A Merciful Truth
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“I don’t know if I’m fit to do this job anymore,” he whispered. “I’ve fallen down this hole before and it was a hell of a lot of work to drag myself out of the pit. I don’t know if I can do it again.”
“You don’t need to decide tonight.” She held her breath, terrified to say the wrong thing.
He leaned forward and buried his head in his hands. “I’m so fucking exhausted, I can’t think straight.”
“That memorial today completely drained me,” Mercy admitted. “I can’t imagine attending it after what you went through today.”
“But I didn’t go through anything. It was a traffic stop with a flying rock. Anyone else would have ducked and laughed. Not fallen apart and hid.”
“You aren’t anyone else. You’re you, and we’re all the results of our past experiences. It’s what makes us unique. No one else has gone through what you have or what I have. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“But am I fit to be the chief of police? I came to Eagle’s Nest because it sounded like a job I could handle and I needed to get away from a city where I saw horrible things I couldn’t fix. Did I run away from my fucking fears only to have them resurface in the quietest town in the United States? Am I fooling myself? If I had to go to that fire from the other night right now, I don’t think I’d have the guts to run to Damon as he lay dying on the ground.” Terrified eyes met hers. “Am I no longer enough?”
She took his face in her hands and turned it toward her, touching her forehead to his. “You do so much good here. Don’t let this stop it.”
“No buts right now. We aren’t going to solve this tonight. It will look different in the morning.” She stood and pulled him up to her, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping her arms around his chest. They stood still for several long seconds, and she felt his pulse pound against her hair.
“Take me to bed,” she whispered.
His arms tightened around her and she didn’t need to ask twice.
He’d lost himself in Mercy last night. She’d opened herself to him in a way he’d never experienced. She didn’t talk; she spoke with her body and he’d found himself caught up in her emotions. After opening his heart to her on the couch, he’d been convinced he was too broken to function, and she’d shown him he still had something inside.
Where had the energy and passion come from?
Despite having been thinking of bed and sleep since noon yesterday, he’d found the energy to stay awake for another hour, satiating himself with her. It’d been hard to get out of bed this morning, and now he drove mindlessly around town, his brain still reliving the previous evening.
His radio crackled and Lucas told him there was a domestic disturbance at Sandy’s Bed & Breakfast.
Truman turned right at the next corner. “I’m a minute away. What’s going on?”
“Sandy says one of her customers is beating on his wife behind her building.”
He sped down a deserted street, leaving a wake of brightly colored fall leaves spinning behind him.
The grand old house sat on the main drag through town. Truman parked along the curb and let Lucas know he’d arrived. Lucas told him Royce was minutes away. Sandy came out the front door and jogged down the steps. The tall redhead had a rolling pin in her hand and looked ready to use it on someone’s head. “They’re around back in the gazebo. Go that way.” Anger flashed in her eyes as she pointed at the side of the house. “I was going to grab my cleaver and address it myself, but I figured you could handle him better than me.”
Truman eyed the rolling pin and her grim stare. Sandy could be pretty intimidating. “See any weapons?” he asked as he strode around the house. Sandy kept pace with him as they circled to the rear of the house, fury keeping her jaw tight.
“No. I’ve seen him carry a few times since he’s been here, but there’s nothing that I could see today. Doesn’t mean he’s not carrying.”
“How long have they been staying here?”
“Wayne and Kimberly Davidson. From Coeur d’Alene.”
“Stay here,” Truman ordered as shouts reached them. He took a quick peek around the corner of the home and spotted the gazebo just as the man standing in the romantic structure hauled back and landed a fist on the woman’s cheek. She stumbled backward two steps, her hand covering her injury. She paused, staring at him in shock and stiffening her back. After a split second she flew at him with her nails bared.
Truman stepped forward. “Eagle’s Nest Police Department!” He flicked the release on his holster, holding his hand above the weapon, but didn’t draw.
The couple fell apart. “You’re in deep shit now!” the woman yelled at her husband.
The man touched his hip, making Truman believe he was used to wearing a firearm, and scowled at the intrusion. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have another someplace else. He stopped a safe distance from the couple. Kimberly had a dripping bloody lip and a red gash on her cheek. Her husband had a few slashes on his forehead, and his hair looked as if she’d tried to rip out several chunks.
“You two done?” Truman asked politely.
“This is none of your business,” Wayne snapped. “We’re having a private discussion.”
“When you start drawing blood and trying to skin each other in my town it becomes my business.”
“Don’t you have something better to do than harass the public?” Wayne sneered. “What happened to cops that respected their citizens? Go find someone who’s actually committed a crime.”
Truman nodded at Kimberly. “Her face tells me that person would be you. Now step away from each other, and for my own safety, I’d like both of you to place your hands on your head so I can see them.”
Kimberly immediately complied, but Wayne was slow. He held Truman’s gaze as he slowly lifted his hands, making a deliberate show of linking his fingers and resting his hands on his hair. Truman took a couple of steps closer and saw the signal in Wayne’s eyes as he decided to be stupid.
The man took two steps and lunged at Truman. Having anticipated the move, Truman stepped to the side, neatly grabbed one of Wayne’s arms, twisted it, braced it, and applied pressure behind the elbow.
“FUUUUUUUCK!” Wayne froze with his arm in Truman’s grasp.
Truman applied a little more pressure and Wayne’s knees started to buckle. He let up a fraction and the man shuddered in relief.
“You’re a fucking public servant! You’ve got no right to put your hands on me!”
“But I have to put up with you attacking me? Your level of customer service from this fucking public servant depends on your cooperation. So far it sucks, so I’m returning the favor.”
“Let him go!” Kimberly took a step in their direction.
“Come any closer and I’ll break his arm.” Wayne screeched as Truman pressed on his elbow.
“Don’t hurt him,” she pleaded.
“Oh please.” Sandy strode up and pointed her rolling pin at Kimberly. The woman shuffled back several steps and put her hands back on her head.
“You defend a man who did that to your face?” Sandy asked in disgust. “Next you’ll tell me that you had it coming.” Sirens sounded out front as Truman’s backup arrived.
Although Sandy is solid backup.
“You have no right to do this,” Wayne bitched.
“I thought we already addressed that issue,” said Truman. “Simply put: you’re wrong.”
“You cops are nearly done around here,” Wayne continued. “You’re going to be out of business.”
“If my job is no longer needed, then that means that assholes like you are no longer beating their wives. I’ll gladly accept that change.”
Glowering, Wayne turned his attention to Sandy. “Your place is a rip-off. Your prices are insane.”
Sandy’s smile was saccharine sweet. “I’ll miss your business. Not!”