"What are you doing?"
"You're not shaking. A few months ago, I’d touch you by accident and you’d go into convulsions."
I sigh, shaking my head in resignation. Dresden removes his hand and turns on the radio. I smile, letting the music soothe me. In my off time, I play guitar and piano. It's therapeutic. The team doesn't know. That hobby is confined to my apartment in New Orleans.
"Want me to send them in?" Dresden stops next to my desk.
I place a large bag and manila folder down. Jax's office is now mine, though the only additions are two vases of flowers Blake had delivered.
I sit behind the desk and run my fingers through my hair. The last thing I want to do is spoil the day, but this will give me peace of mind when I'm not able to be with them.
Blake, his parents, Shannon, and Teresa stand outside my office door. "Come in. Shut the door."
"Is everything okay?" Shannon's voice is high and full of panic.
"Yes, Shannon. Calm down. Everything's fine. Sit."
Shannon, Carmen, and Teresa sit in the chairs facing my desk while Blake and James stand behind them. I take a deep breath, steeling myself for the possible fight following this meeting. Opening the manila folder, I pull out five small pieces of paper and hand one to each of them, moving back to sit behind my desk.
"These are Concealed and Carry permits," James says shocked. "What do we need these for?"
"For these." I pull five 9mm handguns from the bag and lay them across my desk. "You'll each train with Rhett at least twice a week. Though, you should try to train with him as often as possible until you can actually hit a target."
"Lily, we aren't a family that really approves of guns," Blake says, softly.
"And I'm not a woman who can stand by and allow you to be unprotected," I snap.
"We have you and the team. We're hardly unprotected, honey," Carmen says sweetly, eyeing the guns.
"Mrs. Mason, with all due respect—"
"Stop with the Mrs. Mason stuff. You're with my stepson. Call me Carmen, please," she says in a firm voice.
"Yes, ma'am. The fact is the team and I can only do so much. There are five of you and seven of us. I don't know if that's enough considering whom we're up against."
"Who are we up against, exactly?" James says.
"The Taurus is the highest profiting and largest human trafficking ring in the world. Not only do they have their hands in the sex trade, but they also have interests in drug trafficking and weapons trade." I walk around and lean against the front of my desk.
"I really think you're overreacting. They've only made threats and no actual attempts on my life," Blake says annoyed.
"You don't know these people. The only reason they threatened you was to try and get you to stop your interference with the auctions. You've ignored them. Now, they're going to try and kill you quietly, and they'll take out everyone connected to you if they have to. That includes your family, your friends . . . and us."
"You honestly think it's that bad?" James moves closer to my desk to see the handguns.
"Yes. Plus, Shannon's rescue made them look weak. They won't take it lightly."
"So, how do we stop them?" Blake says pursing his lips in a hard line.
"You learn to shoot. Learn to protect yourselves in case we aren't there to do it. And stay the fuck away from Khoui," I say, snapping at the name.
"What does Khoui have to do with this? Granted, the guy gives me the creeps, but he's a business rival, not a trafficker."
"He's a hitman. The blue-flamed Taurus tattoo gave him away. He's been watching you, and waiting for the right time to put a bullet in your head or slit your throat. Stay the fuck away from him."