Taylor's hands are steadier than last year. Yet she still feels a terrible mixture of pride and dread. Her son is fourteen years old. She'd been competing in marksmanship contests at his age; now she wonders if her mother had that same blend of emotions when Joss had held a gun back then.

Taylor gives her a pleased smile after he finishes the round. He's so careful as he handles the weapon-just as she taught him. Joss smiles back and tries not to think about how even the sex talk was easier than watching her baby boy shoot a gun.

Adriana had been the one to suggest it; they'd never agreed on a name, since preferences ranged from whimsical to vengeful. Either way, the unnamed shooting group had stayed together for four years now. The only rule: no talking about men at the firing range, though drinks afterward were another story.

Joss trades her usual Sig for a Glock and shoots a lopsided heart into the paper target with her next round. Afterwards she hands the paper to Marie with a mocking grin. They aren't talking about men right now; doesn't mean she can't tease Marie about the upcoming wedding.

Mud and heat; neither was unfamiliar to her, even while holding a gun. Outdoor ranges always have more interesting setups than indoor ranges. The police inspector here is a hard-ass who likes to intimidate female candidates as they try and pass the shooting test. His worst was nothing compared to some of her experiences in the Army. She bites her lip to keep from smiling as he yells something else at her right before she pulls the trigger.

He's not an obstacle. She wanted this; she was going to get it, and the NYPD would be fortunate to have her.

Joss's father had been content to let Mama remain a spectator most of the time. Joss doesn't have that luxury: she's about to be deployed. Her mother needs to know how to handle the weapons she's leaving in the safe. Just in case... and Taylor needs to be reminded about gun safety from someone with knowledge.

Joss pushes down her own fears about Afghanistan, about Taylor losing his father just months ago, about all the things she can't control; instead she focuses on what she can do right now. Calmly she talks her mother through the best stance for firing.

Sometimes he still sounds like a drill sergeant when they're at the firing range. Joss wants to snap at him with the same tone, but it's pointless; Dad just laughed when she tried it once. Besides, it isn't really that bad. None of her friends get to do anything as cool as shooting guns with their dads.

She's good at it, too. Her male cousins are bigger, but they can't shoot as well. Dad doesn't even complain about paying the entrance fees for the contests; instead he shows off her trophies to visiting friends. That's embarrassing but kind of cool.