Miami, mistletoe & murde.., p.3
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       Miami, Mistletoe & Murder, p.3

         Part #4 of Red Stone Security series by Katie Reus
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Page 3


  Weapon in hand, he jumped fences and ran until he reached the address Noel had given him. Creeping along the neighbor’s house, he moved until he had a perfect view of Juanita’s home. There were two cars in the driveway along with a woman’s purse. The belongings had been strewn in the yard and on the driveway, indicating a struggle. Though they hadn’t been turned on, he could see that they’d decorated their bushes and palm tree with lights. There also weren’t any lights on in the house.

  There wasn’t much Travis hated more than a piece of shit who liked to hurt women. Jumping the last fence, he crept to the side of the one-story home until he reached the metal fence surrounding the backyard. Instead of vaulting over it, he quietly opened the gate. Leaving the door open, he moved silently to the corner of the home, and rounded it into the backyard. He was directly under a window. The curtains were slightly cracked so he grasped the sill and started to push up.

  That was when he heard the male voice, slurred and shouting. “Tell me where she is, you stupid whore!” It was followed by a muted crack, like a palm hitting a cheek.

  Gritting his teeth, Travis half-stood and peered through the window. A dim light above the stove was the only illumination but it was enough for him to see what was going on. A woman with straight, dark hair and pale skin sat at a round wooden table, clutching her upper arm with her free hand. Her hand was covered in blood and a tall, muscular man wearing a flannel shirt and khakis was waving a gun around and shouting, wanting to know where Juanita was. The woman was crying and shaking her head, mumbling in Spanish.


  Ducking back down, he made a split second decision. There was no way he could wait for the police. This guy was clearly agitated and had already escalated to extreme violence by shooting the woman. Travis’s steps were silent as he covered the next half of the house until he reached a sliding glass door. Since Juanita had escaped into the backyard, he hoped it wasn’t locked.

  When the door slid open soundlessly, he let out a silent sigh of relief. The shouting grew louder as he moved farther into the home. He mentally catalogued his surroundings in case he needed to make a fast exit, but he didn’t have much doubt he could take this one guy who sounded drunk.

  Following the voice, he didn’t stop until he was in a hallway directly outside the kitchen. From his limited perspective, he could see half the table, and the left half of the woman still sitting in the chair. Blood had created a crimson pool on the floor and it was growing by the second.

  Travis had to get this woman help and fast. When the man appeared in his line of vision, gun in his hand but held loosely down by his side, Travis moved into the entryway with his weapon drawn.

  “Drop your gun or I’ll shoot to kill. ” Travis raised his voice only loud enough to be heard over the crying woman.

  The man with slicked back dark hair looked at him in shock. He was definitely wasted. His dark eyes were red-rimmed and glassy and it looked like he hadn’t showered in days. His gun hand twitched.

  “Don’t do it. You only get one warning. ” Travis took a step closer, his gun pointed right at the man’s head.

  He saw the decision in the man’s eyes the second the guy made it and Travis inwardly cursed. But he didn’t have a choice.

  As the guy began to raise his weapon, Travis fired.

  Chapter 3

  Travis didn’t bother checking the guy’s pulse. He’d hit him right between the eyes and he’d do it again. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to kill and to save a woman and child, he knew he would never wrestle with his conscience over this. It was justified.

  After kicking the gun away, he turned to the woman who was now shrieking, crying, and still losing blood. She’d jumped up from her seat and had backed away, pushing the chair against her legs. “Where’s my daughter?”

  He tucked his gun back into its holster even though he knew the cops would need to take it for a while. He wanted to make this woman feel as safe as possible considering the crappy circumstances. While he might have seen more death than one man should in a lifetime, this was probably the first time she’d seen someone killed in front of her. “Juanita is safe. My name is Travis and I’m friends with Noel. Juanita called her and we came over to help your daughter. ”

  All the air seemed to leave the woman’s lungs in a rush. “You’re friends with Noel?”

  “Yes. ” He remained still even though he wanted to rush over and depress something over her wound.

  She swayed on her feet. “My daughter’s okay?”

  “Yes. Where do you keep your dishrags?”

  She blinked once and collapsed back in the chair. “Drawer…there. ” She gestured with her head and he hurried over, careful to step around the dead body.

  After grabbing some towels, he brought them to her, pulled her hand from where she clutched her arm, and pressed a couple over the wound. She flinched but he didn’t let up the pressure. “Can you hold this in place while I walk you out?” Travis wanted to get her outside and waiting for the police and he wanted to get to Juanita so he could make sure she was truly safe.

  Though she was wobbly and it was clear she was losing energy fast—definitely because of the blood loss—she held the towels in place and he scooped her up. Moving quickly through the house and down a long hallway, he burst outside to find Noel waiting by the edge of the yard, clearly making her way toward the house even though he’d told her to wait.

  “The guy is dead. Go find Juanita so she doesn’t stumble onto that scene. ” His words came out as an order but this wasn’t the time for politeness. The kid did not need to see that. Even though he’d told her to stay hidden, she was a kid, not a soldier and wouldn’t take his orders seriously if she got worried enough about her mother.

  Pale eyes wide as she took in the mother’s blood, Noel nodded and sprinted into action, racing across the yard toward the neighbors.

  The sirens were louder now and Travis prepared himself for what was going to happen. Kneeling on the grass, he helped the mother sit. “How are you feeling?” he asked softly.

  “It hurts,” she gasped but at least she was still conscious.

  “You’re going to be okay. ” He was pretty sure the bullet had gone all the way through. When the screaming sirens grew even louder he realized the cops were on the street. Without looking away from her, he said, “Listen carefully. The cops are here and they’re going to cuff me. Don’t freak out. ”

  “What? Why? You…saved…” Her skin paled even more as she tried to talk.

  “I’m not going to be arrested but they have no clue what’s going on and will need to put me in cuffs while they assess the situation. I’ll be fine, promise. ” At that, he stood and put his hands on his head as two patrol cars screeched to a halt in front of the house.

  Two men in uniform rushed him, weapons drawn, ordering him to get on his knees. He did what they said and as they flipped him and cuffed him the last thing he saw before his face was on the grass was Noel’s horrified expression. But she had a little girl with her so he knew they were both okay. Everything else would work itself out.

  As Noel and even Juanita’s mother started shouting to let him go, Travis heard a familiar voice. “Get those fucking cuffs off him. ” And a second later, his wrists were free.

  Turning over, a man wearing all black tactical gear pulled him to his feet. “Sorry about that, man. ” Anthony Carlson and Travis went all the way back to the Marines. Whereas Travis started working for Red Stone when he got out, Carlson had joined the police department.

  Travis shrugged, watching out of the corner of his eye as paramedics wheeled the mother to the back of an ambulance. Juanita and Noel weren’t far behind. Flashing blue and red lights lit up the night and the cacophony of noise was damn near overwhelming. “I understand protocol. FYI, there’s a dead guy in that kitchen and I killed him. He drew first, as the witness will attest to. My gun is in my ankle h
olster. ” The uniformed officers hadn’t had a chance to search him before Carlson had told them to let him go.

  When he lifted his pant leg, Carlson turned and shouted at someone to come retrieve it. After a uniformed woman took his gun, Travis let his pant leg fall back down.

  “You want to call a lawyer before we head down to the station?” Carlson asked and Travis understood why.

  The shooting might have been in self-defense but he’d have to go through an official recorded interview, fill out a report, the witness would be questioned at the hospital, and once their stories were corroborated they should let him go. Travis had a feeling that whoever he’d shot had a long history of violence and trouble with the law, which would help his case if this ever got as far as a trial. Though all logic said that shouldn’t happen. “Nah, but I’m calling Harrison Caldwell. ” And Harrison would sure as hell bring a lawyer with him.

  Carlson just nodded and motioned toward one of the cars. “You’ve gotta ride with me or a uniformed officer. Take your pick. ”

  In other words, Travis wasn’t driving himself. Not that it mattered. He didn’t have his truck anyway. “I’ll ride with you. Mind if I talk to my friend first?” He motioned toward Noel who was standing with her arm around Juanita as the ambulance pulled away.

  His friend sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. “Yeah, but make it quick. ”

  When she turned and made eye contact with him, it was a punch to his senses. It still killed him inside that she’d been ready to come over here by herself. His palms got clammy just thinking about what could have happened. As he started to walk toward her, Noel raced toward him, covering half the length of the yard in seconds until they stood practically toe to toe.

  Her pale eyes were filled with worry. “Why did they handcuff you? Are you going to be okay?”

  He nodded, pleased she was worried about him. “That’s just standard procedure. I’ve gotta head to the station and fill out a report and stuff. Go to the hospital with Juanita. She needs you right now. I’ll be fine, I swear. ”
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