Sitting in the patrol car, I drum my fingers on the wheel waiting for Holt to hurry up. He ran into our usual coffee shop to grab us some coffee, and I’m in desperate need of a caffeine boost. It’s been a couple weeks since my birthday, and I swear every work shift has been longer than the next. The only bright spot has been Stella.
Since my birthday, we’ve been practically inseparable. Tonight we’re going to dinner at Mason’s house, and I’m really looking forward to it. Jules will be there too, and I know we’re in for a good time. That girl is something else, and I find myself growing fonder of her every time I see her.
The sound of the passenger door opening has my hands stilling as Holt hands a cup of coffee to me.
He slides in next to me and tosses a white bag on the dash. Settling his coffee into the holder on his door, he reaches for the bag and offers me a donut. I shake my head at him and take a sip of coffee, the greatest thing hitting my taste buds. I look over at him and he laughs.
“Dude, I think you’re the only grown-ass man I know who gets excited when it’s pumpkin spice season.”
“No shame. It’s heaven.”
“I’ll just take your word for it.”
Turning out into traffic, we make our way toward our usual parking spot. I’m pulling into it when my cell phone starts ringing. Grabbing it off my belt, I check it to find an unknown number calling me. Raising an eyebrow, I swipe my thumb over the screen and answer.
“Jace, hey, man. It’s Matt Waterhouse, from Dark Roads.”
“Oh shit, hey, dude. How the hell you been?” Sipping my coffee, I can hear shouting in the background, but I try to focus on what he’s saying.
“Listen, I have your card from that incident at Walker’s last year, and I was hoping you were free for a bit? I need a favor.”
“So, I’m in Nashville. I needed some alone time, not that it matters. Anyway, our former manager, Lee, is here. Long story short, when his contract expired years ago, we never renewed it with him, and now he’s shown up unannounced, drunk as a motherfucking skunk and breaking shit in my house. I called you ’cause I knew you’d keep it quiet. I can’t handle the fucking scandal this would cause.”
“Yeah, give me the address, and me and my partner will head over.”
“No, Eli Holt. Garret is a fancy-pants detective now.”
“No shit. Good for him.” Matt rattles off his address, and I know right where it is. I tell him we’re five minutes out, then hang up and hit the lights and sirens, racing into traffic.
“What’s that all about?” Eli asks, and I give him the short story of what happened at Brody’s.
He laughs out loud. “Who would have thought you and Garret would be caught up with a bunch of celebrities?”
“Honestly, man? I forget they are. Plus, it’s Nashville. You know how many I’ve met by now?”
Turning down Matt’s road, I pull into a long driveway surrounded by thick trees. At the end of it is a large house, definitely a typical mansion but somehow much homier and warmer than the usual ones.
Parking right out front, I kill the engine and pocket the keys, swinging around the hood. Eli and I make our way to the front door, and I pound my fist against the heavy wood.
The door swings open a couple seconds later, revealing a clearly disheveled and pissed-off Matt. “Thanks for coming, man. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.” He holds his hand out and I shake it, introducing him to Eli. They shake hands as well, and then he leads us into the main foyer, where several things are scattered about.
An older graying man is pacing around, his face beet red. “You called the goddamn cops, you stupid son of a bitch? Who the hell do you think you are?” he growls at Matt, rage taking over his face.
“Sir, we’re gonna have to ask you to leave. Don’t make us take you down to the station. If you leave now, that won’t happen,” I tell him, crossing my arms over my chest.
“I ain’t leaving till I get my money!” Lee shouts, throwing a book at Matt.
Eli steps in front of Matt, hand on his chest when he starts after Lee.
“We don’t owe you shit, Lee. You have no contract. We’re done. Chris fucking told you this, and you deserve fuck all.”
“You’re lying. I have a damn contract, you’re just keeping it from me. I’ll sue. You’re in breach of contract. I want my fucking money!”
“Jesus Christ, Lee. How many times do I have to tell you? We. Don’t. Owe. You. Jack. Fucking. Shit. Now get the hell outta my house.” Matt looks like he’s ready to beat this guy’s ass, and as much as he’d deserve it, I don’t really feel like arresting a celebrity today. Plus, that sure as hell wouldn’t be keeping this quiet.
“Sir, don’t make me ask you again,” I begin, but Lee staggers over, reeking of some cheap-ass alcohol.
“Listen, Copper, this boy right here is going to pay me what’s mine, you hear? Or I’m pressing charges against him.”
“Well, considering this is his private property and he’s asked you to leave, it don’t matter one way or another what you want. The only person who can legally press charges is Matt,” Eli tells him.
“Fuck you, Waterhouse!” Lee charges Matt, and I step in, grabbing his right arm and pulling it behind his back. In seconds I have him cuffed.
Matt shakes his head. “It shouldn’t have come to this, Lee. No matter how pissed any of us were, we would have held up our end of a contract. We would have paid you. We owe you nothing, and this is how you chose for it to end.”
Lee spits at Matt, and Eli again has to restrain him, calming him down. Eli takes Lee from me, and as he walks him out, I hear him reading the Miranda rights. Resting my hands on my hips, I turn to Matt, who looks like he needs a drink.
“Thanks, man. I know you’ll have to write everything down in the report, but I appreciate you coming out anyway.”
“Drunk and disorderly. He’ll most likely just sleep it off in the tank and get released tomorrow. I’ll try to keep you out of it. I have no idea how long you’re here, but don’t be a stranger. Come down to Brody’s and I’ll buy you a beer. Or a keg, whatever you need.”
Matt chuckles and reaches out to give me a half hug, thumping me hard on the back.
He retreats into the house, and I walk out the front door and down to the squad car where Eli is waiting, leaning against the side of the car.
“I just radioed in that we’re bringing someone in,” he tells me, and I nod.
“Thanks, Holt. Let’s go.”
And with that, we go riding back to the district, Lee cursing and shouting the entire time.