An emotional new duet kicks off this week from Claudia Burgoa, part of her larger Decker Family series, and I have the whole first chapter for you.
Two years later . . .
As I descend the steps from the private jet, the cool air of the Pacific Northwest greets me, an embrace that is all too familiar. I’m ready to head home. My sanctuary. I need a few days to recharge after a long mission.
“Is it me, or do we all need a month’s vacation?” one of my best friends, Fisher, mumbles as we walk toward the vehicles.
“Stop complaining, Fish,” Beacon, our other best friend says, grabbing his wife Grace by the waist. “But, we are taking a month off.”
“So much for retiring from The Organization,” Mane mumbles.
And he’s right. A few years ago, they said they were done being agents for one of the best high intelligence security companies in the world. We would just be focusing on our music.
“We’re like Cher,” Fish jokes. “We have farewell tours, but we can’t stop singing. Well, in our case, it’s more like shooting assholes and rescuing people.”
I don’t remind them that they were the ones retiring, not me. I’m a sniper. One of the best, not only in the company, but probably the world. I like what I do, and even if my friends retired, I would continue working for The Organization. This is important to me. For the past couple of weeks, our job was to rescue hundreds of children and women from a trafficking cell.
“If you need us, fuckers, don’t call us,” Beacon says, waving at us.
I wave back. Finally, I’m heading back to my place, where I can recharge after a demanding mission. As planned, my motorcycle is waiting for me in the hangar, eliminating the need for a driver, and I can ditch my friends with ease. Love the guys, but I need some alone time. After one last glance, I slide on my helmet, hop on my bike, and start the engine, which purrs softly beneath me.
In the darkness, the excitement courses through my veins, sharpening my senses and amplifying the sounds around me. Above, the moon hangs high, casting a soft, otherworldly glow over the landscape.
I navigate the winding roads, relying on the headlight to pierce through the inky darkness. The engine’s roar resonates through the silent night, harmonizing with the rhythmic beating of my own heart.
As I pull up the driveway to my house, I’m greeted by a grand, yet empty sight. The luxurious lakefront contemporary house is perched on a hill, overlooking Lake Washington. Its expansive glass windows twinkle in the fading light, reflecting the echoes of my past and present life—a beautiful shell that lacks the bustling energy of everyday existence.
I don’t come here often. Only when I’m done with a mission or a tour. That’s when I need to be alone.
Pushing open the heavy oak door, the familiar scent of cedarwood and aged leather envelops me. It’s a scent that lingers, reminding me of happier times when the house was filled with life and laughter. We bought this house only months before I lost them. It was supposed to be our home. The place we would grow old—together.
I toss my duffel bag onto the pristine marble floor, and the sound of my footsteps reverberates through the silence. The only company I have is the soft hum of the refrigerator as I make my way into the spacious kitchen. Bottles of beer line the fridge. Instead of grabbing one, I close the door and take a glass from the cupboard, filling it with water, quenching my thirst.
I then enter the primary bedroom, and my heart tightens at the sight of the empty bed.
In the mirror, a stranger gazes back at me—a weathered man with more scars in his soul than years, a skilled sniper who hits his targets flawlessly but misses his own heart every time. He’s a famous musician who has adoring fans all over the world but no one to love him.
I run my hand across my stubbled jaw, feeling the rough texture that serves as a constant reminder of countless missions, the adrenaline-fueled pursuits, and the subsequent emptiness that always follows.
Loneliness seeps into my bones, wrapping around me like a heavy shroud. After this mission, everyone has returned to the warmth of their families, their spouses, their lives. Me? I’ve returned to an empty house.
Instead of sinking into the plush leather couch with a beer in hand, I reach out to him. I fire a text, hoping I can see him.
I’m in Seattle, need you.
He answers almost immediately, letting me know he’s in California and to fuck off. A part of me is tempted to respond with a warning. Something like, I’ll be there in a few hours. Be ready for me. But my weary body is too tired to jump onto another plane just so I can release some of the pent-up energy by having angry sex.
What’s the point of being with someone who can’t stand me, who’ll reject me once we’re done fucking each other’s brains out?
I don’t understand why I continue this self-destructive cycle—constantly searching for him so I can get my fix of Greyson Decker, but at the same time destroying us both because he can’t forgive me.
Or maybe I’m the one who can’t forgive himself.
One day, I’ll find the strength to break free from this toxic trait, or maybe I’ll never do it because I doubt I’ll ever stop loving them.
How can I forget when they still own me?
When I still love them, even when we can never be again.