Coffey comes once more, this time to tell her that Diego is dead. Tissue Warning
“Hi,” she said softly. “I won’t ask how you are…. Do you want something to eat?”
Janet shrugged, shaking her head.
“You have to eat, Jan. You have to keep your strength up.”
“Because, like it or not, there are two little boys who need their mother. You might want to give in to your grief, but you can’t stop, because he’s gone.”
“How can you sit there and say that to me? You’ve got your husband!”
Sookie took her hand. “That’s why I know. If I lost him, I’d be a wreck. But I’ve got a child to think of, too. I’d be torn up plenty, but for her, I’d keep going. And you will, too. I know you’ve had more shit happen in your life than any one person deserves, and you’ve lost the man you love more times than you can count. I don’t pretend to understand that, but I know the only way past this is to get through it.”
Janet knew she was right. As much as she might want to give in and cry, she couldn’t. She didn’t have that luxury. She got up and had a shower. Sookie helped her dress and do her makeup and they went out to the kitchen for breakfast.
Evander had prepared a feast. He always cooked when he was upset. He had enough food for a small army. Three extra men sat at the table with Sookie’s husband, Tim. Janet stopped just inside the kitchen door. The men stood. They were dressed in casual clothing, no uniforms today. You might put a soldier in jeans and a polo shirt, but they were still soldiers through and through. They saluted her as she walked in.
“Why are they here?” she asked her father.
“Because I asked them to stay. You need to know,” said firmly. “You need to hear what happened, so you can understand.”
“I don’t want to know.”
“But you will,” her father replied. “Because one day, your boys will ask what happened to their father, and you need to be able to tell them.”
Coffey stood once more, holding a chair for her. Janet took it reluctantly.
“I’d like you to meet my companions,” he said. “I don’t believe you’ve ever been properly introduced.”
Janet realized that they were the same men who had come to the house before. Slightly older versions of themselves, but the same.
“This is Tab Granger,” Coffey said, indicting the sandy haired man to his right. “And Len Evanston.” The dark haired man to his left, nodded. “I brought them, because they were good friends of Diego’s.”
“Were you with him? When—when it happened?”
“We were on the extraction team,” Tab replied. “We went in and got them out.”
“But not him?”
“No, ma’am.” His ears reddened, and his jaw clenched, as he fought down his emotions.
Janet could tell that these men were not only Diego’s friends, they held him in very high regard.
“Don’t call me ma’am. I’m not my mother,” she snapped. She apologized with a smile.
“Not sure what else to call you,” Tab said with a smile. “You don’t use your married name, do we call you Ms. Yarkowsky?”
“How about just Janet?” She burst into tears. That brought back the memory of meeting Tex. “Oh, God,” she wailed. “I can’t do this. I can’t sit here and be civil and friendly. I hate you all, and I don’t even know you….”
Sookie held her, letting her cry. The men looked uncomfortable. Coffey cleared his throat.
“The mission was flawless,” he said quietly. “Diego’s plan was perfect.”
“And yet, he died,” Evander said from the stove.
“We had bad intel,” Tab said. “More men were in the camp than anticipated. They got in without us catching them on satellite. The people watching the camp didn’t report them.”
“We’ve reason to believe that team was compromised,” Coffey said.
“What does that mean? Bribed? Dead? Infiltrated?” Evander asked.
“We’re debriefing them now.”
“Let me do it. I guarantee I’ll get the answers,” Janet snarled.
The three men, who had faced down more than one enemy, were terrified of the woman with dark, dangerous eyes. Coffey fully believed if she led the interrogation, they’d have the information they craved.
“I believe you could,” Coffey said in awe. “And if I can’t get any answers my way, I damn well might let you.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes