Title: Fire and Rain
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Carlisle Cops #3
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Jan 11 2016
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Since the death of their mother, Josten Applewhite has done what he’s had to do to take care of his little brother and keep their small family together. But in an instant, a stroke of bad luck tears down what little home he’s managed to build, and Joss and Isaac end up on the streets.
That’s were Officer Kip Rogers finds them, and even though he knows he should let the proper authorities handle things, he cannot find it in his heart to turn them away, going so far as to invite them to stay in his home until they get back on their feet. With the help of Kip and his friends, Joss starts to rebuild his life. But experience has taught him nothing comes for free, and the generosity seems too good to be true—just like everything about Kip.
Kip knows he’s falling hard for Joss, and he likes the way Joss and (brother) make his big house feel like a home. But their arrangement can’t be permanent, not with Joss set on making his own way. Then a distant relative emerges, determined to destroy Joss’s family, and Kip knows Joss needs him—even if he’s not ready to admit it.
“A report of someone sleeping in the doorway of Hansen’s Mens Wear,” came through his radio from Dispatch.
“I’ll take it,” Kip said, answering the call and making the turn back toward the main street of town. With the weather like this and the fact that the store was one of those old-fashioned ones with the deep display windows, someone was bound to try to take shelter there. Kip made his final turn and came up on the store. He passed by but didn’t see anything, so he went around the block and pulled to a stop. The trees that lined the street cast shadows over the windows. Kip groaned as he pulled on his hat and raincoat before getting out of the car and tugging them tight around him. The cold and wet went right through the coat as the swirling wind blew water in all directions.
He took it slow and placed his hand on his gun as he approached the front of the store. Sure enough, a dark figure lay pressed back against the door of the closed business. It was covered in a dark blanket. As Kip got closer, he heard something he didn’t expect: singing. It barely reached his ears over the noise of the rain and water dripping off eaves and tumbling through drainpipes, but it was there. A lullaby, most definitely.
“I’m sorry. You need to move on,” Kip said as gently as he could. He didn’t want to frighten them. He pulled out his flashlight, shining it around. The blanket lowered, revealing a pair of haunted blue eyes. Kip was careful not to shine the light in his face, but he needed to see the man. “This is private property and you can’t stay here. There’s the Salvation Army a few blocks down. They have a shelter.”
“They’re already full,” the man said, though he sounded like a kid. “We got turned away from there a few hours ago.”
Kip’s suspicion rose. We? What exactly was going on under that blanket? Kip waited, and the man lowered the blanket further until a small blond head made an appearance. The man—though now that Kip could see him better, he really wasn’t much older than a kid, maybe nineteen or twenty—held the young boy closer.
A pair of eyes that closely matched the older kid’s looked up at him, and then the boy darted back down, hiding under the blanket. Kip stopped the gasp that rose in his throat. That was quickly followed by anger. “The Salvation Army turned you away?” He wondered if they’d seen that he had a child.
“Yeah. It seems everyone in town tried to get in, and they filled up right away. I knocked, but they said they were full without really looking at me.”
Kip stepped back and made a call to Dispatch. “I checked out Hansen’s.”
“Is it clear?”
“Negative,” he answered and waited for a response.
“We’re going,” the kid said as he slowly got to his feet and then lifted the child, who looked about three, into his arms. He wrapped the child in a blue blanket that had been hidden under the darker one and finally pulled the other blanket over them both. “You don’t need to take me in or anything. I wasn’t causing any trouble.” The kid stepped out into the rain and walked down the street toward the square.
“They’ve moved on,” Kip said, watching from the shelter of the overhang. Then he turned and shone the light into the store. Something glinted on the stoop when the beam passed over it. Kip stepped over and bent down, lifting up a gold chain with a coin on it. He didn’t know if it was real gold or not. Kip turned and hurried back to the sidewalk, but the kid was no longer in sight.
Kip got in his car and pulled into traffic. They couldn’t have gone very far. At the square he turned and saw the kid huddled under an overhang with the child in his arms. He pulled into a parking spot so he wouldn’t spook them, scrolled through his phone, and made a call. “Carter, it’s Rogers from work.”
“Hey. What’s going on?”
“I need a favor, or at least….”
“What is it?”
“I got a call about one of the usual homeless hangouts. Hansen’s Mens Wear. When I got there, it was a guy about twenty and a kid, maybe three or four. They were under this blanket and….” He tried not to let his voice break, but it did anyway. “Now I think I know how you felt when you found Alex last year.”
“You can take just about anything, but when it’s kids….”
“It rips your heart out,” Kip finished. “Yeah. I’m hoping you could get in touch with Donald. When I talked to him, the guy said the Salvation Army had turned them away. They need a dry place for the night and probably longer. They’re in a bad way, and the situation on the street is only going to get worse as the weather turns.”
“Let me call him. Can I use this number?”
“Sure. I have them in sight. Right now they’re standing under one of the bank awnings on High Street. They’re dry for now, but the guy looks about ready to collapse, like he’s had about all he can take…. Shit.” Kip saw the guy slide down the wall and end up in a heap on the sidewalk, the youngster still in his arms. The little kid was crying as Kip approached.
“I’m okay,” the older kid said, and he tried to get up but ended up sitting on the sidewalk with the kid curled in his lap.
“Jos, open your eyes. Don’t go like Mama.” The younger kid began to cry, and Kip lifted him into his arms.
“It’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you,” Kip told him as he gently rubbed his back. The guy got to his feet but wobbled and seemed drunk, except there wasn’t the faintest scent of alcohol on him. “I’m not going to hurt you either.” Kip took his arm with his free hand and led him to the car. “Just get inside. It’s warm and we can talk. I’m not arresting you, and I won’t hurt you. I promise.” It took him a few minutes to coax Jos into the car, and once he was seated, Kip placed the boy in his arms. Kip left the door open and popped the trunk, grabbed a large umbrella, and held it over all of them.
A call came in and Kip explained that he was already busy. He heard one of the other patrols take it. Then he opened the front passenger door and grabbed one of his bottles of water. He handed it to Jos, who opened it and gulped like he was dying of thirst.
“When was the last time you ate?”
The guy shrugged at him, eyes blank and a little vacant. Kip got a package of peanut butter cheese crackers that he kept in his bag and handed them to Jos. He looked at the food in disbelief and then opened the package, handing the first two to the kid before eating one himself. The kid nibbled while Jos finished three of the four pieces in three bites.
“Feeling better?” Kip asked, and Jos nodded before sharing the water with the kid, who had finished his crackers and was looking around for more.
“Yes. Thank you. Can we go now?” Jos asked as he finished the bottle of water.
“Just take a few minutes to rest. I’ve called a friend, and he’s seeing if he can help you with a shelter for the night.”
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
For Other Works by Andrew Grey
(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)
Fire and Water (1)
Fire and Ice (2)
Fire and Rain (3)
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