Cherry Hill 4: Love Heals

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Prologue



Charlotte “Charlie” McCabe just finished up a counseling session and was writing down some notes when Estelle knocked on her office door.

“Hey, Estelle, I’m just finishing up some notes. What’s going on?” she asked and glanced up then back down as she typed the information into the computer. She looked back.

“What’s wrong?” she asked when Estella didn’t answer.

“Kyle Ellis. He’s outside in the parking lot, and he’s having an episode,” Estella said, and Charlie stood up, eyes squinted. “How bad?”

“People are watching and concerned. I think they’ll call the sheriff.”

“Shit.” She got up and headed toward the door.

“Be careful, Charlie. You haven’t seen him in months, and he isn’t your client.”

“He was until he moved with his woman, his brothers.” By the time she got outside, she could see the deputy patrol car pull up, and she knew it would be a matter of minutes before Sheriff Titus Mullen appeared, and maybe even her brother, too. The office was right on the border of both Cherry Hill and Central Valley. Anything happened, and both departments showed up.

“Kyle?” She said his name, and he looked up, eyes wide, and he hurried toward her. She almost took a retreating step back, but she knew this man and hoped he wasn’t past the point of talking things out.

The deputy got out of his car. Sheriff Titus got there next, and Kyle turned to look at them.

“Kyle, what’s going on? How are you?” she asked. Approaching slowly, she turned and looked at the sheriff and Deputy Miles.

“What do they want? They think I’m crazy, too? Did I do anything wrong?”

“No, Kyle, you didn’t. Want to talk?” she asked and was feet from him.

“Charlie?” Titus said her name, and she held her hand up and reached out to Kyle, placing a hand on his forearm and one on his shoulder. Kyle lowered his head. She could see his pupils were dilated.

“What did you take? Come on now and tell me,” she said to him as Titus approached with Miles.

He looked at them and then back at her. “My buddies said it would help. I don’t want Clare to know.” He was shaking, and she knew he was under the influence of drugs.

“What did your buddies tell you to take?” she asked calmly and glanced at Titus who looked concerned and on guard with a hand on the butt of his gun and a protective stance. The man was huge, over six feet three and intimidating in appearance alone. Throw in the gun and that badge, and she was trembling seeing him in police mode.

Miles was on the other side. “I don’t know. I was stupid, Charlie. So stupid, but the flashbacks came, and I didn’t want to tell Clare. Please, she’ll be scared.”

She caressed his arm. “Easy now. My first concern is you and getting whatever you took out of your system.”

“I couldn’t take it. I can’t take it.” He raised his voice and fell to the ground. He wrapped his arms around her waist and roared. Titus stepped toward them to grab Kyle, and she shook her head. She held on to Kyle. She rubbed his head and gripped his shoulder.

“You got this. You made a mistake, and we need to fix it.” He looked up toward her. She could tell he wasn’t really with it. How much did he take? What specifically did he take? How long ago? She was filled with questions, but she was concerned.

Then suddenly he stood up, nearly knocking her over and turned toward Titus and Miles as he wrapped his arm around her waist and held her close. “Leave me alone. I need Charlie. I don’t need anything else,” he yelled at them.

“Calm down, son. We’re here to help you, to help Charlie,” Titus said to him.

“We got this. She said it. We got this,” he said, and she held his arm that was wrapped tight around her waist. She rubbed his arm.

“Easy, Kyle. You’re okay, and the sheriff is right. He wants to help you, too. You know how Central Valley and Cherry Hill work. We’re all a family. All in this together. Why don’t we go to the hospital and see if we can get those drugs out of your system? Listen to me, Kyle. You’ll be in a better state of mind, calmer without those bad drugs in your system,” she suggested.

“No,” he said, then he closed his eyes. His hand was tight over her wrist. She locked gazes with Titus, and she shook her head, wanting him to give her more time and to not react because he feared for her well-being. Charlie had gotten many clients through episodes worse than this. Her concern was the drugs and Kyle’s inability to decipher what he was doing, combined with the paranoia he seemed to be experiencing.

“You need to go to the hospital. Let the doctors help get the drugs out of your system,” Titus said. He was close. Close enough to intervene. To save her if that were necessary.

“I’ll go with you to the hospital. I’ll stay with you and make sure that you’re safe.”

“Charlie, I can’t control it. I feel worse. I feel fucking worse,” he said, hugging her from behind.

She kept calm, making sure that her voice was soothing.

“I know. It’s the drugs. Your friends steered you wrong, but I’m here, and I’ll steer you right. I’ll help you like always. Will you listen to my advice and come to the hospital?”

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