Guardian of Justice
MILLS & BOON
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Many thanks for making this series possible go to my editor, Melissa Endlich. I couldn’t have gotten through this without you. To my critique partners, Maya and Noelle, and my husband and kids for helping me to keep going through this challenge.
I’d like to thank the dedicated law enforcement officers and their families and pray for their safety.
I also want to acknowledge my appreciation to David Galyard for his help, and to my father for inspiring my admiration and respect for the men in uniform. And to my son Matt who surprised me and became a guardian of justice. And to his wife and family, God bless and stay safe out there!
“Kira Matthews?” The officer at the window of the Police Station motioned her forward. “You’ll be riding with Dallas Brooks tonight. He needs to pick you up right outside these doors. If you’ll go on out, he’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“Thanks,” Kira said as she hurried out the doors to wait. A cruiser pulled to a stop in front of the station and the driver yelled, “If you’re Kira Matthews, get in.”
She nodded. “Nice to meet—”
“Sorry to rush you, I just got called out.”
She quickly climbed into the car and set her tote bag on the floor. “What’s the call?”
“Someone dialed 911, then hung up. Not a good way to start a Friday night.”
“I know what you mean.” Kira buckled her seat belt and Dallas took off, lights on and siren blaring. She held tight to the grab bar above the passenger’s door of the squad car, trying to keep her balance. “You take 911 hang-ups pretty seriously. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get anywhere in Antelope Springs. After all, we’re not in Denver. I’m sorry I was late arriving. I had an unexpected call from a foster parent right as I was leaving at five o’clock.”
“No problem. The dispatcher heard yelling in the background before whoever it was hung up, so I don’t want to waste any time. If it’s a prank, I’d like to catch the kid and teach him not to cry wolf.” As the officer turned the corner to Sixth Street, he cut the lights and siren on the squad car. “I’m Dallas Brooks, by the way.” Pulling to a stop diagonally across the end of the driveway, he glanced quickly at her. “Stay in the car. If it is a viable domestic call, guns or knives are always a possibility.”
“But I’m a social worker,” she started to say.
“Good, that may come in handy. Even more reason to keep you out of harm’s way.” He gave her a quick smile and turned off the engine. “I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come in, all right?”
“I walk into houses unarmed on a regular basis, Officer. We handle these calls every day, all day, just like you do. Dispatch said there may be kids in the house, and I should be there.”
“And if there are, I’ll come get you when I know if it’s necessary and if it’s safe.” He climbed out of the car, closing the door on her next words.
“Humph,” she muttered. Kira watched Officer Brooks study the situation as he walked up the driveway. When he reached the front of the house, she opened her door. Just as she put her foot on the asphalt, she heard a loud bang, yelling, and glass breaking. She jumped out of the vehicle and started toward the house.
“Get back in the car,” Dallas ordered. He pointed to the cruiser. “I don’t need to worry about you, too,” he said in a loud whisper, before putting his hand on his gun and stepping to the side of the entry. He knocked on the door and announced his presence, glancing in her direction again.
Kira moved hesitantly back to the car and turned her attention to the police radio. It didn’t take long for Officer Brooks to call dispatch for backup. “I hope you have the sense to wear your vest,” she muttered, feeling a sudden pang of anxiety at the thought.
It was warm for a spring evening and Kira wished she had the courage to turn the key and open the windows. If the sun wasn’t disappearing so quickly, she would. It would be just her luck the call would be nothing and the officer would come right out. Fanning herself with a notepad, Kira propped her door open with her leg to let some fresh air inside.
She heard a rattling sound and searched for the source. To the side of the house, a man had just jumped the gate in a chain-link fence and was staggering toward the car ahead of the cruiser. I hope he realizes we’re blocking the driveway, she thought. He started to get in, then saw the police car. Ducking behind the other vehicle, he studied the house. He seemed undecided whether to keep his eye on the cruiser or the building as he crawled along the half-dead, creeping juniper bushes edging the driveway. He kept turning his head back and forth, as if watching to make sure Officer Brooks didn’t come out and catch him. He brushed his long bushy hair back as he stepped around a bicycle in the driveway and moved toward the driver’s side of the patrol car.
Surely he wasn’t thinking of taking it, she thought. Kira pulled her leg into the car and quietly closed the door, searching for an automatic door lock. Where is it?
As soon as he was past the tallest juniper, the man charged toward the cruiser. Kira dived across the seat, pressing the lock button on the driver’s door just as the creepy guy tried to open it. He had tattoos, she noted, and his T-shirt was torn and spattered with blood.
He slammed his fist against the window and swore. Then he slumped across the hood, pressed his face to the windshield and locked his attention on Kira. Blood dripped from his forehead.
Her heart raced. Sure, stay in the car where it’s safe. Thanks a lot, Officer Brooks.