Home > After the Storm (KGI #8)(5)

After the Storm (KGI #8)(5)
Author: Maya Banks

She squeezed back, praying with her entire heart that she wasn’t lying. “I know it will.”


DONOVAN Kelly glanced over at his dad’s hardware store as he drove by. It was a habit all his brothers had of taking a look when they were in the area just to make sure everything was as it should be.

He braked hard when he saw Rusty’s Jeep parked out front. Executing a quick U-turn, he drove back and pulled in beside her vehicle. The “Closed” sign was up but a light was on inside.

Frank Kelly never worked on Sundays. No one who worked for them did either. Why on earth would Rusty be here? She hadn’t been in church this morning. Not that he himself went often. But he’d let his mom drag him out since KGI was be-tween missions and things were quiet on the home front.

An unusual occurrence to be sure. There was always something going on. But after completing the last mission two weeks earlier with the new team composed of Nathan, Joe, Swanny, Skylar and Zane—or Edge, as he’d been named back when he was an MMA fighter—nothing new had come up.

The new team was working out really well. Better than Donovan could have hoped for, given the length of time the team had been together. With the other two team leaders now married, thoroughly domesticated and enjoying fatherhood, the new team had taken up a lot of the slack while the other two teams had taken fewer missions.

He got out of his truck, but before he could even walk to the door, Rusty hurried out to meet him. He frowned at her expression. She looked . . . guilty. And while in the beginning he—and his brothers—had reservations about Rusty, she’d proven herself in the years since. She’d become a responsible young lady who was doing well in college and was extremely loyal to his parents. She was, in fact, an absolute member of the Kelly family.

“What’s up?” Donovan asked, looking beyond to the door that was ajar. “Dad never opens on Sundays. Is there a problem? Do you need help with something?”

Rusty grimaced, took a deep breath and then glanced back in the direction of the hardware store.

“Look, can we talk a minute out here? Preferably down the street a bit?”

Donovan’s brows furrowed at the anxious note in her voice. “Sure.”

“Let me tell Travis I’ll be right back, okay?”

Donovan’s brows shot upward. “Travis? Who the hell is Travis? Is he your boyfriend? And if so, what the hell are y’all doing in Dad’s store on a Sunday?”

She sighed and shook her head. “Just give me a sec and I’ll explain.”

Before he could argue further, she hurried back and disappeared through the door to the store. Barely a few seconds later, she came back out, locked the door behind her and then strode in Donovan’s direction.

She motioned him down toward the sandwich store two doors down and he followed, wondering what the hell she was up to now. They hadn’t had any trouble from Rusty since high school. She was only a year from graduating college and he couldn’t imagine her f**king that all up now.

She stopped and then turned, surveying the area as if worried someone would overhear what she was about to tell him.

She shoved her hands in her pockets and sighed again. “I was going to call Nathan, but you’re here now, so maybe . . .”

She trailed off, hesitating. It made sense that if she had a problem she’d call Nathan. Of all the Kelly brothers, she was closest to him because he’d been more accepting of her from the very start. But since then he and all his brothers had made it clear to her that she was family and that they looked out for family. She should be able to call any of them. Not just Nathan.

“Rusty, if you need help, you can call any of us. You do know that, right?”

She nodded. “I do. I just wasn’t sure how to handle this and Nathan is less likely to freak out on me.”

“Shit. What have you done now?”

“I haven’t done anything!” she said indignantly. “Well, not exactly.”

“What does ‘not exactly’ mean?” he asked dryly.

She glanced back over her shoulder again and then heaved her shoulders in resignation. “I sort of hired someone to work part time at the hardware store.”

“Sort of? Either you did or you didn’t. And why didn’t I know anything about this? I spoke to Dad earlier and I’m sure he would have mentioned it. So my next question is, does Dad know about this new employee?”

“No,” she muttered. “I haven’t gotten around to telling him yet. But I wasn’t planning to keep it from him! I only just hired the kid yesterday. I’ll pay him out of my own pocket if Frank doesn’t want to hire him.”

Donovan studied Rusty intently. “You said kid. And you sound very passionate about this kid. Mind telling me the whole story?”

“I was going to call Nathan. I said that. I want to follow him home after he gets off.”

Donovan blinked. “You want to do what?”

“He’s in some kind of trouble, Van. I can see it. You don’t understand. It’s like looking at myself when I was that age. He’s scared shitless and he’s hungry and needs the money. He says he doesn’t have parents. Just two sisters he looks out for. Now that’s a hell of a lot of responsibility for a fifteen-year-old kid. I’m worried about him. I wanted to check this family of his out. Make sure he’s not in any danger. But I’m not stupid. I wasn’t planning to go alone. I was going to ask Nathan to go with me. And now you’re here,” she finished lamely.

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