Mina shrugged out of her coat and dropped it in one of the chairs off the living room. With a tired sigh, she walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge, looking at what Jace had stocked.
“Thank God, the good beer,” she murmured and grabbed one of the longneck bottles. In the freezer, there was New York cheesecake ice cream. Mina took that out as well and grabbed a spoon. That was how Arin found her, standing by the kitchen island, drinking beer and eating ice cream.
“That doesn’t look like a first aid kit,” he commented.
“I think I deserve this after tonight’s fracas,” Mina answered around a mouthful of sweet, creamy ice cream. “Beer in the fridge… Grab a spoon.”
Arin hesitated for a moment before he moved around her to grab the same things she had in her hands. After the first deep drink of beer, he filled his spoon with ice cream and wrapped his lips around the utensil.
“Looks like it stopped bleeding.” He reached out and touched her scalp.
Mina winced. “Still hurts, though. I’ll wash my hair tonight and get the blood out. I don’t think it needs a bandage.”
“Maybe some antiseptic. I’ll keep an eye on it for infection.”
She snorted in amusement. “I’ve been hurt worse in far less sanitary places.”
“Your life does not sound fun,” Arin commented.
“Says the man who’s being chased from a third world country to the United States,” Mina retorted.
They ate silently for a moment before Mina spoke. “How is Justin?”
“Sleeping,” Arin sighed. “He tends to sleep deeply to escape whatever is frightening him.”
“Great coping mechanism,” she said. “Wish I were that lucky. I tend to live things in repeat and in living color.”
“That has to be tough for a person who is in the military,” he said gently. “You’ve seen so much.”
“Too much,” she murmured.
“I don’t know how you got us out of that tonight,” Arin said gratefully.
“Easy, they’re all dead,” Mina said, “or at least the ones that came after us.”
“How can you be so casual about death?” he said, shocked.
Mia met his gaze. “When it’s between them and us, I choose us. You were ready to do the same to protect Justin.”
“Not willingly,” Arin shot back. “It’s a parent’s instinct to protect their child. God knows if I killed anyone, my conscience would make me relive it every day for the rest of my life.”
The ice cream tasted bland in her mouth now. One minute he was praising her actions, the next, being a sanctimonious fool. Mina dropped her spoon into the container, before draining the last of her beer.
“It’s never willingly, Doctor, but the job must be done,” Mina retorted. There was hurt beneath the anger that simmered. She took loss of life as seriously as the next guy. But Mina would be damned if anyone made her feel bad for surviving.
“I guess that’s what all the people who kill for a living can say.”
Mina walked out of the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, “You certainly don’t know what goes on in my head and what I relive daily. I’ll leave you to finish that, and hopefully you can swallow your righteous indignation as well. Good night.”
She was there protecting him and his son from shit that had nothing to do with her. Yet he turned his nose up at the things she did to keep them safe. She made her way upstairs to one of the adjacent bedrooms to clean up and crash for a few hours.
At least at this safe house, she knew she was completely off the grid, could trust her people, and with that knowledge, rest. A hand on Mina’s shoulder stopped her just as she wrapped her fingers around the doorknob. In any other situation, that hand would be broken at the elbow. Instead, she turned.
“Listen, Mina, I’m sorry.” Arin’s voice was husky. “It’s been a hell of a last few weeks, and tonight was cutting it pretty close.”
“If that’s the excuse you want to go with to make yourself feel better, go ahead,” she said, looking into his deep gaze. It tried to draw her in, but Mina shook her head before continuing. “The thing is, as a doctor, you see all human life as sacred, but you need to get it through your head real damn quick. Everyone isn’t as good-hearted as you.”
“I know,” he agreed and at least had the grace to look embarrassed.
Mina continued like she didn’t hear him. “Those guys would’ve had no problem killing you and your son. They’re not chasing you for tea and scones, but to kill you. If you give them a window, they will take it. You and Justin will be dead.”
“I’m a fool. Mina…I…”
The way he said her name with that deep British accent as he cupped her cheek. A warm, gentle hand, that was the kind of touch she hadn’t felt in more than three years. She almost ached to rub her cheek against his palm. Her heart ached, and Bobby came to her mind.
“No.” Mina stepped away. “D-Don’t do that again…ever.”
With that, she turned the knob and stepped inside the bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her. God knows she hadn’t come here to relieve some itch or feel anything but the satisfaction of doing her job. But it was like she still felt his hand on her cheek. This job had to be over and done quickly, so she could get back to her life. That way she could put Arin and his son in her rearview mirror while her bike pulled away.
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