Jayla had always thought if the cops showed up at their door it would be with handcuffs and an arrest warrant. It made her not even want to answer the door. But, she hadn’t done anything wrong. She was clean. She had been for…well, a couple days at least. It was harder to get anything now. But she wouldn’t go crawling back just because he’d give her access to drugs. The price she paid for them was too high. She couldn’t do it anymore. Especially with everything Mica had been doing to keep her safe from that man.
That ate away at her. He was her little brother. She should be the one protecting him. Him and their younger siblings. And yet she could barely take care of herself.
One of the cops knocked again, and she knew they weren’t just going to walk away. Whatever they were here for, they’d see it through. And even though the younger one kept looking over his shoulder, she didn’t think they looked like they were expecting trouble. Mica wasn’t here anyway, so they wouldn’t be able to arrest him even if they wanted to. He should have been. She’d been expecting him. Maddix was at school, along with the other two. So, this shouldn’t be about them. That only left her.
Had that bastard sent them after her? Did he think that would get her back? No, she thought she’d rather do some time than go back to letting him have any control over her, her mind or her body. She couldn’t do it anymore.
She slipped off the door chain, flipped the deadbolt and other lock then finally swung the door open. “Yes, Officers,” she said as sweetly as she could, cocking out one hip. Some things were hard to leave behind.
“Is Anna Dunn here?” the older man asked.
Jayla barely kept from scoffing. Her aunt Anna had never lived here, not really. She’d moved in for a month before she’d gone away, too. She didn’t care about them, hadn’t even cared about their mother. But, they’d been able to put off social workers when they stopped by the house and Jayla had faked it well enough over the phone.
The Coyotes helped them out more than any blood family ever had.
“No,” she finally answered him. “What do you want?”
“When will your aunt be back?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care. Now tell me what you want before I shut the door in your face.”
The older officer’s eyes flashed. Yeah, she’d run into him before. She didn’t care what he thought of her. But, it was the younger one who said, “We’re sorry to inform you, Miss Dunn, but your brother, Mica, was found dead this morning.”
“What?” No. That couldn’t be right. he was just off with some of the other guys, trying to keep their neighborhood safe from the trash the Pumas kept trying to bring over. “You’re lying to me.”
“We aren’t, Miss Dunn,” the young officer said, “I assure you. Do you know-”
But she was already swinging the door shut in his face, her legs buckling on her. She ignored the next knock then the sound of arguing that came through the door. Finally footsteps retreated, and the first sob broke through. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. If Mica was gone, who was going to protect them? Who was going to make sure Maddix, Konner, or Alexa weren’t the next victims of this life. It couldn’t be her. She wasn’t strong enough.
Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write about a turning point in a character’s life. This works well since I’m planning on starting to write Jayla’s back story today as part of my plotting for her story. This actually happens during Healing the Heart, though off the page, which is the second book in my Gilbert, Co series. And relates to what the characters were discussing in my Day 14 story, Nightmare.