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She’d like to kick that higher power’s butt, but that was beside the point. Point was, they had a job to do, and if they failed someone—two someones—would die.
“Burnett’s bark is worse than his bite,” she said.
“I don’t like to be barked at.” His tone deepened.
“Me, either, but I give Burnett some leeway. And so should you.”
She considered downplaying her answer, but decided the truth would do just fine. “Because he never barks just to bark. He does it because he cares. And like it or not, we all need someone to care for us.”
He exhaled. “Caring about someone doesn’t give a person the right to micromanage their life.”
“Yeah, he has a little problem with that, but he’s working on it.” Defending Burnett’s hardheadedness felt strange, but oddly it also felt right.
Chase studied her as if mentally connecting the dots. But what kind of dots? Why did she get the feeling the puzzle he worked on this minute was about her?
Stay away from my dots, bucko.
He dropped back into the chair next to her, even closer this time. “Does your aunt not care? Is that why you don’t want to see her?”
“Ya know, I’d love to spend a couple of hours telling you all about my family drama”—not—“but we don’t have time.” Honestly, she spilled her guts only to Kylie and Miranda. And by God, she needed some round-table Diet-Coke time with them right now. She jumped up. “You coming or not?”
Chapter Thirteen
Five minutes—down to the second. That’s how long Burnett paced Holiday’s office. She knew because she and Chase were facing the wall clock, and instead of getting dizzy watching him, she watched the clock hands tick away. It was almost nine in the morning, and she hadn’t been to bed yet.
“Why?” Burnett finally spoke, walking from one side of the room to the other. Good thing he’d brought them to Holiday’s office—his office offered no room to pace.
“Why what?” Della asked, trying not to sound like a smartass, but the question rolled off her tongue with sass.
He growled. “Why do I give orders if you guys don’t listen? And why would I allow you to work with the FRU if you can’t follow orders?”
“Because the death angels and some unnamed ghost have made it their job to make sure we do this.” Della inhaled.
A second later, and in a calmer voice, she explained about seeing the names on the back of the picture, and how when Chase showed up it seemed like the ghost wanted her to go with him.
“You don’t work for the ghost! You work for the FRU, and I tell you what to do!”
“I don’t work for the FRU,” Chase countered.
Della inwardly flinched, wishing he wouldn’t push Burnett.
“So, you don’t want to work with Della on this case?” Burnett snapped. “Because you can walk right out of here and I’ll make sure you don’t see her again.”
“Say what?” Della let out a low, hot puff of air. “Since when—”
Chase barged ahead. “I’m just saying that as of right now, I’m not required to follow your orders.”
Burnett countered. “I told you she had enough on her plate, to leave her alone. How difficult would it have been to do that?”
Chase’s chin rose. “Difficult. We’re bonded, and if she’s in pain, I have to make sure she’s okay. Would you not do it for Holiday?”
Say what? Della glared at the guy. “Just because you gave me blood doesn’t mean I need you to babysit me!”
“I didn’t say you needed me,” Chase spit out. “I explained why I disobeyed the order—an order that I wasn’t officially required to obey.” He looked back at Burnett as if bringing home his point one more time.
Della let out a hiss of air. “Well, you made it sound as if—”
“Like what?” Chase faced her. “We’re bonded, when are you going to accept that?”
“Maybe never! I didn’t ask to be bonded with you.”
“Stop!” Burnett fumed. “I’m the one who’s mad here.”
“No,” Della snapped. “I’m mad, too. I don’t like being used as leverage.” She glared at Burnett then at Chase. “And I don’t like our being lumped in the same category as Burnett and Holiday. We’re working a case. That’s all!”
“Show me the picture,” Burnett snapped.
When Della and Chase sat there glaring at each other, Burnett repeated, “Show me the damn picture!”
Della drew in a deep, sobering breath and pulled the picture from the back of her jeans.
Burnett turned it over, looking for the names. Okay, so she’d neglected to mention the part about them disappearing.
“About that…” Della said. “The names, they … they sort of disappeared.”
Burnett looked at her with puzzled eyes. “How did they disappear?”
“I’m assuming the ghost did it.”
Burnett blinked. “You’re telling me the ghost wrote the names on here and then erased them?”
“See?” Chase said. “I’m not the only one who found it hard to believe.”
Della so wanted to give Chase a serious sharp jab with her elbow. She settled for a kick in his shin.
He muttered an ugly word, and feeling slightly vindicated, she ignored him and kept her focus on Burnett.