When Kai and Paisley get back to his home, Ralph is there. Fortunately, a police officer had seen them home, and is able to respond.
Officer Warren moved forward, weapon trained on Ralph. “Cuff him,” she told Kai.
Paisley stepped on Ralph’s weapon until his hands were cuffed behind him. Warren moved forward, her weapon in the holster. She took Ralph by the elbow and perp walked him to her car as she read him his rights. When he was stowed in her car, she came back in the house, picked up and emptied Ralph’s gun before bagging it.
Sergeant O’Neill walked in a few minutes later. Kai had cut Cody loose and was checking his family for wounds.
“Where are Brad and Tempy?” he asked.
“She was spending the night with a friend, but didn’t feel well. Dad went to pick her up. He should be home any second.”
There was commotion in the front yard. Kai went to see what the problem was. Brad ran up to the house. Tempty followed, face white with fear.
“What the hell’s going on?”
“That’s what I want to know,” Sergeant O’Neill said. “You’re Mr. Burke?”
“Yes. Where’s my wife?”
It took quite a while to explain what had happened to everyone’s satisfaction. Brad and Sergeant O’Neill kept asking questions. Kai could hardly get out a full sentence without one of them interrupting. Finally fed up, he made a time out sign with his hands, whistling sharply.
“Enough! Stop talking, and let me tell this in my own way. Then I’ll answer questions. Just shut up!”
Seeing he was frustrated, they were quiet. Kai went step by step through the evening, editing what he and Paisley had been doing just before the break-in.
“But it couldn’t have been Ralph at my place,” Paisley said. “It had to have been someone else.”
“Obviously,” Kai agreed. “Did you find the person who tried to break into Paisley’s place?”
“Yes,” Sergeant O’Neill said. “We tracked him to the ballpark by the elementary school. He had a car stashed down the street, but he got up in there where the road doesn’t go all the way through. When we caught up with him, he was circling the baseball field trying to find another way through.”
Kai couldn’t help laughing, though his family and Paisley didn’t join in. Sergeant O’Neill smirked. She thought it was funny, too, but didn’t laugh out loud.
“So, it’s over?” Paisley said. “Ralph’s caught and his buddy is caught. Am I safe now?”
“I believe so,” Sergeant O’Neill replied. “Ralph may have friends in high places in Tennessee, but he doesn’t down here. We’ll put him away, where he can’t get out for a very long time.”
“I think he killed his father,” Paisley said after the police had gone. “Do you think they’ll be able to figure that out?”
“I expect that once his cop friends up home, find out that he’s behind bars, they will scurry to cover their tracks. Our department has enough on him to keep him locked up a very long time.”
They talked a little while longer, but Brad finally commanded them all to go to bed. Aside from some bumps and bruises, no one was injured enough to require medical attention. They headed to their rooms. Paisley hesitated between Kai’s room and the guest room, but he opened his door, inviting her in.
“I guess I should explain,” he told his surprised parents.
“Your relationship has progressed,” Nina said with a soft sigh. She smiled, touching their cheeks. “I could tell.” She kissed them both on the cheek. “I’m so happy for you. Do me a favor,” she said to Kai. “Don’t get her pregnant until after Randi and Deanna come back.”
Kai laughed, hugging his mother. “I’ll try.”
“And keep it down,” she whispered. “No need to disturb your brother and sister.”
“I love you, Mom,” Kai said.
Paisley and Kai got ready for bed and cuddled up in the middle of the bed. Neither of them felt much like making love, they just wanted to hold one another close.
“Do you think Ottis and Clevon are okay?”
“I’ll call Brill tomorrow, and check up on them.”
“I wonder who it was that hurt them.”
“Does it matter? He’s locked up, too. You don’t have to worry about Ralph, ever again.”
“Thank you for protecting me.” Paisley snuggled closer, her head on Kai’s chest.
“Are you kidding? You protected the rest of us! You stood up to him like a boss. I was scared shitless and proud as hell. He has no power over you anymore, Paisley. You did that all by yourself.”
“I sure did. Tomorrow, I want to talk to JT and TJ’s mom. She needs to know what happened here, don’t you think?”
“I do. We’ll make it happen.”
The next day, they all got up around 11:00. Nina extended the invitation to JT and TJ’s mother. She came over with her boys, puzzled by the call. She and Nina had never been particularly close, although they had known one another for years.
Kai introduced Paisley, who explained her experiences with Ralph.
“I don’t know why you’re telling me this,” Mrs. Cooper said, rather evasively.
“Because, I know that you’ve had similar experiences,” Paisley replied.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes