Lethal is the first off-book in the "lost years" series, covering the period between 2009 and 2012 during which Birmingham’s toughest tough guy, Derrick Olin, went on hiatus. Be sure to read the second book in this series: Critical Action.
Birmingham's best bodyguard is settling down, but not slowing down. His personal life has gone domestic, but on the professional side, he's still the same hard b****** as before. First there's the stalker harassing a big time actor from Hollywood who just won't take the hint and find a new hobby. Then there's the international group of killers from Derrick's past with the same problem. They have a score to settle and will not stop until they get what they want. Too bad for them they won’t want what they get!
I was doing something I hadn’t done since the fifth grade. And back then it was nothing quite like this.
Can you imagine Derrick Olin doing such a thing?
Not if you’ve known me for any length of time beyond five minutes.
However, today is a very special day, and the person I’m dancing with is a very special young lady. Someone I’ve known since she was five days old.
Erin Stevens—now Erin Devonshire—had just gotten married to her fiancé of the last three years, and it was an event that many had not believed would ever come. Least of all her mom. But it had, and all seemed pleased. Especially my perfect and beautiful twenty-two year old goddaughter.
We were in Portland where Erin and her fiancé—husband—had been living for the past two years, having moved out here from Birmingham to get into the wildlife conservation/revitalization movement that was taking place in this region. Erin and her fiancé—husband—Zach were very big on the outdoors and really loved animals too. I knew this was the case with Erin because from a very early age she had always loved going to the zoo in Birmingham to see the animals.
I had been in the Air Force when she was born and most of the early part of her life. However, whenever I was back home on leave she would beg me to take her to the zoo, and I would. Sometimes with one of her parents, but usually just the two of us. And she always had a great time, while I pretended to.
I’ve got nothing against animals, would probably prefer their company to a lot of humans I know, but if I don’t have to, I would prefer not to spend time with them either. Least of all while they are locked behind protective glass and bars in the zoo.
At some point in her life, Erin had come to feel this way as well, and this soon sparked her interest in wildlife conservation and preservation. It also became the spark for her poetry because by the age of fourteen she had become quite an accomplished poet. As of a couple of years ago she had published two complete books of her work and they had been very well received in some circles.
Even though I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, I have to admit, Erin is pretty darn good; and not simply because she’s my goddaughter.
But that probably doesn’t hurt either. The lovely little blond girl I used to hold on my knee and laugh with, who once threw up on my newly purchased charcoal gray pinstripe suit, who had the honor of being the last baby whose diaper I changed… she had now grown up. A married woman. Probably soon to be a mother.
Jesus, would that make me a grand-godfather?
Have to check on that.
The wedding had been less than traditional, as you would expect if you knew Erin in the slightest. But everyone in attendance seemed to really enjoy it, as did the happy couple.
Now we were at the reception in the grand ballroom at the Marriott-Portland downtown. There was a live band, plenty of food and drink, and a lot of very enthusiastic people everywhere having a really good time; some perhaps too much of one. However, at the moment only one person concerned me.
Most of the music played was contemporary, which meant I knew nothing about it, and the beat was just beyond my limited ability. However, because she wanted to have at least one dance with me, Erin had requested something a bit more sedate, slower in tempo. And now she was in my arms, her head against my chest, as we slowly circled the dance floor, everyone else dancing off to the sides, most of them watching us.
I kissed the top of her head, her hair straight and red this week, and Erin glanced up and smiled dreamily, her breath alive with champagne.
“I’m gonna have to thank Traci again,” she said.
“For what?” I said.
“For giving you dance lessons,” she said, giggling. “You really are very good, Derrick.”
“Who says I wasn’t already very good?”
Erin cocked her head sideways and stuck out her tongue for a moment.
“I’ve known you all my life, luv,” she told me matter-of-factly. “And the one thing I do know about you for absolute certain—other than the fact that you love me—is that you couldn’t dance for shit before this.”
We both started laughing and I leaned down to kiss her on the forehead.
We continued to dance until the song ended and then her husband came over and asked to cut in. Erin kissed me on the cheek and then went off to dance with him.
I glanced around and spotted three women standing by themselves near one of the open bars. All three were gorgeous, one was in her late teens and the other two were more mature, but beautiful nonetheless. And to be honest, I love the more mature.
Traci Brenner beamed at me as I walked over, putting her arms around my neck and squeezing me tightly.
“You two looked really good out there, Mister. I told you you’d be great. And Erin is so beautiful. She and Zach make such a great couple.”
I kissed her on the lips and turned to look at the dance floor, slipping an arm around her slender waist.
“They really do look great together,” I admitted.
Next to Traci, Leigh Danton stood with an arm around her youngest daughter, Justine Duvall. Her expression was a combination of joy and sadness, as would be expected of any mother whose oldest had just tied the knot.
I kissed Traci again and she looked into my eyes, instantly understanding and nodding.
I moved over to Leigh and touched her arm. She looked at me, a tear rolling out of her left eye. She wiped it away and tried to smile.
Justine kissed her mom and then nodded at me.
We moved onto the dance floor together, Leigh putting her head against my chest much as her daughter had just done. The current song was not as slow as the previous, but caused me no major problems.
Leigh sniffled a few times, wiped her eyes on a tissue, and then finally looked up at me with the best smile she could muster.
“Don’t want to fuck up my makeup too badly,” she quipped sardonically. “Took too long to get it straight.”
“Not to worry, luv,” I told her. “You still look fantastic. More like Erin’s sister than her mom.”
Leigh grinned and stood up on her toes to kiss me on the lips.