The Third Call

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 16

Sun spilled through the big window overlooking the street. The warm body in bed beside him was that of a woman he’d dreamed of being with for so long, but he’d never believed it would actually happen. Maybe that was why he’d forced the thought from his mind for too many years. Yet there she was now, on her side, softly snoring, a sound that he found mildly amusing.

He took a second as she slept to take in her round face, perfect lips, narrow nose, and thick dark lashes. She was closer to perfection to him than any woman he’d ever met. The sheet was twisted around her, and he could just make out her creamy white breasts peeking above it.

He should have felt at peace, considering the night she’d given him, the way she’d undressed him, kissing him, touching him tenderly in a way that surpassed his dreams. With each kiss, each touch, she had slid down on him while he rested his hands on her waist, her hips, the curves he’d always loved. He had guided her the entire time.

Yet here he was now, so unsettled.

He should have slept deeply, but the voice of that little girl who had called to him to help her was still haunting him now. He ran his hand over his face, hearing the scrape of whiskers as he felt the knot again in his stomach, thinking of the ordeal the girl had been through. He’d seen worse, but it had been just one of those calls he never wanted to get.

Charlotte stirred and stretched against him with her softness and heat, and she blinked as a slow smile touched her lips. She reached over and touched him, his chest, his stomach, and lower. He hissed, and what did he do but rest his hand over hers to stop her? Was he out of his mind?

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she pulled back and propped herself up on her elbow, looking down at him where he now lay on his back. Her gaze softened as she reached over and traced her fingers over his forehead, his hairline, through his thick dark hair, and he linked his fingers with hers.

“Eva was looking to me to save her,” he said. “Now look at this mess. I even wrote in the report what she had said, that her mom was scared, they were both scared, but where is she now?”

He knew, though. She was in a foster home run by an old woman, a home he couldn’t believe social services actually used.

“It’s not your fault, Marcus,” Charlotte said. “It’s not up to you to fix everything for everyone, even though I know you feel responsible…”

That was exactly what he hadn’t wanted to hear. He took in the furrow of her brows and grunted as he sat up, swinging his feet onto the cool wooden floor and seeing their clothes in a heap. Charlotte’s duffle bag was still on the chair. She needed to unpack, and he’d have to make room in his drawers.

She slid her hand over his back, rubbing the ache in his shoulder. She sighed behind him and pressed a kiss to the spot, then rested her chin on it as she slid her arms around him. “You can’t let things go,” she said. “I mean, what do you think you can do for her? You did it all, Marcus. It’s just a shitty thing that happened.” She kissed his shoulder again, her breasts pressing into his back.

He rested his hand on her arm and rubbed. “I should have pushed it harder, should have demanded the charges be dropped, for Bert to…”

“What, Marcus? In case you forgot, there’s nothing you could do. I was there outside when you were still cuffed inside that house. Whatever Lonnie said, we all saw when Reine came out. Sheriff Frank made a decision, and whether you like it or not, whether the sheriff was in the right or not, he ordered that those charges be filed against her. It could’ve gone either way, but you know, pushing the way you did falls under insubordination. You could have been fired. You’ve been a cop long enough to know the one thing you never do is embarrass your fellow officers or the sheriff calling the shots, even if he’s wrong. You won’t win that.”

It was sobering to realize how right she was. A cop could shoot a man in the back, kick down the door of the wrong house in a police raid and kill an entire family, or abuse a suspect in custody and he wouldn’t get fired, but Marcus pushing the way he was to get Reine Colbert freed was a step too far. Sheriff Frank had filed charges, and so had Lonnie, and both were backed by Bert. To have them dropped would be making them admit they were wrong. Too many egos involved.

“Doesn’t say much, does it, that it’s easier to toss away a woman and her kid than admit to the public that we made a mistake? Wouldn’t look good, you know.”

Charlotte didn’t say anything. This kind of thing never had sat right with him. Maybe that was why he did what he did sometimes.

“They got a raw deal,” he continued. “I saw how terrified Eva was in the house, her voice on the phone. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. She lost her father, and her world was ripped apart then, and now she’s lost her mother, who was doing her best to survive in a system that took everything from them. Even her home and those basic things we have as kids—toys, a room, a bed, family photos, all gone. I don’t know, Charlotte. I can’t just let it sit as it is. It’s not right. Maybe Frank and Lonnie and Bert can sleep at night knowing they’ve destroyed a life, but I sure can’t.”

He sighed again, and she just held on to him. Her touch should have helped, but he couldn’t shake the image of Reine Colbert in court, in prison garb, handcuffed and being led away as if she were a common criminal. He was just glad Eva hadn’t seen it. He knew his sister had done all she could, considering how screwed up this was.

“So what are you thinking of doing?” Charlotte said.

He slid around, settling his hand on her thigh as she curled her legs under her, sitting there naked on his bed with not even a hint of shyness. Her dark hair was a tousled mess, and damn, did she look downright sexy.

“I want to stop in and check on her, Eva—and Reine too, even though Karen told me to stay away.”

Charlotte settled her hand on his thigh, touching him. There was something about her that calmed him as she lifted her gaze to him again. “I think that’s a fine idea, Marcus,” she said, and he leaned in and kissed her deeply, then pulled back just a bit. “But first, how about a shower? I’ll make you some breakfast, and then…” She offered a teasing smile and dragged her gaze down, taking in all of him.

Yeah, he really could get used to this.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.