By: Kathi S. Barton

“Call an ambulance, I said. She’s got to get to the hospital.”

Royce pulled out his cell again and dialed the number. He’d had to ask for directions twice and assured the dispatcher that he’d remain there with her until the police arrived. Royce thought that the emergency vehicles might get called to this address a lot if they knew to ask if it was Sebastian or Jesus who had over dosed again.

“No, an injury. Miss York, Kasey York. It looks like she has a head injury, leg, and her arm. I’m betting by the way she’s laying there are probably a good many ribs broken as well.”

Within an hour after leaving his building, Royce was racing after the ambulance with a police escort and Kasey’s uncle sitting beside him. And her injuries were more extensive than they had thought.

Five broken ribs on her left side and three on her right, a concussion, and seven stitches in the back of her head. There was the contusion to her forehead and another to just below her ear. Two of her fingers were broken on her left hand and one on her right. Her leg was sprained and there were about three dozen cuts on her body that would heal quickly; the others would take their time. The tape they’d pulled of the incident showed that when White had hit her with his fist the first time, she’d fallen back but had not been too seriously injured from what they could see. She’d gotten right up and beat the living shit out of the man until he’d gotten the upper hand by using a ball bat on her ribs. When she’d gone down he’d stood over her and beat on her several times before his brother had come into the room and wrestled the bat away from him.

White was currently in jail pending charges filed by Royce and the company. They were also waiting for Miss York to wake up enough to tell them she was pressing charges as well. Royce was still smiling when his mom walked in.

“Must be a pretty girl for you to look like that this early in the morning. Is it that Strouse girl?” She sat in the chair across from his desk. “Or is it that girl…what was her name? The one that laughed like she was a bad muffler? You remember her.”

“Porsche Strouse and the muffler girl… You mean Candace Sheppard? Christ, no. She has been with more men than the NFL has players. Whoever she marries is going to need to put in a revolving door to his house. No, I was thinking about the merger deal we’re finalizing tomorrow morning. You still planning to be here?”

He knew she didn’t believe him by the smile. He didn’t care so long as she didn’t point it out.

She smiled that mom smile and leaned back in the chair. “Keep your little secrets. I’ll find out sooner or later. And yes, I’m going to be here. I’ve been helping with this deal for three months and I can’t wait to see the look on Charles’ face when he realizes what we plan to do with that building. He’ll be furious.”

Charles Benton had messed with the wrong person when he’d pissed off Royce’s mom. Annamarie Hunter was a person who got results. She’d been doing some volunteer work at the hospital when a young girl had been brought in. Jessica had been fourteen, pregnant, and beaten. She lost the child and then died two days later, but not before telling the police who had beaten her and why. Her daddy had said no child of his was going to shame him.

Of course nothing could be proven. The man who’d beaten poor Jess had been killed only days later and everything pointed to him acting on his own. But nearly everyone knew better. Charles had made no bones about the fact that he cared very little for his daughter and less about the child she’d lost.

“We have everything in place to start the reconstruction of the building on Monday. Then all the players are lined up to make it so that we can reopen as ‘Jessica’s House’ the month after. It’s amazing how many people have agreed to give their free time to work with this house.”

Royce leaned back in his chair and regarded his mom. “You’re an amazing woman. How come I never realized that before?”

She snorted at him. “You knew. You’re too much like your other brothers to say so unless you need something. What is it now? A girl you’ve knocked up? Someone who won’t sleep with you and you want me to tell her what a great catch you are?”

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