“Office Dan needs some help with something and has some questions for me.”
“When are you coming home? We were supposed to make pizza.”
“We can make pizza another night.”
I run my hand over his head, trying my best not to cry. “I have to go.” I see his eyes get wet and my heart breaks. “I want you to take care of your sister until I get back, okay?” He nods, biting the inside of his cheek. I pull him into me and kiss the top of his hair before helping him down from the car.
“Go wait with Grandpa, little dude. I’ll be there in a second,” Cash tells Jax, who reluctantly walks back up to the front porch where Cash’s dad and Ashlyn are standing with Dan. He resumes his place, crouching down inside the door, his fingers running down the side of my face. I close my eyes. “I will see you in a couple hours, okay?” I nod, but the lump in my throat won’t let me talk. “I love you, baby.” I nod again.
“We need to go,” Office Mitchel says. I take my eyes off Cash to look at Officer Mitchel. When Cash’s hand slides to the back of my neck, his fingers tangling into my hair, my eyes return to his. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” I finally speak.
“Don’t worry, baby. Things will be okay.” He pulls my upper body forward, and as soon as I’m close enough, his mouth opens over mine, and he kisses me so thoroughly I forget where I am. “I’ll see you soon, baby,” he tells me one last time, pressing his forehead against mine.
“See you soon,” I agree, untangling my hands from his hair. He kisses my forehead before standing. He hesitates before shutting the door. His hand goes to the glass, and mine does the same. He turns to say something to Officer Mitchel before his eyes come back to me. I hate the worried look on his face. He steps away from the squad car and goes over to where his dad is standing. Ashlyn puts her arms out in his direction, and the second he has her, she wraps herself around him, his face going near her ear. I can see his mouth moving, and I watch her nod. Jax has his head back listening to what his dad is saying to his sister. I know he’s upset when his eyes come to me and I see tears in them. I’m so lost in watching my family that I jump when I hear the car door slam closed.
“You know it’s going to be your ass on the line if someone asks about what happened today,” Officer Mitchel says to Dan.
“You gonna say something?” Dan questions.
“N-nu…No,” Officer Mitchel stutters.
“So how the f**k is anyone going to know that we didn’t follow procedure?” Dan growls, backing out of the driveway.
“I don’t know, just…what if they wonder why it took so long, or why she’s not cuffed?” he asks, sounding contrite.
“So you wanted me to handcuff her in front of her daughter, even though she was fully cooperating with us?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then what the f**k are you saying?”
“That we shouldn’t show favoritism.”
“Look, I have known James for the last twenty years. He is a good man, and from what I know, his boys are good solid men too. Yes, Lilly has been accused of a crime, but until she is found guilty, she is innocent. No, I didn’t cuff her. She also has no history of violence and has cooperated since the beginning of this investigation.”
“All right, you made your point,” Officer Mitchel says, looking out the window. We drive the thirty minutes in silence, and once we pull up outside of the precinct, Officer Mitchel gets out, opening my door. His hand goes to his back, and I hear the distinct sound of metal and know what’s coming. My stomach rolls, and I swallow against the nausea.
“I’m sorry about this,” Officer Mitchel says, and I can hear his sincerity. Once I’m cuffed, the weight of the metal on my wrist feels like a thousand pounds. I’m lead inside the police station by Dan with a hand wrapped around my elbow. He directs me to a small room that has a long metal table and a large mirror across from where I’m seated.
“We will be back in a few minutes, darlin’,” Dan says, and I nod looking at myself. I wonder how the hell this kind of thing keeps happening to me. It takes about twenty minutes for Dan and Officer Mitchel to come back into the room. Dan un-cuffs my hands but places a cuff around my ankle so that I’m attached to the chair.
“Thanks,” I say softly, rubbing my wrist. I can still feel the cold weight of the cuffs even now that they are gone.
“All right, let’s get started,” Dan says, pulling out a large envelope. I watch as he opens it and starts pulling out papers. I can see my name and copies of checks; my breathing picks up and I start to feel lightheaded. Even knowing I didn’t do what I’m being accused of, I still feel guilty that my name is involved. “Now, as you know, the last time that we brought you in we didn’t have enough evidence against you to charge you with a crime,” Dan says and I watch him take a deep breath before his eyes come back to me. “Unfortunately, that has changed.”
“No,” I whisper, looking at myself in the mirror. This all feels like I’m living a bad dream.
“How much f**king longer are they going to keep her in there?” I roar; the rage inside of me is burning so brightly I could explode.
“Son, you need to calm down.”
“Calm down? Fuck that! Dad, she has been in jail for a week now!” I shout. It’s killing me having her away from me and the kids, and worse, knowing that she’s in jail, when she of all people should never even know what the inside of a jail cell looks like.
“Son, you going off half-cocked isn’t going to help anyone, and it especially will not help Lilly right now.”
“Dad, you and I both know that Lilly is not built to be in a place like that with real criminals,” I tell him, something he already knows. Yesterday when I went to see her, I could see it in her face that she was exhausted. I knew my dad was doing everything in his power to keep her away from the general population, but he could only do so much, and his friends could only do so much without making it look like favoritism, risking all of their jobs.
“Cash, I promise you I’m doing everything in my power to get her out of there.”
“I know.” I sit down in one of my parents’ lawn chairs. “Did they get the video from the check cashing place?” I ask him.
“It’s being reviewed now,” he tells me, sitting down across from me.