Just With You

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CHAPTER 1

JACE

Fourteen Years Later

I’m just sitting down behind the wheel of our squad car when the radio crackles to life.

“10-67 in progress at 24 Garrison.”

“Roger that. Squad 47 responding.”

Releasing my radio, I hit the lights and sirens, and we go tearing out of the parking lot. I look over at my partner, Eli Holt. He rolls his eyes, drumming his fingers on the door.

“What?”

“Just wish people would stop making dumbass decisions.”

I toss my head back with a laugh. “Yeah, man. But then we’d be out of a job.”

“Touché.”

Carefully maneuvering the car through traffic, I turn onto the road a few minutes later. Eli points out a slate blue house just up ahead.

“There, number 24. I don’t see anything, do you?”

“Doesn’t look like it. What the hell?”

Rolling into the driveway, I throw the car into Park and climb out, my hand resting on top of my gun. The property looks completely silent, and I’m making my way around the side of the property when I hear it—the distinct sound of glass shattering inside. I motion to Eli, who comes around with me, his gun already drawn. Stepping up onto the back porch, I rap my fist on the door.

“Nashville PD, open up!”

I bang a few more times, ear pressed to the door, and hear footsteps running around. I look back to Eli, and he nods, so I slam my shoulder into the door, the cheap wood breaking free of the frame and swinging wide open.

Drawers are open, shit strewn everywhere, and I whip my head to the left only to find some punk running through the house toward the front door.

“Stop, police!” I shout, taking off after him.

He runs through the front door and down the lawn. Leaving Eli to secure the property, I take off after him, my legs pumping as hard as I can. He’s coming to a large chained fence, and I get there just as he starts climbing it.

Reaching up, I grab him by his shirt and haul his ass down to the ground. He fights me, and I don’t hesitate, dropping my knee to his back. Wrenching his arms behind him, I get him cuffed and yank him back up.

“Fuck you, pig,” he spits out.

I laugh with a roll of my eyes.

“Real original, kid.”

He struggles as I walk him across the street to the squad car, and I just shake my head. He doesn’t look like he’s any more than sixteen, and this doesn’t seem to be his first hint at trouble, if his behavior says anything.

When I get him back into the driveway, I find Eli coming around back with another kid in cuffs, this one looking much less confident and way more scared.

“Looks like yours put up a struggle,” he jokes, and I shrug.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle, Holt.”

“Let’s get these punks down to the station.” He yanks the back door of the squad car open, and we get them inside.

An hour later, I’m writing up my report while the teens are being processed. Eli comes walking over to me with a weird look on his face.

“What’s up, man?”

“The one I found? Fucking fourteen years old. They’re both in a group home not far from here.”

“Damn.” Scrubbing a hand over my jaw, I shake my head and toss down my pen. We see just how flawed and broken the system is on a weekly basis.

“His name is Jacob. He said the older kid forced him to go. They were looking for money to run away with. Peter, the older one, has a record. Not shocking, but he’s been busted twice for breaking and entering, and this is his third placement since 2016. He’s seventeen.”

“And as soon as he turns eighteen, he’s out on his own with nowhere to go and nobody in his corner. That’s fucked up.”

“I know, Miller. It sucks.”

Rapping his knuckles on my desk, he walks away, heading toward the conference room.

Pulling the top drawer of my desk open, I grab my cell phone and fire off a text.

Jace: Hey, you free tonight?

Drew: Hey, bro. Yeah, wanna grab a drink?

Jace: Fuck yes. Walker’s?

Drew: See you at 8.

Plans made with my brother, I get back to work and try to push today from my mind.

Sometimes, my job really fucking blows.


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