Home > The Darkest Hour (KGI #1)(11)

The Darkest Hour (KGI #1)(11)
Author: Maya Banks

He stiffened and put a hand on her arm when she started to get up. “You stay here. I’ll go down.”

“We should just call the police,” she hissed.

He gave her a look of annoyance as he headed toward the closet. “It’s probably just a mouse. No need to get Sean over here for nothing.”

He disappeared into the closet and returned seconds later with a shotgun.

“Frank, don’t you dare mess up my kitchen!”

He waved her off and walked out the door. Marlene reached for the phone. Typical Kelly man. All things could be solved with firearms. Not that she had anything against them, but she didn’t want a hole in her newly done walls.

She gripped the phone, determined that if she so much as heard a peep she was calling Sean, and she didn’t give a damn if he had to get out of bed or not.

“What the—Hey, you come back here!” Frank roared.

Marlene winced when a crash sounded. Her fingers were pounding the phone keypad when she heard Frank again.

“Marlene, get down here,” he yelled.

She flew out of bed, the phone to her ear. When she hit the bottom of the stairs and then rounded the corner into the kitchen, she skidded to a halt, staring at the bizarre scene in front of her.

“Get off of me!”

Marlene stared down at the screeching girl lying facedown while Frank sat on her in the middle of the kitchen floor. Frank was rubbing his hand and cursing with every breath.

“Frank! What on earth is going on?”

Frank glowered up at her. “What does it look like? I caught this little hellcat raiding the fridge. She threw the cookie jar at my head and tried to run. Call Sean and have him come over.”

Marlene stared hard at the still-struggling girl. “Girl” was an appropriate description. Why, she couldn’t have been more than sixteen if she was a day. Stick thin, she looked like a toothpick under a boulder. All Marlene could easily see was a bunch of pink hair sticking out in forty directions.

“Frank, get off her,” she chided as she hurried forward.

“What? Get off her? The hell I will. Crazy woman tried to kill me.”

“You’re killing her,” she pointed out. “A man your size sitting on her. I doubt she can breathe.”

Frank glared at her then shoved the butt of the shotgun down so he could get up. He kept his free hand square in the middle of the girl’s back while he rose. “Don’t you be getting any ideas, girly. I have no compunction about filling your hide full of buckshot.”

Marlene rolled her eyes then shoved her husband aside.

“Don’t get too close to her, Marlene, damn it,” Frank protested. He tried to get between her and the girl, but Marlene stepped around him.

“You can get up now,” Marlene said pointedly. “But I’d do so slowly if I were you. Frank is just dying to use that shotgun.”

The girl slowly turned over and she quickly masked the fear in her eyes. Replacing it was sullen defiance. She was pretty enough, but skinny as a rail. She had enough shadows under her eyes for Marlene to realize she hadn’t slept in probably as long as she’d gone without eating.

Her clothes, if you could call them that, hung off her, and her hair was probably pretty under all the pink dye.

Her heart went out to this girl. It was obvious she wasn’t some hardened criminal. Of course Frank would laugh at her and say that she was way too softhearted for her own good. Her boys would growl and say that she took in too many strays, and she did, but usually they were of the animal variety.

“Are you hungry?” Marlene asked.

The girl’s eyes narrowed. “No, I was breaking into your fridge for some ice.”

Marlene nearly laughed at her bravado. “No need to get snotty with me, missy. I can assure you that in my years as a teacher I’ve faced bigger and badder than you, and if you don’t mind me saying, there isn’t much of you to be intimidating so much as a flea.”

The girl scowled at her, but Marlene remained firm, hands on her hips as she stared her back down.

“Now, we can do this two ways. You can sit down like you have some manners while I fix you something to eat, or we can call the sheriff and you can spend the night in jail. Completely up to you.”

The flicker of hope in the girl’s eyes nearly broke Marlene’s heart. Then she cast a cautious glance at Frank, who stood a few feet away, his expression belligerent.

“Don’t pay him any mind,” Marlene said in exasperation. “His bark is way worse than his bite. Now, do you want something to eat or not?”

Slowly she nodded.

“That’s settled then. Sit down at the bar while I figure out what kind of leftovers we have. And Frank, you quit scaring the life out of her. She won’t be able to swallow for you scowling at her that way.”

Frank sighed but put the gun down and attempted to drop the frown. It would be difficult, because all her men did love to scowl when they were put out. One thing the boys got from their father for sure.

The girl maneuvered onto one of the bar stools, her gaze never leaving Marlene and Frank. She looked as though she’d take flight at the least provocation.

“Now, what’s your name?” Marlene asked as she went to the fridge.

“Rusty,” she said in a voice that Marlene had to strain to understand.

“How the hell did you get past my security system?” Frank demanded. “My boys installed it three months ago.”

Rusty gave him a triumphant smirk. “It was easy.”

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