Battle Scars The Arsenal, Book 5
BlurbScars don’t always heal… Jesse Mason chose duty over love and endured the hell of captivity comforted only with thoughts of the woman he left behind. Though the physical damage has healed, the emotional battle continues now that he’s home. He fakes happy and whole until Ellie is thrust back into his life. She’s everything he ever wanted but can never have. Getting wrapped up in her problems is not an option, but neither is leaving her in danger. Without her he’d be nothing. Scars aren’t always visible… Ellie Travers salvaged her scarred heart and landed headfirst in a horrible marriage. Now divorced, broke, and desperate to care for her ailing mother, she accepts the only job offered—Office Manager at The Arsenal. Working for the man who broke her heart should be simple compared to escaping a hellacious marriage. But only she can help Jesse win the final war for his soul, and she’ll do anything to save him—even at the risk of losing herself. The battle lines have been drawn. Together they must navigate the minefields of love and sacrifice because failure is not an option.
“Out,” Jesse growled.
The women stilled. Addy chuckled as she entered and leaned against the wall beside Levi.
“This isn’t a show. Get the fuck out,” he repeated.
“Not happening,” Addy said. The redheaded operative terrified the hell out of Ellie. She was like Wonder Woman, if Wonder Woman had also been James Bond. Maybe? Either way, she was so kickass she gave every operative at The Arsenal pause.
Even Vi’s husband Jud—and he’d been an assassin. Yikes.
Ellie swallowed as she processed the protective solidarity of her new friends—her tribe. The fact that she had one was a shock. She’d only ever had Jesse as a friend. Then he’d gone, and she’d had…
“There a reason you’re coming in here like you’re about to start World War III?” Vi asked. “Your growl doesn’t scare me, Jesse.”
Nothing scared Vi. All the women gathered around Ellie were amazing—each in her own unique way. The fact that any one of them had friended her was wild. All of them?
Jesse dropped something on her desk. Her pulse quickened as she watched the small object bounce a couple times then roll to a stop by her stapler. Silence descended as everyone looked at the piece of metal.
Addy and Vi cursed. Bree reached out and grabbed it.
“Why are you bringing this in and getting mad at Ellie?” The blonde looked at Ellie. “Why is he bringing this to you?”
Ellie took a moment to snap the pieces together. Someone had shot her tire out. It hadn’t been a blowout. Fear crawled through her, but the anger doused it quickly enough.
That son of a bitch.
“Medina has a loud mouth,” she muttered, unsure what else to say.
“No. Don’t put this on Medina. He did what you should’ve done,” Jesse said.
“Actually, she should have called us when this shit went down instead of changing her tire on the side of the road after someone shot it out,” Levi commented from the wall.
Riley gasped. “When?”
“I’ve got Cord and Zoey finding the footage now,” Jesse said. “You want to tell me who shot your tire out and why?”
Ellie shook her head. “I didn’t know it was shot out. I thought it was a blowout. I swear.”
“What happened?” Jesse’s voice was low, but gritty like he’d swallowed sandpaper. His green gaze flickered with rage. His entire body vibrated with unspent anger. She’d never fully understood how, but she could read him easily.
Ellie looked around.
“We do this here or in the whiteboard room with the rest of the crew that isn’t here,” Vi said.
Jesse moved to her side of the desk and grasped her arm. Though his touch was gentle, he’d grabbed the same area Phil had used to yank her from the truck. Pain sliced through her body. A sound rose from her throat.
His gaze darkened as he removed his hand and rolled her sleeve up.
Though not much time had passed, bruises were forming in a distinct pattern. Fingers.
Tension struck the room. Everyone started talking at once.
Jesse leaned down until he was in her personal space. “You and I need to have a conversation about this, Peanut. You want to do this with just you and me, or do you want them involved? Either way they’ll know whatever you tell me.”
She’d sat in plenty of Arsenal briefings. The Masons, the women gathered around her, and the team leaders all converged and went over every speck of detail about a case. No stone went unturned. They hacked their way into impossible-to-get intel without thought.
Mary and Vi led the discussions and used the system they’d created. HERA. Ellie didn’t fully understand it, but Marshall and Nolan had both told her every government organization and country in the world wanted it.
Her stupid problems with Phil didn’t need their level of intensity. He was a pissant compared to the real terrorists, drug lords, regimes, militias, spies, assassins, and dictatorships they battled on a regular basis. Nolan said Mary and Vi had never failed on a mission. While Ellie really, really wanted kickass commandoes like Jesse and The Arsenal kicking Phil’s ass, more important and deserving people needed them more.
“Nothing doesn’t shoot out tires,” Jesse said. “Nothing doesn’t leave marks on you.”