The Cop Next Door

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Chapter 16

I stirred in the middle of the night, flipping from one side of the bed to the other. After almost an hour of tossing and turning, I slipped on my robe and tiptoed into the kitchen. With intent of thanking Dax’s mother in the morning, I went into the fridge and pulled out a pitcher of milk, pouring myself half a glass and throwing it in the microwave to warm up. The timer beeped a few times before I took it out. I leaned against the stone counter tops and sipped at the warm milk, humming softly in comfort.

“Fancy meeting you here.” A deep voice whispered from the door frame. Nearly dropping the glass, I steadied myself and attempted to look nonchalant. Dax walked into the kitchen, sporting simply a pair of basketball shorts. And nothing else. His hair disheveled by sleep and his voice hoarse from exhaustion.

“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep.” I looked down at the glass and nervously held it toward him, “Milk?” Dax chuckled lowly and shook his head.

“No thanks, Princesa.” He stepped toward me, but I was stupidly frozen to the floor so he had to maneuver around me. He pulled out a chunk of chocolate and grabbed my glass of milk, pouring it down the sink. Dax lit a flame on the stove and simmered the chocolate in a saucepan of milk. After a few minutes, he sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon and sugar into it and added a shot of vanilla before stirring the brew. He poured both of us a mug full and after it had cooled, I took a sip.

“Oh my gosh, this is amazing.” I moaned softly, taking a large gulp. Dax smiled and watched me contently, sliding his thumb up and down his mug.

“I’m glad you like it.” He looked down at the tiled island we sat at and traced the lines.

“What’s keeping you up?” I questioned, licking my bottom lip of excess chocolate.

“I was up with Emilia, she had a nightmare. I was leaving her room when I saw you coming into the kitchen.” He ran his fingers through his tousled hair.

“Do Darcy and Emilia live here?”

“Yeah, Darcy’s husband is in the armed forces and is away a lot. This way Emilia is always with family and Darcy isn’t alone.” He nodded and took a sip from his mug.

“Wow, that’s got to be tough for her.”

“It is, but she’s strong.” Dax smiled down at his cup, caught up in thought.

“This house is beautiful.” I noted, looking around at the craftsmanship.

“Yeah, my father built this house with his brothers before he married my mom. It was his wedding gift to her.”

“Wow, that’s a big gift.” I muttered, imagining the amount of time it must have taken craft this house.

“When you find the right woman, you can never do enough to thank her for being yours.” He replied quietly, his eyes trained on the tiles.

“How do you know when you’ve found the right woman?” I turned my head to look at him and he faced me. Dax brought his hand to my cheek and caressed it softly, I closed my eyes and leaned into his gesture, needing his touch more than ever. When I opened my eyes again, Dax’s pupils were trained on me in such focus, I began to feel self conscious.

“What?” I looked down shyly, hoping my bedhead didn’t look too awful. He tilted my chin upward to meet his eye level.

“I just can’t believe how stunning you are.” He breathed out, his thumb brushing across my cheek. My heart fluttered, knots forming in my stomach. But reality suddenly came into focus and I realized I couldn’t start something with Dax when there was a murderer on the loose with me as his target. Being connected to me put a target on Dax’s back as well, and I couldn’t do that to him or his family.

“I-I should probably get back to bed.” I slipped away from his grip and once my feet felt the cold floor, I padded back toward the guest bedroom. I slipped under the blankets and pulled them over my head, creating a little igloo of self preservation. Pinching my eyes closed, I attempted sleep once again. But with every shift, creak, or sound of wind, my eyes shot open with terror. Dorian Smith slipped into my mind, creeping around the deepest shadows of my imagination. I thought about the possibility of him finding me here and hurting Dax’s family, the mere thought of it causing a sob to rush through my chest. Tears flooded from my eyes out of fear and exhaustion. I peeked at the clock on the wall, reading it at three in the morning.

“Jane?” I heard someone call my voice into the room, causing a whimper to slip from my mouth. “Princesa, it’s me.” A flood of relief soothed my body as the outline of Dax’s body came through the darkness.

“Is everything okay?” I whispered softly as I sat up, quickly rubbing my eyes of tears and restlessness.

“I was just about to ask you that, I could hear you crying from my room.” He sat on the edge of the bed, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I’m fine.” I swallowed, making note to cry quieter.

“If only that were believable.” He moved forward and the moonlight shown on him, outlining his features in gray scale, his muscles shadowed and glowed under the soft beams.

“I just can’t sleep.” I shrugged, biting the inside of my cheek. He nodded and placed his hand on my side, squeezing gently.

“Well, I’m right in the next room if you need me.” He whispered softly before standing and walking toward the door.

“Please stay,” I reached out for him, my throat clenching as a threat of crying. “Please.” After a few moments, Dax slipped into the twin sized mattress and situated himself next to me. I laid my head on his bare chest and draped my arm around his waist. And without a word, he snaked his arm around and rubbed small circles into the small of my back.

And without even realizing it, I fell asleep.

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