoenix, hi, come on in,” I heard Seth call as he made his way down the hall towards us. I wasn’t surprised to see his and Ronan’s youngest child, Jamie, in tow, the boy’s cherished Spiderman doll clutched between his chubby fingers.
It had been nearly five months since Ronan and Seth had taken in the three orphans as foster children and from everything I’d seen, they’d managed the impossible and made themselves into a family. I knew they were eager to adopt the children and had already started the process of making the situation permanent. While the kids had initially been reserved around both men, they’d warmed up quickly once they’d realized they were finally safe and in a home that would give them the love and security they’d lost after their parents had died in a car accident.
I’d been surprised by Nicole’s attachment to me, especially considering both the fact that she was deaf and shy around strangers and that I wasn’t what someone would consider a non-threatening guy. With my dark skin tone, heavy build and tattoos, I wasn’t the kind of man a kid like Nicole would have gravitated to. But for some reason, she’d been intrigued by me from the get-go and I was more than happy to return her affection.
Even if being around her was both joyous and painful for me at the same time.
“Hey, Seth,” I said as I rose and moved into the house. “Heard you have a big afternoon planned.”
The young man had his hands full with a couple of jackets, a large tote bag slung over his shoulder and a smaller bag that looked packed full of snacks, sippy cups and several carrots.
And I’d never seen him looking happier.
I’d known Seth for less than a year, and while I hadn’t met him before he’d become involved with my boss, Ronan Grisham, it hadn’t taken a genius to know how difficult the young man’s life had been and how much he’d suffered. At the tender age of fourteen, he’d lost both his parents in a brutal home invasion which had also left him severely injured and traumatized. A few months later, his older brother had been stolen away from him when he’d been murdered by a group of homophobic fellow soldiers. Ronan, who’d been in a relationship with Seth’s brother at the time, had been badly injured in the same attack. I didn’t know all the details, but I knew enough that both men hadn’t really started living again until they’d found each other.
And now they had it all and deservedly so. It was clear as day in Seth’s eyes every time he looked at his children or his husband. The same could be said of Ronan.
I was happy for them, though their joy was a near constant reminder of my own loss.
“Yeah,” Seth said with a sigh as he looked at all the stuff in his arms as if trying to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. He looked up at me with a big smile. I liked how he signed even as he spoke so that Nicole could follow the conversation. It was a habit I was trying to remember since I never wanted the little girl to feel left out. “Ronan’s in the study-”
“I’m here,” I heard Ronan interject as he walked towards us. While his eyes were on his husband, I didn’t miss the tension in his frame. I couldn’t help but wonder if his obvious agitation had anything to do with why I was here. I couldn’t tell if Seth had noticed or not, because by the time Ronan reached us, he’d relaxed both his stance and his expression.
“Have fun,” Ronan said as he leaned down to talk to Nicole. “Daddy Seth is going to take lots of pictures for me and I’ll come next time, okay?”