6. Psalms 139:13
It was Adam that saved her life, even if she didn't know it. He was reaching for his gun when the boy shot out around her legs, shouting "Daddy!" forcing him to abandon the motion as he dropped his briefcase.
Michael scooped up his son but didn't swing him around the way Adam probably wanted him to. "Who's that?" Michael murmured in Adam's ear, keeping his eyes on the short-haired Asian woman still standing quietly no more than five feet away.
"That's Jun," he answered, scrunching up his nose.
"Ah, and why is Jun here?"
"I babysit. Sometimes," Jun said smiling softly.
American, Michael said, beginning to codify her. He let his bag slide off his shoulder and shifted Adam to his left side, freeing his gun hand. He extended it to Jun.
He saw her take it, but her hand felt like a shadow.
"We haven't met, have we?"
Shook her head, no.
"Daddy, Jun speaks French too!"
"We talk French with Mommy so she will learn."
"Is it working?"
Adam turned to Jun and made a face. "I don't think so."
Smilingly, she agreed. "I'm sorry to say it's true. Elena doesn't seem very motivated." She seemed reluctant to say it.
"Yet you do?"
Michael placed a gentle finger over Adam's lips. "Don't interrupt grown-ups." He kissed the boy's head.
"Jun interrupted," he protested.
"Jun's a grown up."
Adam pouted. "That's not fair."
Michael kissed him again. "I know." He turned back to Jun. "I'm sorry, he's—"
"He's fine. I should go," she said, attempting to push hair behind her ear in a way that made him think that it had only recently been cut. She took a step backward. "Now that you're home I— "
"Do you know why Elena's gone?"
Jun stopped short. "Oh. Um, she spoke to Henry, my husband, actually. I believe she said there was an emergency at the University? Something about someone either locked in or locked out and the University copy of the key is missing, the professor is out of town all month on a lecture tour and…"
A smile made Michael reposition her age as being closer to Elena's than he had first presumed.
"…and I don't know whomever else might have a copy of the key, but they're not available either so Elena was it. Depending on whether the person was locked in or locked out, she shouldn't be more than another half hour," Jun reassured him.
She turned on her heel to leave.
"Daddy…it's dark outside and Jun is three blocks away."
"We should walk her home."
Michael set the boy down. "Go get your coat." Laughter trailed after him like soap bubbles.
"Thank you. For walking me."
"It was my idea," Adam, holding both adult's hands, said.
Love and longing were naked on her face when she smiled down at him. Michael fought not to pull Adam to himself.
"And I appreciate it very much."
"What does 'piece-he-ate' mean?"
"I'll explain when we get home," Michael promised.
"So…you said you and your husband moved to the neighborhood only recently, Jun?"
She nodded. "I believe Elena said you were away…on business?"
Yes that was what Elena would have told her.
"I met Elena at the University. When she found out that I was a near neighbor, she was kind enough to take me around and introduce me and my husband to the neighborhood."
Which had likely taken all of those "few months." But Michael was around so little that bringing up the new neighbor and friend in conversation would have paled in comparison to spending time with her husband.
"May I ask where from?"
"The States as you might have imagined. Though my husband's English. Poor Henry, he's beginning to think he'll never see England again," she said with a small smile.
"Then you learned French at University?"
"From my husband. My first husband."
Jun's pained expression told Michael that he should have regretted the question as soon as he said it, and so he did the appropriate backpedaling.
"No, no. It's all right," she said, though it clearly wasn't. "It was just a…bad divorce. Bad circumstances," she added.
Michael nodded sympathetically, letting Adam fill the silence with chatter about his day. Jun upheld the adult half of the conversation.
"This is me. Us." Jun dropped down to one knee and gave Adam a light hug. She chucked his chin and he chucked hers back. The longing on her face was plain. Too plain. Red flags were up, demanding action, but he had to stand down.
"It was nice meeting you, Michael."
Her hand was no less ephemeral the second time around. "And you, Jun." She was starting up the walk when he called her name. "I didn't catch your last name."
"Jun Carrington," he repeated. He smiled and waved then wheeled Adam around toward home.
They were sitting in the living room playing dinosaurs and astronauts when Michael heard Elena's car pull into the drive. Mischief gleaming in his eyes, he said, "Let's surprise Mommy."
An answering light shone in Adam's eyes. "Yeah."
It was about three in the morning and Elena was fast asleep, lying diagonally across the bed, tangled in the bed sheets. She'd nearly given him a bruise for the surprise he'd given her, but Michael had made it up to her after she had had put Adam down for the night. Facing the bed, he couldn't see her for the glare of his laptop, but it kept the light from disturbing her rest.
Despite the late hour, Brikoff had been able to provide him with a profile of Jun Carrington.
He had been right to amend her age. She was older by Elena by only two years, despite the care on her face. Cares placed there, no doubt, by the activities of her former husband. Peter Leung had told her that he was French Canadian and Chinese. The son of a corrupt Chinese businessman, Leung had been running from his father's life when he had met Jun. Six years later that life had come back to haunt his burgeoning family when Leung's father had his daughter-in-law kidnapped to force his son's return to the fold.
According to the medical reports Birkoff had included, it was stress on an already tenuous pregnancy that caused Jun's miscarriage, not any delay on the part of the elder Leung's people to get Jun to a hospital when she began to hemorrhage.
According to the copies of the legal documents Michael requested, "irreconcilable differences" were the cause of their divorce.
Bad circumstances indeed.
Jun Leung remarried nearly four years later. Her new husband's job had relocated them to France two months after Michael had been relocated from England by Section.
According to the most recent intel, Peter Leung was now going under the name Peter Yuen and had moved his base of operations to Taiwan.
Michael closed his laptop and let it sit warm on his thighs as his eyes adjusted.
He thought about the need in Jun's eyes when she looked at Adam, wondering whether Elena had noticed. And if she had noticed, why she would allow such a woman to watch their son. The desperate were dangerous. Out of pity, perhaps?
Michael frowned. Did he really think that Jun Carrington would steal Adam away from them?
But what would he do in such a situation? What would he do if – when – Adam was taken away from him? What would he do to get his son back?
He set the laptop off on the bed and slipped out of the room.
Despite their best efforts, Adam was sleeping with his thumb firmly planted in his mouth. On the floor his stuffed black lab, named Winston of all things, was lying where it had fallen after slipping from his arms. Michael allowed his rigid control to lapse momentarily and gave in to the need to touch his son, to breathe in the scent of him as it rose from his skin. He didn't know what he wouldn't do for Adam. For this piece of himself that was not himself.
He gave Adam one last kiss and slid noiselessly from the room.
He didn't like Jun Carrington, but Michael thought he understood the ache in her eyes.