By: Kathi S. Barton

“Miss York needs something for pain. I’m afraid she injured herself trying to roll over.”

The very timid “yes sir” had the door opening sound again.

“I’m going to move your bed to the down position slowly. If you need me to stop, say so.”

“Stop,” she told him before the bed moved. His laughter made her want to cry. He just had to be enjoying this after what she’d done about the badge.

“I’m not mad about the badge, Miss York. In fact, I’m quite impressed. No one had the guts to do what you did and it should have been done…well, years ago. I wasn’t aware that the thing had been installed. Well, that’s not true. I knew it had, but I didn’t think of it past the installation.”

“Stupid.” And she was, too. She wasn’t sure why he was here, but knew it wasn’t good. Then she realized he’d answered her thought. “How did you know?”

“You just said…ah, didn’t know you were speaking out loud. I’d like to claim that I can read minds, but I can’t. I just listen very well. Here you go, the nurse has you something for pain.”

“You’re going to feel something warm, Miss York, then you’ll feel better.” Abby was standing on one side of her bed and the hunky Mr. Hunter on the other. Kasey looked up at him to see if she’d spoken out loud again and felt better when she didn’t see that he’d heard her. The warmth of the medicine poured over her like liquid sex. Mr. Hunter’s laughter made her think she might have spoken out loud again, but she was feeling too good to care.

Chapter 3

Royce was sitting at his desk two hours later. He’d probably get more work done if he’d stop thinking about the pretty little officer, but he couldn’t seem to shake the image of her lying on her bed covered in blood. It had been just over a week and the image was just as clear as if it had just happened.

When her uncle and he had pulled up in front of the huge, sprawling house Royce had thought he’d had the wrong address. When Jay had gotten out of the car and walked up the steps, he looked around. The place was a dump and he’d bet his last dollar that a murder happened near here at least daily. The place didn’t improve once they’d walked inside either.

Jay walked up to a couple of kids hanging out on the stairs and spoke to them. He came back a minute later and started up the stairs. Royce was surprised that the man was taking them two and three at a time, but followed him close. The boys came with them.

“They said she came in about twenty minutes ago. Said they didn’t see her, but they heard her going up. She was crying.”

Royce nodded.

The boy in the back went back down the flight of stairs and ran back up them seconds later. He looked over at Royce. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but he was pretty sure that whatever it was could potentially get them all in trouble. The kid dropped to his knees in front of a door and pulled open a little black bag.

“He’s gonna pick the lock,” Kasey’s uncle told him. “I told him we thought Kasey was hurt and he said he thought someone was, there was blood all over the stairs when he’d gone up to his apartment just after she’d gotten in.”

Royce didn’t ask why they didn’t knock and see if she could come to the door, he just kept his mouth shut. The other kids seemed to know what he was thinking because one of them answered Royce’s unvoiced question.

“Reasonable cause like them police shows. We heard her moaning, didn’t you? ‘Sides, she ain’t gonna open the door anyway for anyone on accounta she don’t supposed to be here this time a day. She’s hurtin’ to miss work.”

Before Royce could comment one way or the other the kid at the door swung it open. When he stepped back Royce saw Jay give him some money, but couldn’t see how much. Royce stepped over the threshold, thinking to ask so he could pay the man back, but the room, the bed, and the girl took his entire attention.

Her face was swollen beyond anything he’d ever seen. The eye that was turned up was closed shut and blood seeped from it. The side of her head where she lay against the bed was soaking blood into the mattress and a small stain now saturated the blanket. Her arm lay at an odd angle and her left pant leg was tight around her thigh and made Royce think if they cut the seams, the flesh would spill out. The fingers to her hand were all bloodied as well as swollen. He thought some of them might have been broken, but couldn’t be sure with all that blood. He startled out of his shock when Jay shook him.

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