Home > Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)(16)

Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)(16)
Author: Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie

My brows knit together. “Second one in two weeks.” He hasn’t had a migraine all summer, and now it’s a cluster-fucking short timespan.

Banks spits roughly in the toilet. “I must just be lucky like that.” He takes another measured breath.

My wet hair is dripping on my squared shoulders. Beads skidding down the ridges of my muscles, and more water pools at my feet.

I go grab my towel from behind the toilet.

About the same time, my brother eases backwards. “False alarm.” He lets out a heavier breath and slumps against the shower stall. Already dressed for work in a white button-down and black slacks with a radio attached.

His slacks soak in fucking puddles that I tracked, but he’s too spent to give a shit. “I’m supposed to be Oscar Mike in an hour.”

I dry my hair with the towel. “Take today off.”

He rubs his temple and shuts one eye. “I’m the man who fills-in for the men who take off.”


Every time Farrow has to take a med call, he needs a bodyguard to fill his spot protecting Maximoff, and Banks volunteered to be that bodyguard.

Which inadvertently made him a full-time floater on the team. Whenever a 24/7 guard has a family or health emergency, Banks takes over their spot. It’s not a demotion. It’s the hardest job in security. Every day he gets pulled in a dozen different directions.

He says he likes the spontaneity of the position.

But Banks took this role for me.

He said I was gasoline in a bottle. I made a massive mistake when I hit Farrow, and I couldn’t get out of my head. My brother wanted to be under the same roof as me again. Just so I wouldn’t light myself on fire with rage and fucking regret.

“You can still take off, Banks.” I dry water off my chest.

There’d be some reshuffling among the men, but we’d work it out.

Banks rests the back of his head on the shower door. “That means slamming the team with a headache which pretty much matches my headache. I’m not doin’ it.”

I give him a hard look and tie my towel around my waist. “How the fuck do you plan to go on-duty if you can’t even keep both eyes open?”

“Easy. I plan to have both eyes open and alert by then.” He tucks his hair behind his left ear, then right ear and motions to me. “I could use all you’ve got.”

He’s not asking for drugs.

Instinctively, I touch two horn pendants that lie against my sternum, and I feel along my deltoid and unclip the thin gold chain around my neck. Most of the time, I forget that I’m wearing a cornic’. Because I rarely take it off.

“Where are you needed?” I ask since he’s leaving in an hour and he didn’t say who he’s filling in for.

“I’m headed to New York. Tom needs a bodyguard until tonight because…” He lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know what’s up with Ian.” Tom Cobalt’s bodyguard. “I don’t ask. I just go.”

I near him.

He holds out his hand, and I drop the necklace in his palm. He used to have a cornic’. Until he lost it in the Middle East.

But there are two pendants on my chain. “I can get you a new chain and give you the other horn—”

“No.” Banks shoots me a glare like I’m out of my fucking mind. “His cornic’ stays on your chain.”

We don’t mention him a lot—but when he gets brought up, my chest tightens.

I just nod, and I watch my brother clasp the necklace around his neck.

He wants me to do the maliocch’ too. It helped last time I did it. But I’ll need to get oil from the kitchen first.

Before I go, I grab my radio off the sink. “Whose detail did you cover yesterday?”

“Audrey, then Kinney, then back to Audrey.”

That’s a lot. “Three transitions in one day.”

He touches the horns at his sternum. “Semper Gumby, man.”

I almost smile. It means always flexible. Something from the Marines. It’s my brother to a fucking tee. Missions get fragged, and you’ve got to be ready for new orders. New direction.

Always flexible.

“Oorah,” I say lightly.

But I solidify. More rigid. Remembering something that I meant to tell my brother. But with the Cinderella ad at the fucking forefront—it just sat in the back of my head.

Until now.

“What is it?” Banks asks, studying my posture.

I unwrap the cord around the radio. “I told Jane that we served in the Corps.”

Banks laughs hard. “No you didn’t.”

I look him right in the eyes. Unflinching. “I did.”

His mouth downturns in thought. Not in anger.

Bottom line, Banks and I have been prepared for the whole truth to come out. Not just within the security team or the famous ones.

But the whole world.

Back in February, Security Force Omega gained some fame through a viral Hot Santa video, and we expected the press and public to find out about us being Marines.

Really, all it takes is an online search. But you have to know what you’re looking for.

What ended up happening: no media or fans cared that much about SFO to dig that deep. The most Banks and I get are autographs while we’re on-duty and the occasional paparazzi question about our height and being twins.

We’d built ourselves up for that impact, packed on our Kevlar and waited for the firefight, and it never even hit. I should’ve been relieved, but I think we both landed somewhere between frustration and discontent.

Banks stares back at me. “Did she ask why we keep it a secret?”

“Yeah.” I nod. “I told her the truth: the security team would ask us why we didn’t choose the Navy, and we didn’t want to get into it.”

We didn’t want to unload our pasts on the team and deal with it again, and the real answer to that question surfaces a lot of shit.

Easiest solution was to keep our military service a secret. We never hid who we are. We use military jargon all the time, but no one questions us. They just conclude that our knowledge comes from our dad. Because we were raised by a SEAL.

Which is also true.

Just not the full story.

He rubs his eyes. “So you told her that we served, but you didn’t tell her why . Did you tell her we’re combat vets?”


“Did you tell her you were a squad leader?”


Banks scratches the scruff on his jaw. “What you’re telling me then is you’ve given her a millimeter, and you made an oath with Jane to be more transparent.” He lifts his shoulders in a tight shrug. “Just go the full hundred yards, Thatcher.”

I want to tell her everything. Banks sees that I want to.

But I compartmentalize a lot, and ripping open taped boxes isn’t natural for me. I turn on my radio. “I’ll think on it.”

He massages his forehead. Above his right eye. Breathing harder through his nose.

“You still want me to do the maliocch’?” I make sure before I go grab oil and matches.

He nods stiffly. “Please.”



Radio in hand, I exit the bathroom on the second-floor landing.

Left and right bedrooms belong to me and Quinn Oliveira: currently the youngest guy on the team. He’s done a good job his first year on-duty.

Sometimes he can get too worked up. Especially when the girls get antagonized—but hearing a bunch of assholes rail on Jane and not being able to snap back has even been hard for me.

Floorboards creak as I head downstairs; wooden staircase is so narrow I feel like I need to turn sideways to fit. Brick walls squeezing me in on either side.

I’m not complaining.

The three-bedroom, one-bath townhouse may barely be 900 square feet, but it has a washer-dryer, working plumbing, no leaky ceilings or musty odors. Compared to where I grew up, it’s the fucking Ritz.

I reach the bottom stair in the snug living room: a brick fireplace, bare mantel, a leather couch, and a high-top table with some stools. No space for much else. Guys keep it pretty clean, especially since SFO holds some meetings here.

I hear the sound of squeaking floorboards coming from the cramped kitchen. Quinn is probably awake getting chow.

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