“You don’t know jack shit. It’s none of your fucking business anyway.”
I felt anything but sedate. I was hot. I wanted to pull this guy’s eyelids off, and make him eat them. My skills were about to come in handy. Taking one deep breath and holding it for six seconds, I blew it out slowly, and then started my interrogation.
Giving him the intensity of my eyes, I replied, “That’s where you’re wrong, boy. So, why’d you do it?”
“None-ya.” He said with a petulant voice.
Oh, how original.
The bullshit answers went on for nearly ten minutes before my patience was at an end. Something snapped inside me, and I reached out for his throat, wrapping one hand around it, and pushing him up against his front door. Rory looked shocked, but I didn’t know why.
“Now, how about we get down to what really went on, and how about you stop delaying. I’m a little sick of your bullshit.” I said, while giving his neck a tighter squeeze for emphasis.
“I t-thought she was with m-me. When I got back to the car and realized she wasn’t behind m-me, I went back.” He cried.
“So you went back, but you didn’t help her. You just stood by like a pussy and watched them beat the shit out of her?” I asked quietly.
“I called the cops.” He squeaked.
“You called the cops. How nice of you. You know, I really want to beat the ever-loving shit out of you right now, but I won’t. You’re a worthless piece of shit who doesn’t deserve to live. I hope you rot in hell. Stay away from Payton. You better hope I never see your face again.” I said, before smacking his head into the door for emphasis. I smashed him against the wall once more before letting his throat go. I was quite satisfied as I watched him slump to the floor, and then nod at me in understanding.
Turbulence in the cabin jolted me out of my thoughts and I gasped. I hated being on a fucking plane. Man was not meant to fly. If he was, he would’ve been born with motherfucking wings. Layne gave me an amused glance, and I flipped him the bird before closing my eyes again, trying to get my breathing back under control.
“You look weird, Max. Something you need some help with?” Layne sniggered from beside be.
Once again, I flipped him off and said, “Fuck you, and yes, actually, you can. Will you hold my hand?”
Layne stared at my hand in disdain, and turned his head as best he could given what little room he had to move.
I laughed for a good five minutes before I sobered and said, “Actually, I really do need some help. You remember Apollo? I was wondering if you had a way to contact his breeders. I’m interested in purchasing a family protection dog.”
“Yeah, I remember him, dumbass. He was my dog! I’m still in contact with Apollo’s trainers. I think the owner of K9 Protection is still Taylor Soloman. I have his email right here.” Layne said as he read me out the email address.
I typed out a basic email explaining what I wanted, and then hit send hoping that this was still the correct email for the man. The more I thought about it, the more right I felt that this was the answer to all of Payton’s problems. Since she was dead set about not having any help, and doing things on her own, I knew that this would be okay in her eyes.
My phone pinged fifteen minutes later, and I pulled up the email.
I’m so happy to hear from you. I was so saddened to hear of Apollo’s death. The important thing I tried to make understood, throughout the company, was that he died doing what he was trained and loved to do. As for your inquiry, I think we have just the dog for your fiancé. Since you will not be here to take over the dogs handling, I’ll have one of our female handlers teach her exactly what she needs to know. The training will take around two weeks. We will make sure that the dog is compatible with Payton, and make sure that she will know just what kind of weapon she will have in the dog. The dog I’m thinking will be a perfect fit is actually Apollo’s great grandson. He has an excellent bloodline, as you know. I’ve attached a photo of him. His name is Alpha. He weighs in at eighty-nine pounds even. He’s a year and a half old, and has tested well with kids. He also has a deep love of women. We tried to pair him with a male owner, and he was having none of it. I’m not saying that he wasn’t good with him, but that he goes above and beyond for a female. As for payment, that can be negotiated. As soon as we make sure the fit is right, and that Payton is able to handle Alpha, then we will discuss payment. I’ll have Claudia hand deliver Alpha next week. Make sure Payton knows to expect her.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that he remembered me so well. Years ago, I’d gone with Layne to pick up Apollo. We both had to go through a week training course before he would relinquish the dog into our custody.
For the next three years, we worked with Apollo. He was one of our team. The day he died, it was as if we’d lost one of our own. He’d done a sweep of the building and found explosives lining the interior. There was so much C-4 in that building that when it blew, it knocked down every building in a two block radius. Apollo was too close to the blast, and was killed when a building collapsed, crushing him underneath. We worked for hours freeing him, and he had a funeral just as any soldier would. We never got another protection dog, because Apollo just couldn’t be replaced.
Fourteen and a half hours after leaving the Gregg County Airport, we arrived at COB Speicher, during one hell of a sandstorm. It took another hour, of waiting it out, before it passed. By the time I stepped foot off the ramp, I was already ready to leave. This place sucked. I forgot, or blocked out, how much I hated it.
I followed Layne into the belly of the base. We walked into a meeting room, and there, surrounding the tables, were a number of men and one very pissed off looking woman. Layne took his seat at the front of the table, and I made my way to the back wall and leaned against it. I didn’t want to sit with my back to the door, and the only seat left was doing exactly that.