When a cop and a newly released convict cross paths, few cons can expect anything positive. Struggling toward a home he knows no longer exists, Ike Hernandez meets a cop who seems different. He isn’t sure he can believe the kindness, but he wants to learn to trust again and regain his lost self-respect.
Perry Parker became a law enforcement officer to help people. He learned there wasn’t much he could do, but now and then he found someone he could help. Would the lost man with the little dog that he picked up one stormy night be one of them?
Pursuing tales about a new drug dealer, Perry starts to doubt the man he’s befriended, but something inside him still feels Ike is a decent person. When the real dealers take advantage of the convict’s past, Perry, his unofficial canine partner, and the little stray Ike adopted save the day. Can a cop, a con, and two dogs make an unorthodox family?
At the sound of heavy footsteps on the small back porch, Ike snapped awake. For an instant, he was disoriented, unsure where he was. Then he realized he'd fallen asleep at the kitchen table in Perry's house. When Perry didn't get home at the expected time, he'd been unable to sleep. He'd ended up back in the kitchen about four o'clock. Somehow, he had finally dozed off. While he napped, darkness had given way to daybreak.
The steps were Perry's. The deputy stumbled into the room, weariness etched in his face and posture.
"Told you not to wait up," he said, a growl in his tone.
Ike nodded but didn't reply. After a moment, he offered an indirect response. "Made coffee about two, three hours ago. It should still be warm."
Perry unbuckled his gear belt and hung it on a hook by the door. Badger padded over and checked her dish. Ike had filled it when he fed Rojo late last evening. She set to work on the kibble. Perry slumped into the nearest chair. "Coffee? Yeah, please."
Ike fetched and filled the cup, set it down, and backed away, dropping onto the opposite chair where he'd been sitting. "Long, hard night," he observed. "Any progress on the dealer stuff?"
Shaking his head, Perry drew a slow, deep breath. "No. I spent about six hours at a ranch on the far side of the county with a robbery." He went on to relate the shortest version of the situation that he could. "Deal with the dealers next shift, I guess."
"Do you want to eat or just go to bed?"
Perry looked up, as if startled. Maybe he'd fallen asleep over the coffee. "Huh? Oh, sleep first, eat later. Too tired to chew." After draining the cup, he set it down and started for the hall to the bedrooms. After a few muffled sounds, silence fell.
Ike looked around the kitchen. Rising, he put away the stuff he'd gotten out to make breakfast. That would have to wait. He stashed the stew he'd made in the fridge and washed and put away all the dishes. Soon he had everything clean and tidy. A glance at the clock indicated he could grab a short nap and then get up to go clean out the courthouse about nine. He'd just passed the partly ajar door to Perry's room when the low groan stopped him in his tracks. The sound held so much distress he froze, waiting. When it came again, he had to investigate.
Even though he felt a bit like he was invading, he slid the door open wider and stepped into the room. The growing brightness outside filtered in around the heavy curtain on the one long, narrow window. By that minimal light, he could see Perry tossing and twitching, tangled in the bedding. He must be having a real bad nightmare.
Ike knew something about bad dreams. He'd had his share, mostly about the worst experiences he'd endured -- his arrest and time in prison. So what bedeviled Perry? He realized suddenly that he really knew very little personal stuff about the deputy. Had he been in the military and seen some rough shit go down? Maybe had to shoot a criminal? What horrors might be playing out in his mind right now?
For a couple more breaths, Ike hesitated. No, he couldn't let the other man suffer. Better to wake up and get out of whatever trauma ravaged his sleep. He crossed the room in a few quick steps and bent over Perry's struggling body.
"Hey, bud, you're okay. Wake up. It's just a bad dream."
When Perry flailed out with a wild swing, Ike grabbed his shoulders to try to pin him down. It took all his strength. Perry probably still outweighed him twenty or thirty pounds and the deputy was fit. Fueled by what looked like stark fear, his strength seemed to have doubled. Dodging another wild blow, Ike grabbed Perry's wrists and flung himself down atop Perry's thrashing body before he got knocked across the room.
When Perry went abruptly still, Ike sensed he was starting to waken. "You're okay," he repeated. "It's not real, just a bad dream." At that moment, he recognized Perry was nude under the tangled sheet. When he felt Perry going hard, Ike's Levi's suddenly felt too tight. He released his grasp on Perry's wrists and tried to find purchase to shove himself back onto his feet. The mattress shifted beneath their combined weight, leaving him nothing solid to push off from. Like a beached fish, he floundered and struggled, grinding their bodies together. Memory of their earlier blazing kiss flashed across his mind. Then, somehow, they were repeating it.