Wicked choice, p.5
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       Wicked Choice, p.5

         Part #4 of Wicked Horse Vegas series by Sawyer Bennett
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  Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

  My plans are dashed when the door to the examination room opens, and a male doctor in his mid-forties steps in. He has dark hair, parted straight and evenly combed. His black-framed glasses make him look very smart and accomplished.

  Rachel gives a yip of embarrassment and I immediately pull back, dragging the paper down to cover her legs. Rubbing the tips of my fingers over my mouth, which is still tingling from that kiss, I turn to face the doctor with a sheepish grin.

  He blinks at us from behind his frames and actually apologizes, "Oh, God... Sorry to have interrupted you."

  Chuckling, I step away from the examination table and move to Rachel's side. "Hey, we're on your time, Doc. We just got a little carried away with each other while we were waiting for you."

  The doctor laughs. "I was running late but when I saw you were the patient Henry McCullough sent over, I jumped you up in the queue, so you didn't have to wait for me."

  Guess that's one of the perks of working for The Jameson Group.

  He shakes each of our hands. "I'm Bill Anchors. And you must be Rachel Hart and Bodie Wright?"

  "That would be us," Rachel says with a nervous laugh.

  Dr. Anchors turns to the sink and washes his hands. "Today, I'll examine you, and then we're going to talk about what the game plan will be to monitor you through your pregnancy."

  Rachel looks at me, and I give her a reassuring smile.

  Dr. Anchors turns from the sink and takes a seat on the rolling stool. After snagging a pair of latex gloves from a box on the counter, he puts them on with practiced efficiency.

  He rolls the stool up to the edge of the exam table. "Go ahead and put your feet in the stirrups and scoot down to the edge of the table. I'm just going to give you a quick pelvic examination."

  I take a few steps back to stand near Rachel's shoulders as she does what the doctor requests. She stares at the ceiling blankly while the doctor squirts some lube on his finger and proceeds to insert it inside of her. Rachel flinches from the invasion, and my hackles rise. Not because another man has his hand between her legs, but because it's causing her discomfort. But I know this is part of his job, so I'm going to make it mine to try to ease that for her.

  Putting my hand on her shoulder, I give it a squeeze. "You are seriously like the most beautiful and sexy woman I have ever known."

  Rachel's head snaps my way and her eyes lock onto mine, filled with disbelief.

  I nod encouragingly. "Seriously, Hart. All the guys have their tongues hanging out at you behind your back. If you ever want to stop being a mercenary, you could totally be a supermodel."

  Rachel rolls her eyes and growls, "Will you seriously just shut the fuck up, Bodie?"

  Dr. Anchors pulls his hand away with a suppressed chuckle and rolls his chair toward the garbage while pulling the latex gloves off. My hand goes behind Rachel's back and I help her sit up, bending down to whisper in her ear, "I'm not going to lie, I was trying to distract you. But I'm not lying about you being the most beautiful and sexy woman I know."

  Rachel's face flushes. In that moment, it's obvious not many men have whispered sweet nothings to her. I find that to be very sad and in need of remedy for sure.

  "Okay," Dr. Anchors says as he stands from the stool. He leans against the counter and crosses his arms over his chest. "Everything looks and feels good on your examination. Going to run some bloodwork and get a urine test to get some baseline readings. Assuming those all look good, you won't need to come back to see me for another thirty days. You'll start coming to see me biweekly at the end of your second trimester."

  "And that's it?" I ask incredulously.

  Dr. Anchors gives me a reassuring smile. "That's pretty much it. Not much to do during the first trimester. We'll do your first ultrasound at sixteen weeks, and we should be able to check the baby's gender at that point. Although given the fact that you're thirty-five, Rachel, you'll need to be thinking if you want to get some advanced testing."

  "Advanced testing?" she asks hesitantly.

  "Amniocentesis for starters," Dr. Anchors says. "There are a variety of tests we can do to check for abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord or genetic conditions. You two can discuss it and decide if you want to go that route. I've got some pamphlets that describe what each of the tests are and what they look for."

  "Okay," Rachel says. She sits up straighter on the table, wrapping her arms tight over her stomach as if she's protecting the baby. Shooting me a quick glance, she then looks back to the doctor. "If it's possible, Dr. Anchors, I would like to be able to talk to you privately."

  A zap of what feels like electricity skitters up my spine in surprise over her request, particularly because there's no mistaking the slight hint of worry in her voice. She's not looking at me, though. Her gaze is pinned on the doctor.

  He gives her a warm smile. "Of course. That's not a problem."

  I want to object because I don't want cut out of any discussion, particularly if there is something worrying Rachel. She says she's going to go through with this pregnancy for me, but what if she's having second thoughts?

  Her hand comes down on top of mine, and she gives me a squeeze. "Bodie... it's just personal stuff I want to talk to him about. I haven't changed my mind about anything."

  Relief floods through me because I hear the truth in her words, and I trust her. I nod and bend down to brush my lips over her cheek. "Okay. I get it. I'm just going to wait for you in the waiting room."

  "Thank you," she says softly. "I won't be too long."

  I shake Dr. Anchors' hand before leaving Rachel in the room to ask whatever secret questions she has, hoping she will eventually confide in me what has her worried so I can help her get through it.



  I make my way down an empty corridor of gray concrete flooring and white cinderblock walls. I'm not particularly fond of security details, even less so when they're of some diva pop princess whose highest risk is getting stampeded by thirteen-year-old girls. It's not exciting enough for me and it's below my comprehensive skill set, but at least they'll have me perched in the catwalk that runs above the stage with a rifle. This pop star has had what have been deemed to be credible death threats, and while metal detectors are used at the venue, they're not foolproof. Her manager felt that adding specialized security through the Jameson Group was a wise use of her money, and I probably agree. I'm on the team covering tonight's Los Angeles concert. Another team will meet her in Houston for her next one.

  Still... I'd rather be running black ops in a foreign country or protecting an important government official. Those are the jobs that gets my juices flowing, and make me feel vital and important.

  I'm on this detail because I volunteered for it, and I volunteered for it because I don't know how many job details I'll be getting over the next few months given my pregnancy. Dr. Anchors and I discussed that privately.

  I didn't want Bodie involved because I don't want him to know I've been pregnant before and had it end in a miscarriage, an event I still blame myself for to this day, despite being told repetitively by medical personnel that it hadn't been my fault.

  But I know a part of it was due to the lifestyle I'd led at the time. I know it down in my bones, so I have to tread very carefully with how I treat my body over the next few months. I should keep stress to a minimum as well.

  I decide to check on the various hospitality rooms they have set up in the concert venue. There's one for the star of the show--an incredibly skinny girl of seventeen named Janie March, who wears outrageously miniscule outfits and sings into a headset microphone, which, in my opinion, only Madonna can make cool. There's also one for the media and another for music industry VIPs. There will be someone from Jameson in each room following the concert. Our team for this detail totals eight, including Bodie, who I've hardly seen since we arrived a few hours ago. I have my perch set up, and I won't ascend until the venue doors open.
  I check Miss March's room first. She's in there with her own security as well as Hannah Miles. Hannah is a retired Chicago cop who still needs to work to support her husband's gambling needs since they moved to Vegas. She's been with Jameson for four years now. She nods at me when I pop my head in, and I return it.

  As I head toward the VIP room just down the hall, I'm surprised to hear Bodie and Cage's voices coming through the open doorway. They're probably just hanging out in there since they'll both be in the stage wings during the concert, those two being the ones who would swoop Miss Miles off stage if something were to happen. There's a well-constructed plan that was developed between our team and hers weeks ago to ensure her utmost safety.

  When I turn the corner, I halt when I hear my name--definitely Bodie's voice. That first zing of adrenaline that I've caught him talking about us immediately gives way to relief as I realize he's talking business.

  "Hart could pick any shooter off from anywhere in this colosseum from her perch," Bodie says, and is that... pride in his voice over my abilities?

  "I'd sure as fuck hope so," Cage says with a snort. "Her Olympic medals are decent credentials in my opinion."

  My hand comes to my mouth, so I don't snicker out loud while they talk about me. I press against the wall about three feet from the open door, and shamelessly listen.

  I don't talk about my Olympic experience much, although everyone at Jameson knows I competed. It's not that I'm not proud of my accomplishments--because I totally am--but it was just so long ago. These days, there's better crops of young athletes coming through that would smoke me all over the place.

  I was a winter athlete and competed in the Biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. I attended the Games when I was seventeen, and again when I was twenty-one. I competed in the 15-km individual and the 12.5 km mass start events, receiving three silvers and a gold between the two, and then I was just done. I was tired of the grueling training regimen, which seemed almost exotic as I grew up in the sport because it kept me away from home and traveling all over the world. But then it hadn't been fun anymore and, despite my coaches having a cow, I retired at twenty-one.

  Of course, my skills with a rifle translated into this type of work. A biathlete can hit a target less than two inches in diameter from a hundred and sixty feet while exhausted, out of breath, and laying prone on the snow-covered ground. My current rifle is a little better, though. The CheyTac M200 Intervention can hit a target from twenty-five hundred yards, so yeah... better toys with The Jameson Group.

  "She's smokin' hot, though," Cage says, and I lean toward the door to listen more closely. "I'd love a crack at her, but she doesn't give anyone in our group the time of day. But I bet Kynan's had her at least once. They've known each other forever and are as thick as thieves."

  This type of talk should bother me, but it doesn't. I know it happens. I've developed a thick skin. I can never let anyone know I've taken offense because, frankly, I'm playing in a world that's heavily dominated by men. They don't want to work in a dangerous situation with someone who lets emotions rule them or where they can't just be their disgusting pig selves at times.

  But I do feel apprehension take root deep within me, because I don't like this conversation happening with Bodie. He knows me carnally and he's gotten me pregnant, two facts I do not want spread about. The pregnancy is going to come to light eventually, but I'd rather not have to explain the thing with Bodie to anyone.

  I'm completely tense while I wait to see how Bodie handles this. Cage Murdock is his best friend, and they are tight. I know they talk about this shit because all guys do.

  "Have some respect," Bodie says in a low but neutral voice that barely carries through the door. "She's our teammate."

  I'm warmed through to my core by his protectiveness of me.

  "Come on," Cage says teasingly, and I can almost imagine him nudging Bodie in the ribs with a knowing wink. "Don't tell me you haven't looked at her and--"

  "I said have some fucking respect," Bodie snarls, and I jump at the anger saturating his words.

  "Jesus," Cage mutters apologetically. "I'm sorry. Don't get your panties in a twist."

  I spin away from the doorway and walk quickly back the way I came. I don't want to hear anymore, and I've heard enough. When I told Bodie I wanted to keep this secret, I trusted his word he wouldn't tell anyone. What I just heard was affirmation that my trust was well placed. If he were going to tell anyone about us hooking up or about me being pregnant, it would be Cage.

  Clearly, he hasn't.

  It also confirms we weren't seen together that night at The Wicked Horse. I didn't think we'd been, but if we had, the rumor mill would have been churning hard. Cage also would have said something.

  I smile as I realize Bodie truly has my back. He's always had it when we're working together, but it's nice to know he has it on the other side.

  He had it when we were at Dr. Anchors' office day before yesterday. No woman likes to get a pelvic exam. I hated myself when I flinched, because I don't like showing weakness. But damn if Bodie didn't see it, and then immediately started telling me all kinds of horse shit about me being beautiful and sexy. I didn't give any credence to the actual words, but I did give him a hell of a lot of bonus points for trying to distract me.

  God, did I need it, too. More than just during that pelvic exam, the entire visit I'd been strung tight. And my talk with Dr. Anchors went no differently than my talk with the doctor who'd treated me when I miscarried thirteen years ago.

  After Bodie left, I just bluntly told the doctor, "I've been pregnant before, contrary to the history form I filled out. I miscarried at nine weeks, and I need to do things differently this time."

  He'd nodded at me in understanding, not asking why I'd left that information off the intake. I'm sure he figured out I didn't want Bodie to know. Instead, he replied, "What do you mean 'do things differently'? What did you do the last time that you think might have attributed to you losing the baby?"

  It was obvious what the good doctor was thinking. Perhaps drugs. Maybe alcohol.

  Not exactly, but not all that far from the truth.

  "I was not good to my body for many years," I told him. I explained briefly about the brutal training I went through from my early teens through my retirement from the Olympics at twenty-one. After that, I hadn't been any better to my body. I channeled my need for thrills by moving from Olympic competition to the rush of adrenaline-pumping activities like skydiving, base jumping, and extreme climbing.

  For almost a full four years after I left the Olympics, I traveled the world and lived like a bohemian bum, moving from one thrill to the next. I slept in cheap hotels or on friend's couches. I only had with me what I could carry in a duffel bag, always seeking bigger thrills, more dangerous adventure. I ate poorly and slept even shittier. In fact, it's how I met Kynan... base jumping off Angel Falls in Venezuela. I was jumping with a parachute. He went before me and jumped with a wingsuit. I saw him zip away, knowing jumping with a parachute was going to be way too boring for me.

  What started then was a friendship that spanned many years, and is still going strong to this day. We were friends first because I was involved with someone else. Later, when I was unattached, we screwed around. When we could, we'd meet up to experience death-defying jumps or swimming uncaged with Great Whites. We'd fuck like crazed animals, and then we'd go on our way. We'd keep in touch with periodic emails or calls. It was a good friendship with a great benefits package while it lasted, but it was never exclusive.

  It stopped when Kynan brought me on board to The Jameson Group. Of course, he didn't own it back then. Jerico Jameson did, and I had to pass his muster first. But when I accepted the job, we both knew we couldn't be involved sexually since he was in a position of authority over me.

  And that was fine by me. It was just casual anyway.

  So I told most of this to Dr. Anchors. The adrenaline and stress of my lifestyle. The poor nut
rition and running my body into the ground. Always traveling and never resting. How I hadn't even known I was pregnant until I miscarried because my period was never regular.

  That I miscarried within hours after a harrowing bungee jump off the Macau Tower in China.

  Dr. Anchors listened to me patiently, which included a rundown of my more dangerous work with The Jameson Group.

  When I ran out of steam, he said, "Rachel... just because you miscarried once, it doesn't mean it will happen again. And there is no way of knowing why you miscarried. It could have been one thing, or it could have been several factors, but the truth is that miscarriages are all too common in the first trimester."

  That didn't make me feel better. Nothing would make me feel better, because no one could ever know the devastation it had caused me. Well, no one but Kynan. He had been in Macau, too, and he went to the hospital with me when I started bleeding badly. The boyfriend who had accidentally gotten me pregnant weeks before with a broken condom was long gone. He had never been long-term material anyway, so there was no reason to even track him down and tell him.

  Yes, Kynan watched it all and let me cry on his shoulder, a vulnerability no one had ever seen before, nor has anyone since. Then he offered me a new path to pull me away from my grief.

  The Jameson Group.

  And here I am, repeating things all over again.

  I make it to the stage, intent to climb the catwalk above for another check. I won't be moving my rifle up there, which is currently locked in our cargo van outside, until just before the doors open.

  I put my foot on the bottom rung of the ladder that connects to the scaffolding above when I hear Bodie behind me. "Hey... Hart. Wait up."

  Christ, he looks yummy in black cargo pants, a tight black t-shirt with the Jameson logo on the front pocket in white, and a holster with a Glock on his hip.

  "What's up?" I ask in a cool tone. Him calling me Hart rather than Rachel tells me this is business.

  He walks right up to me, but rather than stopping a respectable distance from me, he backs me up into the ladder, his hands coming to hold the rungs by my head and caging me in. Bodie dips his head and murmurs, "Tonight after we wrap up here... I'm coming to your room."

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