Authors: Kristen Proby
Tags: #Romance, #1001 Dark Nights, #Kristen Proby, #Boudreaux, #New Orleans
We can hear the kids crying in the background. He must have them all gathered in the living room.
“Stop fucking crying!” he screams. “Or I’ll give you something to cry about!”
There’s a loud
and more crying.
“He’s hitting them,” I say, everything in me wanting to run inside there and protect Margie and her children from the terror her husband is causing.
“Who the fuck is that?” Greg demands. As I watch the house, I see him pull the curtains aside so he can look out. “Is that the cunt social worker that tried to take my family from me?”
“Sir, we need you to calm down,” Monroe says.
“I’m calm, damn it.”
And with that, he hangs up, the curtain falls back in place, and he’s gone.
“Nice language,” Monroe says.
“I’ve been called worse,” I reply with a shrug.
“Really?” She cocks a brow. “I thought that was as bad as it gets.”
I just shake my head and look at the house. “How do we get them out?”
Suddenly, Monroe’s phone rings in her hand, and she nods, then answers. “This is Sergeant Monroe.”
“I want that bitch to come in here,” he says immediately. “The social worker. I want her to come in here.”
“Sir, I think you know that’s not going to happen, especially with the way you’re acting.” I nod emphatically, but Monroe puts her hand up and shakes her head. “It’s not safe for Ms. Cox to go in there.”
“I won’t hurt her,” he sneers. “I want her to see what her interference did. She ain’t done no good for nobody. She needs to see it. My kids crying is her fault. My wife’s bruises are her fault.”
“Mr. LaCroix,” she begins, but I grip her arm in my hand. She mutes the call. “I’m not letting you go in there.”
“I’m armed,” I reply. “I might be able to talk him into leaving on his own. At this point, he’ll kill them all and himself. Let me try.”
“Do you have any training in hostage negotiation?”
“Yes,” I lie easily. Kurt was an expert in hostage negotiation, and he and I talked for hours and hours about cases, how he handled them, how he could have handled them differently.
“You’re a bad liar,” she replies and takes the call off mute. “You can talk to her on the phone.”
“No. I want her
“Fuck, he hung up again,” Monroe says and paces away, then back again. “This does not feel right.”
“I’m with you there,” I reply, but adrenaline is running too fast through my veins for me to be nervous. “I’m pissed, Monroe. He’s been terrorizing these people for
This isn’t the first time the cops have been called and there’s been a standoff. This has to end today.”
“I’m well aware of what a piece of shit he is, but you’re a civilian. I can’t send you in there alone. An extraction team is on the way.”
“Excellent. You can send me in with the team. I’ll go ahead and they can stand outside. If anything happens, they can come in and save the day.” I raise my chin and stare her in the eyes.
“Get me a vest!” Monroe calls out. “You’re not going in unprotected. And I want you to stand on the porch with the team. No going inside. He’s not going to hold you hostage.”
“I’m no one’s hostage,” I assure her as I shrug into a vest. I show her my pistol, make sure there’s a bullet in the chamber, and when the team arrives, I walk to the porch, but don’t promise that I won’t go inside. The guys are behind me, in full SWAT gear, weapons raised, completely silent. They hide under the window and against the wall so Greg can’t see them when he answers.
I don’t have to knock before the door is flung open and there’s Greg LaCroix, with a gun in his hand and his eyes wild with crazy standing before me.
“Get in here.”
“In a second,” I reply, holding my hands out to the side, ignoring the man to my right shaking his head. “First, I want to know that everybody inside is alive.”
“You think I’d kill my own kin?” he demands. “You think I’m some kind of motherfucking monster?”
“I know you are,” I reply calmly. “And I know that you’d kill them.”
He pauses and stares at me with the crazy eyes, then he laughs. “You’re right. But I ain’t killed them yet. That depends on you.”
“Yes’m. If you piss me off, I’ll shoot them in the head without even blinking.”
Over my dead body.
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll let them go.” He grins, showing me his rotten, toothless mouth. He probably has meth to thank for that.
“I don’t think you plan to let them go,” I reply softly.
“Maybe I do and maybe I don’t.” He shrugs and scratches his cheek with the barrel of the pistol, and I wish with all my might that his finger would slip on the trigger and he’d blow his own head off.
But it doesn’t seem that I’m that lucky today.
“I’d like to see Margie and the kids, please.”
“You’ll have to come inside for that.”
I pause and glance back at Monroe, who shakes her head no, but I take a breath and send up a quick prayer. “Fine. Let’s go in.”
“You’re a cocky bitch, ain’t ya?” he says with a laugh. “I like that. Now come on in, and you can see for yourself that I ain’t hurt nobody.”
I gesture with one finger behind my back, giving the team the signal to wait one minute, and walk ahead of him to the living room and stop cold. Margie has been beaten so badly that she’s passed out and her oldest son, Calvin, is holding her in his arms, crying and hugging her tight. Her other son, Preston, has Jasmine in his lap, and he’s trying to calm her, his own face tear-stained.
“See? Everybody’s just fine.”
“I don’t think they’re fine,” I reply and turn to Greg. “Margie has been beaten badly and your children are hysterical.”
He doesn’t answer right away. He just watches me with those cold, dead eyes, and raises his gun, then presses it to the side of Margie’s head, making Calvin cry even harder.
“Is this what you want?” he asks.
“No.” I shake my head and hold my hands up in surrender. “I don’t want you to hurt
“This is all
fault!” he shouts. “We were fine until you came in here sniffing around in business that ain’t yours.”
“We can get you help,” I reply, my voice low and soothing. “With some counseling, there’s no reason that you can’t be with your family.”
That’s a complete lie. There’s no way that he’ll be allowed to live with his minor children again, but I’m willing to lie about any and everything right now to get him out of here.
“I don’t need no counseling!”
“Okay,” I reply. “What do you want, Greg?”
Now he stops again, drops the gun to his side and starts to laugh, and then cry. The range of emotion is fascinating.
He’s truly crazy.
Margie begins to stir and cry softly. Calvin does his best to soothe his mother.
“Shhh, Mama. It’s okay.”
“She’s awake!” Greg exclaims and whirls around to slap Margie again, and I see red.
hit her!” I shout, getting his attention. He turns to me as I draw my pistol and hold it steady, pointed at his head. “Drop your gun.”
“Oh, so you think you can just walk in here with a gun and threaten my family?” His jaw tightens as he glares at me with more evil in his eyes than I’ve ever seen before.
And I’ve seen plenty of evil.
“You will never put your hands on them ever again.”
“Oh yes, I will.” He nods and smirks. “I’ll do whatever I damn well please.”
“Why? Because you’re a
? Do you think this behavior makes you more of a man?”
“Don’t egg him on,” Margie mumbles.
“Shut up, bitch!” Greg raises his hand, but Preston jumps up and tackles his father around the middle, sending them both crashing to the ground. There are gunshots, and Preston’s eyes widen, and then go blank as he rolls off his father.
“No! My baby!” Margie exclaims and launches herself up. Greg raises his hand to shoot again. But I shoot first, catching him in the side.
“What the fuck!” He turns and blindly shoots his gun, and I feel an instant, sharp bite in my shoulder just as the cops rush through the front door.
“Police! Drop your weapons!”
My hand is covering my shoulder where the pain is, and when I look, I see that it’s covered in blood.
Jesus, I’m shot.
But I have Hailey! I can’t leave Hailey.
And then it’s chaos as the house swarms with people.
“I love beer,” Hailey says with a perfectly sober face.
“You do?” I ask as I boost her up on a barstool. “Do you drink a lot of beer?”
“Only when Mom lets me,” she says and leans on the bar like a pro. I’m tempted to take a picture.
“What kind of beer do you like?” I smile at the sweet girl and when she smiles back, my heart twists in my chest.
“The root kind.”
“Ah,” I nod and grab a glass and begin to fill it with root beer. “That’s the best kind for little girls.”
“Yeah,” she says with a sigh. “Mommy and me were at the zoo.”
“I know. She told me you were going. Did you get to see much before you had to leave?”
“We saw the baby tigers.” She grins and slurps her drink. “They are sooooo cute! But even though tigers are kitties, they don’t say meow.”
“Really. What do they say?”
“Rawr!” She holds her hands up in claws and scrunches her nose. “But the babies just say,
” Her voice rises with the baby rawr.
God, she’s adorable.
“What else did you see?”
“Snakes.” She sticks her tongue out in disgust.
“Don’t like the snakes?”
“No. Oh, and we saw polar bears! And penguins.” She sips her drink. “What’s your favorite thing at the zoo?”
“I don’t know.” I haven’t been to the zoo in years.
“Everybody has a favorite,” she insists.
“I like the lions,” I reply with a grin and reach over to tuck her dark hair behind her ear. “Maybe we can go back and you can show me the babies.”
The front door opens and in walks Callie on her higher-than-can-be-healthy heels. She clicks over the floor, staring down at her phone, and when she glances up and sees Hailey, she raises a brow at me.
“What is this,
Sweet Home Alabama
? You have a baby. In a bar.”
“I’m not a baby! I’m a grown-up girl,” Hailey says, a frown on her face.
“Sarah had to run to a job real quick,” I reply. “But now you get to meet Hailey. This is my best friend, Callie.”
“Your best friend is a girl?” Hailey asks, her eyes wide.
“Yep,” I reply.
“Hello, Hailey,” Callie says and smiles kindly. “You’re very pretty.”
“Thank you,” she says. “So are you.”
“Thank you,” Callie replies. “How old are you?”
“Well, you’re right. You are a grown-up girl.” Callie winks and props her hands on her hips. “What are you and Adam up to?”
“He gave me beer, and we are talking about the zoo.”
“Root beer,” I assure her.
“Right. Because I was convinced that you’d give her regular beer.” She rolls her eyes. “When will Sarah be back?”
“She said she’d only be a few minutes.” I glance at the clock and frown. “She also said she’d text me when she got there and I haven’t heard from her. I’ll call her real quick.”
I dial her number and it rings several times before it’s answered.
Not by my girlfriend.
“Hello,” a man says, making me frown and stare at the phone, making sure I dialed the right number.
“Who is this?”
“Tom,” he says. “Adam?”
“I’m going to need a very good explanation for why you’re answering Sarah’s phone.”
“I’m trying to find her emergency contact,” he replies. “Do you know who it would be?”
“Wait. What? What the fuck is going on?”
“Adam said a swear,” Hailey says to Callie, and I immediately march into my office.
“I have Sarah,” Tom says. “And you know that I can’t tell you why, Adam. It’s the law.”
“Fuck the law,” I growl. “Where are you taking her?”
“Tulane,” he replies. “And who should I call for her?”
“Becca,” I reply immediately. “I have Sarah’s daughter with me.”
“Thanks.” He ends the call and I’m left standing in my office, suddenly numb.
What in the hell has happened to Sarah? I push my hands through my hair and rush out of my office to find Callie cozied up with Hailey, drinking a root beer of her own and laughing.
“What’s the matter?” she asks when she sees my face.
“I have to go.” I glance at Hailey, not wanting to scare her. “I need you to keep her.”
“Of course. Hailey, you don’t mind hanging out with me for a while, do you?”
Hailey suddenly looks shy and uncertain, and this is
the time for the mood swings of a young child.
“Callie is super nice.” I hug Hailey close and kiss her head.
“I’m not supposed to stay with strangers,” she says.
“You’re such a good girl,” I reply and smile. “But Callie isn’t a stranger. She knows me and your mommy. I trust her.”
“We’ll have fun,” Callie says.
“Can we have a tea party with our beer?” Hailey asks.
“Sure,” Callie says with a smile, then turns her gaze to me. “We’ll be fine.”
“Thank you.” I nod to Callie, kiss Hailey’s head one more time, and rush out of the bar and to my car. Tulane Medical Center isn’t far from the Quarter, but it feels like it takes me forever to find parking and get inside the emergency room.
Once there, I have to wait in line to talk to a receptionist.
“I’m looking for Sarah Cox,” I say immediately. “She was brought in by ambulance.”
The young man looks up her name and calls back. “What’s your name?”
“I have an Adam Spencer here for Sarah Cox.” He listens and nods. “I’ll tell him. She’s just getting settled and evaluated. They’ll let you back as soon as they have her settled.”
“How long does that take?” I ask, impatient to get to her.
“It shouldn’t take too long,” he replies. “I can’t say for sure.”