Running drops pounds. Beards drop panties. Add those two together and that woman doesn’t stand a fuckin chance.
“What the hell was that?” I asked as Downy stopped me to let a young man cross in front of us first.
He shrugged. “He who has the biggest beard shall go first.”
I looked at him blankly for a few precious moments as my brain comprehended what had just come out of his mouth, shaking my head when I decided he’d been serious.
Barely suppressing the urge to laugh my ass off, we continued on, me in front of him. “So why did you let me go first?”
He didn’t answer for a few moments, instead doing something behind my back that I couldn’t see since it was so effin’ dark where he was taking me.
“Because I like to stare at your ass,” he admitted.
I snorted. “Of course you do.”
He chuckled darkly, the soft timbre dancing over my skin as he did.
“It’s those fucking jeans. They look like they’re painted on. I could literally stare at your ass for hours if you’d let me,” he answered honestly.
“Mommy, what’s an ass?” A little boy’s voice rose from the darkness beyond.
“Milton Donovan, we do not use that sort of crass language,” a mother’s annoyed voice snapped from the darkness.
“Maybe lunar golf wasn’t the best of ideas,” Downy said from his position at the next putting green.
I snorted. “You think?”
I was enjoying myself, however. Even though I couldn’t hit the hole from two inches away, let alone two feet. He was enjoying himself more than me, and I was enjoying myself watching him enjoy himself. It all worked out in the end. We were both happy with how the night had gone.
We started out at dinner. Then we’d gone to the home improvement store to pick out a gallon of paint to paint his bathroom in. I chose a blood red color that nearly matched my shirt, and he’d gone along with it because I thought the color was so perfect for the Texas theme he had going on.
If left up to his own devices, he’d have chosen another brown color like the rest of the house.
“Goddammit, Mocha. Leave my balls alone,” Downy growled.
“Mommy, what are balls?” The boy asked loudly.
Downy choked and suppressed his urge to laugh while I didn’t even bother to hide it. There was no way to.
“I think we should go,” I said laughingly as we finished our final hole.
Mocha had evened out the playing field because she liked to chase Downy’s green ball better than my orange one. Therefore, each time Downy went to hit it, the ball wouldn’t even make it three feet before she had a hold of it. It was a lovely handicap that made the game enjoyable instead of annoying.
I was a competitive person, and regardless of whether it was lunar mini golf or Monopoly, I wanted to win.
The last time I’d played Monopoly I’d ended up sweeping my arm across the table when Sean had put his fifth hotel on Parks Avenue. Needless to say, it was ugly and nobody in my family would play with me anymore.
Downy and I gave our putters back and started the dark trek out of the mini golf place in the mall slowly but surely.
Slowly, because Mocha kept having to stop and steal people’s balls like a ninja. Then we’d have to pry them out of her mouth and hand them back to the unsuspecting victims who thought it was hilarious.
“Shouldn’t she be on a leash?” I asked in concern.
“Probably. But she ate through her leash the moment we got in here,” Downy laughed.
“Oh,” I replied dumbly.
I hadn’t even realized.
He’d said something about her leash, but I’d been too busy concentrating on my putt to listen to him.
“It’s just something about the leash. She hates it,” Downy sighed. “I haven’t gotten into trouble with it yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Being a cop doesn’t give me the right to blatantly break the law, and that’s exactly what I do when she’s not on a leash.”
He held the door open to the lunar golf place, and we started walking down the aisle towards the food court, and beyond it to the parking lot and Downy’s truck.
“Peter has a metal leash,” I offered. “He hasn’t used it since he’s learned to walk without pulling me along for the ride. You’re welcome to it.”
He took my hand and we weaved through a shit load of cars to the very back of the lot.
It’d been the only parking available at the time, and still looked to be, even with ten minutes until closing time.
He shook his head. “No. Then she’d just chip her too…” He trailed off when something caught his eye.
Then I was violently shoved to the ground at the same time I heard a loud whimper from Mocha at my side.
My hands were the first things to land, followed shortly by my body, and then my face.
I cried out in agony as the gravel from the asphalt under my hands dug into the skin of my palms.
I knew instantly they’d be scraped raw, but it was put out of my head quickly by the rush of adrenaline that shot through my veins when I looked up to see a man fighting with Downy.
Downy was bigger, and much more experienced.
I could tell that by the way Downy easily sidestepped each swipe from the knife that the other man had in his hand.
There was also a commotion of some sort going on behind me, but I couldn’t tell exactly what, since the altercation was happening in the shadows behind the parked car I was shielded against.
Mocha was fighting something, and my best guess was another attacker.
Hands shaking, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed 911.
“911, what’s your emergency,” the dispatcher answered instantly.
“This is Memphis Conner. I’m at the mall parking lot close to the back of the lot on the food court side. A man with a knife is trying to stab my boyfriend,” I whispered frantically.
The dispatcher was very calm and collected, but then my next statement had her practically screeching to another in the room with her the moment the words left my lips.
“My boyfriend is a cop for KPD.”
Yes, that word, cop, got one hell of a response.
What started out as urgent turned to frantic as the dispatcher called in backup.
Cops didn’t like it when one of their own was being hurt, and neither did dispatchers.
“We have units only minutes away. Can you tell me what’s going on?” The dispatcher asked worriedly.
Just about the time she finished her sentence, I heard a vicious growl from my side and turned in time to see a dog launch itself at my face.
When the dog was just millimeters from tearing my face to shreds, Mocha slammed into the dog like a battering ram, bringing the dog down in a tumble of limbs and snarls.
The fight was over quickly for the other dog’s part, though. Mocha’s superior size and experience in bringing down lethal suspects only strengthened her ability to take the much smaller dog down.
Plus, she had the dog in a vulnerable position, enabling her to get the smaller dog by the throat, where she promptly clamped down and refused to let go.
The dog’s struggles slowed, and finally stopped all together, becoming nothing more than a twitch. Then nothing, after that as the dog’s life drained away.
When a shout of surprise sounded from my opposite side, I turned in time to see Downy throat punch the knife-man. The knife man went down hard, clutching his throat, as his oxygen, too, was depleted.
Like owner like dog…
“Holy shit,” I croaked. “That was insane.”
Downy snarled out a laugh and got down on his knees where he promptly checked for a pulse.
He shook his head and stood. “His windpipe is crushed. If the ambulance doesn’t get here quickly, he’s a dead man.”
His eyes lighted on the dead dog.
Mocha still had her jaw clamped down on the dead dog, but I couldn’t really muster up the desire to care.
When she started eating the other dog, then I’d care…but until then, fuck that dog. I liked my face right where it was, thank you very much.
“He had his dog attack us…you…me…” I couldn’t figure out how to make my brain work.
He nodded and went back to the man that was not a pretty color of blue, who was looking around frantically at him.
“Sorry, buddy. I don’t have anything to help you. Police and fire are already on their way. Hopefully you live long enough for them to make it,” Downy said callously.
I just shook my head. “Jesus.”
Then the sirens started to pour into the parking lot.
Soon the entire back half of the lot was filled to the brim with people, and the lucky guy that he was, the medics swooped in just as he took his last breath.
“Crushed windpipe!” Downy yelled.
The man that looked to be the lead paramedic waved his hand in acknowledgement, then proceeded to throw what looked to be iodine on the man’s throat, then cut into his neck with a scalpel.
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed.
Downy’s chest filled my vision, and I looked up into his wary eyes. “Yes?”
He looked at a spot on my face, then lifted his hand to lightly prod it with his huge, blunt fingertips.
I winced and shrank back slightly. “Ouch.”
He grimaced. “You’re going to have one hell of a shiner. And I’m fairly sure you have gravel embedded in your hands.”
I winced and held up my hands, palm up, for him to see.
“Yep,” I agreed instantly. “I sure do!”
He snorted at my nonchalant act and took me by the wrist, called Mocha with a word that sounded suspiciously like gibberish, and started to walk to an alternate ambulance that’d just arrived on scene.
A tall man with pitch-black hair and what looked to be Native American features, smiled at Downy. “Hey man. You look like shit.”
I catalogued Downy’s injuries now that I’d been made aware of them.
Bleeding something under his gray, skintight shirt. Slash mark on one arm. Then on the other hand was what looked like a stab wound.
“You’ve been stabbed!” I screeched.
He gave me a look that clearly said, ‘you’re getting taken care of first,’ then shoved me, albeit lightly, towards the man.
“Tai, please take a look at her hands while I check Mocha out for injuries and talk to the officer in charge,” Downy requested.
Tai, the cute Native American, nodded and led me to the open doors at the back of the truck.
Tai was dressed in the department issued blue tactical pants with the bright white strip that reflected light down the side of the pants, and a t-shirt that denoted him as a ‘Kilgore Firefighter.’
“Fatbaby, my man, we have a beautiful woman to work over!” Tai yelled as he helped me up into the back of the ambulance.
I snorted in amusement at not just the man’s name, Fatbaby, but at the innuendo Tai had used.
Fatbaby was dressed in much the same as Tai, except he had on a jacket with sunglasses perched on top of his head. He had sandy brown hair, and the cutest smile I’d ever seen.
“Fatbaby?” I managed to ask as I took a seat on the bench next to him.
He grimaced. “Nickname that I’ll never live down. Ever.”
He reached forward and grabbed my hands, taking a closer look at them.
Although it was nice to have two very attractive men looking at me, my heart was still outside of the ambulance.
“Was that stab wound bad?” I asked Tai worriedly.
He looked up from his perch on the stretcher in front of me, giving me his deep green eyes and said, “He would’ve told us if it was bad.”
I nodded, trusting his expert opinion. Although that didn’t mean I wasn’t worried. I sure as hell was. The man I was in love with had just gotten stabbed, and my face had nearly been eaten. Again!
An hour later, I finally went to Downy’s truck and laid down.
My hands were on fire, and Downy was still talking to the chief, as well as a few other cops that I’d seen a time or two, but couldn’t quite place.
My eyes were blurry, and lethargy was creeping up on me after the adrenaline started to dissipate from my system.
It probably also had to do with the shot of pain killers I got from the medics who thought I might possibly have a mild concussion after I started to complain of a headache ten minutes after they started cleaning my hands.
Apparently, when I’d fallen, I’d slammed my face into the asphalt as well, but I’d blocked it out when I saw Downy fighting some mad man with a knife.
Since I’d refused to go to the hospital, they’d relented, but only if they were able to give me a mild pain reliever and told me to tell Downy to wake me every hour or so.
After I’d promised, I’d walked to the truck, which was now where I found myself, huddling underneath Downy’s KPD jacket, trying to ignore the flashing blue and red lights.
I must’ve managed to doze off quite well, because the next thing I remembered was waking up to a gentle rocking motion.
I opened my eyes to find Downy carrying me into his house.
“Hey,” I said sleepily.
He grinned. “Hey.”
“Did you get seen by the paramedics?” I asked.
He placed me down onto the bed and slowly lifted up both arms which now had white gauze wrapped around them.
“A doctor is calling me in an antibiotic in case of infection, but both wounds were superficial, so they didn’t see any need for me to come in,” he explained as he started taking off both of my shoes.
“And I picked Peter up. He’s in the backyard with Mocha,” he said softly, as he started to work on my pants.
“Thank you,” I mumbled, sleep starting to consume me once again.
He smiled. “Sleep, pretty girl. I have to make a few phone calls, but then I’ll come to bed shortly, okay?”
“Mmph,” I mumbled. “Love you.”
I didn’t hear a reply for a long time, but then the softest of kisses was placed upon my head, then he whispered. “Love you, too.”