Home > Eden (Providence #3)(21)

Eden (Providence #3)(21)
Author: Jamie McGuire

Jared took a breath. “We don’t know. It’s stil new and overwhelming to Nina, so perhaps giving her a break from the reality of it would help the most for now.”

“Oh. Right. You’re right. We can talk about all that later,” she said, waving her hand dismissively.

We finished eating and left. A minute later, we waited at the light—the same light Jared had honked at me nearly scaring me to death right after we first met. Beth had resorted to not talking at all , instead of risking saying something she wasn’t supposed to. Chad tried distracting her with other questions, but she only offered nods or head shakes.

Just as the light turned green, an arm reached across me, grabbing Jared’s elbow.

“Long time no see,” Kim said.

Beth smiled, but Kim was obviously not in an amiable mood.

“I said I would cal you,” Jared said.

Kim raised an eyebrow. “I know you did. Three days ago. I’m not waiting any longer, Jared.”

If I didn’t know of her struggle with exhaustion, I would have thought she’d broken her nose. The purplish skin under her eyes looked like twin bruises. The whites of her eyes were bloodshot, and her shoulders sagged. I knew that look all too wel , and I understood her desperation.

“I’m sorry. You’re just going to have to.”

Kim took a step toward him. “I don’t think you heard me. I’m. Not. Waiting. Any longer.”

Jared sighed, but he didn’t flinch from her glare. “We’ve discussed this.”

“Yes, we have. A lot.”

A nervous giggle emanated from Beth’s throat, and she shifted uncomfortably. “Waiting for what?”

Jared and Kim looked at Beth, and Kim shot an amused glare back at Jared. “Tel her.”

Jared frowned. “You’re being unreasonable.”

“What are we waiting for? Again?” Beth said, her voice stil unsure.

Kim crossed her arms. “My ancestors are Crusade Knights, and I inherited the duty of watching over a book my great-great-times-a-thousand grandfather took from a church in Jerusalem.”

“Is it worth a lot of money?” Chad asked.

Beth jabbed her elbow in his ribs.

“Kim,” I warned.

“So Jerry over here is half-angel, and he’s the only one strong enough to help me get it back without getting myself kill ed. Only he’s being selfish, and even though I helped him save Nina’s life, he’s not going to help me take it back, now, because he got what he wanted and isn’t going to hold up his end of the deal.”

“Kim!” I yel ed.

Beth began laughing hysterical y. “Oh, wow! That’s a whopper!” Her Oklahoma accent came back with a vengeance. “Where do you get this stuff, Kim?”

Kim looked to Jared, desperation in her voice and tears in her eyes. “You need me on your side. Don’t forget that.” She walked away, leaving Beth and the rest of us quiet and unnerved.

Jared watched her trudge back to the Sentra. “We’re running out of time.”

Chapter Eight


The oak tree loomed over us, casting a large shadow from the afternoon sun. The sweet summer breeze wafted along the uncut grass, making the delicate petals of the flowering dogwood dance with the violets. Heaven never felt quite as close as when I was on a blanket with Jared by our oak tree, with our names scrawled elegantly in the bark.

Bean had grown for weeks without threat, but Jared and I weren’t fooled into thinking we would live the entire summer without event. We enjoyed the peaceful moments while we stil had them, and that afternoon was no different.

Jared was studying Shax’s book. He hunched over the ugly pages, knees up. One hand held the ancient leather apart while the other rested on my stomach. The book seemed out of place in our quiet, beautiful afternoon.

Jared’s phone buzzed. He barely glanced in its direction and continued reading. He did that often when Kim cal ed, resorting to ignoring her instead of repeating his reasons for holding onto the book. I could relate to her misery. Even so, it was easier to look the other way while Jared searched for answers while he could. To admit that to myself made me feel horrible, but it was a necessary evil. The choice to be a better mother than a friend wasn’t real y a choice at all .

A motor hummed in the distance. “You should probably get your sneakers on,” Jared said. “Bex is here.”

Bex was bringing firearms today. We would add target practice to our daily sparring session. His motorcycle came to a stop at the edge of my blanket.

I looked up at him. “That blanket is worth more than your bike.”

Bex took off his helmet and snorted. “Negative.”

“Sentimental value,” Jared said, keeping his eyes on the book.

Now fourteen, Bex’s body had fil ed out. He was an inch tal er than Jared, and could have been mistaken for a man in his early twenties. Except for the childlike sweetness that remained in his eyes and his occasional displays of inexperience, I would never believe that he was the same person as the eleven-year-old I had met a few years before. It was disturbing.

I must have looked ridiculous in my black leggings and white t-shirt with Bean bal ed noticeably in front, crouching and ready in front of what looked like a ful -grown man. Bex could have wadded me up like a piece of paper on my best day, and I knew if anyone had witnessed a pregnant woman trading punches with someone twice her size, they would have cal ed the police.

“Bex,” Jared warned without looking up.

Bex’s nose wrinkled, irritated at Jared’s instruction. “I know. The subtle distention of her middle section is a constant reminder not overdo it. I won’t hurt your messianic spawn, Nina.”

I shoved the heel of my hand into Bex’s stomach. He barely paused, but it was stil thril ing to me that I landed it. “Someone’s been reading the List of Big Words, again.”

Bex glanced to Jared, and then grabbed me. He twisted me around, more forceful than usual, pulling me into his chest. My neck fit snugly in the crook of his arm. “Okay. Now what?”

I stepped on his foot, jabbed my elbow into his ribs, and then threw my head back. Bex dodged, but had he been human I would have cracked his nose.

“Good,” he said, nodding.

We went over the same old moves dozens of times, and then Bex showed me a few more. They were more offensive than defensive. Bex seemed to enjoy teaching those more, and I certainly enjoyed learning to attack more than I liked repeatedly attempting to free myself from an assailant.

After an hour, Jared brought the bag of firearms over, and then handed me shooting earmuffs and safety glasses. We walked over to a smal hil , where Bex set up several targets. He was as excited as I was, but it didn’t occur to me to ask why.

I practiced with a handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun. When Jared and Bex were satisfied with my aim, Bex tied a rope to a branch of the oak tree and hung a large log from it. He unrol ed a paper target, and then taped it to the middle of the log. He gave it a shove, and it swayed in a large arc back and forth.

Jared handed me his sidearm. “Less than one percent of your targets wil be stationary. You need to learn to hit a moving target.

I lifted the Glock in both of my hand and looked down the sights.

“Anticipation is key,” Jared said.

I watched the log for a moment, and then squeezed the trigger. Bex leapt back with a yowl.

I dropped the gun and covered my mouth. “Oh, God! I’m sorry!”

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