Gale's sister Audra comes to him seeking refuge from her abusive husband Hank. With the help of Cal and Gale's other friends at The Three Bs club, they come up with a plan to keep her safe. In the process, Gale starts to realize he might be more interested in Cal than in the detective Cal had tried to push at him.
Then Hank shows up in town and confronts Gale at his apartment building. A fight ensues, ending with both men battered and bruised before Hank flees. Things might have ended there if Hank's body hadn't been discovered in an alley not far from the building.
With Gale as the obvious suspect in the murder, Cal does his best to prove otherwise, needing to help the man he's begun to care about beyond friendship. Can they find the real killer while coming to grips with their growing personal interest in each other?
When Gale arrived at the apartment building, he drove once around the block, looking for any sign of Hank. Finding nothing which said the man was in the area, he drove into the building's underground garage, parked, and took the elevator up to the ground floor so he could get his mail.
As he walked toward the bank of mailboxes, keys still in his hand so he could unlock his box, Gale thought he saw movement on the stoop outside the building. Then the front door opened and Hank Long came into the entryway. Gale was tempted to call the police but knew he had no grounds to report Hank was there. Hank saw him and began banging on the door to the lobby.
Gale took a deep breath and went over, but didn't open it.
"Where is she? I know she's here somewhere," Hank shouted.
Gale eased the door open a couple of inches, putting his foot against the bottom to keep Hank from pushing his way in. With feigned innocence, he replied, "Do you mean Audra?"
"Who else would I mean? She walked out on me and I know she would have come running to you. Where the hell are you hiding her?" Hank slammed his shoulder against the door, forcing Gale's foot back.
Gale opened the door just enough to step into the entryway, at which point the door swung shut and latched behind him. "Look, you bastard," he snarled. "She doesn't want anything more to do with you so get the hell out of here. Go home and lick your wounds, and forget about her. You don't deserve her and never did." At each word his temper rose, as much as he tried to rein it in.
"She's my wife. She belongs to me!" Hank shouted, rage suffusing his features. "Tell me where she is."
Then Hank made the mistake of taking a swing at Gale. Gale grabbed his arm with one hand, punching Hank's shoulder with the other. Hank twisted free and began to pound Gale's chest. Gale defended himself as best he could; managing to land a few hits on Hank's arms and torso in the process, getting the same in return. Then, a lucky punch hit Hank's jaw, staggering him backwards. When he smacked into the entryway wall, Gale was on him, raining blows on his head and body, pouring all his anger into them.
Hank fought back, one blow hitting the side of Gale's mouth. Gale was shocked to taste blood, realizing suddenly what he was doing -- what they were doing. "Stop it," he ordered. "Do you want someone to call the police?"
That seemed to get through to Hank. He lowered his hands, shaking his head as if to clear it, and scuttled to the front door. "Tell her she's mine and I don't let go of what's mine. This isn't over." With that, he swung the door open, exited, and raced down the path to the sidewalk. Gale saw him charge across the street and down to a car half a block away. It was too dark for him to tell anything about it other than it was a sedan of some sort, maybe blue or gray.
He dug into his pocket for his keys, realized he'd been holding them when the fight began, and found them on the floor a few feet from the lobby door. Retrieving them, he let himself in. Mail forgotten, he punched the elevator's UP button. It arrived a minute later, he got on, and then off at his floor.
When he was inside his apartment, with the door locked and the security system rearmed, he collapsed on the sofa to take stock of what had happened -- and what damages he's sustained. His body ached where Hank had hit him, and his mouth hurt. Running his tongue around, he was relieved to find all his teeth were still there, although there was a cut on the inside of his cheek where one of them had sliced it. He wiped his hand over his mouth to remove the last dribble of blood, and saw his knuckles were bruised, although not bloody, which surprised him.
Getting up, he started toward the bathroom when there was a knock on his door. A look through the peephole showed him it was Cal, with Audra right beside him, meaning Cal had picked her up as planned and brought her back to the building. He disarmed the security to let them in.
"Damn, I hope he looks worse than you," Cal said with a brief smile. "Hank, I'm presuming."
Audra was much more demonstrative, tears running down her face as she gave Gale a gentle hug and then began checking him out, as much as she could. "How, when, where?"
Gale wiped the tears from her cheeks before replying, "Downstairs." He gave them a quick recap of what had happened while assuring them he was all right. "I'll be sore for a while, but nothing's broken."
"Do you want to go to the hospital to make certain?" Cal asked.
"No. Honest, with a decent day's sleep I'll be fine. Or better, at least."
"Does he know I'm here?" Audra's voice trembled with fear.
"Nope. He thinks I'm helping you hide somewhere. I suspect he'll keep an eye on the building, anyway, but from the way he talked he has no clue."
"Thank God." She took his hand, frowning at the damage to it. "Like Cal said, I hope he looks and feels a lot worse."