Gage shook his head, then placed a hand on her arm.

“Will he be okay?” Gage asked Hixon Two.

Hixon Two took in a short breath, trying to maintain her soldier’s composure. “He’ll live. But they beat the bloody hell out of him.”

Gage covered the mouthpiece and turned to Faith. “Mickey’s been hurt.”

“Gravilov’s thugs,” Hixon Two continued. “Hammer and Britva. Ribs, right arm, right eye socket, jaw, a gash on his forehead.”

Gage winced at the image. “How did it-”

“He enjoyed the taste of work again, so he went out on his own.”

“I never should’ve-”

“Don’t blame yourself. He said you’d do that.”

“What was he thinking? These are dangerous people.”

“He was thinking that maybe he’d learn something that would help you. He started following Gravilov, but they led him into a trap. Azenby Road is a tiny street that dead ends at Warwick Gardens. He was trapped.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“He’s still under. They went in to find the source of internal bleeding and they’ll wire his jaw. I could tell he learned something, but they raced him into surgery before he could finish.”

Gage disconnected the call and remained sitting on the edge of the couch.

“Mickey thought he was invisible,” he told Faith, “like lost keys.” He felt himself well up. “I never should’ve gotten him into this.”

“It’s not your fault. The little jobs you gave him made him feel important, still useful in the world.”

Gage turned toward her. “But I always made sure somebody younger and stronger was with him.”

“He never realized it, did he?”

Gage shook his head. “I didn’t want to hurt his feelings…For something like this, he should’ve called me to come do it, not tried it himself.”

“Maybe he didn’t want to look stupid if he was wrong.”

“Sometimes it’s not worth being right.”


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