Control (Everyday Heroes #3.5)(10)

By: K. Bromberg


That much is the truth.

“It’s not your fault.”

Malone gets it. What’s in my head. What keeps me up at night. Why I needed to leave the city behind for a little bit.

“Yeah. I know. It doesn’t make it feel any better.” I finish off my beer and shrug away the screaming echoing in my head from their mother as she stood behind the barricades fighting officers to get to her babies. “Just a fucking waste.”

“It always is.” He judges my mood with a nod and a tight smile. “I’m sorry.”

“No need to be.”

“So you took time off to get your head straight?”

“Something like that.” I chuckle and then sigh, because I know I need to give more. “It was either that or I was going to quit so…it was agreed I’d take some time. Besides, my sergeant knew the head of a self-defense academy out here. He needed some instructors and my boss wanted to make sure I didn’t fall off the damn grid. Figured, why not get the hell out of Dodge for a while and do that.”

“Timing is everything.”

“It most definitely is,” I say as Grant points to my beer asking if I want another. I nod.

“Sunnyville Self Defense Class?”

“That would be the one.”

“Bear’s a good guy.”

“You know him?” Small town. Everyone knows everyone.

“Yep. Does that mean you’re going to be hanging around Sunnyville for a bit?”

“Seems like it. He has two instructors out on vacation, so I said I’d fill in.”

“It’s not like you don’t know how to defend yourself.”

“Are you still sore about that, Malone?” I tease, remembering our hand-to-hand combat lessons and how I beat him in the class competition.

“Nah.” He smiles. “Grudges aren’t my thing. You’ll have to come over sometime. We can catch up, shoot the shit, talk about the old days…”

“You mean talk about kicking each other’s asses.”

“We had some good times.”

“Fucking epic.” I take a tug on my beer.

“It’s a plan then. But for now, I’ve got to head home.” He stands from his stool and sets a business card on the bar top before cuffing me on the shoulder. “Good seeing you again, Rez.”

I pick up his card and turn it over in my hand as he walks away.

Sunnyville Police Department. Detective Grant Malone.

He’s where he should be. Detective. Husband. Father. He’s…Christ, he’s happy. Fulfilled. Doing what he loves.

I shake my head and look around. And what does that make you, Rez?

Hell if I know.

At one point my job was all I needed. But is that still all I need, or am I craving something more? Something else to give me that rush?

Fuck this.

Now’s not time for psychological bullshit.

Now’s time for another beer.





Chapter Four



Desi



“Des?”

I jump at the sound of my name and rap my head against the cabinet as the dogs lying in various places of the room jump and begin baying.

“Goddammit, Jeff. You scared the shit out of me.” I stand with a hand pressed to the back of my hair and my heart pounding a violent staccato in my chest.

Thoughts. Fears. Memories. The three hit like lightning, and I hate the irrepressible terror that accompanies them. Nothing happened to me. I don’t need to live in fear.

When I look up to see him in the doorway, one hand is on his hip in that way that tells me he’s used to wearing his utility belt and holster. A smile is on his handsome face, and an adorable French bulldog named Disco is under his arm.

“Sorry. I knocked at the front. You didn’t answer, but I saw your car was here and figured it was okay to come in.”

Rubbing the spot on my head, I shove down my thundering pulse and smile shakily at Disco and the very attractive man holding him.

How’d I forget to lock the door?

My mind reels over my mistake. Over what if he came back.

“Des? You okay?” Jeff asks as he takes a step toward me, concern owning his expression.

“That’s totally fine. I’m totally fine.” The words are a rush of air as I try to hide my unease. “Here. Let me put the rest of these guys up for a sec before we set Disco down so I can introduce him to them one at a time.”