Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(16)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(16)
Author: Melinda Leigh

And if the man had had a gun . . .

Morgan usually carried a sidearm, but not on days she went to court.

Brody appeared in the doorway. “His name is Adam Carter, Noah Carter’s brother. He is twenty-one years old and a local university student. What he sprayed on you was homemade pepper spray. He cooked it up in his garage. When he saw reporters doing sound bites outside Morgan’s office, he knew she was here. He brought his pepper spray, intending to incapacitate her so she wouldn’t be able to represent Haley at the bail hearing tomorrow. Apparently, Adam’s parents are planning to attend.”

“He’s running on all emotion, not logic,” Morgan said. “He just lost his brother.”

“He was thinking straight enough to play amateur chemist and commit a planned assault.” Lance pitied the man but not enough to justify his attempted attack on Morgan. “I wonder if he was also behind the nasty videos on social media.”

“What videos?” Brody asked.

Lance went behind his desk and pulled up the video and GIF on his computer.

Brody frowned. “We’ll look into it. Technically, this isn’t a threat, but based on Adam’s attack today, I’m going to get a search warrant for their house and computers. Who knows what other DIY projects he’s been researching or planning? Morgan Dane gets what she deserves is not the same as what I will do to Morgan Dane, but if he made the video, I think we might be able to show it as an additional threat.”

Brody, Lance, and Morgan went into the hallway. Stella had put the young man in handcuffs. Soaking wet, Adam shivered. His jeans and sweatshirt dripped on the hardwood. His face was still hardened with anger and insolence.

“Do you want to file a complaint?” Stella asked Lance. “Several cameramen filmed the attack.”

“Yes.” Lance studied Adam.

The face full of pepper should have been an immediate lesson. But despite the obvious pain he was still in, his chin was up, his back straight, and his jaw set. He’d dialed back his rage from boil to simmer, but it was still there.

He wasn’t sorry. Not one bit.

But then, grief and self-righteousness were long-burning sources of fuel. Adam wasn’t going to abandon his cause anytime soon. Hopefully, the police and his parents would be able to keep him out of trouble.

“In that case, we’ll take him in.” Stella guided Adam toward the door. “You should think about how your behavior will affect your parents. They’re already going through hell. They don’t need this.”

“You want to help Haley Powell.” He glared at Morgan, then at Lance through bloodshot eyes. “She should pay for what she did. She killed Noah.” The insolent mask melted off his face. His shoulders shook. Grief twisted his features.

Lance empathized, but if Adam didn’t learn to control his anger, he’d end up like McFarland. On the other hand, Stella was right. Mr. and Mrs. Carter did not need to bail their younger son out of jail so soon after losing their oldest.

“Let’s go.” Brody took Adam’s other arm. With the boy sandwiched between them, he and Stella marched him out the front door.

Lance closed and locked the door. “Let’s give the reporters a little time to leave.” He followed Morgan back toward her office.

She picked up her coat and big bag from the floor.

His phone rang. “It’s my mom.”

Guilt turned inside Lance. Had she seen the news? He should have called her.

He answered the call. “Hey, Mom.”

“Are you and Morgan all right?” she asked in a shaky voice.

“Yes,” he assured her.

“Because I saw a video of Morgan’s client hitting her,” she continued as if he hadn’t spoken.

“Mom.” Lance raised his voice. “Morgan is OK.”

But she didn’t seem to hear him. “And then just now, there was a breaking news report. I saw a man attack you right outside your office. The reporters said it was some sort of caustic—”

Lance needed to change the subject before her anxiety snowballed.

“Mom,” he interrupted her. “I’ll stop by on my way home. I have to ask you for a favor anyway.”

“You do?” She sounded cheered.

“We need help with an investigation. Are you up to it?”

“Yes. Definitely.” Her voice was almost perky.

“I’ll see you later.” Lance disconnected. They hadn’t given his mom any work since her attack the previous fall. He’d been afraid the added stress would slow her recovery. But now he wondered if he’d made the wrong call. Maybe she missed the work.

He grabbed his T-shirt and leather jacket from the floor. Pepper fumes wafted from them. He held them at arm’s length and went to the kitchen for a garbage bag.

The shirt wasn’t worth the effort of saving it. His jacket had taken a direct hit. There was no way to clean leather without ruining it. He shoved both items in the plastic bag and tied it closed. Grabbing a zip-up sweatshirt from his office, he tossed the bag in the garbage can on the way out of the building.

He hoped this was the worst thing that happened in this case, but experience told him it was just the beginning.

Chapter Ten

Grateful to be home, Morgan pushed open her front door. Lance followed her through the opening. Three pajama-clad little girls and two dogs bolted toward them. She braced herself for the impact of their enthusiastic greeting. Lance stepped in front of her.

“Stop!” her grandfather’s voice boomed from the next room. “Easy on your mom.”

The girls slid to a halt. Lance dropped to one knee and intercepted the dogs. Morgan’s Frenchie, Snoozer, snuffled his face, and Rocket the bulldog mix wagged her stump of a tail.

“That’s not necessary,” Morgan protested.

“Mommy!” Three-year-old Sophie’s eyes were wide as she stared at Morgan’s face.

Morgan knelt on the floor. “It’s just a bruise, honey. It’s no worse than that one you had on your knee last week.”

Her daughter leaned in and kissed Morgan softly on the goose egg. Typically, greetings from Sophie were like catching a cannonball. Morgan’s face must be truly intimidating.

Five-year-old Mia was quieter by nature. She slid into Morgan’s embrace and gave her a gentle squeeze.

“Don’t hurt Mommy,” Ava said. At six, Morgan’s oldest tried hard to be more mature than her sisters. Sometimes too hard.

Morgan shifted to free up one arm. She waggled her fingers at Ava. “I need one more hug.”

Ava rushed in. Holding her girls, Morgan closed her eyes and inhaled the sweetness of bubblegum-scented conditioner in their still-damp hair. Sophie was the first one to wiggle free.

The little girl looked up at Lance. “Are you hurt?”

“Not at all,” he said.

With a happy grin, she launched herself into his arms. He caught her, and she wrapped all four limbs around him and smacked a kiss on his cheek. Leaning back, she squished his face between her hands. “Will you put us to bed?”

“You betcha.” Lance shifted her to his hip and turned to the other girls. “Who’s ready for a story?” He knelt down and opened his arms. Sophie scrambled around to his back. He gagged as her forearm wrapped around his windpipe. Mia and Ava abandoned Morgan. Lance scooped the two older girls into his arms and carried the three giggling children down the hall toward the room they shared.

After the girls and Lance disappeared, Morgan shed her coat and set her tote on a chair. She removed her phone from a side pocket and went into the family room, where her grandfather, Art Dane, sat in his recliner. The smile that tugged at her face ached, but she didn’t care. Watching Lance with her kids always made her happy. She’d been dealt terrible tragedies in her life. She’d learned to appreciate the good moments, and tonight she felt very lucky.

She’d found love a second time. Her line of work showed her how rare truly good men were. Yet she’d been blessed with two of them in her life.

She plugged her phone into a charging cord on the end table and leaned down to kiss her grandfather on the cheek.

Make that three good men.

She wouldn’t have gotten through John’s death without her grandfather.

   
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