He’d put his hands on her. Hit her. Split open her skin. Bruised her. Strangled her. And there was fucking nothing I could do about it. The police had him now.
Another nurse leaned over the shoulder of the one who was denying me access to the love of my life and her eyes widened.
“Sir,” the uniformed officer next to me winced when I turned that glare on him. “It’s really just a procedure. Only next of kin—”
“You’re Roman Padilla!” The nurse gasped. “Charlene, that’s Roman Padilla!” Her gaze flew between the computer and my face. “See? He’s listed as next of kin right there.”
“Right, but he doesn’t have ID. I’ve been round and round with him about this.”
“Oh my God, Charlene, just put his name into Google. He’s the running back for the Raptors,” she hissed.
“I’ll vouch for him,” a deep voice sounded to my right. Weston Rutherford, the owner of the Raptors, pushed his sleeves up and leaned against the chest-height counter.
“And you are?” Charlene asked, exasperated.
“Weston Rutherford,” the cop breathed, clearly awestruck. “He’s the team’s owner. Holy shit, no one is ever going to believe this.”
Weston reached for his wallet and pulled out a driver’s license. “See?”
“Right but that doesn’t mean—”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” the other nurse muttered, leaning over Charlene and typing on the keys. “See?” She gestured toward the screen.
Charlene glanced from the screen to my face and back again.
“Here.” Brynn, Weston’s secretary, pushed forward, and he moved without complaint, letting the petite, strawberry blonde through. She shoved a piece of paper at the nurse. “That’s a copy of his passport.”
My eyebrows hit the ceiling.
“You’re lucky I had the team’s file in the car with me,” Brynn answered my unspoken question. “Nothing like moving offices the day you’re out of the playoffs.” She winced. “Sorry.”
I could have kissed her.
“You’re lucky Brynn’s a type A over-organized freak of nature,” Weston countered with a little shake of his head. “And lucky I have contacts at the precinct.”
We’d get to that later.
“Is that good enough?” I questioned through gritted teeth.
“Take him on back,” Charlene said with a smile like she hadn’t been blocking my path for the last half hour.
“We’ll be out here,” Weston assured me. “And you can tell Teagan that I saw the video. I hope they charge him, but if nothing else, Baker’s off my team. I don’t allow abusive mother fuckers on my field.” He looked me dead in the eye, and I knew he meant it.
“Thank you.” I nodded and took off through the swinging door.
“Type-A over-organized freak of nature?” I heard Brynn hiss at Weston as the door shut behind me. I’d never seen an employee so devoted to a boss the way she was…or put her boss in his place the way she always managed to do.
“The police just finished taking her statement,” the nurse told me as two uniformed officers walked past.
“Thank you…Grace,” I finished after reading her name tag.
“No problem. And don’t panic. Her vocal cords have swollen, so her voice probably sounds a little off, and her eyes are bloodshot. Just be prepared.” She gave my arm an encouraging pat and opened the door to an exam room.
I steadied myself, preparing for whatever I might see, and walked in.
Teagan was sitting up, clothed in a hospital gown, wincing as she sipped water through a straw.
I closed the door behind me with sure, slow motions, controlling every muscle in my body with the utmost care.
“Roman,” she croaked, then cleared her throat and tried again. “Hi.” That was better but still hoarse.
“Are you okay?” I asked gently, standing at the foot of her bed.
She nodded. “I’m fine. A little bruised—” she motioned toward her throat, “—but fine.”
I let my gaze slide past her red eyes and pale lips, to the ring of bruises she wore around her throat. Wrath flooded my veins, demanding I beat the ever-loving shit out of Rick Baker, then let him heal just to do it again.
“Say something,” she urged, putting her glass on the bedside table.
I sucked in breath after breath, trying to calm down. She’d just been assaulted, for fuck’s sake, the last thing she needed was my temper, and here it was, bubbling over.
“Say anything?” she offered with a timid little smile.
“What the fuck were you thinking?” I cried, gripping the textured frame of her bed.
“Come here.” She held out her arms.
My eyes bulged. I wasn’t getting near her, not when I felt like I might erupt at any second.
“Roman Padilla, get over here,” she snapped.
“You don’t want me that close to you, not when I’m this…” Shit, I didn’t even have a word for it. I was beyond anger. I was enraged and worried, and fucking terrified. I had all the adrenaline with nowhere to send it.
“You won’t hurt me. Come on.” She patted the bed.