Link to [Part 1
] [Part 2
] [Part 3
] [Part 4
] [Part 5
] [Part 6
] [Part 7
] [Part 8
] [Part 9
] [Part 10
] [Part 11
] [Part 12
] [Part 13
] [Part 14
] [Part 15
] [Part 16
] [Part 17
] [Part 18
] [Part 19
] [Part 20
] [Part 21
] [Part 22
]Rubirosa sat on the terrace and stared out at the way the predawn mist had settled over the fields and vineyards of the Catalonian countryside without really seeing it; she was pondering the call she’d just made. True, she’d finally—after many tries—managed to get Mike on the line, but he’d been terse … and a little too quick to assure her that he was fine, don’t worry, enjoy the rest of her stay with her family, don’t worry, he was fine. Don’t worry.
She was worried. She worried because she cared about him; she’d tried to tell him that. The fact that Jack had taken him in settled her mind on one score, but that seemingly freed her mind to worry about any number of other things: the extent of his injury (which he’d tried, with little success, to make light of), his state of mind … even the state of their shared caseload. She wondered briefly how much case-related paperwork had gone up in smoke.
“En la terraza, Aron.”
A moment later, her brother stepped outside. “Can’t sleep?” he asked sympathetically. She shrugged, and he lowered himself gracefully into the chair beside her. Gesturing to the cell phone still in her hand, he asked quietly, “Did you get through to him?”
She nodded. “He’s staying with Jack.” Sighing, she returned her gaze to the slowly-lightening countryside. “I wish I’d known that.”
“Is he all right?”
“He’s trying a little too hard to convince me that he is.” Abruptly, she fixed her gaze on him. “What is it about men that makes them—”
He held up his hand to stem her outburst. “Connie, don’t,” he warned, a smile flirting with the corners of his mouth. “I’m not getting into a debate with you. Not over this. Not now.” He turned toward the wall that separated the house from the family vineyards and settled back into the chair. “Besides, he’s your boyfriend. You should know.”
“Aron,” she protested, exasperated.
“Connie,” he mimicked, his eyes twinkling.
“En la terraza, tío,” she responded. She and Aron turned expectantly toward the doorway as their uncle—their father’s older brother—stepped through it. He was a distinguished-looking man, much as their father was: even at the age of sixty, he was still slender and energetic, his hair still mostly dark but for the silver wings at the temples, his dark eyes sharp and knowing.
In some ways, he reminded her of Jack McCoy.
“Vuestra abuela quiere que vengáis,” he advised. “Es la hora.”
Your grandmother wants you to come. It’s time.
Sobering immediately, they stood and followed him back into the house.—————————————
Link to [Part 24