He rattles off Axel’s cell and, after the promise that I’ll keep my focus, says goodbye.
I hang up, give Krajack a stressed look, and make another call—hoping and praying for answers this time.
It takes one ring for Axel’s cell to connect.
As if he’s been waiting for my call.
The dread in my stomach intensifies instantly.
Not a question. He’s been waiting.
“Had Chance call an hour ago. I figured you would have called sooner than this.”
“Don’t play games with me, Axel. I know you have your issues with me right now, but do not play games with me. I don’t owe you an explanation, but my first call went to Dani—where it should have gone. Then Dad, who couldn’t give me shit, so here I am, calling you and hoping you shut the fuck up with the warnings about your daughter and give me what I need to know. Is my girl okay?”
He doesn’t waste a second. “Respect the hell out of you right now, Cohen. It’s not a secret that Dani means the world to me and, if I could keep her under my wing for the rest of my life, I fucking would. But,” he sighs, “I was reminded that it’s time to let go and let her fly. Pleased as fuck that she’s flying to a man I admire and that I believe is man enough for my girl. Just fucking remember, she was my girl before she was yours. There are things going on here that are much bigger than you and me. Things that I have no right in passing on to you, but I can’t stress it enough that you need to either get home or get ahold of Dani.”
“I know what it’s like to be over there, Cohen. To make sure your focus doesn’t waver and that you don’t end up dead. I’ve lived that shit, so I fucking know. But I wouldn’t have gotten word to you if I didn’t feel it was needed. Dani’s threats have picked up in a sense. Flowers stopped, but she got a letter the other day that makes me believe things are more than just an admirer. As much as it kills me, she doesn’t need or want her father right now. I know how Krajack works. You’ll be over there for years if he doesn’t wrap shit up. He picks your missions wisely. Some to keep your training sharp and some that are more than needed to help stop this motherfucking war. What I can’t stress enough is that what doesn’t serve a purpose need to be dropped so you can get back stateside. Move your missions up in order of importance and get home to my girl. She’s safe and I won’t let that fact change. Not now and not ever.”
“What the fuck! How is that not supposed to mess with my head, Axel?”
“That wasn’t the purpose, but you need to know that shit’s going down that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. You need to know that your clock isn’t going to just keep ticking and that it’s time to get the fuck home.”
“You’re telling me that I shouldn’t be worried some freak is after my girl and that I should be home?”
“What I’m telling you is that you need to turn into that little invincible shit you were as a kid. Do your job and do it quick. Then get the fuck home.”
“You have to know this isn’t going to do shit but make me worry about her.”
“I won’t let shit happen to her,” he vows.
“You better not, Axel. I know you love her. That can’t be argued, but I would die for that girl. I would die for her and kill any motherfucker who harms a hair on her head. I’ll talk to Krajack and see what needs to be done to cut our time here down.”
“You do that,” he says, and the line goes dead.
I drop the phone on the table, more confused than I was before I called home. All of these vague hints and half tells. Not one thing I can grasp that makes me feel confident that she is okay until I get home.
“He’s right, you know?” Krajack says from my side. “We pick and choose between training exercises that serve no purpose other than to sharpen your skills and those that eliminating the enemy. I was hoping to have four to seven more months left with you over here, but with this intel, I’ll do my best to cut that in half. Best I can do. Keep your head where it needs to be, Cohen. I can’t afford for you to lose your focus.”
“I appreciate that, sir.” I sigh with resignation that I’m stuck here and my girl needs me.
This is going to be the hardest next few months of my life.
Three months later
THINGS HAVE BEEN A LITTLE easier these last three months. I still miss Cohen, but shortly after I found out about the baby, he was able to get a message through e-mail that he would be home soon. Of course, his soon was in the next few months, but that was better than the unknown timeframe we had been working with since he left.