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Authors: Deborah R. Brandon

To Love & To Protect

BOOK: To Love & To Protect
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To Love

&

To Protect

By: Deborah R. Brandon

To Love & To Protect

 

Copyright © 2015 Deborah R. Brandon

Published BY

Creative Flow Publications

 

 

This novella is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to actual events, real people, living or dead, organizations, establishments or locales are products of the author’s imagination. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are used fictitiously.

 

Contributing Author:
Deborah R. Brandon

Cover design
K and T Graphics

Editors:
Shawnna Robinson

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission from the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

              First giving honor and glory to God, for blessing me with this talent and providing an avenue for me to be able to do what I love.

To my extraordinary mother Earnest R. Brown, you are my queen, my life line, my friend and I appreciate so much.

              To my wonderful husband and best friend Michael Alexander Brandon, I thank you. To our beautiful children, Precious Jones, Preston Jones and Zander Brandon thank you.

To my siblings Patricia Wilson, Demetra Bates and family, Antonio K. Brown and family, Sue Brown and Family, Seymore Brown and Family, Sharonda Brown, Patrina Radford and Family, Ricardo Brown and family and Tywanda Brown and Family, thank you for your love and support.

              To all my friends but especially Laytoia Salaam-Hill and family, Chase Lamar Graham and family, Jennifer Crosby, Sheryl Kinard and Maria Andrade thank you so much.

              Lastly, I want thank my
Creative Flow Publications
family as well as my Black Beauty Publishing family, thank you for help, guidance and your support as my journey begins.

 

 

By

Deborah R. Brandon

 

Chapter 1

There was a quick knock on the conference room door, before Michelle Stone walked in. She made an equally quick apology for interrupting the meeting. Michelle picked up the receiver and advised the caller to hold for Trenton Blake-Moore. Inactive Marine Captain, Trenton Jamal Blake-Moore, walked over and took the receiver, eyeing his assistant suspiciously.

“You want to take this, sir,” Michelle insisted.

“Blake-Moore here,” Trenton barked into the phone. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing at attention.

His sister Claire Blake-Moore was on the line. She asked him with a quiver in her voice to turn on the television.

He nodded to Michelle who already had the remote control in her hand.

The television announcer said as if on cue, “If you are just now tuning in to join us, South Carolina State Representative Jasmine Anderson, was shot earlier this evening, while giving a speech at Emerald Grove Coliseum. She was air lifted to the Medical University of Emerald Grove, where she is undergoing emergency surgery. The shooter is still at large and there are no leads at this time. Local law enforcement officers were first to arrive at the scene, then shortly thereafter, Federal Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation. Representative Anderson’s preteen twin daughters Amber and Alyson were on stage with her during this tragic event. They have been released to her sister, Renee Anderson. We have no word on the extent of Representative Anderson’s injuries and will continue to bring you more up to date news as it is made available.”

Michelle turned off the television while Trent reassured his sister that he and his team where on their way. Trent hung up the phone, and turned to his team of fellow inactive Marines who were already on their feet and said, “We need to move out people and we need to be ready to move out within the next hour or less. Hightower you will take point on this one. Jasmine and Renee are two of my sister’s closest friends and are like family to us.”

“Say no more, Captain,” Ethan Hightower said loud and clear. “We are on it.”

“Michelle we will need all hands on deck for this one, so you are in on this one too. Pack all necessary computers and components. Please compile a fact file on Representative Anderson for me to review during our trip. Marisol Rodriquez and Carina Sanchez you two will share responsibility of Renee, Amber, and Alyson with heavy interest being given to the girls. Kimberly Adams, you will be on Representative Anderson. Luke Townsend, Santino Trujillo, Ricardo Jamieson, and Patrick Kennedy, you all are on crime scene analysis and investigation. You know your individual strengths, play to them. Move Out,” Ethan commanded.

Less than an hour later, five vehicles were packed and all personnel were ready to leave. Michelle walked over and handed a file on Representative Anderson and her family over to Ethan.

“Thank you Michelle. Let’s get on the road,” Ethan said.

Ethan slid into the backseat of the black Cadillac STS. Townsend was driving and Trent was riding shotgun.

Ethan turned on the flashlight on his phone and began to read Jasmine’s file. The first thing was a color photo of Jasmine Anderson and her twin daughters, Amber and Alyson, at the democratic campaign headquarters, the night of her victory. State Representative Jasmine Anderson was beautiful. Rich caramel colored skin, rich dark coffee eyes, twin dimples on each cheek, perfectly straight white teeth and full expressive lips. Her black curly hair, which had some natural highlights, fell in a tumble of curls and cascaded down her shoulders. She wore a men’s white button down dress shirt and fitted black jeans with heels. She simply glowed. Her daughters were monozygotic twins. They are ten years old and still attend public schools. Amber is a girl’s girl whereas
Alyson is a tomboy. They appear to be happy and well adjusted. The second picture was of her sister, Renee Anderson, who had seventeen years of experience in international business management, before the ladies lost both of their parents in a car accident. Renee became addicted to prescription pain medication and suffered a mental break from which she has not bounced back from.

Representative Anderson was the first African American democratic single female to have been elected to office. She was a self-made woman. She wrote a number one best seller, about her years of domestic abuse at the hands of her children’s father. She talked about her experiences with depression and her battle with obesity. She talked about the loss of her parents. She talked about her steps to independence as well as her personal relationship with God.

Politically, Representative Anderson was pro-gun control, anti-abortion, pro-immigration reform, pro the affordable care act, pro-gay rights, pro bring our soldiers home, and pro welfare reform. A die heart Paul Walker fan; she also supports a charity that he founded called Reach out Worldwide, or ROWW as a means to honor him and show continued respect for him. Under her leadership teachers have received increased pay, South Carolina roads and highways have been repaired without an increased gas tax. She is currently pushing hard for a welfare reform that she calls the Step Up Program.

Several anti-gun control groups had been very vocal against her. She had recently been involved in a custody/visitation family court dispute, with the children’s father who had been released from prison six months earlier. There had been some harassing phone calls and text messages. Ethan texted Santino Trujillo and asked him to have his FBI contact to pick up and question the ex. He further advised that the FBI keep him on ice, so that Trujillo could be there for the interview. Ethan also texted Michelle Stone and asked her to hack the Representative’s email and set up an interview with her administrative assistant.

Ethan continued to look through the folder. Representative Anderson owned and operated a traditional soul food restaurant that specialized in traditional southern cuisine, with a few authentically prepared Hispanic dishes. Her Director of Operations was longtime friend, Alena Wellstone. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Again, Ethan picked up the phone and texted Michelle Stone and advised her to contact Ms. Wellstone and advise that they needed to do an interview with her in Emerald Grove, preferably first thing in the morning.

Trenton asked, “What have you found so far?”

Speaking aloud, “Sir may I ask your relationship to our client?” Hightower asked pointedly of Blake-Moore.

“She is a family friend. She and Claire have been best friends their whole lives. As I mentioned earlier she and her sister Renee are like family to me.”

“What about the Wellstone family? Why would she turn her dream over into their hands?” Hightower asked.

“Alena, Alexis and Brandon are all siblings. Their father, Jasper, ran a mom and pop type outfit until he could no longer turn a profit, and lost it to the bank. Alena and Alexis are also long term friends of Claire. They are like family as well. Alena worked full-time in the first restaurant as did Alexis, but Alena also went to business school and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business. Alena did the same but graduated with a degree in Human Services and does a lot of community outreach stuff for troubled teens. Jasmine made well for herself, and she sprinkled blessing down to others in ways that they would not be seen as a hand out,” Trent finished.

“Smart,” Ethan said. “Did you know her first husband, Ralph Jefferson?” asked Ethan.

“Yes, I knew the asshole,” Trent barked.

“Sir, given how much you care for her, why haven’t we been doing surveillance on her and her family so far?” Ethan asked.

“She refused?” Trent said matter-of-factly.

“And you listened?” Ethan asked.

“I am kicking my own ass right now,” Blake-Moore growled. “I don’t need you to doing it for me.”

“Wasn’t trying to bust your chops, man. I am just saying, she has to be a hell of a woman for you to back down from that is all,” Ethan finished.

Ethan informed Trent that, “The children’s father is being picked up by the FBI, and we are questioning her Administrative Assistant, Sasha Jeffcoat, and Director of Operations, Alena Wellstone first thing in the morning.”

A chill ran down Trent’s back. He had not seen Alena Wellstone since before he was deployed to Afghanistan. They drank too much wine, which led to them sharing one passionate night together. Afghanistan had changed him. Hell, it had changed them all. He had come back an injured war hero. He started up Blake-Moore and Associates, a Security Firm. He hired every injured inactive marine from his unit. The majority had physical injuries and other’s had injures to their souls. Injured souls were way harder to heal and bounce back from. He hadn’t contacted her at all. She wrote a couple of letters at first then she stopped. Tomorrow he would come face to face with his past.

“What’s wrong Captain?” Ethan asked, because he noticed the shiver that ran over his boss and he went into a daze so to speak. Nothing knocks the Captain off of his feet.

“Alena is a firecracker. She will resent being questioned in connection with one of her best friends shooting. Actually, they all will be mad including Jasmine, but you are right we have to do a complete investigation,” Trent responded.

“All who?” Ethan asked.

“My sister Claire; the broadcast journalist, Nicole Alexander; who owns and operates the Emerald Grove Day Spa, Alexis Wellstone; who is the General Manager of the Emerald Grove location of Jasmines’ Restaurant, Renee; Jasmine’s sister, Jasmine herself, and my mom. They love each other like sisters and they are the daughters my mother always wanted. They will take this personally,” Trent finished.

“Understood,” Ethan responded.

 

Chapter 2

A few moments later they pulled into the Medical University of Emerald Grove, parking lot. The Medical University of Emerald Grove is a level one trauma medical facility. There were hundreds of people standing outside; people with flowers and candles. Among them where several news outfits trying to report the latest information on Representative Anderson. There were several FBI guys who were trying to keep the group in order. Ethan ordered the ladies to go to the Blake-Moore Estates and keep eyes on the girls as well as to set up their operations, with the exception to Kimberly. Townsend, Trujillo, Jamieson, and Kennedy scanned the crowd to see if there were any people who looked suspicious or any suspicious activity. After securing the area, Jamieson stayed on at the hospital monitoring the crowd. Trujillo went over to the local SLED office where FBI agents had set up shop. Kennedy and Townsend went to the scene of the crime.

Meanwhile, Ethan, Trent and Kimberly went to meet with Michael in the ICU to get an update on Jasmine’s condition. Trent walked up to his to his brother Dr. Michael Blake-Moore who was the chief of staff for the hospital. Trent asked, “How is she?” while hugging his brother.

“She is extremely lucky is what she is. Of course she is; probably will not call it luck, she will say that it is a favor from God. She was shot with a high velocity bullet that entered her upper right brachial. The bullet did not hit any major arteries or bone until entering her upper right quadrant, where the bullet cracked her fourth rib and changed direction and came out her lower right quadrant. She lost a lot of blood, and has some tissue damage. She received several units of blood during surgery. Right now, infection and blood pressure are my main concerns, but I expect her to make a full recovery. With any gunshot wound there is a risk of infection. She was dehydrated as well. So right now she is on three IV drips; one to hydrate her, another is an
antibiotic, and the last one, pain medication to keep her comfortable. Honestly, I want her to stay knocked out for the night. When she comes to, she will be agitated and want her girls, then her blood pressure spikes. She has a FBI security detail right now,” Michael finished with a sigh. He looked drained.

“I am staying all night tonight to keep an eye on her, and a nurse that I would trust with my own life Denise Jenkins is the only person allowed to change her IV bags. Again, I expect her to make a full recovery,” Michael added for reassurance.

Trent released a pent-up breath, “Lead with the good news first, brother.”

Remembering Ethan and Kimberly, Trent turned to them and said, “My apologies, this is Ethan Hightower and Kimberly Adams. They are part of my team, and fellow marines.”

“Thank you all for coming,” Michael said shaking their hands. Michael continued, “If you all will follow me, I will take you to see her. You all have to help find whoever is responsible for this. Jasmine does not deserve this. Neither do those girls,” Michael finished. Michael continued, “Renee is in there with her now, along with Alena, Alexis, Claire, Nicole and Mom. She is still sleeping, and we are monitoring her closely.”

“Can we see her?” Ethan asked.

“Yes, please follow me?” Michael answered.

Ethan acknowledged the FBI agents at the door and let them know that he would be out later to discuss matters. Her room was filled with family and friends.

Jasmine was dressed in a white cotton night gown. Her hair was loose and cascading down around the pillow. She looked so sweet and innocent. Hightower sucked in a deep breathe, it was like he had been punched in the stomach.

Trent walked over and placed his hand in hers. “I am here now,” he said softly.

A single tear spilled over her eye lids and rolled down her cheek. Trent wiped it away.

“Can she hear me?” Trent asked. “This night gown is not standard issue for the hospital?” Trent continued.

“She is sedated, but medically we don’t know how much a patient can or can’t hear in this state. The night gown, she refused to stay in a hospital issued gown, so Nicole and Claire went and purchased her some gowns, underwear and bedroom slippers. She is stubborn as an old mule,” Michael finished.

The corner of her mouth lifted in a half smile for a split second.
“I would say yes, she can hear us,” Hightower said. “She probably would prefer spirited to stubborn. Well princess, I am Eric Hightower, and I won’t allow anything else to happen to you. Not on my watch. I am leaving you in the care of Special Agent Kimberly Adams, right now to look at her you can’t tell that she is a lethal weapon on two legs, she is one of the best and it is our pleasure to serve you.”

“Ethan,” Trent said, “I will introduce you to everyone. This is my mother Eleanor Blake-Moore.”

Ethan smiled warmly. He mused to himself that she looked like a queen. Milk chocolate colored skin, not a wrinkle in sight; dark brown eyes, pure white hair that was in a short pixie haircut, and full round lips. She was dressed in an expensive tailored suit. Ethan accepted her out stretched hand, and complimented her by saying, “It is a pleasure to meet you ma’am. You have raised an extraordinary man. He is an incredible leader.”

Mrs. Blake-Moore blushed like a school girl and responded, with a, “Thank you, sweetie.”

Trent continued down the line and said, “This is my baby sister Claire Blake-Moore.” Again Ethan mused to himself that she was beautiful, her skin was a creamy caramel color, and she had green eyes. Her jet-black hair was cut in a shoulder length bob. She looked how he imagined a broadcast journalist.

“Trent, is so proud of you, he brags on your work all the time. It’s nice to finally meet you,” Ethan finished.

Trent then introduced him to Alexis Wellstone. Alexis Wellstone, was a natural beauty her skin was milk chocolate with a golden hue, her glasses were too big and hid her beautiful eyes. She wore her hair in a thousand small braids.

Ethan took her out stretched hand, and said, “I heard you really can cook, I can’t wait to try your cooking while we are here, nice to meet you Alexis.”

“Pleasure is all mine,” Alexis responded in a rather shy voice while pushing her glasses back up.

“Her sister Alena Wellstone,” Trent said. Ethan smiled warmly and made good eye contact. He could tell she was on edge a little more than the others. She had milk chocolate skin; her black hair had blonde streaks and was cut in a short pixie style.

“Nice to meet you, I know you traveled about three hours to get here, so I know you are tired. Michelle has contacted you by now, I am sure,” Ethan said more as a statement.

Alena replied with confidence, “She has, and I am willing to help in any way possible.”
Ethan met her intense stare with one of his own and mused that she was a fire cracker indeed. He released her hand, thanked her for her cooperation, and moved onto the next lady he was to meet.

“This is Nicole Alexander,” Trent said with a teasing smile, “She owns and operates the Emerald Grove Day Spa.”

“In the flesh baby,” she outstretched her hand like royalty, as if she expected it to be kissed.

Ethan returned her smile as he observed that she was probably a few years old than the rest of the ladies. Her skin was like rich mocha and she had dark brown eyes, her hair fell
in silky jet black layers down across her shoulders. Ethan said, “It is certainly nice to meet you.”

“Last but not least Renee Anderson,” Trent said. Pain was clearly etched across her face, even though she tried to hide it.

“Renee, I am pleased to meet you. We will do everything within our power to capture whoever is responsible for this crime. Thank you so much for being strong for Representative Anderson as well as your nieces. They really need you right now.”

“Thank you,” Renee choked out.

“I assure you that it is indeed my honor,” Ethan declared.

Everyone’s attention went to the bed. Jasmine was coughing and fighting intubation. Monitors were beeping and flashing angrily. Ethan began to usher everyone out as Michael and his staff came in.

Another single tear slipped down Jasmine’s cheek, for reasons Ethan could not explain. That one tear yanked on is heart.

Jasmine groaned in pain, more and more as she regained consciousness.

Michael removed the tube and her first question came out as a hoarse whisper, “My girls?” yet held a note of desperation. Tears were flowing down her face unchecked now.

Trent stepped to side of the bed and held her hand.
Michael and Donna were checking her vitals, adjusting medication output, and checking the readings on several monitors.

After a few moments, Donna stopped her work, and began to speak in slow calming systems, “Representative Anderson, your girls Alyson and Amber are fine physically. They just want you to get well. In order for you to start your recovery I need for you to calm down.”

Jasmine nodded her head. “Where are they?” she asked.

Donna continued, “Slow, deep breaths, please. That’s it,” Donna encouraged Jasmine as she began to imitate her breathing pattern.

Trent answered Jasmine by saying, “The girls are at Blake-Moore Estates. They are with two highly trained female marines. My dad, Chandler and Brandon are there too. They also have two FBI agents there.”

“Pull the FBI agents, their presence confirms the girl’s true location at all times and makes them a target,” Jasmine interrupted.

She gripped Trent’s hand urgently and pleaded, “I need for this to be over. I have worked very hard to re-build my life and in a blink of an eye someone turned my life back into a living hell. Until they are caught I have to look over my shoulder, my life will not be my own. They have all the power. Help me please Trent, help me,” Jasmine begged.

Jasmine, started to drift off to sleep.

“Michael,” Jasmine slurred.

“Yes,” Michael answered.

“Stop…..drugging….me,” then she was out again.

Michael addressed Ethan and Trent. “Her blood pressure was too high, she is running a slight fever and being agitated like this doesn’t help her any,” Michael finished with a deep sigh.

Michael gave all the ladies an update then Ethan convinced the ladies to go home for the evening, reassuring them that Trent and Kimberly would not leave her side.

Then he went outside to talk with the FBI agents guarding the door.

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