“There they are, darlin’—my family is waiting for you,” Wyatt Lockwood said, his hand resting lightly against the small of Tal Culver’s back. It was the day after Christmas, and the bright blue December sky was a wide vault above them, showing the flat, arid Texas landscape below it. The Culberson County Airport was located three miles outside of Van Horn, Texas. It had just a couple of runways; as airports went, it wasn’t much to write home about.Tal smiled, taking her time because her broken ankle was in a special supportive boot and she refused to use her cane in front of his family. That was just beneath her Marine Corps pride. She might limp a little, but she’d be damned if she were meeting her fiancé’s family with a cane in her hand.Wyatt, six feet tall, his shoulders as broad as the state he was born in, was a former SEAL and the man she loved. She felt his large hand on the small of her back, monitoring her movement, the depth of her limp, and he cut his stride to remain at her side. As an ex-SEAL and a naturally badass Texan, he was protective of her whether she needed it or not, even more so lately because she wasn’t fully mobile. She was a bit like a bird with a broken wing right now, but Tal was working hard on a daily basis in the gym at Artemis Security to restrengthen that shattered ankle of hers.
Tal saw a whole passel of people behind the cyclone fence between the control tower building and the asphalt apron where the Delos Gulfstream jet had just landed. The copilot was out the door, opening up a side panel to retrieve their luggage. “Your family looks nice,” she murmured to Wyatt, catching his glinting gray gaze. The man was impossibly, ruggedly handsome, his brown hair cut military-short and topped by a gray Stetson.
“They’re much nicer than I am,” he drawled, winking at her, his hand moving more surely against her back. “Take your time. You can’t hit your normal stride with that boot on, Ms. Culver. They’ll wait patiently for us to get to the gate.”
She snorted softly, glad that she’d worn a black wool pantsuit and a white angora turtleneck sweater beneath it. The temperature was in the forties, the wind sharp and gusting at times. “You’re right. I hate being like this, Wyatt. I wish my ankle would get over itself so I could be a hundred percent again.”
Wyatt gave her a sympathetic glance. Tal looked good enough to eat, her black hair curling down below her shoulders, the sun sparking blue highlights here and there in it as she walked. “You’ll get there,” he told her gruffly. Tal was the CEO of Artemis, the Delos charities’ in-house security company. He worked with her as the head of mission planning at Artemis. As a captain in the Marine Corps, she’d run one of the two sniper units out of Bagram in Afghanistan for five years. And she’d been damn good at it. He’d chased her for three of those years while he was stationed there with his SEAL team, trying to get the time of day from her.
“I feel like whining,” Tal admitted, ashamed, holding his gaze for a moment.
Have a beautiful day!