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Second Chances

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Jenny Shepard was supposed to have died in a hail of bullets.

That was the plan and she had made her peace with it – she’d rather die on her feet, with a gun in her hand, and if she could take a few bad guys with her, so much the better.

But apparently, gangs didn’t train their people as well as they used to. The bullet hadn’t even gone that deep, hitting the meat of her thigh and missing both artery and bone. It had been bleeding sluggishly when Mike Franks pulled her out of the blood-soaked diner, and the pain had settled into a dull throb by the time he hauled her into the passenger seat of his run-down pickup truck.

“Damn,” he said, when they had rattled down several miles of empty desert highway. “Can’t even lose a fight you were tryin’ to lose, can ya?”

Jenny gave a humorless chuckle. “I’m just that good.”

“Yeah?” he said. “So, what are you gonna do now?”

She had no idea. She hadn’t planned on leaving that diner alive, hadn’t even let herself think about what could come after. Now, she would find out.

“I’m dying,” she said.

When Mike looked over at her, shocked, she added, “Not from this. I was already dying before.”

He frowned, then looked back at the road. “And you can’t beat that, too?”

Jenny paused.

Her doctor had been clear that there was no known cure, no known treatment. But maybe that didn’t mean all was hopeless.

“How are your first aid skills?” she asked.

“They lean toward tending bullet wounds,” said Mike. “What are you thinking?”

She took a deep breath. “Something I should have thought of in the first place.”


Gibbs’s team approached the house with their weapons drawn. It appeared to be an ordinary suburban home, but they weren’t taking any chances. Mike’s text had been vague, and they were prepared for anything.

Anything except Jenny Shepard, bandaged leg resting on the couch, carefully accepting the mug of tea Mike brought her.

“Hello, Jethro,” she said. “We need to talk.”