Carson Benson has wanted to be a cop for as long as he can remember, but there are some days that he doesn’t like his job. Like the day he gets called out for a domestic disturbance and finds a battered woman and terrified child. What Carson didn’t realize was that it would be a turning point in his life.
Peaches Malone and her daughter Daisy are very important to Carson, and he’ll do anything to protect them. Including taking them home—to his home, where he can watch over them. And if Peaches feels that same spark he feels when he looks into her eyes, all the better.
Copyright ©2014 Paige Warren
It didn’t take Carson long to reach Hillcrest. He called dispatch back for the exact address, checked his firearm, and proceeded to the scene. Parking on the street in front of the small bungalow, he rested his hand on the butt of his gun as he approached the door, stopping only long enough to make sure his badge was visible. The sounds of a fight could be heard, a man yelling and cursing, the slap of flesh against flesh, the cry of a woman in pain and the desperate wail of a small child. He didn’t know what he was going to find on the other side of the door, but he had a feeling it was going to be bad. He wished like hell he had backup, but everyone was tied up.
Ringing the bell, he waited. When no one responded, he knocked and rang the bell again. A man a little shorter than himself answered the door, his face flushed with anger, his eyes shooting daggers.
“What the fuck do you want?” the man demanded.
Carson arched a brow, unclipped his badge and held it up for inspection. “Bryson Corners P.D. We got a call about a domestic disturbance at this address. Sir, I’m gonna have to ask to speak with your wife and child.”
“Like fuck you will. You need a warrant.”
Carson ground his back teeth together. This guy was a first-rate asshole.
A woman appeared at the man’s shoulder, her lip bloodied and a bruise forming on her right cheek. A toddler made her presence known, darting around her daddy’s legs and launching herself at Carson.
“Don’t let bad man get me,” she sobbed against his legs, holding on with a tight grip.
Carson lifted the child into his arms, quickly assessing her for any bruises or other marks. Noting that there weren’t any––thank God––he turned his attention back to the asshole in front of him. If there was one thing he hated, it was wife beaters. Not that he knew whether or not the woman was the man’s wife, but you still didn’t pick on someone smaller than you. For a man to hit a woman…well, it made Carson’s blood boil.
“This can go one of two ways,” Carson said. “Either way ain’t gonna be pleasant for you. One way or another that woman and this child are coming with me. The question remains: will your sorry ass stay here, or go to jail?”
“You have no right to take my girlfriend and her daughter from this house,” he said, his tone belligerent.
Well, that answered a few questions. For some reason, aside from the abuse, he was pleased to hear that the man had no real claim on the woman and the sweet-smelling child in his arms. Carson couldn’t have said why it mattered to him, but he felt relieved that this woman wasn’t married to the asshole. He glanced her way again, taking in her fearful blue eyes and her mussed, long sable hair. Even in her current state, she was beautiful. She reminded him of a delicate china doll. Protectiveness surged through him and he wanted nothing more than to wrap her in his arms and promise her that everything would be all right. He just had to get her away from her boyfriend first.
Flashing blue lights lit up the yard and drive as a squad car pulled into the driveway. Officer Tim Johnson exited the car, his hand on his weapon.
“Everything okay here?” he asked Carson as he came closer.
“It seems this…gentleman thinks it’s acceptable to beat on his girlfriend.” Carson looked her way again. “Are you gonna press charges, ma’am?”
The asshole slammed his arm across the doorway and cast her a furious look. “That dumb bitch isn’t going to do a damn thing. Isn’t that right, Peaches?”
Her eyes sought Carson’s, as if seeking aid from him. His hands were tied if she wouldn’t press charges, as much as he’d love to get them the hell out of there.
“Sweetheart, you either need to press charges so we can arrest him, or you need to decide if you’re leaving with us. If you want to leave, we’ll get you out of here. You and your daughter,” Carson promised.
The asshole puffed up and surged toward Carson, swinging. Carson ducked, curving his body around the toddler protectively. He heard Tim laugh and heard the jangle of cuffs.
“That wasn’t too smart. Now you’re under arrest for assaulting a police officer. Whether your girlfriend wants to press charges or not doesn’t matter at this point. You’re going to the station,” Tim said, manhandling the asshole until he had him on the ground, his knee in the guys back as he cuffed him.
Carson watched Tim escort the prisoner to the car, read him his rights, and secure him, the man cussing the whole way. He turned back to the terrified woman, still standing inside the house.
“We can hold him overnight. He’ll probably be out by morning though, once the bond office is open. Something tells me you don’t want to be here when he comes home,” Carson said.
She shook her head, a tear slipping down her cheek. “I have nowhere to go.”
Her voice held the sweetest, sexiest, slow southern drawl he’d ever heard. If he had to guess, he’d say she was from Georgia. The tone was soft and smoothed over him like warm honey. He couldn’t remember ever enjoying hearing someone talk before, but he could easily listen to her for hours.
“Pack your stuff, sweetheart. I’ll take you somewhere safe.”