I was just getting off the phone when I heard the back door open and close. I circled the wall and found Adrena walking in without a towel, still looking wet, yet I also saw the look on her face and immediately I wanted to kill my brother. I knew that look anywhere. She had just been screwed by the other brother and he had hurt her emotionally. It was written all over her face and I was furious.
“Hey,” I whispered, walking closer to her. “You okay?”
She looked up at me with a dark look and my heart clenched for her. It was clear that she was hurting and I didn’t have a clue on how to fix it. I didn’t want to admit it, but it was clear how much she wanted Dash and not me. And now I sat here watching my brother screw it up and hurt the one girl who actually wanted him over me and I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Adrena’s bottom lip trembled and I felt my own emotions fill my stomach as I reached out and lightly touched her shoulder, hoping to soothe her the best way I knew how. She wasn’t the type of girl who got all sappy and cried over a man, but Dash was starting to push her limits and I could see it.
My touch must have been a bit overwhelming because she actually started crying and the nice-guy in me burst through and wrapped her in my arms. She cried hard into my chest and I just let her, not saying a word. She was shuddering in my arms, her face pressed into my neck and chest, and I just held her tightly. She clearly needed this release and I was going to help her through it the best I could.
However, things were going to be different now. I knew where the girl’s heart clearly laid and it wasn’t with me, so I was going to back off and just be her friend. The dance and small show of affection in the lake couldn’t happen again, not when she was so clearly torn over my brother.
And as far as Dash was concerned, I had several words to throw at him and the rage I felt inside for my brother right now wasn’t good. The stubborn son of a bitch.
Adrena pushed off of me, wiped her face, and took a deep breath before looking up at me. Her eyes were filled with so much hurt that I could rip my brother in two. A beautiful woman like Adrena didn’t deserve to be hurt like this.
“Um, I think I might go take a shower.” She said quietly, looking a bit ashamed from her fit of crying.
I nodded. “Yeah, why don’t you go do that?” My jaw was tight from anger but I was trying to hide that from her. But as soon as she went upstairs to take her shower, I was going straight out to the barn and having much needed words with my brother.
I watched her make her way up the stairs and once she disappeared from my sight, I spun on my heels and marched through the same door she had just come in from and across the yard towards the barn. The hot sun was beaming down on me, making me sweat both from the heat and from the fiery boiling in my blood.
Once I reached the barn, I whipped the door open and hollered for Dash.
“Dash!” I stopped right in the middle of the barn where the punching bag hung and waited for Dash to acknowledge my presence. When I didn’t hear or see Dash, I hollered again. “I know you’re up there, you son of a bitch!”
Dash finally appeared at the top of the stairs, staring down at me with no emotion in his face. “What the hell do you want?” Dash finally barked out.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? I know you’re many things, but I never knew you were a piece of shit.” I lashed back.
That clearly didn’t sit with Dash very well because he stormed down the stairs and right up to me. “What did you just say to me?”
“You heard me,” I said through gritted teeth. “Who the hell do you think you are treating her like that? Can’t you see that she’s different than the others? You can’t just go around sticking your dick in her with no emotion and then go on with your life.” I was breathing heavily, my rage nearly boiling over.
Dash snorted. “I just wanted one more taste before she went off with the better brother. I saw you two out there. Dancing. Laughing. In the lake.” Dash was seething mad, but it was clear to me that he was hurting as well. I had never seen Dash act like this over the opposite sex before.
“Yeah, we had a moment, but I can also tell you that she was hesitant. It isn’t me that she wants, brother.” I sighed. “Or are you too fucking stupid to know that?”
“Watch it, brother,” Dash warned, glaring at me with a challenging gleam in his eyes. I was not a small guy, but I knew getting in a rumble with Dash would only going to leave me feeling defeated with several bruises, if not some broken bones too.
“When it comes to her, I won’t watch it. I thought her coming back here was going to be a fresh start for at least me, but when I was dancing with her and then ended up with her in my arms in the lake, I could see it written all over her face that it wasn’t my arms she wanted wrapped around her. So, pull your head out of your ass before you completely lose her for good.” I was still breathing heavily as I stood there almost expecting Dash to start a fight. I knew Dash would win, but I wouldn’t go down without a fight, a fight Dash would know he was in.
Dash just laughed. “What makes you think I even want her like that? Sure she’s a fucking great lay, but you know me, brother, I don’t do the whole relationship thing.”
“Have you ever tried? No.”
“And who’s fault is that?!” Dash screamed back.
I kept silent, only nodded, as I let Dash seethe for just a moment. It was no secret that all the women they had ever been with had always chosen me over Dash and even though I hated to admit it, he was hurting from it. I knew that a lifetime of people choosing others over Dash was wearing on him and he didn’t think he was good enough for anybody, not even himself.
“Dash, you can’t be mad at me about that forever. It’s not like I asked them to choose me over you, but you can’t seriously stand here and tell me you don’t see Adrena differently than the others. I know you, brother, and I know you want her to choose you so badly that you’re acting like a jackass and trying to push her away before she can choose either of us.”
“So what if I am? Maybe I’m sick of being the second choice for everyone. Ever think about that?” He paused, running his hand through his hair before continuing, “I knew I shouldn’t have let you talk me into sharing her.” He cursed under his breath and punched the punching bag next to him.
“I didn’t talk you into anything, Dash. You know as much as I do that if I hadn’t gotten into the picture, you would have never gone after her alone. Admit it, you’re afraid of being with a woman alone.”
“I’m not afraid,” Dash rasped out.
But I knew that was a lie. Dash has never been good with women and always struck out when it came to flirting or getting their attention. He was the kind of guy a woman drooled over from across the bar and had fantasies about, but when he started talking, they ran for the hills. He was never smooth in the lady's department and that’s where I came in. Once we realized we both had something a woman wanted, we began sharing them. And ultimately they had chosen my soft, gentleman side over Dash’s rough, masculine side. But not this time. This time we had found a woman that wanted the rough, masculinity that Dash had to offer and now he was running for the hills this time.
“Dash, I just want you to be happy, you know that,” I began, studying him before continuing, “and I think Adrena is where your happiness lies but if you keep treating her like she means nothing to you, then that’s what you’re going to get: Nothing. She’s your last chance, buddy.”
Dash groaned. “And what about you?”
I laughed. “Hell, you know me brother, I can find happiness wherever I go. I don’t have problems finding women, so don’t you worry about me, okay?”
We stared at each other for a long while, neither sure what to say to the other, but finding solace in the silence we shared. The twin bond was palpable.
Then we heard tires crunching the gravel out front and both of us quickly walked to the barn entrance and looked towards the front of the house where we saw a police car pull up and two officers get out.
Dash and I exchanged looks before leaving the barn and headed in their direction.
“Hello officers, what can we do for you?” I greeted them with a warm smile.
The officers turned in our direction, returning the smile briefly, before getting down to business. “Hello, gentleman. We were told that Adrena Ace would be residing here. We have some questions about her boyfriend Karl Deckert.”
It was obvious that the officers were holding back information from us but I wasn’t about to question them, getting myself in trouble.
“Yeah, she’s probably just getting out of the shower. I’ll go fetch her.” I started towards the house, the officers watching me like a hawk before they turned their gazes towards Dash who was standing there with his arms over his chest. He returned their gaze with burning eyes. Dash hated the law and didn’t like them standing here asking for Adrena.
I took two steps at a time until I was upstairs and knocking lightly on her door.
“Adrena? Are you decent?”
The door opened slightly as I pushed it open and found Adrena fully dressed and packing her bags.
“Where are you going?” My heart started to race and panic was setting in. “You’re not leaving are you?”
She slowly nodded. “I can’t stay here, Dane, but thank you for being so hospitable.”
“Yeah... of course...” I sounded and felt so confused. Why was she leaving? Because of what Dash had done? I was going to kill my brother for real this time. “Well, before you leave, there are two officers upfront asking for you. They have some questions about Karl. I think they know he’s here and might be a danger to you. I think you should talk to them before you go at least.”
I saw how nervous Adrena had become but she slowly nodded her head as she grabbed her bag and headed towards the door, not saying a word.
At the bottom of the steps, she slipped into her shoes and walked out the front door and I was right behind her. The officers whipped their heads in Adrena’s direction.
“Are you Adrena Ace?” One of the officers asked.
“I am...” Adrena replied shyly, looking back at me with an unsure look on her face. She looked afraid but I couldn’t tell why. They just wanted to ask her some questions right?
“Ms. Ace, you’re under arrest for drug trafficking and distribution and prostitution.” The officers stepped forward as Adrena dropped her bag and stepped back into my chest.
“What?! I’m innocent! I haven’t done any of those things!” Adrena was panicking and all I could do was hold her tightly to me.
“What proof do you have for any of that?!” Dash barked, jumping on the deck and blocking the officers from getting to Adrena. She had grabbed onto Dash’s biceps as he gripped the outside of her thighs. Both of us were fully protecting her now.
“Don’t make this difficult now, son,” the officer barked. “We have video and voice evidence on Ms. Ace here and her apartment was full of controlled substances with the intent to sell.”
“That’s bullshit!” Adrena cried.
“Now, you’ll come with us Ms. Ace, you wouldn’t want your friends here to get arrested or hurt would you?” The other, younger officer stated as he stepped towards the deck.
“We don’t want this to be messy. Just come with us and we’ll all figure this out, okay?”
“She isn’t going anywhere until we see that evidence.” Dash barked out.
The officer laughed and before anyone could defuse the situation, he pulled his gun from his holster and pointed it at Dash.
“Back up, boy. I won’t warn you again.”
Adrena had shrieked out and pushed out from between the two of us.
“Please, don’t hurt them, I’ll come with you, just please.” She turned towards us and pleaded with her eyes and whispered, “don’t be a hero.”
I was raging mad and felt completely helpless. We were pillars of the community and here we had two hick cops pulling a gun on us for no reason. I looked over and saw that Dash was just as angry as me, veins popping out on his neck while his hands were balled at his sides.
“We’ll figure this out, Adrena! We’ll get you out soon!” I called after her as I watched the other officer cuff her and put her in the back of the cruiser. The gun-wielding officer slowly backed towards the car, his gun still drawn and slipped into the drivers seat before we watched the cruiser tear out of the driveway, our girl in the back seat.
My heart was pounding and neither officer was telling me anything. How did they find me for one? And how did they have those charges against me? I didn’t have any drugs in my apartment and how they had video and audio evidence of me was bullshit. The only place they could have gotten anything like that at all would have been from Karl himself, but he wouldn’t openly go to a police station, he was a wanted man. He had been for years and always evaded the law like the plague.
When we finally arrived at the station they pulled into the port and I was pulled from the back seat in a rough manner until they brought me into a room with white cement blocks and a single bench in the middle.
“Have a seat until we get you booked in.” The one officer said as they both disappeared behind a door, the locks clicking loudly behind them. I realized I was in fact locked in jail and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
I was shaking both from the cold room and from my nerves. I had no idea what was going to happen to me or what was going to happen next. I had no idea how Karl had done it, but he had won, he had destroyed me. Now I could just sit here and wait for my fate from a judge, whenever that would be.
“Alright.” The door opened loudly, making me jump, as a female officer came in and motioned for me to stand. “We’re going to get you out of this holding cell and into something a bit more comfortable.” At least she was nicer than the other two men and gave me a warm smile.
“What’s going to happen to me?” I asked nervously, tears brimming my eyes.
“I don’t really know right now, ma’am, I’m just told to bring you back to a cell until an interrogator can get over here and ask you some questions. Are you thirsty?”
I shook my head as I followed behind the officer through hallway after hallway, through locked doors after locked doors, until we were in a larger area and cells lined the walls. It was pretty empty except for a few women in their own cells either sleeping or reading. I had never been in jail before and was terrified of what might happen to me with no real answers.
The cell door was slid shut and locked behind me as I sat down on the hard bed with a defeated sigh as my tears finally slid down my face. I had never felt so defeated in my life and now I was stuck in here with no one to help me. Would the brothers help me? My cousin? I had no idea at this rate and it terrified me to think I would be in here for a very long time. The charges they had against me were serious and I knew from common sense that I wasn’t going to go home anytime soon.
I felt like I had been sitting here for hours when the female officer finally came back and unlocked the door. “The interrogator is here, let’s get you cuffed up.”
The cuffs were cold and heavy and they made my skin burn and my wrist bones ache. Then the female officer bent down and cuffed my ankles as well, the metal digging into my bones as I silently cried out in pain.
“Alright, this way.” The officer brought me out of the main jail area and down a few more hallways until I was put into a room and sat down on a metal chair in front of a matching metal table. The fluorescent lights were flickering until they finally warmed up enough to stay steady, but the lighting was making my eyes burn and all I could do was put my head down and close my eyes.
The female officer left and I was all alone in the small room, the buzzing from the lights surrounding me, making my nerves fried. Where the hell was this guy, I wondered, wanting to get this show on the road. He was obviously going to ask me a bunch of questions and once he had, I had several questions of my own.
The door finally creaked open and I looked over my shoulder to find a man in his thirties enter the room. He was handsome and not at all the type of man I expected to come through the door, but at least he had kind eyes and smiled at me when our eyes connected. He took the spot across from me at the table and pulled a folder from his briefcase.
“How are you doing Ms. Ace?” He smiled with his eyes, waiting for me to respond.
“How do you think I’m doing? I want to get out of here. I don’t even know why I’m here.” My voice cracked and I was so incredibly thirsty.
“Well, that’s why I’m here. I have some questions for you regarding your boyfriend Karl Deckert. It’s come to our attention that he has been in the area lately and we were tipped off that you were here too. We haven’t been able to locate Mr. Deckert, but we were able to find your place of employment and they provided the rest of the information we needed. Once we went to your apartment, we entered the premise and that’s when we saw the drugs on the coffee table. You were separating them into small baggies, your intent to sell, and then we found the rest hidden throughout your apartment. Do you have anything to say to that?” He studied me, waiting patiently for a response.
“I’m innocent. I ran from Karl just over a month ago. I couldn’t live that life anymore. He followed me here, he planted those things in my apartment after he found where I lived. That’s all I can think of...” I was seconds away from crying with pure panic. This couldn’t be happening.
“I thought you’d say that. I’m not saying I don’t believe you but you have to realize the number of controlled substances we found in your residence. And the fact that you’ve been dating Karl Deckert for...” he started looking through his paperwork when I answered for him.
“Five years...” Five years of pure hell. It seemed like a lifetime when I put the time into words. I still can’t believe I had stayed with him for that long.
The man nodded. “Yes, five years. Five years in which you had assisted Mr. Deckert on drug dealings and most recently participating in prostitution; is that correct?”
I felt the bile rise up in my throat as I began to shake, tears brimming my eyes. “You don’t understand...”
The man sighed. “Then make me understand, Ms. Ace. I’m here to help you, not condemn you.”
I nervously laughed. “Help me? You’re sitting here grilling me about things I was forced into and you’re not trying to condemn me? All of your questions are going straight to why I had done these things with Karl and not at all if he had forced me into them!”
The man studied me, not saying a word.
“If he forced you into them and you knew they were wrong, then why didn’t you turn him in? Why didn’t you run sooner?”
I was feeling cornered and agitated. I had wondered those same things, but the answers always came back to one thing. Karl was a dangerous man and I feared for my life. He wasn’t some small town druggie. No, Karl was in with some bad people, cartel people and the type of people who put bullets between people’s eyes all the time and slept like babies at night.
“I didn’t have those options,” I gritted out.
“Everyone has options, Adrena,” he was trying to poke the bear and it was starting to work. My last nerve was being poked and I was seconds away from exploding.
“You clearly don’t know too much about Karl Deckert than do you, officer...?” I paused, waiting for him to answer.
“Officer Connelly,” he replied quietly.
“Well, Officer Connelly, if you knew anything about Karl, then you would know that my life was in danger every second of the day with that man. You’d also know that if I didn’t do what he wanted, I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair right now, but rather buried in a shallow grave someplace just over the border as worms ate my face off.” I snarled out, my emotions on edge.
My words clearly affected Officer Connelly as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair, clearing his throat. “I’m learning more and more about the man every day, Ms. Ace. And another reason we need your help. He’s clearly a dangerous man and nearly impossible to locate. He’s here for you, am I right? And not the type of guy to give up what he’s looking for until he’s found it.” I nodded, the officer was dead on. “So we need your help getting him out into the open.”
I laughed. “You seriously expect me to get anywhere near that monster? He may be looking for me officer, but he wants to put a bullet in my head, not find me to bring me home.”
The officer nodded. “We figured as much. We aren’t asking you to be alone with him, or even go near him, but we do need to figure out his whereabouts. We believe that if he knows where you are and tries to seek you out then we can catch the bastard when he’s more focused on finding you rather than us finding him.”
I stared at the officer in front of me, not sure what to say or do.
“What about all of these charges on me? I’m innocent on the drug charges. Yes, I prostituted for Karl back in Texas because we needed to pay rent and other bills, but again...” I swallowed the bile down, hating that those memories were being shoved down my throat. “He forced me into that as well. If I had it my way, Officer Connelly, I’d rather be sitting here for the murder of Karl Deckert and not for charges that he forced me to do at gunpoint.”
The officer visibly swallowed hard and stared at me. He was clearly a small town cop and not at all used to the dark and dangerous situations that Karl was putting him in. He was going to be tested far more than he ever thought he would be being a small town cop and I just hoped he was ready for it because it was my life on the line at the end of the day, not his.
Before he could answer, the door opened and the female officer poked her head in. “I hope you’re done here Officer Connelly, because Ms. Ace is being let go. Apparently, the bone heads who picked her up didn’t read her her miranda rights and there is a pissed off lawyer out front with two angrier men at his side.”
I felt hope for the first time in hours and couldn’t help the grin that plastered across my face. I knew that the two angrier men out front were Dash and Dane and I could hug their necks so tight right now.
“Shit!” Officer Connelly cursed, looking back at me. “You are free to go, I guess, but consider everything we’ve discussed here Ms. Ace. We can’t catch the bastard without you and if you help us with this... I can make sure those charges against you get...” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “get lost if you know what I mean.”
I just slowly nodded at him. “How do I get in touch with you if I decide to help you?”
He pulled a card from his briefcase and slid it across the table to me. “Call me anytime. Preferably as soon as possible because we don’t know what his next move is and now with police action at the McCarthy ranch, who knows how long before he finds your whereabouts.” He smiled warmly at me. “We will keep you safe, Ms. Ace.”
The female officer helped me stand up as she undid the cuffs and led me out through the door, down a long hallway, and finally out a large locked door and into the warmth of the lobby. But I didn’t spot either brother and my heart sank.
“Ms. Ace?” A man with graying hair, wearing a suit, greeted me with a stiff smile. “I’m Mr. Hughes, the McCarthys' lawyer.” He stretched his hand out to me.
I shook his outstretched hand and looked around. “Where are...?”
He smiled. “They were sent outside. They were making a scene in here and I didn’t want to have to work on bailing three of you out. They’re waiting for you. Then we can all head back to my office and discuss what happens next.”
I grinned and headed for the front doors and shoved them open. The Georgia heat slammed me in the face and warmed her cold skin from the jail while I searched for the brothers.
That’s when I saw Dane standing near his car and bolted in his direction. He looked stressed to the max, but when he turned and saw me running in his direction, a look of pure relief flooded his face just as I reached him and jumped into his arms. He hugged me tightly as I began to kiss him everywhere I could put her mouth.“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I cried happy tears, still kissing him all over his face and then his mouth, making the kiss deeper as I hugged him tighter to my chest. I would never be more grateful for the two brothers then I was right now. They might have saved my sanity. But as I looked around to find Dash, I couldn’t see him and my heart sank. Surely he showed up too, right? The female officer had mentioned a pissed off lawyer and two angrier men. But looking around now only revealed that Dash wasn’t here at all, and that made my heart hurt. I wanted Dash more than I had ever wanted anyone, but he kept pushing me away, saying and doing horrible things, and now he hadn’t shown up when I needed him the most.