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“Carrying a girl
Across the river;
The hazy moon.”
Robert glances up from the book of Haiku verse. “That’s like us.”
“Is it?” I ask with a smile.
Blue shifts on the couch next to me, pressing more weight against my side. Nila and Frank lay together, their limbs intertwined, on the marble floor.
Robert is half in shadow, his green glass shaded reading lamp throwing a pale yellow circle across his lap and chest. A small, leather-bound book lays open in one of his long-fingered, elegant hands.
The last wisps of the sunset, just the palest, most powdery blues and darkest hues of purple, light up the sky and filter through the wall of glass, casting shadows around the living room.
Robert’s phone, lying on the table next to him, vibrates, sending a low hum through the quiet, peaceful room. He glances at the screen and then answers it.
“Yes, Brock.” Brock is his head of home security and handles the safety and impenetrability of this mansion on Star Island—a refuge for the extremely wealthy in Biscayne Bay, just east of downtown Miami. “I see.”
Robert’s gaze meets mine, his blue-green eyes narrowing. The fine lines around them deepen. In his fifties, with dark hair silvering at the temples, Robert is an imposing presence. It's not just that he's over six feet tall and well-muscled. Or that he moves with the elegance and speed of a killer, either. There is an aura of power that surrounds Robert Maxim—wafts from him—and demands to be acknowledged.
He closes the book of poems and leaves it on the side table. Blue, Nila, and Frank lift their heads, collars jangling. The puppies look to their father for direction. Eight months old, with gigantic paws, soft features, and keen instincts, they are almost as tall as Blue.
A mutt I adopted back when I lived in New York—a lifetime ago—Blue is the height of a Great Dane with the long, elegant snout of a collie, the thick coat of a wolf, and the markings of a Siberian husky, with one blue eye and one brown. Blue is trained to protect and his offspring are learning…Nila better than Frank.
Frank is a dumb dog—which I love about him. The guy is almost too sweet for the job. Whenever Merl, a dog expert, tries to get him to attack, Frank turns it into a game. Nila, on the other hand, is ruthless, smart, and quick.
Robert hangs up the phone, and Blue leaps off the couch. The puppies scramble to their feet, facing the door.
Robert stands, slipping the phone into his pocket, and crosses to me. He reaches out a hand—the shirt-sleeve rolled up, exposing a strong forearm dusted in dark hair. “Time to go,” he says. I twine my fingers with his, and Robert pulls me from the couch, holding me tight as we begin to move.
A heavy fist pounds on the front door, echoing through the large house. My soft-soled sneakers are almost silent on the marble as we begin to jog. The dogs’ nails click along with us.
“Homeland Security. Open up!” A man yells, his voice muffled by the large house. Robert presses a button, and a bookshelf slides away, revealing a doorway.
The loud crash of a battering ram striking the front door echoes as Maxim punches a code into the keypad next to the elevator. My heartbeat remains even.
I am not afraid.
P.S. The dog does not die.
**Beware: If you can’t handle a few f-bombs, you can’t handle this series.**