Paisley asks to speak to TJ and JT’s mom about the abuse. They come over the next day.
Mrs. Cooper’s furtive glance told Paisley all she needed to know.
“Who did you tell?” she asked her sons.
“Me,” Cody said. “You think I didn’t know all this time? But I didn’t say anything until now, because Paisley said you needed help getting away.”
“We’re prepared to give you that help,” Brad said. “We’ll find you a safe place to stay, and get his sorry ass thrown in jail.”
“I can’t do that! I can’t send him to prison!” Mrs. Cooper protested.
Paisley took her hands. “He can’t hold any power over you, unless you let him,” she said. “I stood up to Ralph, when he had a gun on me. He threatened to kill Kai and his family, too. But we took care of him together. You can, too, Mrs. Cooper. Just say the word and we’ll make it happen.”
Mrs. Cooper looked at her boys. “Is this what you want?”
“Mom, he’s got to stop. He won’t, unless we do something. He’s damn near killed you more than once. We’ve all taken the heat. It needs to end,” JT said.
“Okay,” she said quietly. “It ends today.”
Paisley called Officer Warren, who arrived a short time later. She picked up the boys and their mother, taking them to a safe shelter in Daytona, where they would be protected and hidden from Mr. Cooper.
“Can they arrest him?” Paisley wanted to know.
“All we have to do is look at medical records and police reports,” Officer Warren said. “I’m making this my personal project. Don’t worry.”
When the Cooper family had gone, Brad shut the door. Turning slowly, he wiped tears from his cheeks.
“I have never been prouder of this family,” he said. “We all learned something about courage from Paisley, and we did what was right.”
They converged on him, hugging in a big group, crying and laughing together.
Paisley sighed, holding Kai as she buried her face in his shirt. He let go of Tempest, who was to his other side, devoting both arms to her.
“I haven’t felt like this since my parents died. Thank you all for making me feel so safe! I feel like I’ve come home.”
“You are home, babe,” Kai said, kissing her damp cheeks. “You don’t have to be afraid of anything ever again.” He pulled her close, giving her a passionate kiss. His phone rang. Cursing, he looked at it, afraid it was work.
“Oh, it’s Brill!” he answered quickly, holding Paisley’s hand, as they walked to the couch. “Hiya! How are the guys?”
“Doing well. Doc says you saved Clevon’s life. I wanna thank you for that, man. He’s a good friend. Has him a little girl about my son’s age. Is Paisley okay?”
“She’s great. Wanna talk to her?”
Kai handed her the phone. She took it with a smile.
“Hey, baby. Lianna sends her love. She wanted me to make sure you’re okay. Did that bastard hurt you?”
“I’m fine. Ralph banged us up a little, but it’s not serious. I’m glad the guys are okay. Thank you all for taking such good care of me.”
“You’re welcome, Little Bit. Can’t have our official cookie baker hurt, can we? I wanted you to know I have some friends up at the jail, who will make it their business to keep an eye on Ralph. Maybe make him fall down some. That okay with you?”
Paisley struggled to hold back the tears. “Would it make me a horrible person, if I said yes?”
“No, Little Bit, it would make you human. Karma’s a bitch, baby. And she don’t like rich assholes, who beat up on pretty, little girls.”
“Brill, if I didn’t love Kai so much, I’d kiss you!”
“I believe that’s about the sweetest thing anyone ever said to me,” he replied with a chuckle. “Tell you what, you just kiss him that much more, okay?”
“I can do that. Love to Lianna and Slick.”
“Take care, Paisley.”
They hung up.
Kai, who had overheard Brill’s side of the conversation, was grinning. “I’ll take those kisses now,” he told her.
Paisley was happy to comply.
“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you,” Brad said. “But I’m starving. I’m ordering pizza. Speak now, or don’t get your favorite toppings.”
They all clamored loudly, telling him what they wanted. Laughing, he placed the order. When the food arrived, they nearly gorged themselves before doing a quick clean up. All of them headed to bed early.
Kai felt weird about making love to Paisley in his parents’ house, even if he had his mother’s tacit permission. It made Paisley uncomfortable, too, so they contented themselves with kissing and snuggling.
“My door should be fixed tomorrow,” Paisley said. “Then we can go to my place.”
“I can’t wait,” Kai said. “But it’s easier just knowing that we can be together anytime we want.”
“You could move in, you know,” Paisley said casually. “If you want.”
“What do you think?” Kai nuzzled her neck.
“I think that’s a yes.”
“That’s a yes.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes