Home > The Big Fix

The Big Fix
Author: Mary Calmes

 

DEDICATION

 

 

As usual, I have to thank my wonderful team, Keren, Brian, Will and Judy for helping bring this book to life. Originally, there were way too many people in this novel and pairing it down was painful. It was like murder… That may be overly dramatic but it was hard! My friend Nathan also needs a shout out for looking over my action sequences. It’s always important to respect the laws of physics.

 

 

THE BIG FIX

 

 

Philanthropist. Humanitarian. Soldier. Spy.

 

Jared Colter, the head of Torus Intercession, has a secret life he left behind, one that only his closest confidants know about. Normally, the past keeps its secrets, but not this time. Old ghosts come calling to the very doorstep of his new life, when Owen Moss, the person closest to him, goes missing. A carrot left dangling to lure Jared out and into the hands of an unknown enemy.

Owen Moss was once a scared, orphaned boy saved by Jared, but he’s no longer a child even if Jared is having trouble seeing him that way. He’s thirty-two now, in love with Jared, and as Jared’s obliviousness keeps butting up against Owen’s desire, the tension between them keeps escalating. Something has to give, and soon.

With a bounty on his head, Jared races through the brutal underworld of Southeast Asia, in search of Owen. It’s a maze of treachery and murder, where one false move means death. The answer is tied to the man Jared used to be, taking him into the heart of the lion’s den, where he’s forced to face the darkest questions about himself to save the man he loves.

 

 

ONE

 

 

We were fighting. Again. Or more specifically, Owen was fighting, and I was trying to figure out, again, for what felt like the hundredth time, what category he fell into. The question was, did I try and reason with him like a friend, man-to-man, or did I treat him like an employee, which technically, he was. Since showing him respect and telling him I’d listen didn’t seem to be working, I fell into boss mode, which accounted for the crossed arms and scowling I was exhibiting at the moment as I waited for him to come up with a reasonable explanation for his behavior. We’d been at it for over an hour, me trying to get him to see my point of view in this argument we were rehashing, and him responding that he was in the right no matter how things looked.

“I’m not a child, Jared!”

“Yes, I know,” I yelled back, my patience frayed. “You’re thirty-two years old, which is why I was worried about you going to prison!”

“Prison?” He sounded snide. “Really?”

Only he could push all my buttons. “Yes,” I railed at him. “Which, as you recall, you had a pretty close brush with before.”

He narrowed his eyes. “So you’re throwing ancient history in my face?”

Back when he was eighteen, when he was a self-professed white-hat hacker and the FBI had him firmly in their sights, I had stepped in and saved him, vouching for his character and, more importantly, taking responsibility for any of his future failings. If he messed up again, it was my ass on the line, not his. Flash forward fourteen years and, thus far, I had never regretted my decision. But that didn’t mean this latest trespass wasn’t a doozy.

“It doesn’t seem like you learned anything the first time,” I said, because I was already too entrenched in the argument to back down.

The look on his face told me I might have gone too far. He threw up his hands. “It was an honest mistake, but you always blow everything out of proportion because you never listen to me.”

“That’s not true,” I said defensively. “I always listen to you, but you have to realize that despite the end result being a good one, the road to get there was wildly illegal. Contrary to what you believe, the end does not justify the means.”

“Oh my God,” Owen muttered, chuckling. “I’m not insane. I know I crossed the line, but you need—”

“You hacked into the DEA database, and the only reason you’re not on your way to prison is because I called in some huge favors!”

He nodded. “So you came to the rescue again, and you want me to do what, grovel?”

“I want you to be safe and—”

“Because that’s how you are?” he asked pointedly, staring holes through me. “Because you never put yourself in danger to find the truth or for the good of others?”

“It’s not the same. You knew it was wrong, but you—”

“You know things are wrong when you do them too, Jared, but you do them anyway because it’s the right choice.”

Suddenly, I didn’t want to have the fight and wanted to let it go. I was irritated as soon as I walked in the door, and I had no idea why.

He growled at me, angrier than I’d seen him in a while. “I helped the DEA find out that one of their agents was missing, and in the end, they said thank you.”

“The thank you doesn’t at all forgive your trespass,” I insisted, driving it in, unable to stop. “Make no mistake.”

“That’s what you want, though. For me to be perfect and never make any mistake. Ever.”

“Listen—”

“No one is perfect, Jared. Not even you.”

There was a lot of venom in his words, and I had to wonder why. He knew he’d messed up, so why was I getting so much attitude?

“And, I found a guy they didn’t even know they lost, so…I should be forgiven. But even though they have, even though they’ve asked me to do some consulting with them, you’re not satisfied. You want me to writhe in despair over my trespass, self-flagellate for good measure, and repent.” He was glaring at me when he finished. “Well, you know what? Fuck that. I chased a lead, I went too far, it’s over, I’ll really try not to do it again, but in the meantime, you can take your sanctimonious bullshit and—”

“Owen, it’s not about me needing you to writhe in agony, though some self-reflection might not be a bad idea. But—”

“You want me, and everyone—and I mean everyone who works for you—to share your vision of service and making the world a better place. The thing is, if the help we give, the help we offer, isn’t done in the way you would do it, you can’t handle that.”

“You’re so wrong about—”

“You were Army Intelligence, for fuck’s sake. You have to realize that not everything is perfect.” He sounded both angry and defeated at the same time. “Life is messy, and sometimes we do imperfect things that end up being right and give us the best result possible.”

“I’m not arguing that outcomes can be for the best even when getting there was bad. What I’m telling you is that instead of just diving in, you have to look first and figure out what the hell you’re doing.”

“Oh, now I don’t know what I’m doing?”

“That’s all you got from that?” I was indignant. “Are you serious?”

“It’s just one more fucking thing for you to use!” he snarled at me.

“What are you—”

“I can’t take this anymore,” he yelled, pacing on his side of the kitchen island. “I’m not perfect, so I’ll keep screwing up, and you’ll keep seeing me as the little ten-year-old boy you rescued, and I—”

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