I hope you enjoy this week’s scene from Boot Camp and Frei isn’t in a great mood with Renee…
As always, please excuse the typos,
Frei glared at Renee as she returned from talking to the local officers. Bucher had been active in the small town and the police had lost several officers. Bucher had run but because Renee had set up on a rooftop and fired at him until he retreated.
“What were you doing?” Frei marched up to her and gripped her by the shirt, rain dripping onto Renee’s arms. “He will know it was you.” She shook her, frustration pounding through her arms. “You didn’t get signed off as MIA to blow your cover.”
“He won’t know it was me,” Renee said holding onto Frei’s hands. “I didn’t fire close enough to him.” She met Frei’s gaze, gentleness in her gray eyes. “I had to help.”
Frei shook her again. “I’m retiring you. I do not care what you say. I am retiring you.” Her cover accent dropped enough she sounded like the scared child running from Jäger. “I am not seeing you hurt again.”
Renee clutched her hands again. “Urs, I’m okay. He didn’t see me. I’m okay.”
“You are retiring.” Frei whimpered it hearing the tears in her voice. “And you are suspended and going home.”
Renee pulled her inward and hugged her. “I’m not doing either. I’m okay.”
“How did he know you were based here?” Frei hugged her but tried not to show her relief. “How did he know where to target you?”
“I don’t know. I noticed a few FBI officers in the local bar and then he showed up.” Renee held on even when she tried to pull away.
“Why were you in the bar?” Frei pulled back and glared at her. “He could have seen you.”
“I have an apartment above it.” Renee hissed out a breath. “I can handle myself.”
“No, you cannot,” Frei muttered then shook her head, then shook the rain from her jacket then rubbed at her forehead. “I want you to return home until I say.”
“No.” Renee held her gaze. “Retire me if you want to. I am helping capture him and I am sticking around until I know you, the base, and Aeron are all safe.”
Frei put her hands on her hips but she knew Renee would take on Bucher personally to protect people whether she had CIG to back her up or not.
“Thank you for caring,” Renee said in her gentle tone with a beaming smile. “How is Aeron?”
Frei clenched her jaw. She had the staff drilling Aeron’s intake. She wanted the entire class dismissed because she didn’t trust them. Lorelei, yes; Marney, maybe, but the rest were neither cut out to be officers nor did she trust them. They hadn’t done anything she wouldn’t expect from officers in boot camp but, with Bucher around, she didn’t want to trust them either.
Renee cocked her head. “Urs, she needs your support. Lilia wants her in CIG—”
“Lilia is no longer in charge,” Frei snapped and held up her hand to stop Renee protesting. “If Lorelei isn’t cut out to pass boot camp, she goes home.”
Renee narrowed her eyes.
“Narrow your eyes as much as you like. I am in charge.” She turned and strode off, out into the pouring rain, not feeling in charge at all and jumped onto the chopper. She glared at the town as they lifted off. No, she wanted to get rid of the intake. Renee needed to be protected and Hankings and his friends had gone to the bar on their off-duty. FBI officers who went through boot camp tended to go there, off base, instead of going to Dusty’s Bar where the senior officers went. Those who came through the military route were sparse because they could only take a few during each intake so the FBI didn’t know the military were involved. Lorelei’s intake had no military officers… apart from her. Renee had made sure she was enlisted because that way Renee was in charge of her. Military recruits were always trained by her.
Frei clenched her jaw again as the chopper touched down on the base. She shouldn’t have let Renee enlist Lorelei. It was harder to get rid of military recruits. The dirt pooled with water around her boots as she headed out into the rain. Harder but she had every staff member enforcing punishing training. She wanted the recruits gone.
She nodded to the officer overseeing Lorelei and her class doing extreme circuits. They’d been out in the rain all night with no food, no hydration, and no breaks.
“And again . . .” She watched the recruits push out another set. They were mud-soaked, rain dripping from them into the sodden dirt. If they broke, she could dismiss them.
For hours, she stood over them, watching each one for any sign of weakness. “Again.”
One by one they dropped, battered, beaten, the best way to break them down. Most wouldn’t cope for longer than a week.
“Again. You think you’re worthy of CIG?” She stood there, she cared nothing of the rain. They thought she was a machine, and she did her best to prove it. “What are you doing here? You think you deserve a place?” She laughed. “You can’t even do basics.” She focused, not sure if she was seeing things when one recruit kept going. Everyone else had gone in, even Marney, who had stayed out longer than the rest.
One recruit wasn’t giving in and the rain beat down on Frei as she walked over.
“Lorelei, you call that a push-up?” She sneered down at the kid. If she broke her, she could go home. The kid had been through enough. Why force her into the line of fire again? Why put her in the position where a guy like Bucher could get to her? She’d taken on Sam, she’d helped enough people. She deserved her freedom.
Aeron glared up at her through the rain.
She laughed, hating that she sounded so much like Huber but if she broke her, Aeron could go home… where she was safe; where she wouldn’t have to limp like Renee or lose family like Renee. “You think you can keep going?”
“Yes,” Aeron grunted and pushed up.
Then, Frei saw it, that steel, that defiance in her brown eyes, that pain from being a slave. Different prison, same pain.
“You think you are good enough to be here?” She glared down at her, masking the swell of feeling for the kid.
“And then some.” Aeron dropped an arm, using only one. No food, no hydration, no breaks… and she was not going to break.
“Why?” Frei heard the curiosity in her own voice as the rain dripped from her onto Aeron’s face.
“’Cause you ain’t no better than me.” She narrowed her eyes. “Everybody gotta pee.”
Frei searched her eyes, hearing Renee’s own phrase repeat until it was as though Renee was firing it back at her.
Lorelei wasn’t going anywhere.
“Dismissed,” Frei shot at her but it didn’t sound hard as she wanted it to. She turned and strode into her office and glanced back to see Lorelei clamber to her feet and Marney hurry over to her with a drink.
Frei shook her head and strode up to her office only to see Renee with her arms folded.
“That told you, didn’t it?” Renee threw a towel at her. “She’s stronger than you think she is.”
“But I do not want her to have to be strong,” Frei fired back and rubbed the rain off her face and hair. She threw her jacket onto the stand and slumped onto her desk. “I want her to go home and enjoy feeding squirrels.”
Renee took Frei’s jacket and squeezed out the water then placed it on a rail near the heater. She walked over and fought with Frei to remove her shirt and the rest of her sodden clothes.
“You want to protect her and me.” She smiled up at her and handed her dry clothes then walked over to the desk and pulled out the whiskey. “You’d be more helpful training her and giving her the ability to protect herself.”
Frei pulled on her dry clothes. “Most of the recruits aren’t good enough. I dismiss most of the class—”
“You dismiss over half the class and the entire class is dismissed,” Renee said then leaned on the desk and handed her the glass. “I ignored that rule several times. We wouldn’t have Ewan otherwise.”
“Lilia let you ignore orders.” Frei sighed and sipped the whiskey then wrinkled up her face. “I am not letting you ignore orders.”
“Thought you’d retired me,” Renee said with a gentle smile.
“You’ll ignore me more if you do not work with me.” She headed to the fridge in the corner of her office, ignored the sandwiches Renee had made and pulled ice from the freezer section. “And I can’t keep breadcrumbs on you if you are not in CIG.”
Renee shrugged with an amused smile. “Guess not.”
Frei sipped her ice filled whiskey and let out a sigh. “Black, I will tell Lorelei you are chasing him if you stick around to shoot at him again… unless you shoot him properly.”
“I want him arrested, Urs.” Renee threw the wet clothes on the desk. “I want him to go back to jail and I want him to stay there. I’m not the only one he’s hurt.”
“If he comes within miles of you, I will issue the SOS.” Frei held her gaze. “And I will shoot him.”
Renee shook her head. “You’re going nowhere near him.”
“You issuing orders to me now?” Frei glanced out of the window as Marney jumped around Lorelei as though she’d beaten the assault course.
“Yes,” Renee mumbled and stared out of the window too. “Guess she’s found a friend.”
“You are not meant to care if she has,” Frei muttered then held up her hand when Renee glared. “You are not meant to be interested.”
“You know I am.” Renee hugged herself.
“Marney has a fiancé.” Frei shrugged when Renee looked at her. “He’s in the military. They’re childhood sweethearts and Lorelei doesn’t have romantic feelings, remember?”
Renee pursed her lips then shrugged then relaxed her shoulders. “No. Right. She doesn’t.”
Frei handed her the whiskey. “And she needs to go through boot camp without you helping.”
Renee folded her arms, whiskey glass dangling from her thumb and forefinger.
“You are too close to her and he will know you are. He doesn’t know who she is but, if someone sees how you look at her, they’ll feed it back to him.” Frei tapped the whiskey glass. “You need to learn how to be professional around her.”
“I know.” Renee took a sip and handed the glass back.
“Montgomery would love to help,” Frei said with a smirk.
“I don’t need psychology to inform me I’m dumb, okay?” Renee rolled her eyes and walked to the door. “Just teach her everything I taught you. Drill it into her until she can do it in her sleep… please.”
Frei tilted her glass. “Everybody gotta pee.” She shook her head.
Renee beamed. “Ah, she remembered.” She leaned to the doorframe and cast a longing glance at Lorelei as she hobbled into the residential block.
“The kid sounds like you fed her the manual.” Frei rolled her eyes and sipped her whiskey. “Go back to work.”
Renee saluted with a smile. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Frei waved her off and then smiled out of the window. “Everybody gotta pee,” she whispered. “One-handed push-up,” she muttered then sighed then shook her head. “Some kid.” She downed her whiskey and walked over to her desk. Yes, Lorelei was some kid indeed.