Baby Needs a Hero Sneak Peek 1



I downed the last drops of Rémy Martin in my glass and faced the inevitable: I was definitely going on this date. My younger sister meant well, but if she fixed me up with one more yoga instructor or triathlon enthusiast, I might lose my shit. Quietly, though. I did not raise my voice with my sister. She’d been through enough.

My phone—the one in the right breast pocket of my suit—buzzed against my chest. Dare I hope? I answered, maybe a little too enthusiastically. “What’s up, Bennet?” I asked my boss at Sentinel Security. Please let it be an emergency assignment.

“Sorry to call you on your night off, Prescott,” Bennet said. “But it’s an emergency assignment.”

Yes. I fist-pumped.

I pulled out my other phone, the civilian one, from my left pants pocket and started thumbing my regretful text message to Madison or Addison or… I didn’t know because I’d apparently labeled her as “Obli-date 5” in my phone.

“Former army infantry,” Bennet said, referring to the vet who needed my services. “Call came in on the hotline. He sounded scared. Maybe having a PTSD flashback.”

That clinched it. My sister’s fix-up #5 was on her own for the evening. I added regretful emojis to my message, offered my jilted date dinner on my tab, and hit send.

“Text me the address,” I said. “And his number. I’ll talk to him while I drive.”

“That’s a problem.”

I stopped mid-text to my sister, who would have my ass on a spit for backing out of another date. “What does that mean?”

“He didn’t give a location, so we had to trace the call. Phone is registered to a Patrick O’Dell, signal indicates he’s at the Grand Plaza hotel.”

“Okay. Not hearing the problem.” I grabbed my keys, punched a series of codes to set the security system at the front door of my high-tech, downtown Chicago apartment, and headed for the elevator.

“He hung up,” Bennet continued. “We couldn’t get him back on the line.”

That could be bad. “Suicidal?” I asked.

Bennet sighed. “Possibly, but…”

“Give me a sec to get downstairs,” I said.

I stepped into the elevator and smiled at the elderly lady who lived on the twelfth floor, two floors above me. I didn’t make eye contact with the kid I didn’t recognize who stood in the back right corner, but I kept my attention focused on him. Skinny, early 20s, acne along his jawline, dark hair with bleached tips, black and red motorcycle helmet tucked under his right arm. I’d be able to pick him out of a lineup. Not that there would be a line-up or a need to ID him. Just part of situational awareness, which I’d been honing since I went active army 10 years ago. About the same age as the kid with acne, actually.

I shoved an earpiece into my ear. The second the elevator doors slid open at lobby level, I stepped out of it. “Go on,” I said to Bennet. “The problem?”

“9-1-1 call came in 15 minutes ago. Dead guy on the fourth floor of that very hotel. Age and description match what we pulled up on O’Dell.”

“Shit.” I said a little prayer for the troubled soldier. Not because I was religious, but because that’s what we did when one of our own fell. “But if O’Dell is gone, what do you need me to do?”

“From what we’re monitoring on police scanners, there’s a lot of blood but no obvious weapon.”

I entered the parking garage and picked up my pace as I approached my black Mercedes SUV. Comfortable enough to transport the VIPs I often protected. Big enough to haul around a vet in crisis and an intervention team when necessary. The two sides of Sentinel Security. The paid work and the work of our hearts. I followed Bennet’s clues to the obvious conclusion. “You don’t think it was a suicide.”

“We need to know for sure. Two things that pop. One, O’Dell had a TSI security clearance when he was deployed, and when he called the hotline, he said someone was after him. Two, he mentioned something about carbon.”

“What the hell does that mean?” I ran through possibilities. Carbon footprint, carbon caps, carbon copies. They made no fucking sense.

“I know it makes no fucking sense,” Bennet said, echoing my thoughts. Yeah, we’d known each other a lot of years. “We need someone on the ground to charm some information out of the local cops so the FBI field office can decide whether they need to swarm in and claim jurisdiction.”

“Goddamn, I hate doing their fucking dirty work,” I muttered. Especially when it was all for show, because we all knew damn well the FBI would take over in a case like this. “You need to tell the Feds that counting on my charm to get them information is a shitty plan A.”

“You’re telling me. But try to be on your best behavior. If you have to, remind the cops of some of the big-ass favors we’ve done for Chicago PD over the past couple of years.”

He wasn’t exaggerating. From protecting some hot-shot, pain-in-the-ass senator to talking down a well-armed Iraq vet having a psychotic break in the middle of Clark Street, to about a dozen other high-risk missions, our six-man team at Sentinel Security had become a trusted partner to the city force. It suited me fine to still be able to protect and serve. Especially protect, whether it was our rich and important and sometimes asshole clients, or vets having a tough time of it. Keeping people safe helped me forget, at least for a little while, the times I hadn’t been able to save the ones I loved.

The only downside to Sentinel’s informal arrangement with CPD was that support—and more importantly, high-value information—tended to flow only one way: from us to them.

“I’ll do my best,” I said. “And I’ll be there in 15.”

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