This set of siblings fills out the balance to the sub-story of NO STRONGER BOND. From the moment Toni showed up, I really liked her dedication to her life’s work, and her spunk. I didn’t think about her older brother, much, until he dropped into the story, and I realized he played a role in more than one story.
“Moment of Truth” — Excerpt from TIGER LILY (Project Prometheus, Book #32):
She watched him stare off into space, out over the lake, and sighed to herself. Cody was always a deep thinker, but there was no doubt he was moping, now.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Nope.” He lifted the beer bottle to his lips again and took a swig, his gaze never shifting.
“Should I call Mason and ask him?”
A tic leapt in his clenched jaw, and she knew she hit the right button, first time.
“What happened this time?”
He shot her a baleful glare. “It’s none of your business, Antonia. This is between Mason and I.”
Right. Which was why he came the whole way out here to deal with it. Toni rolled her eyes. “If you’re just going to mope around here, all week, you can leave. I’ve got better things to do.”
“Like kill yourself up on the mountain?” He was clearly itching for a fight. Fine, she’d give it to him. She already knew it wouldn’t solve anything.
“I wouldn’t kill myself up there if I had reliable rigging.”
He snorted. “Get the boy toy to fix it. He’s good with his hands, isn’t he?”
That did it! “Now you’re just being crude. What the hell’s wrong with you? Scratch that, I don’t want to know. Just take it back to DC, and deal with it. I don’t need you here, getting underfoot.”
Cody winced. He thunked the now-empty bottle against his forehead, eyes closed and expression miserable. “I hate his job, and he thinks I’m trying to control him.”
“Wonder where he got that idea?” She muttered under her breath, then sighed when he shot her another glare. “Cody, you’ve got to learn to trust people, sometime.”
“You’re a fine one to talk about trust. Besides, I do trust him. It’s just… the thought of him being around all those guys, all the time. You know Mason. He likes to flirt.” That was the understatement of the century, but she let it slide, just nodding. Clearly, her brother was fighting some major demons, here. “I don’t want him getting hurt. What if someone takes his flirting the wrong way? What if they expect something from him? What if…?”
“You can’t play those kinds of games all your life, big brother. Have you talked to Mason about this?”
Her normally confident, put-together brother suddenly looked like a frightened, skinny kid, again, faced with the most impossible of odds. “I’ve tried. Mason is… very distracting.”
Toni winced, knowing exactly what her brother meant. Her life had been all set up, nothing to take her attention away from the job she loved, or the duty she was born to carry out. Then Austin showed up, and her concentration went all to hell.