Divide & conquer, p.16
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       Divide & Conquer, p.16

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 16


  “Relax,” Zane said as if someone were standing there. He wasnt all too sure someone else wasnt, actually. “He says relax. ” He groaned and rubbed his hands over his face.

  With a sigh, Zane pulled one leg up and wrapped an arm around his knee as he sat there wondering what the hell he was going to do. Hed already made up his mind not to call Annie. He was sure his sister would fly out here if he needed her, but there really wasnt anything for her to do. There wasnt really anything anyone could do. That was what was so goddamn frustrating.

  A few minutes later there was a soft knock on the door frame of his room. “You want Cheetos or a Snickers?” Ty asked in a disgruntled tone.

  Zane turned his chin as soon as he heard the knock. “Snickers will be easier,” he said. Although the Cheetos sounded good, Zane knew better than to fight Ty for them.

  He could hear Ty unwrapping the candy bar as he moved closer. “Hold out your hand,” Ty ordered when he got to the side of the bed. Shifting slightly toward Ty, Zane did so, palm up. Ty placed the Snickers in his hand without a word, and then Zane felt him move away and heard him flop into a chair of some kind. The springs squeaked.

  Zane lifted the bar tentatively to his lips, surprised when he found it difficult to hit his mouth. He took a bite and chewed slowly. “Doctor was here,” he said as he savored the chocolate.

  “That was faster than I expected. And?” Ty asked eagerly. “Theyre sending me home. ”

  “Thats good, right?” Ty asked. “When can we leave?”

  “He said an hour. ” Zane wasnt sure about answering the first question.

  The chair creaked as Ty leaned forward. His voice was closer when he spoke. “We talked about this. You dont want to go home?” “Yeah, I want to go home. I hate hospitals. Its just…. ” Zane frowned.

  “You wish you could see,” Ty provided matter-of-factly. Zane nodded. He carefully took another bite of the Snickers. “Dont know what the hell Im going to do with myself. Itll be a whole new level of staring at four walls. ”

  “Well,” Ty murmured thoughtfully. “Man up, Zane. Shit happens, you know? Well get out of here and get some real food. ”

  Zane sat startled for a long moment and then actually chuckled. “Welcome back. ” “What?”

  “You sounded a lot more like your normal grumpy asshole self,” Zane explained. “Rather comforting, actually. ” Something about that just made Zane want to laugh. “Yeah, youre going to make a great valet. ”

  He was surprised by a thump on the tip of his nose. He hadnt even heard or felt Ty move. He swiped out with one hand in a belated reaction. “Hey! Ive seen you use an iron. That is damn impressive. ”

  “Marines either know how to use an iron or they get married,” Ty advised through a mouthful of Cheetos. “The iron is less dangerous. ” Zane snorted and almost swallowed the chunk of candy bar in his mouth without chewing it up. “Thats actually pretty funny. ” “I try. ”

  Chapter Seven

  Z ANEfelt the cab come to a stop. Hed lost track of the twists and turns a while back, and he had no idea if they were at his apartment, Tys house, or somewhere altogether different. Hed already decided there was no way hed be saying the words “Are we there yet?”—Ty would go ballistic.

  So he sat quietly, face turned toward the window, chin down. He was wearing scrubs from the hospital; his suit had been trashed. He knew he wasnt bloody, despite the bruises everywhere, so he figured he didnt look too bad.

  “Were here,” Ty told him. The door on Tys side opened. “Hold on. Ill come get you,” he said before the door slammed shut. Zane didnt move. He knew this was going to be tough, trying to get around, and he certainly wasnt looking forward to it. Hed barely said a word the whole drive over, just thinking about what he would be facing if he wasnt able to see again. He knew it was too soon to start worrying and planning, but fuck all, hed only just gotten a bunch of shit in his head straightened out, and now this?

  The door at his side opened up, and Ty took his elbow gently. “Watch the curb when you step down. Itll come up fast,” he mumbled, sounding as if he was looking down at the ground as he spoke.

  Zane turned in the seat and set one foot down. He could feel the soft decline of the curb and shifted his foot a little farther forward before pushing himself out of the seat to stand. Ty got him onto the sidewalk, gave him a pat on the shoulder, then removed his hand from Zanes elbow. Zane heard Ty talking briefly to the cabbie.

  Shifting carefully, Zane moved further away from the car and waited. He could tell by the familiar smell of Italian restaurants in Little Italy that they were at his apartment. He also knew which way the front door to the apartment was, but he didnt know how far away it was. And there were steps and a railing and a bench and some broken concrete in the sidewalk and what if it was almost garbage day and there was a trash can at the curb? Zane groaned. His battered brain was channeling Ty.

  “Here,” Ty said, surprising Zane out of his circling thoughts. Ty took Zanes hand and pressed something into it. “Use that,” he instructed as he held Zanes hand around a curved wooden grip.

  Zane realized it was the umbrella he kept beside the door to his apartment. He frowned and curled his fingers around the handle, moving it slightly in front of him. It definitely wasnt a cane, but he figured if he moved it in front of him it would hit something before he did. “Good idea,” he murmured.

  “I know,” Ty responded easily, a smile evident in his voice. He took Zanes elbow and turned him. “Take your time, shuffle your feet when youre not certain. If you hesitate or anticipate, youre more liable to trip over nothing,” he advised.

  Zane grimaced. “Right,” he murmured as he took a breath and took a couple steps. He could feel the hard surface under his feet, so at least he was on the walk. Although he felt like a complete idiot, he swung the umbrella carefully in front of him, the end down around his knees. When he hit something metal that clanged, he stopped in surprise, trying to remember what it could be.

  “Just the railing,” Ty said at his side. “Steps,” he added as his grip tightened on Zanes elbow. Zane still paused. “How far? Step up now?”

  “Yes,” Ty answered curtly. “Kick out with your toes to find it. ”

  Zane lifted his foot, kicked, finding the front of the step, and then he put his foot on it, somewhat surprised when it worked. He repeated the motion two more times and stopped. “Thats all, right?”

  “Yep,” Ty answered, and he let go of Zanes arm. The sound of the keys in the door followed, and the door squeaked as it opened. Ty took his arm again, but he didnt pull him. “Come on,” he instructed. “Dont drag your feet, theres a doorjamb. ”

  “Youve done this before, havent you?” Zane said, following the directions and getting inside without a problem.

  “When I was little,” Ty answered in a softer voice. “Well use the umbrella until I can find something better. ”

  Zane frowned again and placed one hand against the wall he knew was to his right side. “No one in your family is blind. ” “My great-grandmother. She died when I was fourteen. ” Zane nodded and started moving, letting his hand skim along the wall. He knew he had several feet until he got to a bookshelf. He was on the main drag through the apartment. It led to the kitchen in front of him. He was in the living room, and after the bookshelves there was a hallway to the right with four doors: two bedrooms, a closet, and a bathroom. He didnt really have much furniture, so what trouble could he get into?

  “At least I know where stuff is in my own house,” he murmured as he walked until his hand met the wood of the shelves.

  “Thats kind of the idea, sport,” Ty murmured from somewhere in front of him. Zane deliberately closed his eyes to visualize the couch and chairs, and then he swept the space in front of him before taking two careful steps to stop right behind the sofa. He trailed his fingers over it as he walked around the side, and with a sigh of relief he sank down onto i

  Ty patted him on the head as soon as he was down, like he would a dog whod performed a trick correctly. His voice was the only way to tell where he was. He didnt seem to make any other noise when he moved. No footsteps, no swish of clothing, no cracking bones or creaking joints. Nothing. Eerie. Vintage Ty.

  “Want food? Its not too late yet,” Ty asked as he moved away. “Yes,” Zane said fervently as he lightly batted after Tys hand. “There was nothing wrong with me and still they wanted to feed me broth and Jell-O. ”

  “Jell-Os good,” Ty argued from the kitchen.

  “Not when youre starving, its not,” Zane shot back. He kicked off his shoes, making sure to carefully push them under the old coffee table before he stripped off his socks and propped his legs up. He leaned his head against the back of the couch. With his eyes closed, he could almost imagine it was a Sunday afternoon and he was just being lazy instead of it being Monday night after the day from the third ring of hell.

  “Well, what do you want?” Ty asked in something close to annoyance. His voice had moved. He was standing right in front of Zane.

  Zane twitched in surprise and his eyes flew open. “Christ, Ty,” he complained.

  “What?” Ty asked defensively. “Im hungry!”

  “Its a good thing Ive calmed down recently,” Zane told him. “If Id had my gun, Id have pulled it. ”

  “What are you talking about?”

  Zane shook his head and wiped one hand over his face. “Order deep dish from Isabellas. They should still be open. ”

  Ty pressed a phone into Zanes hand. “Here. I need ibuprofen,” he said as his voice trailed away. “Kitchen cabinet next to the sink,” Zane said distractedly as he ran his fingers over the buttons, trying to figure out how to do this. It was easier to do with his eyes closed, even though he couldnt see anyway. After two aborted attempts, he got the number he had memorized into the phone and made the order for delivery.

  He could hear Ty banging around and rattling the bottle of ibuprofen. He heard him open and close the refrigerator. Then he stopped making noise again. A few seconds later, Zane heard the pop and hiss of a carbonated drink being opened just a few feet away.

  Zane turned his face that way. “You know, I knew you could be scary. I just didnt realize how fucking scary. I didnt hear you move. At all. ”

  “What?” Ty asked in the same distracted, slightly confused tone of voice hed used earlier. “You want a drink?” he offered belatedly. “Ill wait for pizza. I said, youre so quiet when you move I didnt hear you at all. Even footfalls in the carpet, and I know how to listen for those things. ”

  “Oh,” Ty said abashedly. “Sorry. ” “Its okay. Just confirms that you dont even have to think about it. ” Zane tipped his head, turning an ear toward him. “You going to stand there til the pizza gets here?”

  “Thought about it. Kinda hurts to sit,” Ty admitted.

  “Still hurting a lot from the baseball game?” Zane frowned. “You didnt go into the building and get hurt, did you?”

  “Nope,” Ty answered as he sat down. The couch beside Zane shifted as he got comfortable. Zane still frowned, listening to Tys voice carefully, but there was nothing there to clue him in. “Id like to know what happened. One moment I was walking through this store to check the storeroom, the next Im waking up to total black. ”

  “There was an explosion,” Ty told him. He grunted heavily, and the next thing Zane knew, Tys head was resting on his thigh. “About a dozen agents and cops were injured. Six of ours in the hospital. No fatalities, as far as I know. ”

  Zanes frown faded, and he moved his hand to gently settle atop Tys head, stroking lightly. “You saw it from the truck?” “Yeah,” Ty answered softly. He stretched, set his drink on the table, then settled back against Zane. “You were carried out by a very large fireman named Tank,” he informed Zane in amusement.


  “Thats the guy who ran me over. ”

  “Oh yeah, met him at the field briefly. ” Zane slid his fingers down over Tys cheek. “Got about half an hour on the pizza. Why dont you catch a quick nap?”

  “You gonna be okay?” Ty asked him, not even trying to argue. “Im staying right here,” Zane said, his hand settling on Tys shoulder so his fingers flickered along Tys temple through his hair. He felt Tys arm move, and he imagined Ty was probably putting his forearm over his eyes like he did when he was worn out.

  “Wake me if you need anything,” Ty mumbled. “Okay,” Zane murmured as he rested his neck a little more comfortably along the back of the couch and closed his eyes. He tuned into Tys breathing as Ty relaxed, smiling as he felt Ty go to sleep, and after a quiet minute, Zane carefully shifted, pulled out the cell phone a helpful nurse had saved from his suit, and activated the voice command function.

  “Call Deuce Grady. ”

  Did you say “Call Deuce Grady”?

  “Yes. ”


  Zane took a deep breath and tried to let it out slowly as the phone rang on the other end, somewhere in Philadelphia. Ty didnt even twitch in his lap.

  “Hello,” Deuce answered after the second ring. There was nothing terse or clipped in the way he answered the phone, just another trait of Deacon Gradys that was wildly unlike his brother.

  “Hey, Deuce,” Zane managed, pretty happy that his voice came out sounding mostly normal. “Hey, Zane, hows it going?” Deuce responded easily. Zane swallowed. “Not so great,” he admitted.

  “Whats wrong?” Deuce demanded, his voice losing the laid-back quality and becoming more urgent. “Is Ty hurt? Are you hurt? Why didnt Ty call me to tell me? Is he even conscious? What happened?”
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