Page 20 of Alpha's Castle

“I did a patrol all night and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary,” Ren reports when I arrive.

“Take this home and get some rest.” I drop a donut on his desk and leave a coffee for Bev, who must be taking a bathroom break.

After Ren finishes his report, I give Tina a call and ask her to come in to give a statement.

“Why can’t you come out to the house?”

“I’ve got Khloe now.” I flick on my computer and pull up the security feeds from Khloe’s place. I haven’t installed any cameras inside yet, but I’ll be doing that tonight. “I can’t be making house calls to single women. It wouldn’t look right.”

“I thought the motto of the police is to protect and serve,” Tina complains.

“It is, and I will be doing that by taking your statement and investigating this issue.”

“Mae’s niece moved here two days ago.” Tina’s a bulldog. Once she digs in, it’s hard for her to let go. “How can you be so sure about her?”

“I just am.” There’s no explanation for the sun existing. It just does, right? It’s a star in our galaxy and whether it came about from a giant gas explosion in space or some other source it’s there.

“I don’t want to come out to the station. I’ve got errands to run. I was gonna run into Harrisville and get my hair done.”

“Then stop by when you get back.” There’s no activity outside of Khloe’s place. The lack of eyes inside is bothering me. I might have to install the cameras today rather than waiting for tonight.

“You’re really not going to come out to people’s houses anymore?”

Khloe’s had a bad past. It wouldn’t be right for me to place any doubts in her mind or put her in a situation where she would have to wonder what I’m doing. ”Don’t see why it’s such a trouble for you coming into the station.”

“Fine. Fine. I’m coming,” Tina finally concedes. “It’s not like I have anything more to tell you than what I said last night.”

“I just want to jog your memory and maybe see if we can shake something loose. Want my citizens to be safe.”

“I know, Chief, that’s why you hooking up with Mae’s niece is so tragic. We all had a little hope for you.” She sniffs in my ear.

“There are plenty more men out there,” I reassure her. “Better than me.” Not that Khloe’s going to find out. I’m the end of her road.

“I wish that were true,” Tina laments before hanging up.

As soon as the call is terminated, Bonnie appears in my doorway with the coffee in hand. “Do you have any idea who it was sneaking around Tina’s place?”

“Someone with a size ten shoe is all I know.”

“Carl Mengers is a short man.” Bonnie offers up her hated neighbor.

“He’s also seventy and looks like his bag of bones is about to fall apart whenever I see him shambling by.”

She sticks her chin in the air. “I’m just saying he’s short and has small feet.”

“Noted. I’ll put him on the suspect list.”

That placates her. By noon, I tick off the last of Tina’s neighbors. No one has seen anything, and Tina declares she hasn’t seen anyone new.

“That’s good news, right?” she asks, clutching her bag tightly between her fingers.

Nah, it only means it’s someone from town. “Nothing to be concerned about,” I tell her, “but I’d sleep better if you stay with your brother.”

“I’d sleep better if you were on my couch,” she parries.

“I don’t think Khloe and I would both fit there.”

Tina throws her head back in frustration. “I love Kale, but he’s impossible to live with. You know he never talks.”

“I guess he says shit with his art.”

“I guess.” She gets to her feet with a huff. For all her bluster, though, she’s proud of Kale. We all are. He’s probably our most famous resident, but his most infamous trait is that he’s a recluse. He doesn’t come to town. He doesn’t socialize with anyone. He has a never-ending stream of packages delivered that even Tina doesn’t know about, but he’s big and he’s got a forge out there hot enough to burn a man to ashes. She’ll be safe with him.

“Bonnie, I’m heading over to Khloe’s for lunch. You need anything?”

“I’m good, Chief.”

It takes Khloe a good minute to answer the door.

“You on the shitter?” I ask, stepping by her.

“No. I was working.” She peers over my shoulder at the box of equipment I carry in. “What is all that stuff?”

“Security for your place.”

“I have locks,” she says.

I set the box on the front counter next to the cash register. “Not good enough. There’s some pervert peeking in windows and since I can’t be here twenty-four seven, I’m putting cameras up.”

“No way.” Khloe makes a big x with her arms. “I don’t want cameras on my house.”

Tags: Ella Goode Romance