In this week's episode of Rose and Thorne, we have Vinnie and Ethan in the park with the mugger... and the dog. Wonder where that will lead. Then more of Moving Forward, as Marshall gets an unpleasant surprise in the men's room at Partners. Don't forget to check out the other Briefers too, see what's up with them. Their links follow my tales. Enjoy!
Rose and Thorne #3 (1.3)
… and the next moment he lay face-down in the grass, a booted foot planted firmly on his thick neck.
“As the lady was saying, you do have the right to remain silent, and I suggest you follow that particular piece of advice, asshole.” Ethan turned his handsome face toward me and winked.
I’m not a lady, I started to protest, but the words never reached my lips.
The guy raised his head, spitting out blades of grass. “That’s no lady—” he managed to choke out.
“Shut up!” Ethan and I snarled in unison. The man subsided with a resigned whimper. I’ve found that muggers are generally not very brave men, which is why they tend to snatch what they want and run, relying on surprise and/or speed to cover their tracks. In my experience, they aren’t generally very bright either. For example, this fool hadn’t even thought to cover his face with a ski mask or a stocking. What had he been thinking?
The loud wail of an approaching siren broke the silence. The cavalry was one step behind, as usual.
“I called them,” Ethan confirmed, just as two policemen rushed out of the darkness, guns drawn. They took in the scenario, looking between me and Ethan, finally training their weapons on the suspect. Overkill. That man wasn’t going anywhere until Ethan let him up.
A man in plainclothes trudged up the path, right after the officers. He was middle-aged, graying hair combed over the front, and was well on his way to a beer gut. I recognized him as one of the detectives assigned to the case. Despite the fact we’d just nabbed the bad guy, he looked like someone had short-sheeted his bed. With him in it.
“Detectives,” he just barely acknowledged us. His voice had enough ice in it to sink the Titanic all over again.
“Detective,” Ethan echoed. “Well, he’s all yours. I’m sure you can handle it from here.” Ethan released his pressure on the perp and stepped back. The boys in blue cuffed the suspect and hauled him to his feet. The detective stared daggers at Ethan, his disdain for him more than obvious. Ethan never flinched or looked away, holding his glare. They looked like two kids having a staring contest.
In the meantime, I still lay on the ground, injured and untended. Don’t think Ethan wasn’t going to hear about that, too. The detective looked away first. I saw Ethan smile before he turned his attention to the cops.
“Don’t forget to read him his rights. I didn’t get to finish.”
“Yes, sir,” one officer replied. “Will do. Thanks.”
“Paperwork?” the detective said snidely. There was always tons of paperwork connected with an arrest, and we had to fill out a certain amount of it ourselves. Downside of the job. But on the bright side, we could do it on our own schedule. We were feds; we didn’t answer to anyone at the state level.
“We’ll do that tomorrow,” Ethan said. “It’s late.” I could tell the detective was ready to explode, argue that it was late for them too but they didn’t have a choice in the matter. I half expected him to call Ethan out as an excuse to throw more of his weight around, to make up for us getting the collar and not him. In the end he let it go. Smooth move on his part. He grunted something unintelligible then followed the policemen out of the park.
Alone at last.
I loudly cleared my throat in Ethan’s direction. He turned toward me, a wicked smile on his lips and evil dancing in his lovely blue eyes, which gleamed even in the dim light.
“Don’t yes darlin’ me. Get your ass over here and help me up. But first, hand me my gun.” I pointed to where it still lay beside the oddly silent dog. I’d forgotten about the pup.
All right, maybe I was just having a bit of a diva moment. And maybe I was more than capable of getting up under my own steam. But to hell with it. I’d been injured in the line of duty, and I was ready for a little TLC from my man.
“Aw, poor baby,” he cooed as he sauntered toward me. Damn, that man knows how to walk. He addressed the dog as he reached down for my weapon. “So you’re the one who was giving Vinnie a hard time, are you? Well, my name’s Ethan, and there’s no reason to get excited. I’m just going to take that pretty little gun… Nice doggie, there’s a good boy.” His hand snaked slowly toward its target. The Pekingese had other ideas. Maybe it disliked something about Ethan—such as his patronizing tone. It yipped at him, throwing its small body between him and my gun.
I couldn’t help but snicker at the sight. Looked like his charm had its limits after all.
“If you think that’s so funny, why don’t you get it yourself?”
Looks like I hurt someone’s feelings.
“Sure, just watch me,” I assured him with more confidence than I actually felt. I didn’t exactly have great rapport with the Peke myself. He was just as likely to take a bite out of me as he would Ethan.
But I wasn’t about to admit to that.
I rolled to my knees, grimacing in pain. My stockings were ruined anyway, no salvaging them. I crawled slowly toward the pup, keeping my voice low and calm. “Good boy, there’s a good boy, let Vinnie get his gun, yes, yes…” I maintained my nonsensical chatter the closer I came. He cocked his head and regarded me with quizzical eyes. What was he thinking? How good I might taste? He probably didn’t have much of a bite, but getting rabies shots wasn’t my idea of fun either.
I took a deep breath and reached for my gun.
to be continued
Moving Forward #3 (1.3)
Marshall barely kept himself from falling backward into the stall. He teetered on one leg for a moment before he managed to regain his balance. “What the fuck’s your problem?”
“You’re my fucking problem, that’s what. Think you’re all that and a bag of chips, but you’re just some little whore, that’s what you are.”
Marshall wasn’t one for fighting. Lee had taught him it didn’t solve anything. And honestly, he’d never had to before. But he was damned if he was going to listen to this guy’s shit either, not without responding, at least verbally.
“You don’t know me, and I don’t care what you think.”
“Of course not, whores don’t care about anyone, do they? You and your goddamned pimp…”
“That old man you hang out with. I’m not stupid. I know he’s pimping you out.”
Marshall began to see red. It was one thing to talk smack about him, but damned if he was going to listen to shit about Lee. He swung blindly at the other man, felt his fist connect with the man’s jaw. He staggered back a step.
Marshall started to push past him, but the man grabbed him and swung him hard, smashing his face against the wall. Marshall’s knees threatened to buckle as he struggled to remain upright. An unexpected kidney punch drove him to his knees.
“You got a lesson coming, little boy. How not to treat other men…”
He pulled Marshall’s head back by his hair, dragging him across the floor. Marshall reached behind him, grabbed the man’s wrists and tried to pull him off, but he was too strong. “I know just how to treat whores, and you’ll like it—”
“Hey you, what the hell do you think you’re doing to him?” A stranger came out from one of the stalls. He was tall and blond, and his eyes seemed to flash fire as he regarded the tableau before him.
“None of your goddamned business,” the first man began, but Marshall took advantage of his momentary distraction to wriggle out of his grasp. He felt his hair being pulled out by the roots, so tight was the man’s grasp, but he didn’t care. Staggering slightly, he crossed the floor, headed toward the door.
The newcomer laid a hand on Marshall’s arm. “Hang on there, let me walk you out.” He turned toward Marshall’s attacker, pointing an accusatory finger at him. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of here and never come back. I’m going to tell my father what you did. He just happens to own this place. And if you don’t leave now, I’ll make sure this guy presses charges, and I’ll testify for him.”
The man snarled and looked as if he wanted to hit them both. Marshall braced himself, prepared to throw the next punch.
“You’re not worth it.” He spat at Marshall as he passed by, a thick globule hitting his cheek and running down. He opened the door and disappeared from view.
“I think you need to sit down.” The blond threw his arm about Marshall’s shoulders, keeping him from falling. He reached up and wiped the spit from Marshall’s cheek.
All Marshall could think of was getting back to Lee. “I’ll be all right,” he insisted, taking deep calming breaths. “Does your father really own Partners?”
“Naw, I have no idea who the owner is.” The blond grinned. “Got rid of him real quick, though, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, you sure did, good thinking.”
“You know him?”
“No. Danced with him once, that’s all.” Was all this trouble because Marshall said no to a second dance? That was just crazy.
“Maybe we should tell someone, in case he tries to come after you again...”
Marshall shook his head. “I think you scared him off. I’ll be more careful, I promise. Thanks again for your help…”
“My name’s Dustin. Dustin Johnson.” He held out his hand.
“Marshall Clinton.” Marshall took the offered hand. Dustin’s grip was warm and firm.
“I really appreciate your stepping in, Dustin. If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.”
“You can let me walk you to your table, just so I know you’re okay.” Dustin eyed him critically.
“You’re not alone, are you?”
“No, I’m with someone.”
“All right, then, let’s go, shall we?”
Marshall couldn’t think of a reason not to. He was still shaky inside. Maybe Lee wouldn’t notice right away if he showed up at the table with Dustin. He might think he was flush from dancing or something. He’d tell Lee the truth when he could think a little straighter.
“Yeah, okay.” As they left, a couple of guys passed them by, but neither one was the man who’d just left. Dustin kept his hand on Marshall’s elbow as they threaded their way between the tables. “There, that’s the one.” Marshall pointed ahead of them to the table, where it looked like everyone was now sitting, along with afresh pitcher of beer.
Lee rose as Marshall approached. He looked between Marshall and Dustin. Marshall could read the concern in his eyes.
“I was thinking of sending out a search and rescue,” he joked, “you were gone so long—” Lee’s eyes widened, and Marshall realized belatedly that his clothes were probably awry, and his face messed up. He should have looked in the mirror first, but he hadn’t been thinking straight.
Lee came around the table, as Dustin stepped back. “What the hell happened?” He tilted Marshall’s face, examining him closely. Marshall tried not to wince.
“It’s okay, I’m okay now, Lee. Really. Let me just sit down and I promise I’ll tell you about it.” His eyes implored Lee to please not worry, and Lee reluctantly agreed. He put his arm around Marshall and guided him into his chair.
“There you are!” Denver suddenly leapt up, but his words weren’t for Marshall. “Hey everybody, I want y’all to meet my cousin, Dustin.”
to be continued
Looks like there might be a fight brewing here! What do you think? Should there be a brawl? Don't forget to see what the other Briefers have done!