Home > Charged (Saints of Denver #2)(11)

Charged (Saints of Denver #2)(11)
Author: Jay Crownover

There were so many people, rows and rows filled with curious faces, all with their eyes locked on those of us on the wrong side of the barrier. Some people were crying; some looked furious as they glared at the group of us waiting to learn our fates. I was trying to search out the tawny, perfectly coiffed head of my unwanted, but very much needed, legal representative in the crowd but I didn’t spot him. My heart kicked hard in my chest and my handcuffed hands started to sweat as I curled my fingers into my palms. I was in so far over my head that panic and dread were starting to fill me up as I realized I very well might be stuck in this mess, leveled and flattened on the bottom of rock bottom, all on my own.

I was the idiot that fired him. I told him I didn’t need his help because I didn’t want him to call my dad. I did what I always did and fucked everything up. God, when was I going to learn to tamp down my foolish and impulsive reactions? Why did I always have to be my own worst enemy? I hadn’t ever done myself any favors, and now, it looked like I had gone and shot myself in the foot, all because I didn’t want to let my dad down again. When I least expected it, pride and remorse reared up to remind me that I wasn’t quite as awful as I made myself out to be. I still had a heart, still had a soul, even though both were tattered and torn.

I sucked in a deep breath and willed myself not to start crying. I really wanted to. I wanted to sob, shake, and fall into a million tiny pieces of regret and shame. I wouldn’t though. I was willful and foolish, but I wasn’t fragile. I had screwed up, like I always did, and I would take whatever consequences that followed that screwup stoically and silently. I would man-up, take whatever hits I had coming, and maybe finally pull my head out of my ass and start making better choices. That was the only way I had left to let my dad know I wasn’t a total lost cause. I could still turn it around if he didn’t give up on me.

I didn’t realize that I had squeezed my eyes closed to keep the moisture at bay. When I pried them open after I got my emotions under control, not only did I spot that elegant golden head coming through the large wooden doors, but I also quit breathing when I realized it was bent towards a much darker, much grizzlier one as they walked towards the front of the courtroom. Charcoal gray eyes locked on mine and shined so much love at me that I couldn’t stop a rebellious and wild tear full of liquid relief from sliding down my cheek. My heart expanded and started beating in a familiar rhythm tapping with hope and warmth as my dad tilted his heavily bearded chin in my direction and took a seat next to the attorney. The chin tilt was a universal signal from Brite Walker indicating everything would be okay, and with him here, with him looking at me like he always looked at me, for the first time since I had been arrested, I actually had a tiny sliver of belief that it would all work out in my favor. Maybe I was on the bottom, but my dad was there to give me a boost up, and this time, I was determined not to immediately fall down as soon as I got my feet under me.

A deep shudder worked through my body and it took me a second to notice that not only was my gigantic and impossible to miss father in the courtroom, but so was my much smaller, much more delicate mother. She had her hand in my dad’s, and while I was fighting back tears, she was letting hers freely flow. I knew both my parents adored me, but Darcy had a firm breaking point and I had pushed her to it more than once. I was surprised to see her and wondered if she was here to support me or to support my dad. Even though they were divorced, and often argued like cats and dogs, there was still something between my mother and father that no amount of discord and tension, or even relationships with other people, could kill.

Whoever she was here for, I was glad to see both of them and it was impossible to miss the triumphant look on Quaid’s face as I switched my attention to him. He dipped his very whiskerless, chiseled chin at me, much like my dad had done. With both of them here to silently assure me that things would be okay, or as okay as they could be for the moment, I started to breathe easier and finally unclenched my hands. It wasn’t relief that was flooding me, but it was something close.

Since my last name was Walker and W was always at the end of everything that went in alphabetical order, I didn’t get my turn in front of the judge until well after the possible murderer, who was denied bail, and the drug dealer, who was also denied bail. The longer I had to wait, the more anxious I got. I didn’t know the ins and outs of everyone else’s circumstances, but I was astute enough to put together the fact anyone going before the judge that had an extensive criminal history already on the books was mercilessly shot down and sent back to the enclosed bench looking at more time in the slammer. I was stunned that it all happened so fast. Each hearing took less than five minutes, which seemed far too quick to decide if someone was worthy of going home or sitting in jail for an undetermined amount of time. None of it seemed to bode well for me when it was my turn, but every time I met the golden-haired attorney’s gaze through the protective glass, it never wavered or betrayed any kind of worry. The expression in his light blue eyes never indicated anything but steady assurance and stone-cold confidence.

My dad, on the other hand, was getting just as antsy and just as fidgety as I was the longer time dragged on and the more accused that the judge shot down. Brite Walker was a massive human being. He took up all the available space around him and then some. When Brite was uncomfortable, it made everyone else within his vicinity uncomfortable. I saw the judge shoot my dad a couple of narrow-eyed looks throughout the different hearings, and I watched every single person seated in the same row as my father get up and move the more agitated he became. I kept waiting for Quaid to tell him to dial it down, for him to ask my dad to put a lid on his natural fatherly and protective instincts, but he never did. In fact, every time the judge looked in their direction or another person abandoned their front row seat, a small grin would tug at the man’s perfectly sculpted mouth and wry humor would dance in his eyes. My dad typically made a lasting impression on everyone that crossed his path; it appeared Quaid Jackson wasn’t immune to my dad’s legendary charisma and presence either.

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