Authors: Heather Huffman
Tags: #Romance, #free ebook, #Marriage, #Espionage, #International, #Spy, #wedding, #Human trafficking, #heather huffman
“You’re right,” she toweled off. “But can we
at least come up with a code word? That way if the visit stretches
on too long, you can help me steer them out?”
“Aren’t I supposed to be the one trying to
cut short the time with the in-laws?”
“Wombat. That’s our code word,” she informed
“Okay, wombat it is.”
Veronica climbed into her pajamas while Rick
ordered a pizza. His timing perfect as always, Jeff showed up just
in time to help himself to the first slice.
“It looks like you two have succeeded in
winning your lives back,” Sean commented. Veronica couldn’t be
sure, but it looked like there might be a touch of pride in his
expression as he regarded them.
She was stretched out on the bed, leaning
against Rick, who was leaning against the wall. She looked up at
her husband and smiled. “Yeah, I guess we have.”
“Are you going back to the Bureau then?”
“First order of business is doing nothing,”
Rick answered. “We promised each other that a while back.”
“But after the nothing… have you decided what
“There are still a lot of women out there who
need someone to save them,” Veronica answered.
“It doesn’t have to be you,” Jeff reminded
“True,” she thought about his words for a
moment. “But why not me? I don’t think I could forget them. I
couldn’t go back to the way things were.”
“I get it,” Sean nodded. “That’s why I’m
still in the field. I just can’t sit still knowing things are the
way they are.”
“Why do I get the feeling the world of
espionage will never be the same again?” Rick sighed.
“I’m going to tell myself you meant that in a
good way,” Veronica told him before changing the topic altogether.
“Jeff—did Courtney say yes?”
“Yes to what?” Sean’s head whipped around to
look at his son.
“I don’t think he told them,” Rick whispered
“No, I hadn’t,” Jeff made a face at Veronica.
“But yes, she did.”
“Congrats, big brother! Please tell me you
plan to have lots of babies.”
“It’s always about you, isn’t it?” Jeff’s
good-natured tone of voice belied his words.
“Yes, sorry. I blame him,” she pointed to her
father. “He spoiled me.”
The conversation bounced around the room a
little longer. Veronica never got around to calling wombat; she
fell asleep before she got the chance.
The next morning, she woke up in Rick’s arms
with no mission looming large and no real place to be. It felt
They took their sweet time waking up. The
thought of missing waffles in the lobby was what finally got them
out of the bed.
“How is Vance doing?” Veronica asked as she
watched Rick polish off her breakfast.
“Pretty good. He’s still a few weeks away
from being healed, but he’s doing well enough. I was thinking about
inviting them to D.C. for a bit. He’s already restless.”
“Is Harmony ever going to let him come out
and play with us again? I figured she’d fight him coming back tooth
“She’s only angry that he won’t let her come,
“He won’t let her?” Veronica arched an
eyebrow. “I’m sorry, what century is this?”
“What? If she wants to go with him, she’s a
grown woman; she should be allowed to make that decision for
“Wombat,” he tried again.
“No, you don’t get to wombat me,” she threw
her napkin at him.
“It was worth a shot,” he shrugged.
“Cute,” she rolled her eyes, but dropped it
nonetheless. “Are we going home today? I miss our dogs.”
“Yes. I rented us a car. Jeff and Sean are
already on their way.”
Veronica nodded. She was so ready to see
their home again. She was looking forward to walking through the
door and being greeted by two wagging tails. Thanks to Courtney,
when she walked through her front door again about six hours later,
she was greeted by two exuberantly wagging tails.
After many hugs and kisses, the dogs finally
began to settle down enough for Veronica to greet her friend.
“So he finally wore you down, huh?” she
admired the diamond on Courtney’s finger.
“Something like that,” her friend actually
“I’m really, really happy for you.”
“Welcome to the family. They’re all nuts,”
“Thanks. And Veronica, I’d be ticked at you
for telling his dad, but I figure you’re paying the down payment on
the reception hall with your dog sitting fee, so I’ll cut you some
“Good to know. Aw, crap. Is that really my
mother’s car pulling in the driveway?”
“You never did fess up on the baby thing, did
you?” Courtney frowned. “Is that why you’re avoiding her?”
“Among other reasons—don’t judge me. She’s
“Yeah, she really kind of is,” Rick
“You’re both horrible. Grow up,” Courtney
Veronica and Rick exchanged glances, but let
“Mother. So good to see you,” Ronnie greeted
her mom, half braced for the immediate onslaught.
“It’s good to see you, too,” Helen kissed her
daughter on the cheek. “Good Lord you’ve gotten gaunt. Are you
“Are you going to invite me in?”
“Sure,” Veronica looked around a little
helplessly. She had just walked through the door. She wanted
nothing more than to simply exist in her own home with her husband
and her dogs. Maybe they’d watch television. Maybe they’d dance to
oldies. Maybe they’d do absolutely nothing. Whatever they decided
on, she was pretty sure it wouldn’t involve entertaining her mother
“Don’t worry, I won’t stay long. I just
wanted to tell you I’ve asked everyone I know and I think I’ve come
across the solution to your problem.”
“Everyone you know?” Rick choked a little.
“Abstinence. If you two could just abstain
for a while, that might help Rick’s sperm count improve.”
“Wombat,” Rick spit the word out so quickly
it took Veronica a second to register what he said.
“You can’t wombat my mom that fast,” she
whispered, earning a scowl from her mother.
“If I can’t wombat this conversation, then
it’s a bloody useless code word.”
“Mom, look. I’m an adult now. I need to tell
you the truth,” Veronica straightened her shoulders. “We’re capable
of having children. We just don’t want to.”
“What?” Helen grew a couple of inches and her
face turned an odd color.
“We want a career together. And our dogs. And
to dance naked in the living room whenever we feel like it. No
Helen looked close to exploding.
“But Jeff and Courtney are getting married,
and I think she wants lots of kids,” Veronica blurted out with an
apologetic glance at a startled Courtney. “I’m sorry, I
“Jeff’s getting married?” Helen’s countenance
lightened and the storm passed as quickly as it threatened.
“Next May,” Courtney smiled at Helen before
cutting her eyes over at Veronica.
“That was a horrible thing to do to your
friend,” Rick grabbed her by the waist and tugged her over to him.
“But I appreciate you throwing her under the bus for me.”
“Anything for you, baby.”
Veronica leaned back against him, realizing
just how true those words were. She really would do anything for
him. Her best friend, her lover. Her partner. He made her laugh and
held her when she cried. Life had taken some funny turns—she
certainly hadn’t expected to find herself suddenly a spy—and it
would undoubtedly take a few more twists along the way.
But there was one thing of which she could be
certain: Richard Reid Sinclair was now and would always be the
I had a lot of fun writing about Rick and
Veronica, but their cause is one I believe strongly in. Every day
around the world people from all walks of life are enslaved.
Statistics show there are more people in slavery today than there
were during the height of the transatlantic slave trade. Women and
children are especially at risk.
The accounts from this book are pulled from
real accounts of real women stolen from their homes or sold by
their families into slavery. It’s an atrocity on all our heads if
we hold silent. While we can’t all walk away from society to fight
human trafficking, we can help.
Fair Trade is a good place to start. By
ensuring the products you purchase weren’t made by the hands of
slaves, you speak with your consumer dollars. And that voice is
loud. Learn more about Fair Trade at www.wfto.com.
I’m always encouraging my readers to use
their talents to leave their mark on this world. That’s why this
book is free—it’s my way of doing what I can to be a voice for
voiceless. There are many excellent organizations out there who
dedicate themselves to making a difference. One I trust and respect
is World Vision. Please consider making a donation to their Hope
for Sexually Exploited Girls fund. Every dollar helps. You can
learn more about World Vision at www.worldvision.org, or by
clicking one of the World Vision buttons on my website.
Heather Huffman lives
in Missouri with her husband and their three sons. In addition to
writing, she enjoys spending time with the family horse and their
pack of rescued dogs. A firm believer that life is more than the
act of taking up air, Heather is always on the lookout for an
adventure that will become fodder for the next novel.