Love by Association(3)

By: Tara Taylor Quinn

“Did anyone think about asking the kid about any of this?” Reagan asked. “I didn’t see anything about it in the report.”

“His parents refused to let him speak with us,” Wayne dutifully reported.

Chantel looked at Captain Reagan and made a split-second decision to trust him. He was a powerful man in the small police force. She wanted to know they had him on their side.

“Talia spoke with Ryder,” she said. “He told her that he’d overheard something, but that when he’d asked his mother about it she’d told him he’d misunderstood. We don’t know what he was referring to. But that had been his reply when Talia had asked him about the significance of the baseball bats. He said they were black to represent misunderstanding.”

“A bit deep for an eleven-year-old.”

“Kids who are forced to grow up quickly tend to be that way.” Chantel knew.

Reagan frowned. “So you think what this kid overheard was something about his father killing his little brother?”

Wayne’s head tilted a bit as he said, “Stands to reason. It’s pretty clear that whether it’s something he overheard, or something going on in his home, Ryder has had a complete personality change in the past year and neither of his parents are acknowledging it.”

Chantel added, “They say his behavior changes are no more than a phase, due to his burgeoning adolescence. And because there are no signs of physical abuse against him, no sign that he’s being mistreated at all, there’s no more we can do to gain entrance through a front-door approach.”

“That family is in danger, sir,” Wayne told him. “The boy is clearly afraid.”

“I’m willing to work triple shifts without pay if need be to prevent Mr. Morrison from hurting his son. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if Ryder ended up hurt or, God forbid, dead because we did nothing.”

“Not to mention Mrs. Morrison,” Wayne added. “Her life is clearly even more in the balance than her son’s since she’s already exhibiting signs of having been abused. According to hospital records, she’s had a broken arm, a broken collarbone, multiple contusions on the back of her head and ribs broken in her back. Those are the injuries she sought medical help for. We have no idea how many others there have been. As you saw in the report, we’ve had three doctor notifications of suspected abuse over the past several years, but each time, both parties deny any wrongdoing. It’s clear she’s not going to press charges. Or even stand up for her son. She won’t let him talk to us.”

While it was true that Leslie Morrison had refused police access to her son, Chantel wasn’t as certain as Wayne that the woman wouldn’t stand up for him. She believed it was more a case of the woman keeping her son safe by covering for her husband—and taking his abuse herself.

Reagan shook his head, picking up his folder. “So, she won’t press charges against the bastard.”

The statement hung there between the three of them. Questions choking them with their lack of answers.

Until it became clear that the only way any of them were going to find the peace they sought was by getting back to work.

“You be careful out there,” Reagan said to Chantel as she walked down the hall of the station like she’d been born in fashionable heels. She’d been practicing in her apartment all week.

“I will, sir.”

“This man, if he’s guilty of all that we suspect—he’s dangerous.”

“I know, sir. Which is why we need a cop in there keeping an eye on things. Don’t worry. I’ll have my gun with me at all times.”

He nodded as he left them. Then it was just her and Wayne, standing by the back door.

“You got me on speed dial?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“Then go get them, Chantel. You’re born to do this job. If anyone can pull it off, you can.”

She hoped so.

Going against bad guys didn’t give her pause. Drug dealers. Thieves. Rapists. She was trained to take them down.

But act all girlie and glamorous? A woman who could laugh in all the right places and move like she wanted every man in the place to look at her?

That wasn’t her style at all.


“COME, ON, JULES, you know how much I hate going to these things by myself.” Thirty-one-year-old Colin Fairbanks stood outside his twenty-seven-year-old sister’s suite on the north end of the estate home they shared, talking to her through the door she’d just refused to open.

“Not tonight, Col.” Her voice was strong. Determined.

She wasn’t crying, didn’t sound damaged...tonight. Still...

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