Book 1 of the Hidden Breeds series. Can Bastien convince Carly that they belong together forever?
Carly squeezed her eyes shut. Pain shot through her jaw and middle like a bolt of lightning. God she hurt! She didn’t need to see to know she was in a hospital. The loud beeping of the heart and oxygen monitor over her left shoulder, coupled with the sharp odor of antiseptic, gave it away.
A sound from her right caught her attention. She opened her eyes and turned her head. Robert, her husband, stood next to the bed, his manner threatening. What else was new? She would have sighed if her ribs hadn’t hurt so damned much .
“Good. You’re awake.” He glanced toward the closed door. “The nurse just left to get the doctor. She noticed your heart rate changed and thought you might wake up.”
The corner of his mouth lifted. He may have been handsome, but she knew the monster lurked just beyond the façade. The monster was always there, lurking just beneath the surface, hiding from everyone except her.
Carly glanced down, dispassionately noticed his clenched, ham-like fists, and marveled that she felt no more fear. Maybe it was the drugs, or maybe she just didn’t give a damn anymore. She looked at him again. He was a big man—bigger than most, and not as nice.
A little muscle in his jaw jumped as he dictated what he wanted her to say when the doctor returned. She wanted to laugh at his highhandedness. She wouldn’t do his bidding. Not anymore.
“You wanted to help me inspect the roof for damage after the last storm. The ladder slipped and you fell thirty-four feet to the ground.”
She would have laughed at the absurdity of it all, but the pain stopped her. . The ass was so used to her jumping and obeying his every whim, he would never expect her to defy his wishes. Carly couldn’t wait to see the expression on his face when she finally told the police the whole truth. Let him make good on his promise to kill her. She was past caring anymore. Dying would only be a relief after her dear husband’s tender ministrations.
Three people walked through the door, two of them in uniform, one in a cheap brown suit. Robert bumped the bed and gave her a meaningful look as the two uniformed police officers escorted him out.
The third man approached the bed and held out his hand. She took it, grimacing with pain as he held her fingers in a light grip. Hell, even her fingers hurt after trying to defend herself from Robert’s last attack. “Good evening, Mrs. McGowan. I’m Detective Lobianco. I’ll be handling your case.”
Carly tried to speak, but it hurt too much. Her attempt came out as little more than a pathetic croak. Apparently, doctors wired her jaw shut. Tears tracked down her face as the police officer looked on her with obvious pity. She’d never wanted that. When had she become such a pathetic needy creature?
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He held up his hand. “Don’t try to talk. How about we do it like this?” He raised a finger. “One is for yes.” A second finger joined the first. “Two is for no. Okay?”
Carly held up a finger.
“Good. Good.” He flipped open a pad of paper and pulled a pen from his pocket. “Now,” he said, taking a deep breath. “Did you really fall off your roof?”
She held up two fingers then pointed to the Styrofoam cup on her bedside table.
Detective Lobianco leaned over, grabbed the cup, and helped her bring the straw to her lips. The water both hurt and soothed. Her jaw ached from the cold and her parched throat was instantly relieved. The detective replaced the cup on the table when she released it and Carly attempted to smile her thanks.
The expression on the man’s face told her she didn’t succeed. He looked down at the pad of paper he held in a white-knuckled grip. “Did your husband do this to you?”
What a question. The man didn’t waste any time. Carly wanted to laugh, to cry, to scream with frustration at life’s unjust treatment of her and those like her. She couldn’t help it. No matter how tired she was, no matter how much she told herself death would be a welcome respite to the hell she lived in every day of her life, a fissure of fear shot up her spine as she raised only one finger.
The detective nodded and stood. “Good. Some honest answers. Is this the first time he’s done anything like this?”
He watched with a solemn expression as Carly again held up two fingers, indicating a negative response.
Patting her hand, he leaned closer. “My brother-in-law is an attorney. A damned good one, too. And he owes me, big time for taking his sister off his hands.” He gave her a small smile. “We’ll have a restraining order slapped on your husband before he gets released on bail. Don’t you worry, darlin’. That bastard won’t touch you again.”
She wanted to ask him why he cared, why he was doing this, but her voice came out on a croak again.
The detective gazed at her with his sad eyes and somehow understood. “My sister’s husband killed her.” He looked down, closed his pad of paper, and stuck it in his pocket. “I wasn’t able to help her. I want to help you, if you’ll let me.” He looked down at the floor. “I feel closer to her somehow, when I help someone in the same situation. There aren’t many with your courage.” He straightened and walked to the door at her nod.
Turning, he gave Carly a reassuring smile and winked. “Don’t change your mind, now. Every woman deserves a man who will cherish her. Don’t worry yourself.” He jerked his head toward the door. “He won’t touch you again.” Leaving the door open as he made his exit, the detective stepped out into the hall and approached Robert. “Mr. McGowan, you have the right to remain silent…”
The rest of what he said was lost as Robert screamed, “You bitch! They’re arresting me. What did you tell him? I’ll kill you! Do you hear me? I’ll kill you, you bitch!”
Carly stared through the doorway to the white wall beyond and finally smiled through her tears. Perhaps one day, he would make good on that promise. One thing was for sure. It wouldn’t be today.