Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(15)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(15)
Author: Melinda Leigh

Morgan stopped and scanned the reporters. “Please. It’s too soon for specific questions. All I can say is that Haley is innocent, and we’re going to prove it.”

“Was Ms. Powell covered in Noah Carter’s blood?” a reporter called.

Another shouted, “Is it true that she’s claiming to have amnesia?”

Morgan spoke into a cluster of microphones. “I can’t speak about details of the case.”

But someone had. Important investigation details had been leaked to the press. Had it been an accident or an intentional attempt to taint the potential jury pool? Lance had no difficulty seeing Esposito orchestrating it. He didn’t know why the ADA had come to Morgan’s aid when McFarland had attacked her, but the act hadn’t changed Lance’s opinion of him.

A figure stepped out of the crowd. Lance expected a reporter getting aggressive, but instead it was a young man. Fury twisted his features. Lance’s instincts went on alert. He moved closer to Morgan, ready to block her with his body if necessary. At just under six feet tall, she wasn’t a small woman, and she was more than capable of defending herself under normal circumstances. But tonight, she was already injured.

And just because she could defend herself didn’t mean Lance was going to step aside and let the man attack her.

The young man rushed at them.

Lance stepped between the approaching man and Morgan. The man shoved his hand under his jacket. Lance’s hand went reflexively for his weapon. The teen pulled out a spray bottle.

Lance had no idea what was in the bottle, but he wasn’t letting it anywhere near Morgan. But he didn’t want to shoot the man. He blocked the attacker’s path like a defensive lineman.

The man raised the bottle. Liquid streamed out and hit Lance smack in the center of his chest. He bent his knees and launched himself forward, catching the man around the waist and tackling him. They hit the ground hard. On the bottom, the attacker took the brunt of the impact. Plastic cracked, liquid splashed, and noxious fumes filled the air.

Lance’s eyes teared. His lungs burned.

As he choked, he flipped the man over and pinned his arms behind his back. Eyes watering, Lance yelled, “What was in the bottle?”

“Fuck you,” the man wheezed over his shoulder. His eyes were shut, the lids red and swelling. Had some of the liquid hit him in the face? Lance’s skin burned, and the fumes alone were enough to blur his vision.

“Do you want to go blind?” Lance yelled, leaning some weight on the man’s back and patting his pockets for weapons, drugs, or a wallet. He found nothing. “What was in the bottle?”

Morgan pulled on Lance’s shoulder. “You need to wash that off right now, whatever it is.”

She was right. A wet spot on the front of his shirt showed where the stream of liquid had hit him. He lifted his shirt off his chest. The fabric wasn’t disintegrating. The liquid probably wasn’t acid.

He rolled off the kid and got to his feet. Leaning on his thighs, he bent over, choking on fumes.

The young man sat up, his eyes still squeezed closed, tears and snot streaming down his face. The bottle had been crushed under their bodies. Some of the liquid had splashed in the kid’s face and down the front of his sweatshirt and jacket. He coughed and gagged.

Lance searched the ground for the bottle. Stumbling over to it, he turned it over with his toe. It was the sort you bought empty and filled yourself. A copious amount of the liquid had dumped onto the ground. The fumes wafting up from the puddle irritated his lungs.

It felt like the time he’d been doused in pepper spray in the police academy.

“Is that some kind of pepper spray?” he asked the kid.

Unable to speak, the kid flipped him a middle finger. Then he reached for his face with both hands.

“Don’t rub your eyes. It’ll make it worse.” Lance hauled the man to his feet and dragged him by the back of the collar toward the office like a badly behaved puppy.

“Put me down.” The young man tried to pull away.

“Whatever is in your eyes needs to be washed off before it does permanent damage, dumbass,” Lance said.

As he dragged the man toward the office, Lance blinked repeatedly. The crowd of reporters followed them to the front porch. Morgan opened the door. Lance pulled the man into the foyer and kicked the door shut in a cameraman’s face. The attacker stumbled in the hall. Lance held him upright.

“Turn on the shower,” he said to Morgan.

But she was way ahead of him, rushing down the hallway. She dropped her coat and bag on the floor. When Sharp had converted the apartment to office space, he’d left the kitchen and full bath intact. In the bathroom, spigots squeaked and water rushed as she turned on the shower and the faucet at the sink.

Lance put the man in the shower fully dressed and held his head under the spray. “Let the water flush your face.” He looked over his shoulder for Morgan. “Try dish soap.”

Morgan rushed from the room, returning in a few seconds with a bottle of blue liquid in her hand. “I’ve got it.”

“Open your eyes and let the water flush them,” Lance said. “Use soap everywhere else.”

The man stopped protesting, his discomfort no doubt overpowering whatever emotion had caused his attack.

Lance peeled off his jacket and T-shirt. Dropping them on the floor, he put his head under the faucet and let the cool water flow over his face. After a thorough rinse, he washed with soap multiple times and then moved on to his chest. When he was finished, he grabbed towels from the narrow closet behind the door and dried off. His skin was pink and slightly irritated, but there didn’t seem to be any damage.

He used his cell phone to call the Scarlet Falls PD and report the incident. Morgan was helping the creep. She held him by the back of the collar and kept his face under the spray. A few minutes later, she turned off the water.

Lance handed him a towel.

The young man’s eyes were bloodshot. He blinked over and over. Holding his eyes open clearly took effort. Tears still ran down his face.

“What was in the bottle?” Lance enunciated each word for emphasis.

The man’s lips mashed flat.

“What’s your name?” Lance asked.

He stared at the wall.

“Fine. Talk to the cops.” Lance gave up. “They’re on the way.”

He dropped a towel to the floor to mop up the water. He used a fresh towel to dry his hair and clean up the sink area.

Five minutes later, someone banged on the front door. Tossing the towel around his neck, Lance walked down the hall to Sharp’s office and peered out the window. A black-and-white Scarlet Falls police car sat at the curb, lights swirling. An unmarked sedan pulled up behind it. Morgan’s sister Stella and her partner, Detective Brody McNamara, climbed out. Stella hurried up the sidewalk, parting the sea of reporters with her badge and pissy attitude.

Lance opened the door and let them in. “Morgan’s OK.”

“What happened?” Stella asked.

Lance gave her a quick rundown of the incident.

“Who is he?” Stella asked.

“I don’t know yet. He didn’t have any ID on him.” Lance turned around and led her back to the bathroom. “We cleaned him up.”

The man took a dry towel from Morgan. Then, blinking at her, he recoiled, as if he’d just realized who was helping him. “Get off me.”

Bristling, Lance moved forward.

Stella stopped him with a hand on his arm. “We’ve got this.”

Morgan retreated to the hall with Lance, letting Brody and Stella deal with the young man. Lance went into his office and grabbed a dry shirt from the closet. Morgan followed him.

“You were his target.” Lance tugged the shirt over his head.

“I know. Thank you for stepping in.” She walked closer, sliding her arms around his waist and pressing the uninjured side of her face into his chest.

He wrapped his arms around her and held her for a couple of seconds.

“You jumped right in front of me. What if he’d had a gun?” She shivered.

“He didn’t.” But the thought sent a wave of cold right through Lance’s belly. He didn’t want to let Morgan out of his sight. He couldn’t imagine how a spray of Mace would have felt on her already sore face.

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