Home > A Beautiful Funeral (The Maddox Brothers #5)(13)

A Beautiful Funeral (The Maddox Brothers #5)(13)
Author: Jamie McGuire

I was relieved that when Abby had figured out I’d been drafted into the FBI for most of our marriage and had lied to her about it, she’d helped me bring the Carlisi case closer to a conclusion instead of leaving me. I was able to hand over years of bank account statements, emails, letters, and text messages Abby had gathered by hacking into her father’s email account and phone, all tying Carlisi members to various felonious crimes.

Abby thought that would mean I’d be home more. Instead, the Bureau was going a hundred miles per hour trying to close the case. Now that Benny was dead and they were hell-bent on vengeance, we were all racing against the clock.

Abby smiled, resting her head against the couch cushions. Her hair was shorter than it was in college. Her caramel locks now just grazed her shoulders. She combed back what she called side-swept bangs with her fingers, but they fell right back into her eye. Abby would turn thirty in September. As wise as she was at nineteen, she was nearly clairvoyant now. I was sure that only made her more dangerous, but she was on my side—thank Christ. Her gentle curves filled her maternity jeans, her cleavage bursting from her bright tank top, and I chuckled thinking about how many times I’d begged her to have another baby—shamelessly enjoying the changes her body went through to carry our sons and daughter.

“What?” she said, catching me staring at her tits … again. Would I ever grow up? If it meant I had to stop appreciating how sexy my wife was, I hoped not.

I cleared my throat. “I’d like to meet Liis at the airport, but”—I looked at my watch—“you’ll be leaving soon to pick up the kids.”

“You should go.” She sighed, struggling to lift her chest to get a full breath.

“No,” I said, shaking my head.

“I can get the kids from school,” she said. “Wren is here. He can drive us if you’re nervous.”

I frowned. “This needs to be over.”

“And it will be,” Abby said, standing. She walked over to me, sliding her hands under my biceps and locking them at the small of my back. She had to bend over slightly to nuzzle her head under my chin, pressing her cheek against my chest, but even her sweet touch couldn’t cheer me up. We both knew the end of one case only meant the start of another. Abby was responsible for the break in her father’s case. Mick Abernathy was a washed-up gambler who had an in with the Vegas mob. She had found out I was working for the Bureau and only wanted to help end a case that kept me away too much. Since handing over information that would put her father and the underboss away, she was asked to be an occasional consultant for the FBI. They were still waiting for her answer, and so was I.

Her tip had allowed me to climb the ranks quickly. No legal employment in Eakins would pay what I was making with the Bureau. If Abby took the consultant job, she would be able to stay at home with the kids. Either way, we’d made a good life here.

“Dad is excited,” Abby said, “to see Stella.”

“It never gets old, I guess. No matter how many kids his sons keep spitting out, there’s nothing like holdin’ a grandbaby for the first time.”

Abby wasn’t amused. “I believe it’s the daughter-in-laws who do the spitting.”

I kissed her on the forehead. “Touché.”

“You should go to the airport, Travis. I’ll pick up the kids from school with Wren and meet you at Dad’s. Thomas would have wanted you to.”

My brows pulled together. Hearing Thomas’s name in past tense was unsettling. “Make sure Wren stays out of sight. Dad already knows something’s up.”

“He knows, Trav. He’s known. I’m pretty sure since the beginning. He knows about the twins, too.”

“What about the twins?” I asked.

Abby simply giggled, shaking her head. “You Maddox boys are terrible liars.”

My face twisted in disgust. “No one’s lying.”

“Omission is lying,” she insisted. “Making up cover stories is lying.”

When I was recruited into the FBI at just twenty, I was also obligated to keep it from my wife. Unfortunately for the Bureau, Abby was too smart and stubborn to remain oblivious. Unfortunately for me, Dad was equally as sharp, and it was a full-time job to keep it from him. I wasn’t sure how Thomas had been able to do it for over a decade. According to Abby, he hadn’t. She was sure my father had known the entire time, too.

I kissed Abby’s soft cheek, still smelling faintly of chocolate from the cocoa butter she slathered all over her skin the moment she’d started to show. That prompted me to kiss her again before heading out to my truck.

I used the small radio clipped to the lapel of my sports jacket to call Agent Wren. “Heading to the regional airport for pickup.”

“I’m sure Agent Lindy will be happy to see a familiar face, sir.”

I sighed. “Maybe. Maybe not.” I slipped behind the wheel, taking in a deep breath before twisting the key in the ignition. Liis had traveled halfway across the country with a newborn. A funeral was the only reason she would risk it, especially knowing the mafia were committed to punishing her by targeting the only weakness Liis Lindy had: the people she loved. It wasn’t enough anymore that she was surrounded by the Bureau. She needed the Maddox family now. She knew we would keep Stella safe.

I kept a tight grip on the steering wheel until the gates of the regional airport were in sight. No one had followed me. The security guard at the gate seemed alert but relaxed. I showed my ID, and he allowed me to continue. It was unlikely anyone in Vegas could have found out Liis was heading home to Illinois in enough time to beat her here.

As I pulled up to the terminal, I could see the Bureau’s jet already parked near a county hangar. It was swarming with suits: men and women clearly armed and dangerous. The moment my truck rounded the corner, they were focused, ordering me to slow down, park my vehicle, and show my hands.

I did as they commanded, holding up my badge. Most of them knew who I was the moment I stepped onto the tarmac.

“Travis!” Liis called from behind a wall of men.

I jogged over to her, pushing agents to the side to get to my sister-in-law. Her red-rimmed eyes were puffy and tired. “Oh my God, your face,” she said, gently touching my purple, swollen skin. Liis wasn’t the most affectionate person, but she immediately melted into my arms. “You came,” she said softly.

I placed my hand on the back of her long, dark hair and kissed the top of her head. “Damn right, I did.”

“Abby?” she asked, looking up at me. “Everyone’s all right? Nothing suspicious?”

“Everything is good. They’re all waiting to help you with the baby.”

“I haven’t slept in three days,” Liis said, her almond-shaped eyes staring up at me.

“I know,” I said, holding her to my side as we walked toward the truck. “I know.”



I HELD OUT MY HANDS in front of me. “Stop! No! Don’t do it!”

My sons stared back at me with their mom’s no-bullshit, round, sapphire eyes, ice cream cones in hand. Ezra, Eli, and Emerson were all standing on our porch, their faces as filthy as their shirts. Their mom would freak if they went inside like that, and they knew it. I’d taken them out in the first place to give her some quiet time to clean the house the way she wanted without one of our little monsters messing it up behind her. If I let them in covered in milky, sticky goo, America would kill us all.

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