24: Before You Came
Jonas loved Callie the second he laid eyes on the wriggling bundle of pink flesh. He'd sat stiff as a board when his father passed the baby into his hands, was hypnotized by ageless blue eyes. Solemn and responsible even at twelve, he'd let her wrap a tiny hand around his thumb and swore to always be there for her.
He stayed true to his word. Even when he couldn't be around thanks to college, a stint in the military, and the family business, he'd made sure Callie remembered he was still her rock. She must have gotten the message, because his number was the first one she dialed when a thirteen-year-old Callie came home and found their parents murdered in the kitchen.
He doesn’t want her in the field. He’d like nothing more than to hide her away in one of QuinTech’s secret bunkers. She’s got the Quinn stubbornness, though, and he’d rather have her working for him than his competitors. At least he’ll be able to regulate which assignments she goes on and who watches her back.
That same protectiveness is what sets his gut to churning when she smiles that smile at Micah Harkness one Tuesday afternoon.
Callie Quinn, smart, sassy, strong Callie, is the type of woman Micah Harkness wants his daughter to be. She’s compassionate with an infectious smile is brighter than the sun. So, why on earth would Jonas want to darken his sister’s soul by involving her in the dirty world of intelligence?
When Jonas asks Micah to help evaluate Callie’s field readiness, Micah’s tempted to fail the girl. It’ll keep her out of the field long enough for her to change her mind. In the end, he has no choice but to pass her. She’s better than most he’s seen and damned determined.
He has to admit that he’s jealous, too. She’ll get to go off on the assignments that should be his while he’s stuck at home with an unhappy, motherless baby. Too bad she’s become the only role model he wants for Jenna. If he wasn’t so afraid of ruining his friendship with Callie, or of Jonas’ fist, he’d offer her the world in exchange for being Jenna’s step-mother.
When Callie’s the one to lay out a plan that not only keeps her out of the field but gives Jenna the mother she deserves, all Micah can think is, “Fantastic.”