Authors: Joyful Devastation
Copyright© 2014 Erin M. Leaf
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal.
No part of
this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written
permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are
fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
When darkness falls, it's good to have
someone to hold onto, and my guy is always there for me. This is for him.
Erin M. Leaf
Theo jerked upright
from his favorite chair as white-hot pain howled through his groin.
“Theo? What happened? Are you okay?”
his sister Ella asked, coming into the living room from the kitchen. She was
wiping her hands on her favorite dishtowel, the one Theo hated. The faded dancing
gnomes reminded him of evil leprechauns.
“Oh God, I think my balls are
perforated,” he gasped out, standing awkwardly and glaring at the gnomes. They
stared back at him malevolently. He couldn’t tell what had bit him, but it hurt
like a motherfucker and he was afraid to move. He was afraid to look. Instead,
cupped his hands over his balls awkwardly
in front of his sister. And Ella, damn her, could barely keep a straight face.
He scowled, hoping irritation would hide the tears he couldn’t quite hold back.
“Hang on. Let me see,” Ella said,
throwing the towel over her shoulder. She crouched down and turned him
slightly, peering at his junk from behind, then began to giggle.
“How can you laugh?” Theo demanded
through gritted teeth.
“Your family jewels are safe, not
that you’re using them for anything these days,” his sister retorted.
“That’s not very—” he began to
complain when she moved slightly and another searing pain shot through him,
cutting off his ability to speak for a moment. He gasped and bent over, hands tightening
on his junk protectively. “What the hell did you just do?” he finally managed
to choke out.
She brandished her daughter’s
favorite purple knitting needle in front of him. The tip was bright red.
that’s my blood,
he thought faintly.
“Looks like you landed on Ivy’s
latest creation. She was making you a hat, for when you’re out on stakeouts,”
Ella said, still smiling. “And your balls are fine. If you’d let go of them for
a moment, you’d be able to see for yourself. It was in your thigh.”
Theo took a deep breath. Dammit. It
hurt like crazy, worse even than the time that crazy druggie had shot him in
the arm. All he wanted to do was go to sleep after a long night on shift, but
he’d promised to stay awake so he could see his niece’s science project. He’d
figured he could catch a quick nap in his favorite chair while he waited to see
her volcano or poster or whatever, and bam!
what I get for being nice
, he thought disgustedly. Something warm trickled down his leg
beneath his jeans. “Shit. I’m bleeding.” He wasn’t sure if he should try to sit
down again, or not move at all. He put his hand lower, trying to put pressure
on it, but his sister shoved his fingers away.
“For God’s sake, here.” She pressed
her dishtowel to his leg, right up against his balls.
He jumped back.
“You’re making a mess,” his sister
said, moving in again.
“Oh my God, are you
to kill me?” He moved away,
grabbing the towel from her. “The thing probably punctured my femoral artery.”
“Oh please, if it had, you’d
already be on the floor dying. Pull your pants down.” His sister reached for
him, hands threatening.
“What? No! Get away from me.” He
backed up, almost falling into the chair. “I’ll do it myself.” He turned around
and unbuttoned his jeans, then eased them down.
His sister peered over his
“Ella! Get away, Jesus.” His
boxer-briefs were bloody.
“You’re packing some serious raw
meat down there, brother,” his sister said, laughing.
“Dear God, you have no shame.” He
shoved her favorite towel against the puncture wound in his inner thigh, then
glared at his sister. “I’m bleeding all over your little gnomes. Serves you
right for laughing at me.”
Her brown eyes twinkled at him. “That’s
okay. I’ve got more gnomes than you ever had.”
He rolled his eyes. “I think it
Ella’s smile slipped away.
she’s taking this seriously,
Theo thought, aggravated.
“You should probably get a tetanus
booster, too,” she said, sighing. “Let me grab my bag. I’ll drop you off at the
ER on the way to work.”
Theo eased his jeans back over the
wound, using the denim to keep the towel jammed up against the hole. “I can
drive. I made it through cop school and everything, all by myself, remember?”
She snorted as she shoved her feet
into her tennis shoes. “And what if you pass out on the way, big brother?”
“I’ve never passed out a day in my
life!” he said, gesturing indignantly. The motion made his wound throb and he
“Uh huh,” his sister said, eyeing
him sharply. “Better to be safe than sorry.” She grabbed her purse. “Okay, let’s
go.” She opened the door of the house they’d shared since her husband died five
years ago. Theo had originally moved in to help her with Ivy and then ended up
staying. The house had belonged to their parents, so it was partly his, anyway.
He’d been happy she had somewhere nice to live, and he liked being close to the
only family he had left. Well, the only family besides his exasperating work
“I’ll call Gideon on the way. He
can drive me back home,” Theo said as he hobbled to the car. His partner was
also his best friend, and he considered him family, too. Gideon had been in
foster-care since he was a baby, so when they’d met Theo and Ella had adopted
him. Sometimes Gideon seemed sad about never knowing his parents, but everyone
knew shit happened and there wasn’t anything you could do about it. Ditto with
Tom, Ella’s husband.
“Didn’t he work all night with
you?” Ella asked.
Theo shrugged. “He can suck it up.
I’ve been stabbed. Sleep is overrated.”
Ella snorted as she watched him
open the car door. “You’re not a very nice friend.”
“Gideon would be mad if I
“Fine, whatever,” she sighed.
“Sounds like a plan.” She waited for him to groan his way into the passenger
seat. She shut the door and walked over to the driver’s side. “You know, this
may be the first time you’ve ever let me drive you anywhere.” She started the
He made a face at her. “Because
your driving stresses me out.” The damn seatbelt made the hole in his leg hurt
She gave him a sour look and stomped
on the gas, speeding through their sleepy neighborhood like the hounds of hell
were on her tail.
“Ella! Jesus, ease up before you
give me a heart attack to go with the hole in my leg.” Theo gripped the
She slowed down marginally. “Don’t
be such a baby.”
“This is a twenty-five mile an hour
zone,” he muttered, beginning to pray. The way she was driving, he might not
make it to the hospital.
“What are you going to do, give me
a ticket, Mr. Off-Duty Cop?” she asked, making a face at him.
“No, but I may start crying soon,”
he replied, hanging on for dear life. “Will you calm down so I can call Gideon?
Right now I’m afraid to let go of the dash. The power of my fear is the only
thing keeping us from crashing.”
She sighed, long and loud. “Fine.”
The car slowed drastically. “But when you bleed out before we get to the ER,
don’t blame me.”
“I’m not going to bleed out. It’s
just a little puncture wound, remember? You’re the one who was making fun of me
earlier,” he said, swiping the screen on his phone. When he heard the other end
of the line start ringing, he brought it to his ear.
“Yeah?” Gideon answered. “I’m in
the middle of my yoga routine. This better be good, Theo.”
Theo rolled his eyes. “I
need you to pick me up from the ER.”
“The hospital? What the hell
Theo heard something crash over the
phone and smiled grimly. At least
cared about him. He threw his sister a triumphant look. She ignored him.
“Are you okay? I saw you forty-five
minutes ago when we got off work, what could you possibly have done to
Theo cut him off. “I sat on one of
Ivy’s knitting needles and need to get the hole in my leg sewn together. Ella’s
dropping me off, but I’ll need a ride home.”