Kai drops Paisley at her apartment, before going to work. He’s uneasy about leaving her alone, and asks TM to check up on her.
“You got it. I’ll take Sushi with me. He wanted to give her an update on what he’s found. She’s right when she says that guy has linkage—his dad is so connected, it’s like a mega octopus. And shady? Wow, that old man’s an umbrella.”
“I’m really worried, TM.”
“Already on my way, brotha. I was on my way to Brill’s when you called.” Kai heard knuckles on wood. “Hey, babe. It’s me, TM. My man Kai’s on the phone. Wants to make sure you’re okay.”
Kai heard Paisley’s voice respond, but not her words. The door opened and closed.
“I’m gonna give Brill a call. We’re good, man. You worry about the job. We got this.”
“Thanks, TM. I feel better knowing you guys are there.” He paused, wanting to give a message to Paisley, but not sure he wanted to do it through an intermediary.
“Hold up a second. Lady wants to speak.” The phone exchanged hands.
“Hi,” Paisley said. “Thanks for sending TM over. I was starting to feel a little creeped out, even with Jarret and Eli outside. I saw you stop and chat, so I went out to see what cookies they like.”
Kai laughed. So like Paisley to do something like that.
“I miss you,” he said softly. “Hasn’t even been five minutes, and all I can think about is coming home to you.”
“You be safe. The weather channel is predicting flooding and high winds.”
“You should go back to the house. It’s a whole lot safer.”
A deep, male voice rumbled in the background.
“TM says if it gets bad, he’ll take me to his place. Sushi is on his way over, and Brill’s going to drop by for his cookies. TM’s gonna help me bake them.”
“Does he know that?”
“He’s whisking eggs as we speak. I love you.”
“I love you too. Be safe.”
“I’m safe and snug. You be safe.”
“Will do.” Reluctantly, he said goodbye and hung up as he pulled into the fire station parking lot.
Trent met him at the door, his face grave. “It’s gonna be worse than we thought. They predict high wind gusts, and massive amounts of rain. The entire county is preparing for the weather. We’re sandbagging the station and the recreation facility next door. Is the health club secure?”
“It’s as secure as we can make it with no windows on the pool house. We fenced it off and boarded things up. All the lounge chairs and such are locked up.”
“Good. One less worry.”
Kai stowed his gear and headed to the kitchen. He found Cherise there, slathering buns with mayonnaise.
“It’s subs tonight. I got all the stuff on my way in. I didn’t want us to be caught up short if a call came in. They’ve already got high water in DeBarry and the wind’s picking up in Deland. Should hit us in the next hour or so. They’ve got road advisories out. Wind gusts are bad.”
“Sounds like a fun night coming.”
“We’ve got everyone on standby. A bunch of the off duty personnel are here, or camping in the rec facility, preparing it as a shelter for families. Your folks okay?”
“Yeah. Brad made sure the house had a hurricane room built in. His family got caught in Andrew in Homestead. He hasn’t forgotten having the house come apart around them.”
“I bet not! And Paisley?”
“She’s at her place, but TM’s with her. He said he’d take her to his place if it got bad enough.”
“They should probably go right away. You contact them now. Don’t wait. If it gets bad, it could be too late.”
Kai made a quick call and told TM what Cherise had said.
“We’ll finish this batch up and head out. I don’t like what we’re seeing on the news. It’s already flooding—”
The alarm blared. Kai hung up without saying goodbye. Grabbing his sandwich, he raced to the vehicle with Cherise in his wake. He gobbled down the rest of his meal as they road to the scene of an accident on I-95. Wind gusts had caught a subcompact car, carrying it from the south bound lanes to the median. It lodged in a stand of huge pine trees, clutched ten feet off the ground in their unyielding embrace.
Kai volunteered to climb the nearest tree and check on the driver of the tiny Smartcar. He grabbed a pair of climbing cleats and a safety belt. Thus armed, he headed to a substantial tree, going slowly, until he was even with the windshield. Rain hammered against him, making him shiver. Water dripped from his rain gear, but had found the one gap in his coverings. Chilly droplets scurried down his spine and into the waist of his pants.
An elderly face smiled at him. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, but the driver seemed fairly animated after such an experience. He gingerly made his way closer. The driver’s window rolled open smoothly.
“Are you all right?” Kai yelled. “Is anyone with you?”
“Just Mitzi, my Shih Tzu,” the woman replied. “My, that was exhilarating!”
Kai laughed, shaking his head. The wind guested again and the tiny car swayed precariously. The amused glee left the lady’s face.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes