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Life in Gate Station

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D’Nae was putting the finishing touches on her security survey before emailing the file to the local printer to have it printed and bound for presentation. She liked her rep there and as she sent it on its way and shut down her computer, she was excited. She’d be able to pick it up tomorrow and mail it to the client and if it was well received, it would mean more business for her and hopefully more good word of mouth.

She’d been contacted by a small manufacturing plant in Gate Station after being referred by a previous client. They were doing well but the company figured they should be doing better. They were small, just under 200 total workers. She spent about fifty-five hours in the plant at varying times and identified a number of potential problems. The most prevalent was simple waste and theft, even if the theft wasn’t necessarily being viewed as such. They employed about forty to sixty welders at any given time and she’d noticed a big bite in the profits walking out of the plant numerous times a month.

Nobody was throwing an expensive case of welding rods over the fence and making off with them, which would have been a blatant theft. But what was happening it seemed, was that it was common practice for welders to occasionally toss a rod or two into their lunch buckets for some home project. Apparently, no one considered this theft and as such, forty or fifty plus welders occasionally walking off with welding rods was adding up. By her estimations, this was costing the company as much, if not more, than if someone were walking away with a couple cases of them.

While it didn’t seem like much, when added to the other examples she’d rooted out, it would certainly have a negative effect on the company’s profit margins. Even her suggestion of hiring an outside security company to check all trucks departing after pickups and deliveries would save them more money than it would cost. She checked fifteen departing trucks at random and discovered thousands of dollars in misloaded product. She was fairly sure she would never become friends with the warehouse supervisor. She wondered how the company would feel about him when they discovered not only was unauthorized product getting shipped out, but in addition, things that were signed for as received had never been unloaded! They’d be able to save themselves quite a lot of money by replacing him with someone much more organized and conscientious at their job.

XxXxX

D’Nae left the Post Office with a smile. The presentation had turned out wonderful and was on its way to the client and she had the rest of the day to herself. She decided to gas up her car and take a drive out to the lake since it was so beautiful out. She pumped her gas and as she walked inside she grabbed a soda from the cooler as she walked to the counter, a dark-skinned black man entered and struck her in the face before demanding the money from the clerk. She was more than a little stunned as he seemed more interested in her than the clerk.

He continued to threaten her, pushing her against the counter even though she was making sure not to look at him. Not that she’d see much as her eyes were tearing from the first blow and she was shocked to realize she was bleeding. She wasn’t sure if he’d hit her with the gun or if it was from the ring he wore but she’d been cut near her eye and she was fairly sure she’d get a black eye out of it. Then the man was gone, the clerk handed her a wad of toweling for her face as he dialed 911 and locked the door.

XxXxX

The deputy insisted she’d have to go down to the station and file a formal statement and D’Nae would have rather shaved her legs with a dull razor and wiped them with rubbing alcohol afterward. While nobody really wanted to ever go to police headquarters, this annoyed her simply because it was uncomfortable and the complete antithesis to the way she had originally planned the rest of her day. With a sigh, she went out to her car and decided to go straight there instead of home first. Maybe it wouldn’t take as long if she were wearing a bloody shirt.

 Once there, she explained why she was, and she was brought into an area with a lot of desks and deputies. She was told to wait, had a seat and hoped it would be over soon. A moment later, she was escorted to a small room and told to write everything down and that a deputy would come to speak with her. As she nodded she saw him watching her from across the room. His eyes held hers in a gaze of pure, cold blue steel. Shit. The last thing she felt like dealing with today was Lt. Calvert Breeland.

XxXxX

“Hey Lieutenant, that young lady over there is here to make a statement. She got hurt in that armed robbery at the gas station over on Becker Street? You know, it’s a little weird, the clerk said at first he thought it was something between the two of them before he realized it was a robbery.”

“Is that right?” Breeland asked as he glanced toward where the woman sat. He looked at her for a moment and added. “Why don’t you put her in two and I’ll talk to her once she writes up her statement.” His jaw muscle flexed slightly as it tightened at the sight of her. He watched the deputy cross the room to her and escort her to the interview room. She saw him just as she turned to sit and he wasn’t surprised to see her drop her head just a bit when she noticed his gaze.

He gave her about twenty minutes and then walked to the observation window. The pad with a written statement was on the table before her, finished. He glanced down again at the preliminary report of the incident in his hand and entered the room. He heard her sigh softly when she saw him.

“Miss Jacobson,” he said in a quiet, measured voice, “Do you need an ice pack? I could get you one.”

“No, thanks, it’s fine.” She just looked at her hands clasped together on the table while he sat down. God, he sure smelled good, she thought to herself giving her head a tiny shake of admonishment as she did.

“Did you know the man?” his voice was cold.

Her head snapped up and her eyes went wide, “What? Of course not! Why would you ask that?”

His clear, bright blue eyes bored into hers, “Just wondered, the clerk thought the robber was more interested in you, any idea why?”

“No.” D’Nae answered curtly. Her head hurt and his attitude was pissing her off. She was just about to let him know what she thought of him when there was a quick rap on the door and it opened. He stood and spoke to the deputy.

He sat back down and nodded toward the pad, “All finished with that?” he gave her a tiny, thin-lipped smile.

“Yes, can I go now?”

He picked it up and slowly read it through. Too slowly she thought and could have throttled him. Finally, he put the pad down and said, “He didn’t get anything with your home address on it?”

“No, I just gave him the cash I had in my hand when he asked for it.”

“That’s good, good. If you could date it there at the bottom.”

She picked up the pen, added the date and pushed the pad back toward him. “Anything else?” she asked quietly.

“Do you think you’d recognize him if you saw him again?”

She looked down at her hands and wiped at a dried speck of blood on her hand. “Doubtful, I was trying hard not to look at him.”

He stood silently and opened the door. She got up and just before she was going to go through the open door he stepped up and partially blocked the way. “You might want to have someone take a look at that cut, it might need a stitch.” He said in a low, soft, smooth voice.

She swallowed hard and answered just as softly. “I’m sure it will be just fine.” She shivered slightly as she brushed past him, certain she felt his fingers brush the small of her back as she did.

XxXxX

D’Nae tossed her purse on the kitchen counter and opened the cupboard next to the sink. She grabbed the bottle of pain killers, shook out three and drew water to take them with. That done she went to her bedroom, stripping off her shirt as she did, then snapped the bathroom light on as she entered it. She got a bottle of pre-treater out and sprayed the blood stain heavily while she plugged the sink and ran water. She looked at her bra and was glad to see no blood on it before she finally turned her attention to her face.

“Damn.” She whispered sadly, she was definitely going to have a black eye and the smears of blood from the cut made her café au lait colored skin look sickly. The cut itself was crusted and she wasn’t sure if she should go have it cleaned out, then decided it could wait. She turned off the water, added some laundry soap to it, pushed her shirt in, snapped off the light and went back to the kitchen. Grabbing a t-shirt out of a dresser drawer and putting it over her head on the way.

She opened the freezer and moved some things around until she found a gel-pack, then took a soda from the fridge, opened it, poured it into a glass from the cupboard and walked to her living room where she sat down on her sofa, took a sip of her soda and gingerly placed the gel-pack over her eye. She was just making herself more comfortable by toeing her sandals off when she heard something. She frowned and listened and heard it again. She stood up and walked toward the noise. Clearing the doorway, she watched Breeland step up into her kitchen and stand there.

She took a few steps into the room as he stood there motionless. “How did you get in?” she asked neutrally.

“Your back door was unlocked.” He answered.

She walked a few steps closer. “No it wasn’t.” she said firmly.

“No, it wasn’t.” He grinned just a little. “Actually I slipped the lock with my pocketknife. You really should have a deadbolt on that door, facing the alley as it does and all.”

She stared into his eyes a moment longer before her face crumpled and a small sob escaped her lips.

“Shh, shh, shh, come here sugar,” he said tenderly before pulling her into his arms. “You’re going to be okay.” He crooned gently while he gently slid his hand up and down her back.

She quickly quieted and he held her a moment longer before pulling back and carefully wiping away her tears with his thumb. “C’mon, let’s clean you up a bit.”

Holding her hand, he led her toward her bedroom and into the bathroom, pointing to the counter, “Sit.” He said before turning to the linen closet and removing the first aid kit from the shelf. She sat on the counter and he set it beside her, then wet a washcloth.

He stepped between her legs and gently dabbed at the area around the cut, “This isn’t going to feel the best.”

“Mm-hm.” Was her only response other than to close her eyes.

“You never saw the guy before, didn’t recognize him from anywhere? Do you have peroxide”

“On the shelf in the closet, no. You don’t think this has anything to do with what happened the other night, do you?”

He turned and got the bottle, opened a gauze from the first aid kit and carefully began to clean the cut. His eyes studying hers while he considered her question.

“No, I don’t but it worries me that the clerk thought the altercation was between the two of you and not him reacting to you being part of the robbery. Are you sure you didn’t get a good look at him?”

She sighed heavily, “No, I barely noticed him at all before he hit… ow!”

“Sorry.” He reached for a new piece of gauze that he poured peroxide on.

“And once he clocked me, my eyes teared up and I just tried to keep them on the floor.” She hissed in her breath and tried to pull back, “Enough! That hurts like hell!”

“Sit still,” he said patiently. “I’m almost done and this needs to be taken care of. Maybe that was how he distracted the clerk from hitting the panic button, made him believe it had nothing to do with him until it was too late to react.”

He dropped the gauze in the trash and rooted around in the kit, “ Are there any? Nevermind, this’ll work.” As he opened a butterfly closure he withdrew. “You probably could have used a stitch or two, are you sure you don’t want to go in?”

“Yes, besides, I haven’t met my deductible yet this year and I don’t have the money for the medical bill at the moment.”

He stopped his ministrations and looked into her face, “I’ll pay for it, I’d hate to see you scarred.” His eyes and voice were sincere.

She smiled at him and whispered, “If it’s not bleeding anymore, I don’t need stitches. Trust me, I had a lot of experience as a kid. But thank you, that’s very sweet.” She brushed his lips with a kiss and he looked into her eyes and held them for a moment before nodding slightly and applying the closures.

He carefully dabbed on a bit of first aid ointment and then covered it with a band-aid. He remained standing there then slowly leaned in and took her face in his hands. He kissed her softly, drew back, smiled then kissed her again more deeply. He gave her another quick kiss then leaned his forehead very gently against hers, looking into her green eyes.

“When I saw you with blood on your clothes and your beautiful face hurt, all I wanted to do was take you in my arms and hold you like this.” He said barely above a whisper. “I’m sorry if I seemed cold.”

“I knew why you were doing it.”

He stepped back and held up a finger to silence her, before reaching for the mike clamped on his shirt. He depressed the button and said, “10-4, show me enroute.”

He stepped back and took her hand and she got off the counter, “I’ve got to go, lay down and take it easy, I’ll call you in a little while.” He gave her a fast kiss and left quickly. She was used to it, he was on duty and it wasn’t the first time he’d had to leave quickly.

She cleaned up the counter and put the kit and peroxide away and took a washcloth with her. Walking into the living room she took her soda, went to the freezer added ice to her glass, found another gel-pack, wrapped it in the cloth and left the warm one in the freezer. Then went back to the couch again wondering all the while how she’d let herself get involved with a cop. A married, white cop, with a bad reputation, no less. She adjusted the gel-pack then leaned her head back on the sofa and contemplated her question.

XxXxX

D’Nae’s first encounter with Breeland had taken place during college. Home on Christmas break, she and a friend had been in the backseat of a car driven by her friend’s younger brother. He’d been screwing around and got them pulled over. When he saw Breeland getting out of the squad, he muttered a heartfelt, “Oh shit.”

Luckily, his buddy was also in the car and was not only the Mayor’s son but also a star player on the high school football team. Breeland chewed the driver out relentlessly, more or less told them to all get their asses home and didn’t write a ticket. They were all mightily relieved and promptly did as he said but sitting right behind the driver, D’Nae never forgot the way Breeland’s eyes had swept over her, held her eyes for what had seemed like forever and then told them to leave.

Over the years, she saw him now and then but never to speak to, although he always seemed to catch her eyes and hold them. Then about a year ago, she was leaving a restaurant and tucking her wallet back in her purse, looking up just in time to walk smack into him as he was entering, tangling up with him and had he not grabbed her, she would have fallen. She was utterly mortified and couldn’t believe she’d been so oblivious to a Gate’s Station cop in uniform. She began apologizing profusely, but when he just laughed as he steadied her she wasn’t quite sure what to do. Her friend had walked up then and he’d quickly dropped her hands, gave her a curt nod and said, “Have a good evening Miss Jacobson.”

It wasn’t until much later that night as she was getting ready for bed, that she thought about two things… how night and day different he was in a heartbeat and disturbingly, that he knew her name. She tossed and turned for some time before finally falling asleep.

The next time she ran into him, she did exactly that. She came around the corner in the grocery store and he was stopped to look at something on the endcap and bang, she ran her cart right into him.

“Oh god!” She intoned when she saw who it was, “I am so, so sorry!” and to her complete surprise he gave her a big smile and held out his hand.

“Perhaps we should be more, ah, formally introduced, I’m Calvert Breeland and you’re Denise Jacobson?” he said lifting one eyebrow in question.

Blushing hotly, she answered, “D’Nae, nice to meet you and again, sorry!”

His hand was warm and strong and she was struck by how handsome and relaxed he seemed. She couldn’t help but wonder if it was partly because he wasn’t in uniform. He certainly looked younger in his lightweight, plaid flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up partway and she realized his eyes were an incredible shade of blue. They exchanged a bizarre few sentences of inane small talk about the weather and the weekly specials before he wished her a pleasant evening.

As he turned to walk away she stunned herself silly. “Maybe we could get a cup of coffee and talk sometime.” She smiled with more confidence than she felt.

He looked her closely, his eyes never wavering from hers for almost a beat too long before he glanced down. Then reached into his pocket, took out his billfold and removed a card. He handed it to her and said, “That might be nice, call me sometime. That’s my personal extension you can leave a secure message. I work nights a lot.” He flashed a brief smile, gave a slight nod, then turned and walked away.

It took her three weeks before she finally had the guts to call. She rehearsed what she was going to say for almost an hour beforehand first.

XxXxX

At first, they got together for coffee about once a month, usually when he worked graveyard. She was a night owl and was usually up so she started meeting him at a small all-night café when he took his meal break. They’d managed to find things to talk about and it seemed to surprise them both. Sometimes he got to finish his entire meal, other times she’d finish for him after he’d gotten a call. Surprisingly, she’d begun to think of him as a friend although she was careful not to tell others. Mainly because most of her friends would have been appalled, as their opinions of any deputy was generally poor in their community. The other reason had to do with his family and friends, she didn’t want anybody to think they were having an affair. She always paid for her own things and also made sure to use the bathroom before leaving so they were never seen outside together.

Especially in Gate Station. A white cop and a black girl was note-worthy. Granted, genetically, that wasn’t as apparent to some. Her grandmother on her Mom’s side had been white and her father was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swede. She was pale and to most that didn’t know her well, seemed a little ethnically ambiguous. But facts were facts… she was black.

One night however, she was shocked to discover him leaning against her car but was glad because the parking lot was already dark. They hadn’t known the café was closing early. He straightened as she neared.  

“They turned the lights out when I walked out and I wanted to make sure you were safe before I left.”

A pair of cars exited the back lot, evidently the cook and waitress. It was suddenly very quiet and the air seemed charged.

He reached toward her and she froze. He gave her an indulgent smile and took her keys deftly from her hand to unlock her door. He did and opened it, she was glad it was dark because she was blushing fiercely, “Thank you.” She said as she stepped forward to get into the car, but he lightly laid his hand on her upper arm and kissed her, waiting for a moment, probably waiting to see if she would pull away before deepening the kiss. She gently put her hand on the nape of his neck and returned the kiss.

He lifted his head slightly and looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“No. We shouldn’t have done that.” But she lifted her face for more and just as he took her in his arms, she heard the radio crackle and he released her, turned and walked a few feet away to respond to his call.

When he came back, he brushed her lips twice in succession and closed his eyes briefly. “I’ll call you soon.” He said, then waited until she got in her car and left before exiting behind her. He called her an hour and a half later and they talked for more than an hour. The next morning, after he left the station he came to her house for the first time and she made him breakfast.

Then she took him to her bed.

XxXxX

Breeland returned to the station and entered. He was glad he was in charge because he didn’t have to explain where he’d gone, well not unless the Sherriff asked him and he wasn’t worried about that. He’d just had to go check on her, when he’d seen her face, her injury… he couldn’t fool himself. He’d been upset and mightily concerned and that worried him. A lot. In the beginning, he’d thought of her as nothing but a sweet diversion. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when that had changed. The jolt he’d felt when he realized she was there because of one of Gate Station’s all too frequent and random acts of violence was not pleasant.

He entered his office and turned on his computer even though he had no reason to do so. He just stared at the screen and placed his fingers on the keys while his mind turned things over. He sat back in his chair after a few minutes and casually scanned the office space outside his, before rising and quietly and unobtrusively closing his door. Taking his seat, he took a deep breath and blew it out as he picked up his phone and made a call.

“Hi, yeah, don’t hold dinner okay? I caught an armed robbery and I’ll be a little while. I’ll just warm something up when I get home. Okay, thanks babe, sorry.”

XxXxX

D'Nae woke to a whirring noise she couldn’t identify and she stood quickly, which turned out to be a mistake. Her head swam for a moment and she had to stand still before walking to the back of the house to see what was going on. Somehow, she wasn’t surprised to see Cal installing a dead bolt on her back door. He glanced up when he saw her and gave her a full, bright smile.

“Hi, I’m sorry that I woke you up, I had thought maybe I could get it in without disturbing you.”

She stood looking down at him, shook her head slightly then stepped down the two steps to the back-entrance landing, put her arms around him and kissed him. One hand held her electric drill but his other hand reached up and cupped the uninjured side of her face gently as he gave her a light smack of a kiss.

“You’re going to have quite the shiner there.” He drawled with a slow grin.

“Ugh. Is it bad?” she said gingerly reaching for her eye.

“It’s not good, but sure not as bad as it could ‘a been.” He leaned in and gave her lips another quick buss and a second before patting her shoulder lightly. “Lemme finish this up, okay sugar?”

“Okay, are you hungry? Want something to eat?” she asked as she stepped back up into the kitchen.

“What d’ya got?”

She crossed to her fridge, opened the door and peered inside, “Chicken, potato salad and ham for sandwiches or…” she opened the freezer door and looked at a couple freezer containers. “Lasagna or let’s see… shrimp scampi.”

“Lasagna sounds good.”

“Garlic bread?”

“Nah.”

“Fifteen minutes?”

“Perfect.”

She placed the container in the microwave and set it and once started, she got out plates, glasses and silverware and set the table. She turned on the oven and then took out a slice of garlic bread from a plastic bag in the freezer, wrapped it in foil and tossed it on the oven rack.

When the microwave timed out, she checked to see if it was heated through and Cal stepped into the kitchen and lifted her mini-vacuum from its charger holder and began using it to clean up the wood dust on the floor. He picked up the debris from the hardware store, the special drill bit and lock packaging and set them down on the countertop before emptying the bin from the vacuum into the garbage under the sink. Then he snapped it back into its place and moved to the sink to wash his hands.

The microwave beeped and shut down and she used pot holders to lift out the now hot bowl. She put it on the table on a hot pad before turning off the oven and scooping the bread off the shelf and dropping it beside her plate.

Cal opened the fridge and asked, “What do you want to drink sugar?”

“Soda, please.” As she removed the cover from the steaming dish and sat down.

He grabbed a can of soda and a bottle of beer and put them on the table before sitting down himself. She dished up a big slice for him before putting one on her plate and cautioned him about it being quite hot. He smiled and cracked open his beer and poured while she did the same with her can. They ate in companionable silence for a few minutes, his only comment was to compliment her lasagna. She smiled and opened the foil, offering him part of the thick slice of buttered garlic bread, chewing he just gave a shake of his head and smiled before taking another bite.

“You didn’t have to do that, you know. But I really appreciate that you did, thank you.” She said giving him an almost shy smile.

He took a drink and smiled back a little. “You’re welcome. It’s something I meant to do a while ago but seeing you bruised and battered today, well, it made me feel better to do it and know you’ll be a little safer.”

He asked her about the security survey and she told him that it had been the reason she had been at the gas station in the first place. They talked about unimportant things and when they finished eating, he helped her clean up, putting the dishes in the washer while she put the rest of the lasagna away. They went into the living room and snuggled up together on the couch and D'Nae saw him glance surreptitiously at his watch. She knew he wouldn’t be able to stay long, it was always hard for him to spend any significant amount of time with her when he was on day shift. It sucked but it was expected when you were seeing a married man. The wife and family expected him home in the evening but he surprised her by shifting her sideways and pulling her onto his lap.

He began kissing her, his hands ghosting down her side, skimming her breast before deepening the kiss, his tongue slipping into her mouth, gently but sensuously dancing along the roof of her mouth lightly before tangling with hers.

He was such a damn good kisser and it was one of the things that drove her crazy, she couldn’t help but think to herself that this man was like a drug to her. The more ardent his kisses and stroking of her body became, the more she wanted him. When his fingers gently rolled her nipples between them she moaned soft and low, her breathing quickened and she moved her bottom slightly as she felt him swelling.

He broke the kiss and looked longingly into her eyes before patting her hips and pushing her slightly forward. She stood up and so did he, he took her hand and whispered, “C’mere.” Then led her to her bedroom. He turned on the bedside lamp and then turned back to her and slowly undressed her, using care not to brush her eye when he pulled her shirt off over her head. She let him take the lead, as she knew from experience, this was one of his favorite parts. When she was naked, he stepped close to her and rubbed his hands along her hips, to her breasts, dropping his head to take one of her nipples in his mouth, flicking it with his tongue and causing her belly to blossom with heat.

He straightened and pulled the covers down on the bed and she reclined, watching him as he slowly disrobed, licking her lips and then catching her bottom lip between her teeth as his length was revealed. She sighed and reached for him as he joined her. Calvert was a generous and considerate lover, taking his time and tenderly working her body until she was on the verge of climax before entering her.

They moved together sinuously, their eyes locked as he asked her what she wanted. She told him in great detail how she wanted him to make her feel and he obliged. He brought her to the edge and held back, then gently changed position, letting her passion ebb, doing it once, twice and finally the third time he knelt back on his ankles, pulling her forward so her legs were wrapped around his waist. With his hands beneath her bottom, he began moving her with more determination, thrusting at a measured pace and as her breathing became more labored, he kissed her passionately… moving faster until he was buried deeper and deeper within her on each stroke.

She ran her fingers into his hair and her breath came in small gasps, her head thrown back, his lips and tongue hungry on her throat and then he drew his head back, put his hand behind her head to tilt it forward, kissed her and whispered roughly, “Look at me!” Her eyes met his, heavy-lidded with desire, “Come for me.” He rasped and she moaned loudly and he increased the tempo, thrusting into her harder as she tightened her hold on him and shuddered with release. As she quivered and quaked around him, she cried out his name and his climax soon followed.

They held onto one another until their breathing began to slow and then he carefully eased them onto the bed and pulled the covers partway over them, holding her close in his arms. They lay like that quietly for a while, her head nestled under his chin before he kissed the top of her head and slowly slipped away from her and out of bed. He gathered up his clothes and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

D’Nae sighed and stretched. She heard the water turn on and she knew the routine, he would wash himself and brush his teeth with the toothbrush in the medicine cabinet. When the water shut off, she swung her legs out of bed and pulled her satin nightshirt out from beneath her pillow slipping it over her head. She stood up as he exited the bathroom fully dressed, he came around the bed and took her in his arms. He kissed her warmly, his mouth tasting lightly of mint. He hugged her, holding her close to him and they stood silently, swaying ever so gently.

“Thank you again for installing that lock sweetheart.” She said faintly.

“No problem sugar.” He stepped away and took her by the hand leading her into the kitchen. He kissed her gently once again and then slipped his hand into the pocket of his jeans. He handed her the keys to the new lock. “Make sure you put these on your key rings.”

There were two keys and she frowned a little, “But you have to take one now.”

He gave her a grin that lit up his blue eyes with a twinkle, he kissed the tip of her nose and said, “I already had a copy made.”

She looked into his deep, azure eyes and her belly did a little flip, she smiled broadly and said, “I’m so glad!”

He gave her one slow, deep kiss and then said goodnight. He left by the back door and she flipped the deadbolt as he walked down the steps of her back porch, through her small back yard and through the gate of the fence and was gone from her sight.

XxXxX

Calvert entered his house by the front door and greeted his daughter as she lay sprawled on the sofa watching TV.

“Hi Dad, Mom had to run over to Brenda’s real quick and said I should warm up your supper.” But she didn’t look at him, nor did she move.

He dropped his duffle bag and toed off his boots and said, “Don’t bother, I’m not hungry just now.”

“K,’” she said distractedly, her eyes never leaving the set.

He picked up his bag and walked into the house, walking through the kitchen and into the laundry room just off it. Unzipping the duffle, he pulled out his uniform shirt, unpinned his badge and name plate, pulled his belt from the loops and threw the shirt and pants in the hamper. He opened the closet door and hung his Sam Browne gunbelt from the special hook on the door and keyed in the combo for the small gunsafe mounted on the shelf. The door popped open and he set his service weapon and extra clips inside and closed the door and the safe relocked. He tossed the bag on the floor of the closet and left, he grabbed a beer from the fridge and headed for his study. He sat down at his desk and opened his laptop to read his emails. Sometime later, he heard the garage door go up and his wife enter the house. She spoke to his daughter and then went upstairs without coming to speak with him. That was fine with him.

XxXxX

The next day, mid-morning he sat at his desk and was going over the reports from the day before concerning the robbery when one of the deputies knocked on his door frame. He looked up.

“Hey Lieutenant, you might wanna come take a look at this.”

As he followed the deputy into the squad room he told Breeland, “There was this lady that lives kitty-corner from that gas station? Well, she got home this morning from out’a’town and heard about the robbery and she’s got a security camera on her porch? Anyway, it faces the station so she checked the footage, you aren't gonna believe this.”

The deputy swung the monitor towards Breeland and pushed the enter key. They could see a young black man leave the store and start running.

The Lieutenant stared at the screen and said, “Play that back!”

The deputy did and Breeland’s stomach sank. “Get someone over there now and secure that trash can and make sure if it’s been emptied they get into the dumpster. Now!”

Breeland hurried back to his office where he picked up the phone and hastily dialed, when D'Nae answered he said curtly, “Don’t ask questions, just throw some stuff in a bag, enough for a couple days and head out to the lake and I’ll call you in a little while. Yes, it’s very important. Because the man that robbed the gas station threw the bag of money in the trash can when he left the store! Yes, do it now.”

He hung up and swore softly before going back out into the bullpen and watching the video yet again, unfortunately, the man’s face was too far away to be seen clearly but there was no doubt that he threw the money in the trash can. He played it one more time, a cold spike of fear coiling in his chest as he did. Clearly, the man had indeed been more interested in D’Nae than he was with his ill-gotten gains. And that was problematic.

To Be Continued…

Chapter Text

D’Nae hung up from speaking to Cal and stood motionless for a moment. This was definitely not good. She sighed, picked up her watering can and continued to water the rest of her houseplants. Damn, damn, damn… what fresh hell was this? She finished, refilled the container and put it back under the kitchen sink. Then she went into the back hall and opened the door opposite the back door that led to the small storm cellar and grabbed a cooler. She put it on the kitchen table and opened the fridge, transferring some food, milk and soda into it as well as food from the freezer and ice packs. Once loaded she went to her bedroom closet and pulled out a black leather overnight bag and tossed it on her bed. She tossed in the basics before adding her laptop, tablet, chargers and travel bag kit from the linen closet. Shortly thereafter, she found herself on the road, making the 90-minute drive, to Breeland’s cabin on a secluded lake.

She drove with a calm she really did not feel and played the various components of the situation over in her mind. She hadn’t wanted to believe that this had all begun about four days ago, when even Cal hadn’t thought so but now things appeared to be different. It had all started when Cal had stopped over in a light-hearted mood and convinced her to meet him for dinner in Carrington, a small city forty-five minutes from Gate Station. He thoroughly charmed her into it and she’d been hard-pressed to resist. He’d been playful and persuasive and it wasn’t often he suggested things like this so she’d agreed. They’d met up in a store parking lot and he’d drove them to a favorite little restaurant they enjoyed. After ordering their meal, they had a spirited conversation, and were just taking pleasure in one another’s company.

She’d been excited because she’d just received a nice payout from a satisfied client that had included a bonus, it had been a beautiful day and she was feeling happy. Cal was animated and relaxed and when the food came it was delicious. It had had all the earmarks of a pleasant evening to come until they’d got ready to leave. As Cal was paying the bill, three men walked up to pay theirs and D’Nae watched him stiffen. It was obvious one of the men knew Calvert and somewhat alarmingly, not in a remotely friendly way, but it seemed clear the real animosity didn’t start until Cal turned away to escort her from the premises.

Even after almost two years, D’Nae was amazed at how quickly Cal’s demeanor could change. In an instant, he went from open and vibrant to cold, guarded and intense and she hated it. Two things had become very clear, this man did not like Cal and from the looks of him, D’Nae guessed correctly that he’d arrested the man before, and that the man knew she wasn’t Cal’s wife. He also seemed more than aware that she was colored and it seemingly pissed him off. Although there were no words exchanged, it was a confrontational encounter and the veil had certainly been pierced. The ride back to her car was largely silent and instead of checking into their favorite little motel as planned, she’d had him drop her at her car. She went inside to do some shopping and he’d simply left.

It was one of the aspects of their relationship she disliked most. The fact that for all intents and purposes, Cal was two very different and separate people. They were glaringly distinct and annoyingly frustrating. They’d had more than one discussion about it and a few outright arguments over it. He called it ‘being protective and on guard’ while D’Nae termed it ‘going asshole’. She disliked it because it was at those moments when he became rigid and cold that she couldn’t pretend he wasn’t living up to his reputation. He really was a cold, calculating, somewhat racist bastard and she really had no business being with him.

In the beginning, she had waffled between trying to decide if his meticulous discretion was because of his being married and the desire to be ultra-careful or mainly because of her race. Sadly, and in all honesty, she knew it was both but it fluctuated wildly between the two. By the time, she reached Cal’s lake property, she had decided two things. She was going to find out what the man’s name was. Quite obviously, there was one hell of a history between he and Calvert. Secondly, part of her business provided her access to both arrest and court records and she intended to find out more information about what was going on. If it involved her now and it sure seemed like it did, she wanted to know a lot more than she was sure Cal was going to tell her!

XxXxX

Breeland sat at his desk trying to work on his weekly arrest report summary but his mind was churning and his concentration was for shit. He was pissed because Marcus Evans had effectively turned his world on its ear. He sighed heavily and rubbed his temple, he was getting a headache, he was agitated and had the uncomfortable feeling that his life was on the verge of a major upheaval. His biggest problem stemmed from the fact that he couldn’t really decide what aspect of it bothered him most. Everything he’d cultivated so carefully the last couple of years was about to blow up in his face.

At least he knew D’Nae was safe but that too brought its own problems. When he’d decided to start nailing D’Nae on the side, he did it because she was gorgeous and exciting and he simply wanted to fuck her. That hadn’t lasted long, and he began wanting to be with her because in addition to great sex, she made him laugh. She was smart and witty and he realized one day that he’d arranged to meet her because he’d wanted to unwind and enjoy himself. Once he’d gone to her place just to see her and now spent hours there and never had sex with her! This was the thought that had shocked him to the core. Once he’d actually helped her rip out the carpeting in her spare room so she could refinish the hardwood floor and turn it into a home office! When his wife wanted to re-do the bedroom, he’d told her to hire somebody and had gone to the lake while the work was done.

He’d been seeing her about a month when he’d bought a cheap burner cellphone and they spent hours talking when he was on patrol. When he worked graveyard, he often spent his meal breaks at her house. She’d given him a garage opener and so he’d just drive into her garage and enter her home unseen. It had started out as a purely sexual encounter each and every time. But she’d had coffee, food or both ready, sometimes she was working and they’d talk about what she was doing and more than once she’d massage his neck and shoulders while they listened to music so he could finish the rest of his shift in relative peace.

Granted, there were still plenty of occasions when she’d be asleep and he’d just enter her home, wake her up and rock her world, which both of them enjoyed immensely, but after one such night, she walked him out and as he turned at the door to kiss her goodnight, he’d kissed her, said, “I love you sugar.” then turned and walked out, knowing full well he’d just thrown away the map to the mine field.

He hadn’t planned on saying it, he hadn’t really thought specifically about telling her that but in the moment, he’d wanted desperately to say it. If he’d had a brain in his head he would have broken it off cleanly and completely before he’d reached that point. He simply couldn’t. He loved her and the thought of her disappearing from his everyday life froze his very marrow to the core. Over the years, he’d had the occasional meaningless fling… usually he’d nail them a few times, get it out of his system and be done with it. It wasn’t unlike him to snag some hottie from the bar after a party of one kind or another.

But he’d let D’Nae in and now he was going to pay for it.

He opened his desk drawer, shook some pain relievers into his hand then got up with his coffee cup, he took them, refilled his cup and shook his mind out fiercely, so to speak. He sat back down, and concentrated. He’d get this report done, open up Marcus Evans’ file and see if he had any outstanding warrants, find out his current address and then take personal time for the rest of the day and go out to the cabin. He needed to lose himself in D’Nae and figure out how in the hell to calm things down before it really got out of hand.

XxXxX

D’Nae opened things up and unpacked, she was restless and checked her cell phone to see if she’d missed any texts and she hadn’t. She made a sandwich then just put it in the fridge because she wasn’t really hungry. She finally took her tablet and sat on the deck to read but that didn’t last long either. Finally, she went inside, changed into her swimsuit and made her way to the dock and plunged in. The water was refreshing and it cleared her head. She swam out about twenty yards and then headed east, parallel to the shore until she saw the next cabin. She did a quick reverse and headed due west until she saw her marker tree. She did four lengths back and forth to equal a quarter mile before swimming back to the dock and crawling out to dry off. She spread out her towel and laid down to dry off in the sun.

It was warm and relaxing and she felt fantastic. This was just what she had needed, she listened to the birds sing and the breeze made the leaves whisper and she felt the tension fade out of her body. She liked being at the lake during the week. It was quiet because most of the places along here were used mainly on the weekends so boat traffic was almost non-existent and there were never any annoying jet-skis. Weekends were lousy with them so swimming laps was nearly impossible not to mention the noise and disturbance… this was absolutely heavenly.

When she was dry, she gathered up her things and headed back up to the cabin. She was hungry now and if she stayed on the dock any longer she might fall asleep and a sunburn would be unpleasant. She got a text from Cal that made her very happy. He’d decided to come up this afternoon which she hadn’t expected but she figured he must be feeling pretty stressed. On one hand, she was glad because she’d thought she might have to be there alone a few days which would have just fed her anxiety. Now, she could get the information she wanted from Cal and could plan accordingly.

XxXxX

Breeland had been disappointed to learn Evans had no wants or warrants but it didn’t really matter. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d considered manufacturing something convenient. Besides, he was going to have to take a bit of time anyway. He needed to end this threat but do it in such a way that he was completely and totally out of it. He spent most of the drive gearing up for the fight he knew was inevitable. He knew D’Nae would be scared and upset about having to leave home and he expected she was also pretty damn angry too. More than anything he didn’t want things to get out of hand so he’d have to keep his temper reined in tightly and that was the truly hard part. When D’Nae was loaded for bear, she didn’t back down… in fact on more than one occasion, he spent time trying to picture the two of them in an exclusive relationship, hell, married even.
But he always pictured it failing because she wasn’t like his wife. If he got cold enough and nasty enough, she’d back down and give it up. D’Nae wouldn’t, especially if she knew for sure that she was right. He sighed and wished he’d taken a few more pain killers, his headache was still there and the thought of her knowing she’d been right about this boiling down to what had happened in Carrington led him to believe he was in for a fight.

He slowed down for his turn and decided to works as hard as he could to remain calm. If all else failed he could always just get right back in the car and go back to Gate Station. He also knew that would be a disaster because if they fought and he split, he knew she’d pack up and go back home too. He navigated the road slowly toward the cabin hoping he would be able to keep calm or at the very least keep her calm! He pulled up and got out and was more than a little surprised when she didn’t come outside.
Oh no, he thought sadly. This is going to be even worse if she’s sitting inside and is either too afraid to come out or too angry. He squared his shoulders and walked up the deck steps, he walked inside and as he took off his sunglasses felt the confusion building. Then he saw the note propped up next to a soda can on the table. Oh shit, she left. He walked over and picked it up and had to read it twice before crossing to the big picture window and looking out at the lake, sure enough, there she was, lying on the dock with her tablet, a cooler by her side. He read her note once more than went into the bedroom and changed into some swim trunks.

What the hell, if she wanted to swim, he’d swim. It was a hell of a lot better than the fight he’d been expecting!

They’d swam and played in the water for close to an hour and Cal was beyond relieved. D’Nae acted as if they were at the start of a vacation and Cal made certain he did nothing to suggest they weren’t. They would be having fish for supper because she’d gone fishing and caught her limit of nice sized, smallmouths. Breeland really couldn’t believe his luck at her ease at the situation. They were treading water in front of the dock when D’Nae asked if he was hungry yet, he’d said yes and when she had begun to swim in, he untied her bikini top when she turned her back to him.

She’d let out a surprised squeal and before she could get away, he had her caught and had her halfway out of her bottoms as well. She giggled and fought, although not very hard and he towed her under the dock for a little privacy. She hung onto the dock with all her might and he held on to her and before long they had small waves washing up along the shore. It was quick and fun and the height of total relaxation. His only complaint was not being able to stay the night. He probably could have made an excuse to his wife and considered it for a little while but he’d have to get up and leave by 3:30 a.m. to make it to work on time and that he just couldn’t do. Besides, if he stayed he would certainly be returning home to what he had expected to find when he’d gotten here and he had enough to deal with, without adding that drama to the mix.

They took a shower and then she had him start a fire and she got the fish ready for the grill. They sat on the deck and waiting for the fire to burn down some before putting the food on and the conversation he’d been waiting for began.

“So, who is that guy and why do you think he had something to do with the robbery?” She was lying with him on the hammock, on her side with one leg thrown over him.

“We’ve had a few run-ins over the years.” Cal said quietly.

“What’s his name and what kind of run-ins?” She asked calmly. “Is he what? A drug dealer? A thief? Christ, please tell me he’s not a killer!”

He gave her a squeeze and said. “He’s been in trouble since he was a kid, vandalism, stealing shit, bikes then cars, yeah, some drugs and whatnot and no, Marcus has never been a suspect in anything violent.”

“Marcus…” she whispered slowly as if thinking, then she picked her head up to look at his face and said, “Damn! What’s his last name? Maybe he knows me! Shit! Maybe I know him!” her voice had risen and the hammock began to swing a little precariously as she moved.

“It’s Evans and I doubt very much you’d know him, he’s a good six years older than you…”

“Yeah, but then how did he know where I got my gas or how to find me because if he set things up… whoa!” Her movements were too drastic and before he could prevent it they both landed on the deck.

“Oooowwwww,” she moaned and held her left elbow because she’d rapped it pretty hard and her fingers had gone numb, “shit, you okay?”

He moaned and drew in a shallow breath, mostly he’d knocked the wind out of himself and as they lay there watching the hammock swinging wildly above them he said dryly, “Uh, note to self, don’t let D’Nae get agitated when laying with her in the hammock.”

“Very funny.” She stuck her elbow towards him and said, “kiss it and make it better.”

He rolled up onto his knees and said with false indignation, “Kiss it? What I should do is give you a good spanking for dumping us out in the first place!”

He grabbed her and tried to turn her over but she wiggled out of his grip but not before he was able to get one good spank in as she laughed. Then he pinned her down and kissed her soundly. She wrapped her arms around him and peppered his face with kisses and told him how sorry she was.

“Ah, you’re just trying to get out of your thrashing!” As he straightened up and helped her to her feet, giving her bottom another playful slap. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her long and hard. Part of him wanted her in the worst way but the other part of him knew he would need to be leaving soon. Before he could end the kiss and suggest she put supper on, her hands slipped low and caressed him firmly before dropping to her knees and pulling his shorts down as she did. Before he could protest, she took him in her mouth and suckled him greedily. He hadn’t been very ready when she began but he responded with gusto as he plunged his hands into her hair as she drew him in and out of her wet, hot mouth.

She put one hand on the back of his thigh and took him in so deeply he expected her to gag, but she didn’t and when she pulled back and sucked at the same time he went weak in the knees. She suddenly released him completely, splayed her hand out on his chest to make him look down and said in a quivering voice, “I want to make you come in my mouth Cal, real hard, will you?”

Her vivid, green, upturned eyes beseeched him and his moan was low and harsh. “Yes!” he hissed as he pushed her head toward his swollen length and she took him in roughly and worked him hard, flicking her eyes up to meet his as she did. She whimpered slightly between moans and he knew he wouldn’t be able to hold out long. As few more strokes and his breath came in great gasps and she suddenly took his balls in her hand and gently squeezed them, took him in entirely and he lost it, bellowing as an intense orgasm exploded within her.

He held her head to himself tightly as he bucked and she froze in place, letting him orchestrate the moment. When he relaxed his hands in her hair and released her she carefully withdrew from him, grabbed his wrists and pulled him down. He lay back panting and she lay down beside him, gathering him as close to her as she could get him. Neither spoke, they almost couldn’t and so they just laid on the sun-warmed wood and waited for their breathing to normalize.

Very, very slowly D’Nae picked up her head and carefully looked into Cal’s face, he saw a mischievous glint in her eye and he looked at her suspiciously and asked, “What?”

“Oh, nothing really, I was just wonderin’ if that might have got me out of the spanking.” She grinned.

He laughed loudly and hugged her hard, “I guess you’re off the hook because you were way, way too good just now to still be in trouble.”

She giggled and he lifted his face and kissed her, “I hate to say it, but you’d better start the fish because I’m going to have to take off in about an hour, sugar.”

She moaned sadly and then got to her knees. He lifted his hips and she helped wiggled his shorts high enough to slip them back on before he stood up and reached down to help her to her feet. She went inside and he heard her open the fridge. She walked back out with the foil wrapped fish in her hands, adjusted the grill over the now perfect coals and placed them upon it.

“How long?” He asked her as she straightened up.

She glanced at her watch and said, I’ll flip them in ten…”

“Okay,” then he took her hand, led her inside, set the timer and headed into the bedroom. “I don’t think it’s fair that I had all the fun sugar…”

She agreed with a sigh.

XxXxX

The fish was superb and they ate it with buttered dark, rye bread, potato salad and cut, fresh fruit not coming inside until the mosquitoes started to bite. He helped her clean up and then helped her get the small canoe down to the dock so she could use it during the day, chaining it in place. They walked back up to his truck hand in hand as the sun slipped behind the trees.

“When will you come back?” she asked.

“As soon as I’m done Wednesday, I’ll stay then.”

“But I’ll be able to go back home by then, right?” she asked, her voice shaking a little.

He pulled her into his arms and said, “Yes, I’m sure I’ll have this straightened out before I come back and we can spend a quiet day or two here and it’ll be no problem.” He kissed her lightly. “I promise baby.”

She gave him a smile, albeit a slightly sad one and said, “I know…”

He opened the door with one hand and held her tightly with the other, kissing her tenderly, then hugging her fiercely.

“Go back inside before you get eaten alive out here sugar, I’ll call you tomorrow okay? Make sure you lock up tight, you hear?” He gave her one more hug and she slapped at a mosquito. “Go inside sugar!” he said as he got into the truck and shut the door.

She blew him a kiss then turned and ran for the cabin, once inside the door, she stood in the doorway and waved as he backed up and drove down the drive. She went to the sink and filled a small pail with water, took it back outside and doused what was left of the fire. She hurried back in and bolted the door and the deck level windows and as dark was coming quickly, closed the shutters. She left the higher windows open and turned up the ceiling fan a notch and it was comfortable. There was a slight breeze coming in and the night was quiet. She curled up on the couch with her laptop and fired it up grateful for the internet connection Cal shared with a neighbor. She started a system scan then got up and fixed herself a glass of ice water.

She felt a little bad about her manipulations of Cal but she’d done a lot of thinking on the drive and while she was swimming laps. She’d formulated her plan and it had worked out better than expected. She had been relieved that he wasn’t going to stay over, she’d been worried and that would have made things difficult. But the old adage of a good defense being a good offense had worked beautifully. She’d gotten the guy’s name and approximate age out of Cal without having to make it an issue and that had been her ultimate goal. She’d designed the entire time with him to be nonconfrontational. So, she’d simply forced herself to be as relaxed as possible and act like it was no big deal and she’d been right to approach it that way.

Cal had arrived taut as a bowstring and her attitude defused his quickly, he relaxed, they had fun and she learned the basics without him being any the wiser. Granted, he wasn’t stupid and he knew she had the capability to find information about this man. Hell, she had a couple of guest accesses to data bases off limits to non-law enforcement because of him! But she was pretty smart too and her nonchalance about it gave her the opening she’d hoped for but she’d have to be very cautious. She was only too well aware of the fact that should he choose to, Cal could really jam this Evans guy up. The last thing that would be welcomed would be a trail of inquiry done by her that could lead back to Cal.

She chose to use circuit court records first for two reasons, first because anyone could access them from the local library so there was no real trail to leave behind for the most part and secondly, a general search of the charges would give her the real information she wanted. The arresting officer’s name. She found him relatively quickly after a couple missteps and her fears were confirmed. As expected, he had an impressive arrest record, had spent a lot of time in jail as well as a four-year stint in prison for auto theft. What worried her was that close to forty percent of his arrests had been made by Cal and related court notations to other docket numbers showed that Evans had filed charges against Cal three times, twice for excessive force and once for misconduct but all counter-charges had been dismissed.

D'Nae sat back and considered the realities of this information and it was troublesome. There was no doubt in her mind, if he wanted to, Cal could make a lot of trouble for this guy. She recognized the name of his P.O. because she’d heard Cal mention his name and clearly, there was a disturbing history between him and Evans. What bothered her most was that she had an idea, however small, that Cal wouldn’t hesitate to go after this guy and while she was loathe to admit it; she believed Cal capable of doing something that was not necessarily within the law. She’d heard enough through the years and knew that if any officer tried hard enough, he could make a case against someone. She knew Cal was no exception because she knew well enough that Cal had a reputation and she knew it to be true.

Had this gas station thing really been as a result of something Evans set in motion? If it was, she knew Cal would lash out and lash out hard. It was what he did when threatened and if this was the case, Evans was threatening a lot. Her, their relationship and to be totally honest, Cal’s life in general. If this guy had a problem with them, it could threaten Cal’s marriage and as much as she hated to admit it, that, would be forefront in his mind. She closed her laptop and set it aside then wrapped her arms around her chest.

Was it time to walk away? Was this the thing that was going to end this once and for all?

Calvert had never lied to her. He’d never promised to divorce his wife, or leave when his daughters were grown, runaway together or marry her someday and live life happily ever after. No, she’d known from the start that she was on her own and if, God forbid, his wife found out about her and gave him an ultimatum, his choice would be his family. Her phone rang and she smiled albeit a little sadly. It was a long ride home and he wanted to talk. She answered the phone and quickly stepped into the normalcy of just what it was they did most in their relationship. Being there when the other wanted them to be.

XxXxX

Just before sunrise, D’Nae got up, and with her camera, took the canoe out on the lake. There was a small bay down the shore about a quarter-mile and sliding into it silently had provided her with the opportunity to get some nice nature shots from time to time. This morning was no exception, she got some great shots of a whitetail doe with a pair of fawns at the water’s edge and also a breathtaking Snowy Egret which she hadn’t expected. She paddled around for about an hour before finally heading back in. While she’d been on the water she’d made a decision, she was going to call Cal and tell him to do nothing about Evans. She knew it was selfish and probably more than a little stupid but she wasn’t ready to give Cal up and if he ended up in hot water because of it… no, she decided it just wasn’t worth it. Now all she had to do was try and get up the nerve to call and convince him that doing nothing was the best option. As she locked up the canoe she laughed to herself, it’d be a lot easier if she was a day drinker and could get half-drunk first. She’d be more relaxed and Cal always thought she was kinda cute and just a little funny when she was buzzed.

As it turned out, it was a good thing she hadn’t been drinking because they got into a huge fight and she drove back home that afternoon.

XxXxX

Anyone that had to deal with Calvert Breeland after his lunch break all wished they’d hadn’t. Going back to the station, he’d stopped three separate morons,and wrote traffic tickets and broke one of his own private rules. He chewed the drivers out and still gave them a ticket! Usually when he wrote, he kept things professional… tell them what they did, write ‘em up, tell ‘em not to do it again. And if you’re gonna cut ‘em some slack, chew their ass out! Not today though. Back at work, it didn’t take long for everyone to catch his mood shift and do their level best to stay out of his way. His eyes had that dangerous, thunderstorm, cloud color and his face pretty much matched. Calvert himself couldn’t decide what angered him more, the fact that D’Nae had convinced herself that he would get into trouble, the fact that she simply assumed he would do something to get himself in trouble or that she wanted him to leave things alone. As far as he was concerned, Evans had made it personal first and he was fair game.

She argued that they didn’t even know if he was a part of it or not. What if the robber had just been confused? High? Never meaning to toss the now recovered money, but just made a mistake? On and on until Cal screwed up and yelled she was being stupid. And nothing shut D’Nae down faster than being called stupid. She’d gone dead quiet and wouldn’t re-engage, outright refusing to talk to him even though he tried to tell her he didn’t mean it that way… finally she just said she’d talk to him later and hung up. He knew he’d have to swing by her house later to check if she was home because he was pretty sure she wouldn’t stay at the lake.

He went into his office to catch up on all his paperwork and the squad room exhaled a collective sigh of relief.

XxXxX

D’Nae had a bitch of a time getting the canoe put away but even chained and locked, she wouldn’t leave it out. She made sure all was pristine inside and out, shut everything up tight and left for home and hoped that Cal wasn’t going to drive up to try and talk to her. She thought about leaving a message to tell him she was splitting but then changed her mind. On the drive home, she knew he’d likely come by and she dreaded it because she was damn mad.

Halfway home she solved her problem, she called her mom, asked if she could come stay a few days and relax. Her parents had been bemoaning the fact that they didn’t see her enough and she wanted to be gone from the ugliness of the phone call. She got to her house, packed a fresh bag and headed for Charlotte. When she was certain, Cal would be gone for the day, she called his voicemail at work to tell him she’d left the cabin and she’d talk to him later. She didn’t tell him where she was going or how long she’d be gone. It was childish yes, but she was angry and stressed out and she’d realized some family time was important just now so she could get on an even keel again. Plus, she could talk to her dad… he was the only person on the face of the earth that knew about Cal. If her mom ever found out she’d disown her or worse. She needed her dad to help her get this thing worked out.

She hit the I-85 and got happier and more relaxed with each passing mile. Her parents had been right, it had been far too long!

XxXxX

Cal was relieved to discover that Sandra and the girls were headed out for the evening and they hadn’t been gone long before he left to go to D’Nae’s. As he drove, he formulated the things he wanted to say and the best way to say them. He knew she was mad but he was pretty sure he could snap her out of it. It was a ridiculous thing to be arguing about in the first place. Of course, his first surprise was that her garage was empty. Still, he went inside because he had a funny feeling about it. He noticed the cooler she’d had at the lake washed and sitting upside down on the counter and her empty overnight bag was on her bed. He walked down to her office and looked in the closet. Her suitcase was gone from the shelf and he sighed heavily. He was worried, this wasn’t like her. He called her cell to persuade her to come back and was stunned when it rolled straight into voicemail. She never did that!

Apparently, she was a lot angrier than he’d thought.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

V’Neshia, known to all as Vee, and Peter Jacobson met their daughter in the driveway with open arms. Both were concerned with the black eye and cut and D’Nae explained it was just an accident but Peter didn’t buy it. He intended to get his daughter aside as soon as he could and find out the truth. If it turned out that Calvert Breeland had laid hands on her, there was going to be a black eye and more in Breeland’s future soon!

Of course, V’Neshia, an ophthalmic surgeon, insisted they go immediately to her office so she could examine it. D’Nae knew better than to protest and after everything was proven to be healing well, they decided on lunch uptown and a trip to see the newest exhibition at the Mint Museum, one of D’Nae’s favorite places. It was a wonderful day and later after a light supper they sat in the garden enjoying the evening and the fire pit that Peter had installed just a few weeks before. Unfortunately, V’Neshia, had a patient scheduled for an early surgery that couldn’t be postponed the next day so by nine p.m. she kissed her daughter and husband good night and retired for the evening.

Peter and D’Nae sat in silence for about ten minutes before D’Nae said quietly. “No, he didn’t do this… at least not directly.”

“Well, the first part is a relief but I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable with that last part.” Peter responded just as quietly.

So, she began to explain the situation to her father, including all aspects of the argument that had more or less sent her to Charlotte. After a moment of quiet, she added her concerns about whether or not it was time to end the relationship once and for all and surprised herself by her ability to tell him everything without breaking down. Peter sat in silence and thought for a moment, this was delicate and clearly his daughter was afraid and in pain. He knew he’d have to tread lightly because the last thing he wanted to do was make things worse.

“Sweetheart, I’ve always wished two things when it comes to this and you know it,”

“Yeah, that the man I love wasn’t married and that it wasn’t Cal.” She said sadly.

Peter chuckled, “Well, I’m pretty sure any Dad would wish his little girl wasn’t involved with a married man, it’s not easy for me, I’ve wondered for a long time now if it was something I did or didn’t do when you were a kid that made you do this…”

“Oh Daddy,”

“Let me finish… and yes, I wish it wasn’t Breeland, I know that you see a side of him I don’t and if you think he has redeeming qualities and he’s worthy, so be it, but are you truly listening to yourself, honey? You seem mighty convinced that Cal could hurt this man! And I can’t help but think that you’re not just worried about, how did you say it? Oh yeah, Cal could jam him up… you’re worried that Cal could put this man in the hospital, or worse, aren’t you?!”

“No, I don’t think that!” D’Nae said angrily.

“Of course, you do or you wouldn’t be here now. You’d be home and ready to argue with him about letting it go. Sweetheart, what really bothers you about this? Is it that he could get in trouble or is it that if he does do something about this man and the potential threat, you would have to accept the fact the man you love is a deeply flawed and potentially dangerous person?”

“I know he’s flawed Daddy, I do, but… he’s so good too! It’s just that…” she threw up her hands in exasperation and a tear slowly inched its way down her cheek. “I want to believe if I ask him not to do this thing… he won’t.”

Peter got up and moved to the chair beside her and he carefully wiped away the tear and then took her hands in his, “You want more than that, don’t you?”

Tears began to flow and all she could do was nod, he stood and pulled her to her feet and held her as she cried. No father in the world wanted to see his little girl cry, but she’d fallen for the wrong man in the wrong situation and it was going to be up to him to try and see her through it somehow. So, he held her because he was at a loss for words but he’d think of something and he knew he’d have to do it soon.

XxXxX

Sandra Breeland poured coffee in her husband’s insulated mug and watched him from the corner of her eye. He looked rough, he had dark circles under his eyes and he was very preoccupied. She knew he hadn’t slept well, he’d woken her numerous times with his tossing and turning. She wanted to believe it was work related but he’d been so distant lately she just wasn’t sure anymore. Most of all she wanted to have the courage to ask him about it but just couldn’t bring herself to do so.

“Are you going to pick up Tess for the practice or am I dropping her off?” she said as she handed him his mug.

“What?” his face was confused as he picked up his duffle and was ready to open the door.

“Today, practice… at four?” she said lightly with a smile. She’d really felt like snapping but knew it would be unwise.

“Oh… right. You’d better bring her, I might be… delayed.” He was frowning.

Sandra would have won money if she’d bet he’d forgotten all about practice. It was a good thing she’d thought to mention it.

“All right,” she said softly, “Have a good day.”

She tilted her face toward him and he dropped a fast kiss on her lips somewhat distractedly before he walked out the door. She turned around to pour herself a fresh cup of coffee and tried to remember the last time he’d kissed her on his own without prompting.

She couldn’t.

XxXxX

After roll call, the sheriff stuck his head out his office door and said, “Calvert, a moment?”

Cal stepped in and asked, “Hey boss, what d’ya need?”

The sheriff sat down and picked up a report from his desk, “Well, I was wonderin’ if maybe you wouldn’t want to give this a second look.” He held the paper out to Cal.

With a questioning look, Cal stepped forward to take it, began reading it and his face showed sudden embarrassment. “Oh, yeah, I see, I’ll…”

The sheriff just smiled and raised a hand, “I figured you must have been a little distracted, ah… everything goin’ okay?”

“Yeah, just, you know…” Calvert was trying to be nonchalant but he was mortified and it showed. This report was a disaster and the sheriff had every right to chew him out, if this had been forwarded to the state the way it was required to be, it could have reflected badly on the department.

“I’ll get this fixed up right away.” Cal said, looking at the sheriff.

“You do that…” the sheriff said with a small smile. Cal left his office and Daniel wondered what was going on with his Lieutenant. His reports were always impeccable and the watch commander from the day before had told him Cal had taken personal time halfway through a shift with no warning.

The sheriff made a mental note to keep an eye on him for a while. It would be unwise for him to miss it if there was a problem developing.

XxXxX

Cal went back to his office, closed the door and tossed the report on his desk with disgust. Good God, if Sheriff Platt hadn’t caught his error in the arrest report it would have skewed their numbers for weeks. He sat down heavily and shook his head, he hesitated a moment, then picked up the phone and dialed. It went straight to voicemail and he sighed again.

When the tone sounded he said quietly, “Sugar, please, will you call me and let me know you’re okay? I’m worried about you. You don’t have to tell me where you are just that you’re okay. I – I miss you…”

He hung up knowing full well the words he really needed to say were, “I’m sorry.” But sadly, those were words that had never come easy to him and he avoided saying them whenever possible. However, he was miserable and she’d only been gone two days and he was beginning to think the only way to fix things was to tell her exactly that… and not do anything about Marcus Evans and that thought made him feel slightly ill. Evans needed to be taught a lesson about just how wrong it was to be messing with someone important to Breeland.

XxXxX

V’Neshia had cleared her schedule since D’Nae was home and they had arrived at the club for some lunch and some, time in the pool. After doing laps, they were relaxing in the hot tub when V’Neshia decided to come out and say some things to her daughter. “Baby girl, I want to talk to you about some things and I’m really hoping that you’ll listen and let me say my piece, do you think you can do that?”

“Of course, Mama.” D’Nae said seriously as she reached over and shut down the jets. As the water stilled, she glanced over at some other ladies using the pool and was reassured to see none were close enough to overhear.

“I’ve been a doctor for a long time and I know that, that black eye didn’t come from something that fell off your closet shelf, it came from a fist and that cut most likely is the result of a ring.” D’Nae held her mother’s eyes but said nothing. “Furthermore, normally your phone is attached to your hand and in the last few days I haven’t even seen you with it. My guess is, you needed to come home, and I am grateful that you did and I can also understand why you’ve not said anything more forthcoming, you’re a very private person and you have things to work out. I get that. So, all I’m going to do is say this… if you need to be here? If it’s for a few days or a few weeks or you’re thinking maybe longer. Well, we can get out of here right now and if you want we can start looking today.”

“I will pay for an apartment for however long it takes for you to decide what you want to do. If you want to relocate here, well, then I’ll buy you a place if you like but you don’t have to feel embarrassed or unsure or worried. I’ll take that burden off you before it even begins. The only thing I want for you is that you decide where you want your life to go and you do it without the stress of worrying about anything financial in the process, okay?”

Tears fell down D’Nae’s face and her eyes were filled with sorrow, “Oh mama,” she whispered, “I’ve got some things to tell you…”

XxXxX

As Peter drove down his street toward home, he was surprised to see D’Nae driving away. He waved but she didn’t notice him and he didn’t give it much thought at the time. He parked in the drive and walked inside, calling out hello and was greeted by his wife.

“You’ve known for more than a year that your daughter has been fucking Calvert fuckin' Breeland and it never occurred to you that you should mention it? Or for that matter, put a fucking end to it!”

Every husband in the world has his own system for judging just how angry his wife may be at any given time, and Peter was no exception. The use of the f-word was a fair indication as was the use of the words, ‘your daughter’ versus ‘our daughter’ but the thing that cinched the fact that the ire was somewhere north of volcanic was that she held a mixed drink in her hand.

“She asked me not to say anything. Put an end to it? Excuse me, but have you met our daughter?” He moved to the bar and fixed himself a whiskey and soda then sat on one of the sofas.

Vee stared at him like she just couldn’t believe he’d said those words, before rolling her eyes and sitting down beside him with a heavy sigh.

They both sipped their drinks before Peter continued. “I think she thought it would be over fast.

“Somehow that doesn’t bring much comfort.”

“Was the fight bad? Has she gone back to Gate Station?” he asked quietly.

“What? Oh no, she just wanted to get some air. We didn’t have a fight, per se, and even though I felt it, I didn’t say I was disappointed but she could probably tell. Christ! Breeland? I just can’t believe that man has been with my little girl! Not to mention the fact that he’s put her in harm’s way with some criminal out to even a score! Do you think he pursued her because of us?”

“I don’t think so, as much as I hate to say something like this in conjunction with my own daughter, from the sounds of things, in the beginning it was just a case of mutual lus… um, attraction that turned into something neither of them expected.”

“I think the worst of it is knowing that she’s going to be so badly hurt because you know that’s the only place this can lead.” Vee sighed, “How did she let this happen? I just don’t get it. She’s so much smarter than that!”

“She sees something in hi... and don’t bite my head off! I didn’t say I did… it’s just that she did and whatever she saw let her fall for him.”

“Do you want to know the one thing that has scared the living shit out of me since she told me?” Vee whispered in a horrified voice.

“What?”

“That he decides to leave his wife… because it would mean I’d lose her forever.” Vee’s voice caught with a sob.

Peter reached over and took his wife’s hand in his and said, “Well, darling if he did that we wouldn’t lose her…”

“I would,” as Vee’s tears spilled down her cheeks, “because there’s no way I could ever let that man walk through my door as long as I was still breathing.”

She gave a strangled sob of anguish and Peter gathered his sobbing wife into his arms and didn’t have the slightest idea of what to say.

XxXxX

D’Nae sat on a park bench and stared into the distance, seeing nothing. Well, that wasn’t quite true… she could still see clearly the look of utter disbelief and profound disappointment on her mother’s face when she said Cal’s name. In fact, she was pretty certain she would see that look for the rest of her life, all she’d have to do is close her eyes. She should have never told her mother, never! At the rate things were going, it might not have ever mattered soon.

She looked down at her phone again. There were fifteen missed calls, ten voicemails, ten texts. She’d scrolled through them and two were work related. The rest were from Cal and she had spent the last half hour trying to get up enough courage to play them. She wasn’t sure what she dreaded more… that he would be worried or concerned or sorry. Or that he would be over it. That one of the messages might just tell her to have a nice life and he’d mail her the keys and garage door opener. She looked at the voicemails and then the texts and decide to read the texts as they came before the voicemails.

The first three were pretty typical Cal.

Call me

Followed by four, Call me. Please.

Then, Are you all right?

The last two were the two that shook her the most.

Please leave a message at work. Or listen to the voicemails. Please.

She re-scrolled the calls, oh yeah, he had left a few voicemails by then. She deleted each text and stared at her phone a few more minutes. Finally, she gave in and played them, the first time he said he missed her she started to cry. When he told her that he loved her, she almost broke down and called him. When he told her that he was sorry, that he wanted her to come home and that he would not so much as say Marcus Evans’ name until he spoke face to face with her, she decided to go home. Before she left the park, she dialed his voicemail at work.

XxXxX

Sheriff Platt had been having a lot of trouble sleeping since his wife had left. Mostly because without Doreen’s measured breathing beside him, the house rang to loudly with silence. He was at his kitchen counter drinking a glass of warm milk… with a generous tot of brandy in it. His mind was going over various things to do the next day. He finished his drink and rinsed out the glass and headed back to his bedroom. One thing he was thinking about was Calvert, he’d returned to work for tonight’s graveyard shift after his day’s off and had seemed as haggard as he’d been prior to them. As Daniel left however, Cal seemed greatly improved, wishing him a good evening with an even bigger smile.

Just as he started to recline, the sheriff had a thought. He got up and went back to the kitchen and opened his laptop. Once he got into the screen he wanted, he checked a few things, then began scrolling through a long list of numbers. He finally found the one he wanted and double-clicked it. There was a quiet hiss and then a female voice said, “I love you too baby, I’ll be back in two days and we can work this out.”

He double-checked the listing, then played it again. He shook his head in wonderment. He had a clearer picture of what was wrong with his lieutenant now… woman trouble. The only thing to worry about now was if the voice, that wasn’t Calvert’s wife’s, was going to continue to cause problems.

XxXxX

By not leaving her parent’s house immediately, D’Nae was at least able to give her mom a genuine and relaxed goodbye. It wasn’t perfect but the future was just that, the future and nothing was absolute. On the drive home, D’Nae was apprehensive too. There was no way to predict what was going to happen when she saw Cal. They’d not seen or spoken to one another for going on eight days, which for the two of them was unheard of… hell, only speaking once a day was unheard of! Yes, Cal had said Marcus Evans was on hold until they spoke but what then? If Cal was still in the mood for payback of some sort that would put them right back to square one.

She tried not to think about it too much, because, truth be told… she was nervous as hell about seeing Cal. She’d just walked away without a word. It had been a cruel thing to do and granted, it had killed her and when she read and heard his pleas, it had shaken her up because it was obvious she had really upset him. He had every right to be just as angry at her as she’d been with him. Now she realized that this might not necessarily be a light-hearted homecoming. She had a couple hours to go and then home, unpack and shower before he’d start his night shift. She was fairly certain that unless something major was going on, she’d see him by midnight. Whether or not that would be a good thing remained to be seen.

XxXxX

Sandra Breeland stood silently in the doorway to the ensuite, watching her husband sleep. Three nights ago, she’d made the first move and they’d made love. Well, they’d had sex. Not that it had been awful, he’d been attentive but disconnected as if she were a stranger and he was mainly just going through the motions. Calvert simply wasn’t the same man she’d been with all these years. They’d always had a pretty healthy sex life, they made love often, it was enjoyable and most times playful and loving. Sadly, that had been slipping away the last couple years and she was 99% sure now he was seeing someone else.

Then he’d gone to work the other night and come home like his old self. Chatting up the girls at breakfast, thanking her for making him bacon with his eggs. So once again, she was at odds with herself. Calvert had always been moody and his job was stressful so had something cleared up at work? Had that been why he’d been so detached lately? They’d been married for almost 16 years now… did all couples drift apart sexually after that long? She thought about asking her friends but couldn’t imagine actually doing it. Those sorts of things could get the rumor mill rolling and God forbid if Calvert ever found out she was questioning their sex life with her friends! No, she’d just have to see how things went for a while and hope that it was just a normal part of life and with luck, this wasn’t a precursor to what was going on with Dan and Doreen Pratt.

Of course! That was the answer! If anyone could understand the mindset of a cop, who better than the estranged wife of a career law enforcement officer. She’d seen her recently and they’d exchanged numbers, Sandra left Cal to sleep so she could go find the number and give Doreen a call.

XxXxX

When D’Nae arrived home; it didn’t take long to get things sorted out, of course, as usual her mom had taken her shopping and insisted on lots of fun clothes so D’Nae put those things away before concentrating on work and her mail. She made a couple phone calls to confirm some things and to set up a meeting for a new contract. That really made her happiest, there was to be a job fair in a couple weeks and now nine of the fifteen participating businesses wanted to hire her to do the background checks on their applicants. It was good money and really great word of mouth for the business. She’d been getting tons of jobs through this and so far about half of them had also led to other security and site surveys. She’d have to go through her own list of resumes, she’d probably need some temporary help right after the job fair. She wrote out her list of errands, paid some bills and left the house. Once she went to the grocery store and some other odds and ends, she should have just enough time to make something to eat and get a little nap in before Cal went to work.

XxXxX

While Cal was in the shower, he prayed for a quiet night. The thought of getting tied into something complicated and not being able to get over to D’Nae’s made his stomach flip. It was doing that anyway, he seemed to be swinging between wanting to take her in his arms and never let her go to taking her over his knee for real to teach her to never do something like that to him ever again! He couldn’t keep from grinning, considering her solution to the last time he threatened to spank, maybe that was the way to go!

But in all seriousness, he just wanted to figure things out and it surprised him a little that he was so nervous about it. He knew he was in deep with D’Nae but until she’d just disappeared he hadn’t truly realized how much he relied on her. He must have picked up his phone or checked his phone fifty times a day. He’d found himself remote dialing his work voicemail constantly to see if she’d left message and he had driven past her house to check for her car two or three times a shift. He’d been seriously out of sorts and rather lost. All of which made him contemplate just where the hell things were going from here.

As he was dressing, he couldn’t help but think about the other night. As vulnerable as he’d felt, Sandra had coaxed him into lovemaking and it had floored him when he realized it meant absolutely nothing to him past a physical response to stimulation. He pulled his socks on and thought about that… right at this moment, just thinking about seeing D’Nae tonight had him fighting an erection! But beyond that he couldn’t wait to hear her voice, to smell her… to simply relax in her presence. The thought that had been whirling in his mind for the last eight days whirled some more… he needed her more than air!

XxXxX

D’Nae stood in front of her closet, closed her eyes, groaned and shook her head in denial. This was completely ridiculous! She hissed to herself… just get dressed and go park it and read as planned! Still, she hesitated, t-shirt and shorts? Nightshirt? Something sexy? Something nice? Damn. This was making her goddamn head hurt. In frustration, she turned and walked to her dresser, yanked open a drawer and took out an over-sized t-shirt she liked to sleep in. It wasn’t like this was a date for god’s sake! He was working after all, he might not even have a chance to even show up. Even his break was never written in stone. She picked up her tablet and turned out her bedroom light as she headed to her couch. She made herself comfortable and started to read hoping that he would make it over because she wanted to see him desperately!

It was the soft crackle of a radio transmission that made her aware of him. She’d dozed off and had no idea what time it was. He stood there and looked down at her, his face a shifting display of emotions.

“Hi,” she whispered as she sat up.

“Hi,” He answered just as quietly, not moving. She wasn’t sure what to do, her breath hitched at the sight of him, as usual he looked drop dead gorgeous in his uniform, his blue eyes were dark and flashed with a cross between undiluted sex appeal and desire with an edge of anger thrown in for good measure. He looked dangerous and for a moment, she couldn’t help but wonder if this was such a good idea… he looked as if he were on the verge of violence, perhaps this argument had further to go than she’d thought. It made her feel a little defiant so she stood up and mentally braced herself.

“Well, you look like you’ve got something to say.” Her voice was calm but her insides were in knots and her heart warred with her mind because all she really wanted to do was hold him close to her but that didn’t seem likely just yet.

“I do,” he gave a small chuckle before turning quite serious almost instantaneously. “I –, part of me wants to grab you and shake you until your teeth rattle and yell at you for putting me through that! I mean, what were you thinking?! Not even answering a text? I was going nuts! Think about it, for a minute, you disappearing could all have been a result of Evans setting you up and you take off without a word of explanation or where you were going! And where the hell did you go? I looked everywhere!” He was yelling by the time he was done.

She crossed her arms over her chest and glowered back at him, “You knew it was nothing of the sort but you’re just so damned fixated on Evans and you have absolutely no proof!” She said hotly, her anger beginning to flare. “Besides, I’m back, get a grip for Christ’s sake!”

She moved to step by him, wanting just to get away and collect her thoughts without his steely gaze lasering into her but as she did he grabbed her upper arms with such force that she gasped in fright and yanked herself forcefully away from his grip. She hadn’t meant to cry out but the look on his face was so foreign to her she didn’t know how else to react.

Evidently it surprised him too as he let go instantly and murmured, “I’m sorry…”

She stood frozen before him, holding her breath and just staring. Then he seemed to collapse, his shoulders sagged, his eyes dropped to the floor and his posture slumped.

When he lifted his head, his eyes were filled with pain and he opened his mouth to speak but couldn’t seem to find the words. He dropped his eyes again and turned. “I guess I’d better leave,” he whispered, his voice tight and angst-ridden.

As he stepped away she reached out to touch the back of his shoulder. “Please, don’t go.” She hadn’t wanted this confrontation, this conflict. She’d wanted to move forward but she’d gone about it the wrong way and she knew that now. He turned back toward her and when she saw the pain plainly written on his face, she reached for him and took him gently into her arms. She realized with a start that she had really hurt this man and worse, scared him into fearing the worst.

His arms slipped around her and he held her so tightly she could barely breathe but she kept quiet, she needed him calm if they were going to get anywhere. She began to pull away slightly and he released his hold a bit. She tilted her head back so she could look into his face. “Kiss me…” she whispered and was so relieved when he did.

She stroked his face lightly with her fingers, her lips molding to his. She slowly touched his tongue with hers, lightly brushing beneath it, eliciting a low moan from him. She gently broke the kiss and whispered against his lips, “I don’t want to fight baby, I’m sorry.” She dropped her hand down the front of him and tenderly slid her fingers against his firming flesh. He put his hands into her hair and pulled her mouth back to his hungrily and desire flared low in her belly, she slipped one hand behind him and caressed his perfect and firm flank, pressing him forward into her hips.

She brought her hands to his gunbelt and tugged, he broke the kiss and dropped his hands to it and quickly his fingers began to undo it when his radio hummed and a call came for his unit. They both groaned loudly and D’Nae clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

He acknowledged the call, then closed his eyes and sighed. “I’m…” she put her fingers over his lips. “Going to come back as soon as you can, right?” “I’ll try.” He kissed her fingers, “meal break at 3:30?”

“Perfect… go.” He brushed her lips with a kiss and began to turn but halted abruptly, crushed her into his arms and kissed her passionately. He kissed her lips twice more with quick kisses then turned and walked away and she couldn’t fight the grin as she watched his hand drop and adjust himself as he left. Poor baby.

XxXxX

Cal glanced at his watch yet again and sighed. Granted the night was going swiftly, but he wished it would slow down for a change… he wanted to get back to D’Nae’s and if this pace kept up, he’d miss his break entirely. This was the third wreck tonight involving kids and after the first and report of the second he’d called home to be certain Tess was there. They hadn’t found the party yet and were still actively looking. No fatalities so far but two serious injuries, if he found it, the party thrower was going to wish he’d never heard of Calvert Breeland. He had a pretty good idea now where it might be and as soon as the tow truck driver got the car out of the ditch he was going to go look. He wanted that damn party shut down before it interfered with the rest of his night!

XxXxX

D’Nae heard Cal’s gunbelt creak as the bed moved. “Is that gun loaded?”

Cal nuzzled her neck, “They both are sugar.”

She giggled and turned to face at him. She slipped her arms around his neck as he softly kissed her face and throat.

“Long night?” she purred.

“The worst.” One look told her two things, someone had died and Cal needed some TLC.

“Tell me.” She whispered.

Cal had been on his knees, he now shifted and laid on his side, D’Nae did the same, putting her hand alongside his face.

“Kids. Drunk. I finally found the party but…” he closed his eyes and she could feel his sorrow. She wished there was something she could say or do to make him feel better but she knew there was nothing other than offer a place to crash.

“Can you come back after your shift? If you want to…” She looked into his sad, blue eyes and hoped he’d say yes.

“I can try but there’s a lot to be done…” he closed his eyes and she leaned in and kissed his eyelids. His hand, resting on her hip squeezed gently.

“Can you rest some now?”

“What time is it?” he asked tiredly.

She picked up her phone, “4:35,”

“Ten minutes.” He said with his eyes already closed.

By the time she set her timer, he was asleep.

XxXxX

Breeland looked like death warmed over. It was just a little before noon and D’Nae went up to him and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight. “Baby, maybe you should just go home and sleep, you’re exhausted.” She said softly.

“Can’t I sleep here?” he looked surprised by her suggestion when he tilted his head back to look at her.

“Of course you can, when do you want me to get you up?” She was confused, he rarely spent more than a few hours with her before going home to sleep. It was hard with his wife and daughters at home.

“Sandra and the girls are gone and I took the night off, will you lay with me for a while?” She kissed him gently and turned him toward her room, she made him sit on the bed and knelt at his feet to take his boots off.

“Sugar you don…”

“Shh.” She pulled them off and set them aside, then stood and pulled him to his feet and undressed him, careful not to arouse, only soothe. She pulled back the covers and slipped her shorts off and slipped into bed beside him. “Should I get you up at any certain time?”

“Around four?” he pulled her next to him and kissed her lightly. “I’d like a nice hot meal for supper.”

“I’ll go to the burger joint up the street before I get you up.”

He chuckled and fell asleep.

XxXxX

D’Nae went to the grocery store while Cal slept and tried to decide what to make for dinner. She finally decided simple was best and picked up a couple steaks some potatoes and salad fixings. She had to admit, she was glad he’d wanted to sleep at her house. The fact that he didn’t have to go to work was especially nice because it was only when they went away together that they got so much uninterrupted time and considering the conversation they needed to have it was likely a good thing. It occurred to her then that maybe he’d taken the night off because of the need for that conversation. Yes, it was a good idea to go simple for supper… it might be a long night.

XxXxX

Cal woke as D’Nae’s warm, naked body snugged up to his, with a smile he turned to put his arms around her as her warm mouth found his. His hands drifted slowly across her skin and their kisses grew more heated. He lifted his hips and she carefully removed his shorts, then skimmed her leg across his and with one fluid move, took him inside her.

“Is this okay?” she whispered, as he hissed in a sharp intake of air.

“Oh yeah, sugar… it’s more than okay.” He murmured back. “Good.” She smiled down at him and rolled her hips forward and he placed his hands on her hips, she did it again and leaned back as she did and he gasped.

“Oh, my good girl… my sweet, good, good girl…”

XxXxX

They talked for hours… he agreed to do nothing about Evans and she surprised him with the news that she had an offer to open a branch of her business in another city. By the time they went to bed for the night Breeland had done something even more shocking… he asked her if he were free, would she marry him. She said yes.

XxXxX

The next morning, she made breakfast and he told her for the next couple of weeks or so that while he was on graveyard he’d have auxiliary deputies with him so their time together would be affected somewhat. She just kissed him with all her might and told him as long as he was going to marry her, she’d be able to deal with it. Three days later, he called to tell her about a young black man that had been killed and that things would be hectic for a little while. Then a white boy was shot and when she spoke to him he sounded exhausted. About a week later, she got his letter and it took her ten minutes to get up the nerve to open it. She was sure it was him telling her it was over, instead she was happier than she had ever been before in her life.

XxXxX

My beautiful D’Nae,

Never in my life would I have ever guessed that I would find love, such true and amazing love, as I have found with you. I have finally come to understand that the life I once thought complete, lacks its most important component. I have decided that sometime this week I will find an apartment and will sit down with my wife and daughters and explain to them that I must leave.

I will not tell them about you and I just yet, mainly because I think it will be important for my girls to accept my altered place in their lives before fully explaining the reasoning behind it. I don’t say this to make you mad I am just hoping you can understand this one small wish. I must give them time to accept how their lives will be. Leaving them will be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, knowing you love me and that you will be here for me is the only thing that will keep me strong.

When the shock for them has lessened, I want you to meet them and get to know them and eventually love them if that is possible. I know it will be hard for all of us, most of all for you but I hope you can see how bad I want this to work for us all.

The other surprise I have is that I put a couple of feelers out awhile back in the area of a job and have had a surprising response. So, there is the very real possibility that should it be acceptable to us both, a life here forever in Gate Station, doesn’t have to be our only choice. I just wanted you to know that too because I want you to know I am willing to try elsewhere to be with you as a couple if you want to try that.

I love you D’Nae, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, we’ve never spoken of it but I would even cherish a child with you someday if that would be something you’d ever want. You’ve made me see I’ve been living my life in a vacuum, living as something I shouldn’t be and as something I no longer want to be.

Please say you want a new life with me as much as I do… not quite sure how I managed to turn this into a plea but I guess that’s what it is… I want to marry you, love you and make a life with you from now until the day I die.

Please say you want that too…

All my love,

Calvert

 

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Epilogue

D’Nae pulled into the drive and saw that her mom was working among the flowers. She got out of the car, anxious to get in the house and out of her hose and heels.

“Uh-oh, hiding?” she asked her mom laughingly.

“Of course not, just relaxing. Alone.” She gave her daughter a smile and a wink.

“Where is he?”

“In the garden, I think he’s trying to build a bird feeder… maybe you could go help.”

D’Nae laughed lightly and entered the house, stripping off her suit jacket as she went. In the last almost six years, her business had taken off and she now had branches in five other cities. She’d finally decided to put the base of operations in Charlotte and was staying with her parents until she bought a house. She had an appointment tonight to look at a new listing and a third look at the front-runner. Well, that wasn’t quite right… if the new listing didn’t blow her away, she was going to have her realtor write a bid on the other. It was time, she found the neighborhood she wanted and the house in Gate Station had closed three months ago. That had been one of the hardest things she’d ever done but running the company from there just wasn’t feasible anymore. She’d had to say goodbye to a lot of ghosts before she had the strength to list it but she’d made the decision and followed through with it.

It was time for the next phase of her life to begin. In her room, she changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top before heading out back. She could see her Dad and she couldn’t help grinning. After growing up seeing him in suits and snappy casual dress, seeing his ‘retirement’ wardrobe always made her smile. Her dad had discovered ‘board shorts’ and now practically lived in them much to her mother’s chagrin. She on the other hand thought it was adorable and kept reminding her mom that at least he’d had never tried to wear them at the club.

As she walked across the yard toward her dad, he saw her and gave a wave, then a dark little head popped up from the table and spotted her.

“Mommy!” and there he came, his little five-year-old legs pumping away in his board shorts and X-Men t-shirt. He leapt into her arms and kissed her enthusiastically, his bright blue eyes shining excitedly. “Come see! Come see! Papa an’ me buildin’ a birdie house!” then squirmed to be put down when she kissed him.

“You are?” she exclaimed as she put him on his feet and he immediately raced back to the table where her father stood.

“An’ I gonna get’a paint it too!” he was jumping around and clapping his hands together and she smiled at her dad and looked at the construction. It was slightly crooked and she could see a couple bent nails but it wasn’t too bad. She could only imagine how hard it must be for her engineer father to tell her son it was a good job but he rose to the task.

“What do you think? Young Brees has outdone himself, hasn’t he?” he said with obvious pride.

“Where are we going to put it?” she asked.

“At the new house, new house, new house!!” he said excitedly, punctuating each ‘house’ with a jump.

“Okay then, I guess I’d better get right on that!” she laughed.

After a few moments, Brees lost interest and started playing with some of the scrap pieces of wood in the grass and Peter asked her about the showing.

“Well, I want to see the new one just to be sure but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have Karen write an offer. Unless this new one is complete nirvana, there’s no reason to wait, I need to get the reno done and get him registered for school…” her words trailed off as she watched her son play. She wished for perhaps the millionth time that Calvert had lived to see him. He was very much like him, sweet and fun and on occasion, he definitely had Cal’s temper from time to time. The first time she’d seen her son’s eyes go cold, blue steel she'd broken down in tears and the little boy had been so upset, kissing and patting her trying to make it better, his soothing words and tone of voice just like his dad’s.

Anyone that knew Calvert could see him in their son which was in part the reason she chose to leave Gate Station. There weren’t many that knew but those that did, well, D’Nae’s biggest concern was for Cal’s daughters. If they’d ever found out it would bring them great pain and they had enough to deal with in the aftermath of his death. She often thought about someday telling them they had a brother but it would probably never happen.

D’Nae did keep a journal though, she had written in it throughout her pregnancy, telling their unborn child about his father. What he’d been like, what he’d been forced to become and how he’d planned to become a better man. And how that had ultimately cost him his life. How hard the choices he’d made were and what they had dreamed of creating together… She didn’t write in it as often now but when she’d remember a particular thought or memory, she’d record it. Someday Brees would know his father, would know the way she’d loved him, the way they’d loved each other… and he already knew his father’s favorite place on earth well.

She’d bought the lake property when Sandra Breeland had put it on the market. It had been a huge financial burden, one she shouldn’t have risked but her parents had helped without question. They had seemed to grasp early on that it was something she couldn’t give up on. They paid it off when Brees was born as a gift to her son… no, their son.

After she’d bought it and during her first week there, she couldn’t bring herself to set up the hammock and had spent most of her time there sobbing… she’d mourned him before that of course, but this was the pain of loss on an entirely different level. The lake house had been their own private world that had contained just the two of them, the place where they’d learned that their love was real and not to be denied.

She struggled throughout her time there, worried that maybe it had been a mistake to try and hold on to that… then Sunday morning she’d been sitting on the dock as the sun rose when a soft breeze came across the water and fluttered over her. She would have sworn to all that was holy, that a soft hand touched her hair and warm lips brushed across hers. She knew in that instant it was him and that he’d be with her always. She spent the morning talking to him softly, telling him her secret, and her hopes and dreams for their child.

She spent every weekend there until it became too risky toward the end of the pregnancy, and after his birth, Breeland Peter Jacobson was baptized there with water from the lake and D’Nae could feel Calvert beside her through the entire ritual. She nicknamed him Brees, remembering as she always did, the day the breeze came across the water to show her she wasn’t alone.

So, the next chapter of their lives would begin soon, they would move into their new home, Breeland would start school and her business would continue to grow and on weekends, she’d continue to teach him. Like she’d taught him how to fish and canoe, he was getting an easy-to-use camera for his birthday so she could teach him how to take pictures of wildlife and most of all how to relax in a beautiful place that had meant so very much to his parents and had been so filled with love if only for so short a time.

The End