Page 25 of Alpha's Castle

“He was a jerk!”

“He was eight!” Connie shouts back at her. “Now he does anything and everything under the moon to get your attention. You’re going to regret it when he finds someone new.”

“Who? Is he talking to someone?” Connie just shrugs, not answering her. “You better tell me if he’s talking to someone.”

“People talk to other people every day.” Thea laughs from beside me.

“I think you both should stop dancing around your men and just go for what you want.” They both turn to look at me.

“Really? You’re going to say that to us?” Connie lifts her eyebrows.

“She has a point,” Thea chimes in.

Damn it. I think they’re right. I am dancing around Dane. I want him, but the man is consuming. I’ve only known him a short time and he’s all I think about. I have feelings I’ve never had before. Jealousy is at the top of that list. I never felt that way with Derrick. Not even when he slept with my mom. I’d only felt betrayal from my mother. I could care less about Derrick.

With Dane I fear I care too much. He’s making me get used to having someone around. I find myself craving it more and more. Why else would I have packed a bag to come over here? I could have let him set up his cameras and then took them down after he left. I all but jumped at the idea of staying with him. Gah. It’s clear.

I’m head over heels for Dane and his bossy, overbearing ways.

19

Dane

The EMTs come over and treat Derrick.

“I’m pressing charges,” he sputters through the cotton stuck into the side of his mouth to quell the bleeding. He bit his tongue when I punched him. Bev hands me a printed out report sheet which I fold in thirds and tuck into Derrick’s pants pocket.

“It’s a complaint form for the mayor,” I inform him. “So you can press charges.”

“Fuck the mayor!” Derrick screams. “Like he’s going to do jack shit about you.”

“It’s she and she probably will, don’t you think, Bev?”

“Definitely a few days in the cell,” Bev agrees.

“Worth it,” I announce cheerfully as I get to my feet. The EMTs wheel an unhappy Derrick out of the station so that he can have x-rays taken of his jaw. I don’t think I hit him that hard.

I glance at the clock again. Time’s a ticking, plus there are all those women at my house.

“Before you go, you might want to take a look at this. It might save you some time today.” Bonnie thrusts a piece of paper into my hand.

I shake my head. “Yeah, it will.”

A few minutes later, I walk through the door of the hardware store.

Don, the owner, gives me a chin nod of acknowledgement. “Chief.”

“Got a minute?” I ask.

He eyes me warily. “Kind of busy now.”

“We should talk.” I tip my head to the part-time worker standing a few feet away who is supposed to be stocking shelves but has stopped to listen.

Don’s shoulders slump in defeat. He calls Keith over to watch the register and then leads me to the back room.

“What is it?”

“I think you know.” I direct my gaze to his feet. “I got to ask, though, since when is your shoe size a ten?”

He lets out a long sigh. “Borrowed my brother’s.” He lifts a foot and squeezes the toes through his tennis shoe. “Hurts like a mother even today.”

“Dumb ass. Why are you sneaking around Tina’s house?”

I listen to him stammer through an explanation about how he didn’t mean to be lurking, but she wouldn’t answer the door so he was trying to check and see if she was safe. I write him out a ticket and tell him he needs to apologize to Tina or sit in my jail cell overnight. He says he will and that he’ll buy her flowers and chocolate, too. That sounds good to me so on my way out of the store, I buy some candy bars for Khloe.

I radio Bev that I’m heading home since the Peeping Don case is closed. She tells me that the coast is clear, which I find out later means Khloe is alone.

“Where is everyone?” I ask, tossing my hat near the back door and shucking my boots. The gun belt goes in a locked drawer and my leather coat on a hook.

“Your mom came and herded everyone out,” Khloe says.

I drop a kiss on her mouth before spreading out the candy in front of her. “They didn’t sell flowers at the hardware store,” I say by way of explanation.

“I don’t really understand what that means but thank you?” She unwraps one and takes a bite. I go fetch a beer.

Leaning back against the counter, I take a moment to appreciate how great it is that she’s here when I come home. I didn’t realize I’d like that so much. I’ve been alone for a while and figured that was the best way to live, but now that Khloe’s around, I’m starting to realize how empty my life has been.

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