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Protecting His Own Part 25

Beth should never be scared.

Grant screamed at him"Leave her alone!"and kicked harder and harder.

The douche shook him by his hair. Stop it, brat.

Ow! It hurt. Grant couldnt keep from crying.

Through his tears, he saw Beths eyes get angry, her mouth tightened"and she lunged forward. She knocked Jermaines fist away, kicked his knee, and punched him in the nose.

Roaring in pain, he dropped Grant. His hands covered his bleeding nose. Bitch.

Beth shoved Grant toward the door. Go! She turned toward Connor in the corner. Con"

Jermaine hit her in the face really, really hard.

She fell.

Grant froze. She was just lying there. Like Mama. His heart pounded like Nolans nail gun, and his whole body shook, needing to run away. To hide.

Protect Beth. Nolanman said. Daddy said.

Standing over her, Jermaine laughed and drew his foot back.

Noooooo. Screaming in fear and fury, Grant dove at Jermaine, butting him directly in the crotch.

A fist slammed into his head. Pain exploded in his cheek. He crashed into the floor so hard he bounced. Tears blinded him. His hip. His shoulder. His face. Hurt, hurt, hurt. Shaking his head, he put his arm up, expecting a blow.

But Jermaine hadnt moved. Making choking sounds, he was bent over, holding himself. Fuck. Fucking brat.

Crying hard, Connor ran to Beth and yanked on her arm to pull her up.

Run. Grant yelled at him, and no sound came out. He tried to move. Get up. Get up.

Only a few feet away, Beth shook her head weakly and, with Connors help, rocked onto her hands and knees.

Grant struggled. Get up. But the floor kept moving and swaying, making him fall down again.

You gonna die. Cut you, bitch. Eyes crazy mad, Jermaine straightened and pulled a switchblade from his pocket. He flicked it open. Gonna slice you up, slice up the brats, feed you to the gators.

Connor scrambled in front of Beth. Leave her alone!

No, Connor, Grant screamed.

Fucking little shit. Jermaine raised his knife and swung at Connor.

On her knees, Beth yanked Connor back, and the blade missed. She shoved Connor behind her.

Grant tried again to stand up. Made it. He staggered a foot sideways and"

Thunderous pounding on the door was followed by a shout. This is the Tampa Police. Let"

Fuck the legal shit, snapped a raspy voice. Grant caught his breath. It was Nolanman. The door burst open, slammed into the wall behind it, and Nolan stalked in.

Max and another man followed.

Shit. Jermaine stumbled backward, away from Beth.

Nolans black gaze burned, as he looked Grant up and down. When he turned to Beth and Connor, his face got even darker. Grant shivered. Mad. He was really mad.

Turning toward Jermaine, Nolan moved forward, and Max tried to grab him. King, dont"

Nolanman hit Jermaine so hard the douche went into the air and flew backward. The floor shook when he hit, and he slid down the wall, mouth bleeding.

Dammit, Nolan, the other man said.

Grant recognized Dan. Swearing under his breath, he walked over to Jermaine, pulling handcuffs off his belt.

As Nolan knelt beside Beth and Connor, Max headed toward him. Dammit, King, you have any idea"

Grant lurched forward, managing to get in front of the cop. Leave Nolanman alone. You cant put him in jail. I wont let you.

Max half smiled. Easy, tough guy. Then his brows pulled together, and he cupped Grants chin and looked as mad as Nolan. Who hit you, Grant?

J-Jermaine. He hurt Connor, and he hit Beth.

Just racking them up, was he? Max muttered. He raised his voice. Start with three counts of assault and battery, Dan.

Got it. Rolling Jermaine around like he was a little kid, Dan handcuffed the douches hands behind his back. Jermaine was swearing, but his lips were kinda smashed, and his words came out all funny.

Shaking so violently he felt off-balance, Grant turned and saw Nolan was on one knee.

He hugged Connor and set him on Beths lap. With one finger, he raised Beths chin and frowned. Sugar, youre supposed to dodge better.

Connor twisted in her arms to glare. She hitted him so he wouldnt cut us up and feed us to the gators.

Is that right? Maxs voice got quieter andcolder.

A little worried, Grant backed away from the cop to stand beside Nolanman.

With a long arm, Nolan pulled him closer. Damn, tiger, you scared the shit out of me. He hugged Grant so tightly he couldnt breathe. And nothing had ever felt so safe and right.

THE LITTLE BODY in Nolans arms was trembling fit to break"and Nolan had a feeling he himself was shaking like a fucking leaf as well. Jesus, hed never been so scared in all his born days.

But his woman and his boys were all right"bruised up, but all right. Hell of a strong crew.

With a protesting creak, the front door swung open farther, and Price and Mrs. Molina entered.

Grant twisted to see them and froze.

In a shrill, terrified voice, Connor shouted at Price. No! I wont go back to the mean lady.

Pulling in a breath, Nolan tried to rein in his temper and a growl escaped. You wont go back. His hand fisted, and he started to rise.

Beth closed her fingers over his forearm, keeping her other arm wrapped around Connor. Easy, Sir, she whispered.

Smothering a curse, he stayed on one knee and held Grant. The brave little man was shaking so hard his teeth chattered.

Price glared at Connor. That woman is your grandmother, and you will"

They wont do shit, Nolan growled. He caught the assholes gaze.

Price paled and edged a step toward the police.

Mrs. Molina moved forward. Mr. King, if I might handle this? Her level gaze promised she had it, so he settled himself to wait.

Before she could speak, Grant squirmed free. He planted himself in front of Max, hands on his hips. I want our money. Tears had streaked his face, but he stood strong. Hell of a kid. Jermaine took our money, and we need it. Right now.

Maxs lips twitched as he studied the little soldier. Okay, Ill bite. Where did he put your money?

In his pants. Grant slapped his own rear to show where.

One side of his mouth tilting up, Dan rolled the bastard, pulled out a huge wad of bills, and frowned. Whered you kids get money like this?

It was Mamas. Connor joined his brother. She hided it, and we came to get it so we wouldnt have to go back to the mean lady.

Nolan glanced at Beth. You know what hes talking about?

Uh-uh. Grant, why do you need money to keep from going back to your grandmother?

Grant turned, his gaze puzzled, as if surprised they were so slow-witted. To give you.

Us? Why would we want money? Beth asked.

He"Connor pointed at Price"said nobody but the mean lady wants us. Fosters dont want big, clumsy boys less they get money. So we needs money to give you to keep us.

As anger found new fuel, Nolans temperature rose. You called the boys big and clumsy"and told them we didnt want them?

Price flinched and backed up another step.

Easy, King. Max set a cautionary hand on Nolans shoulder.

Beth said gently, Connor, if"

Mrs. King, Mrs. Molina interrupted. Might I ask some questions?

At Beths nod, Mrs. Molina squatted down in front of the boys. I think I understand, but lets be sure. Did you come here to get money so you could live with Beth and Nolan?

Connor nodded.

What about your grandmother? She tilted her head. Didnt you tell Mr. Price you had a wonderful time with her?

A telling shiver ran through Connor, and he took a step away from Mrs. Molina.

Scared. That fucking asshole. Nolan asked, Did Mr. Price tell you to say you had a wonderful time?

Connor shook his head and glanced at Grant.

Ah. Did your grandmother tell you what to say? Mrs. Molina asked Grant.

Both boys nodded.

Mrs. Molina looked as if shed bitten into something sour. What would happen if you told the truth?

Grant whispered. She said wed be sorry.

She was mean. She hitted me cause I When Connor stopped and turned red, Nolan figured he mustve wet the bed. He saw Beth mouth an explanation to Mrs. Molina.

Connor backed up so Beth could pull him against her. When she wrapped her arms around his stomach, his little fingers clamped onto her wrists. His own personal security blanket. She pushed soap in Grants mouth cause he called her a bad word, and he frewed up, and she hitted him. His eyes turned wet with tears.

Shes mean, Grant agreed, trying for defiance and only sounding frightened. She doesnt like us. She says were bad. And evil. And rotten to thesomething. When Nolan curled an arm around him, he turned his face into Nolans shoulder, finishing in a whisper, She hit Connor and made him cry, and I hate her.

Nolan heard the rumble of anger coming from his own throat, and all he could do was hold the boy. His furious gaze met Beths. Still sitting, she leaned over to rub her shoulder against his in unspoken agreement. If things went sour, theyd take the kids and disappear before that woman could get them again.

Connor turned in Beths arms and took her face between his hands. Beff, please keep us. We gots money.

Grant rubbed his face against Nolans shoulder, and the tiniest whisper drifted up. Please, Nolanman. Were your home crew.

Nolan looked over Grants head to Mrs. Molina whose expression was appalled and angry, but she met his regard honestly. And understood his unspoken question. I take it you would rather have two boys than a newborn daughter?

Didnt Price tell you? Beths eyes lit with furious sparks. We made the request last week.

Mrs. Molina turned. Her glare probably shriveled Prices balls to the size of marbles before she smiled at Nolan and Beth. In light of Mrs. Bruns age as well as herinflexiblebehavior and disregard for basic safety, I dont consider her a suitable guardian. I do believe you two and the boys are an excellent match. I see no reason not to let them know they can relax.

Beth squealed in delight. Ours! She pulled Connor down into her lap, raining kisses on his face until he was giggling uncontrollably. Youre ours.

Grinning, Nolan looked down and saw Grants confusion. Cupping his cheek carefully, Nolan met his gaze. We dont need any money from you, tiger. Youre our boys, and were keeping you. Forever.

Grants eyes went wet.

Nolan tucked him back against his chest and slid Beth closer, so he could wrap his arms around all three. Around his family.

Connor squirmed, and his forehead furrowed. But what about the baby girl. You wants a girl.

Hell, how could he answer that?

Beth managed. Remember at the shelter when Lamar stole your coloring book because he thought it would make him happy?

Chapter end

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