“Author’s Note: This scene popped into my head one day and I wrote it as a special check-in to share with my street team, HORNET’s Wilde Honeys. (If you’re interested in seeing more check-ins, you can join our Facebook group here.) While most of my check-ins are only for the Honeys, I decided to share this one on my website since it is kind of a prologue to Code of Honor.”
“Hey, Quinn.” Lanie smiled at the guy as he approached—all decked out in camo and allowing a toddling ten-month-old force of nature in a purple sundress to lead him around the training grounds by the hand. It was adorable and even made her decidedly unfeminine instincts swoon a little. She pushed away from the fence where she, Marcus, and Jean-Luc had gathered to watch the first class of recruits tackle the new obstacle course. “I see Bianca finally talked you into taking a walk with her.”
Quinn gazed down at his daughter and his hard features softened into pure adoration. Who would have guessed the hardass was such a big teddy bear underneath his cool outer shell? “My girl wants to go for a walk, she gets a walk.”
“What about the recruits?”
“They’re busy. And if any of them have an issue with me spending some quality time with my daughter on Father’s Day, they can all go for a nice long run.” He gazed out over the obstacle course and the hardass returned with a vengeance. He bent over, cupped his hands over Bianca’s little ears, and boomed, “Schumacher! What the fuck are you doing standing there with your thumb up your ass? Get up on that net. Move! Move! Move!”
Lanie watched the recruit scramble up and over the net. “Oh, he hates you.”
“If he likes me, I’m not doing my job. And they haven’t seen anything yet. Gabe will be here in a few days to put the recruits through our own version of Hell Week. They think I’m bad? They have no idea.”
“You’re going to scare them all away.”
“That’s the point,” Marcus said from over by the fence. “If we can scare them off with training, we don’t want them watching our six in the real world. It’s a scary place.”
She thought back to her first mission with the team and winced. The world was a scary place. “Good point. Go ahead,” she said to Quinn, “torture them.”
A car door slammed behind them and Lanie turned in time to catch the tail end of a shouting match between Jesse and his fifteen-year-old son, Connor. Jesse had been simmering since receiving a call from his ex-wife yesterday about his son’s run-in with the Las Vegas police last weekend for underage drinking. Evidently, that simmer had boiled over after he picked Connor up from the airport in Jackson and the two had probably been at each other’s throats during the whole two hour trip to the training facility.
“I hate you!” Connor shouted and stormed away.
Still standing next to his truck, Jesse seemed to deflate. He swept off his cowboy hat and dragged a hand through his hair.
Apparently not everyone was having a good Father’s Day.
“Hey, you all right?” Quinn called.
Jesse sighed heavily and slammed his truck door. “Just you wait, Quinn. That little girl of yours is adorable now, but you have this teenage monster to look forward to in fifteen years.” Then he stalked off after his son.
Quinn gazed down at his daughter with an expression that could only be called absolute horror. She gave him a drooly smile and popped a thumb into her mouth. “Nah.” He shook his head. “You’re never gonna act like that are you?”
She batted her gray eyes and babbled in a string of baby talk none of them had any hope of deciphering. But that didn’t matter because every single one of the big, bad warriors in the group melted into mushy man puddles.
Lanie rolled her eyes skyward. “Oh yeah. You got them wrapped around your pinky, don’t ya, kiddo? Y’all are going to have so much fun when the boys start sniffing around.”
Quinn looked at his impossibly cute daughter again, then up at his teammates, then back at his little girl. He blanched, snatched his daughter up into his arms, and strode toward his house, taking the porch stairs in two steps. “Mara! We need to invest in chastity belts. And shotguns. And ammo. Lots and lots of ammo…”
The screen door banged shut behind him and Jean-Luc snorted a laugh. “Oh, I pity the fool who asks our Honey Bee to prom.”