Home > Until Cobi (Until Her/Him #7)

Until Cobi (Until Her/Him #7)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Prologue

Cobi

“DO YOU KNOW HER, Mayson?” my partner Frank asks, studying me and the woman in my arms. His shaggy brows are drawn tightly together in confusion over his blue eyes.

I want to roar, “Yeah, I fucking know her. She’s mine!” but that would sound ridiculous, because it is fucking ridiculous. I don’t know anything about the woman I’m holding besides the fact that her first name is Hadley, she smells like peaches, and she feels perfect against me, even if she is passed out.

“She yours?”

“No,” I growl, my teeth grinding together as my hold on her tightens.

Getting closer, Frank drops his voice. “Then maybe you wanna stop fucking growling anytime one of them—” He jerks his thumb over his shoulder. “—tries to touch her, and let them do their job.”

I frown and look past him, noticing the three paramedics standing around me looking unsure and nervous. I don’t want to—as in really fucking don’t want to—let Hadley go, but I know I need to. She has a cut on her forehead that hasn’t stopped bleeding, and bruising under her jaw. I jerk up my chin, and one of the paramedics comes forward. I must make a noise, because his head flies my way when he touches her and his eyes widen with fear when they meet mine.

Fuck.

My jaw clenches as I force myself to relax and release her, and I watch with my breath locked in my chest as she’s placed on a stretcher. It takes every ounce of self-control I possess to not go after her, to not reach out and touch her again just to prove she’s real. As they load her in the back of the ambulance, I wrap my hand around the back of my neck. I want to go with them to make sure she’s okay, but I can’t. I have a crime scene that needs to be locked down and a dead body in the woods behind me that needs to be dealt with. The good thing is, since I’m a cop, I won’t have a problem tracking Hadley down, even if she’s released from the hospital tonight before I can get to her.

“What the fuck was that about?” Frank questions from my side as the ambulance doors shut and the lights go on.

I don’t look at him. I run my fingers through my hair and shake my head. “Nothing.”

“You sure you don’t know her?”

“I don’t know her,” I mumble then look around. “Let’s get this shit sorted.”

“Fuck.” Frank looks around the mostly dark woods and at the other officers milling about. “It’s going to be a long night. I need to call the wife to let her know I won’t be home for a while.”

“When you’re done with that, meet me at the body,” I say, and he jerks up his chin before walking off. I grab a flashlight from one of the cruisers then head into the woods to get to work. When I got the call from dispatch informing me that a woman called 911 saying she witnessed an unconscious woman being dumped into the trunk of a car outside the local movie theater, I had no idea the unconscious woman was my cousin Harmony. Not until her sister Willow called to say Harmony hadn’t returned from the restroom, where she had gone during the movie they were watching.

After Willow’s call, I had dispatch connect me to Hadley, who was the one who witnessed my cousin’s kidnapping. She was following the car, and I was close behind her—just not close enough. After she informed me that the car turned off the road, I told her that she should keep driving, that the other officers and I were closing in and would be there, but she didn’t listen. Instead, she hung up and kept following. From what I learned, she ended up running for her life along with Harmony, who had somehow managed to escape the trunk of the car she was in. They both barely escaped death at the hands of a madman who was aiming a gun at them in the middle of the woods.

When I make it to the body, which is now covered in a white sheet, I know Frank was right. It’s going to be a long fucking night. Only, unlike him, I have no one to call to tell I won’t be home.

Four and a half hours later, the crime scene guys leave along with the coroner, and I catch a ride back to the station with Frank, where I pick up my truck before heading to the hospital. When I arrive, I check in at the nurses’ station and ask about Hadley. I find out she suffered a concussion and that the doctors are keeping her overnight just to be on the safe side.

After being told she’s resting, I go check on my cousin Harmony, who is out of surgery with our family gathered around her. I talk to my family and Harmony’s fiancé Harlen for a few minutes, making sure they’re good before I go to Hadley’s room. It’s across the hospital, and when I reach her door, I walk straight in, expecting to see her family gathered around her, but the room is empty except for the bed, where I can make out her form under the covers.

I take a seat in the chair next to the bed and stare at her face—like the stalker I’ve suddenly become. Even with dark circles under her closed eyelids, a bruise, and stitches marring her forehead, her features are elegant. She’s beautiful, with dark, wavy, red hair that is fanned out around her head, and a peaches-and-cream complexion that is a stark difference to the white pillow she’s lying on and the blanket she has pulled up under her chin.

I frown, wondering who she is and why she seems to have such a profound effect on me. I rub my hands down my face and lean back in the chair, too tired to think about that right now. I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m., and it’s already after three the next morning. I tell myself I’ll just rest my eyes for a minute then I’ll leave and go home, but instead, I end up passing out.

“I cannot believe I had to find out from the news that you were in the hospital!” a woman shouts, jolting me from sleep. I sit forward, rubbing the back of my sore neck, and watch a very pretty woman with dark skin and long, wavy hair stomp across the room in heels toward Hadley’s bed, where she stops to plant her hands on her hips.

“Brie, keep your voice down.”

“Don’t tell me to keep my voice down, Hadley. You’re all over the news and in the fricking hospital.”

“Yes, but as you can see, I’m fine.”

“You were shot at!” the woman shrieks, and I wince at the sound then watch both women turn to look at me. “Who is he?” she asks Hadley then looks back at me, repeating her question with narrowed eyes. “Who are you?”

“Detective Cobi Mayson,” I respond, and her eyes widen while her mouth forms a soft O.

“Do I need to make a statement?” Hadley asks before her friend can say anything, and I focus my attention on her, really seeing her for the first time in the light of day. Her small white teeth are nibbling nervously on her plump, pink bottom lip. Her wavy, shoulder-length hair is not dark red like I thought last night, but deep brown with a hint of red. She has a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and her eyes are blue, not a deep blue but a misty sea blue with flecks of gold that shoot out from the irises. “Do I?”

I clear my throat and play back her previous question in my mind. “Yes,” I answer, figuring it would seem strange for her to wake up with me in her room for any other reason.

“He’s dead, right?” she prompts, and I watch every muscle in her small frame tighten. “The guy who kidnapped that woman, Harmony—he’s dead, isn’t he?”

“He’s dead,” I confirm softly.

Her shoulders relax, and she whispers, “Good.” Even though she says it like she means it, I can tell that her being relieved someone is dead doesn’t sit well with her. Harlen told me that both Harmony and Hadley witnessed him killing Hofstadter with a bullet to the back of the head while he was standing over the two with his gun aimed at them and his finger on the trigger. I have no doubt that if Harlen hadn’t taken Hofstadter out when he did, neither my cousin nor Hadley would be here right now.

Looking into Hadley’s eyes, I can see that what she witnessed last night is still messing with her. Most civilians will never be the victim of a violent crime, but those who are carry that weight around with them every fucking day, never able to put what they experienced behind them without a lot of time and some major help.

“Is… is… Harmony okay?” Her fingers wrap around the edge of the blanket so tightly that her knuckles go white.

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