The Battlefield Series 2: Scars Run Deep

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Chapter 1

 

Cesar leaned back in his chair and exhaled. He had a bad night and very little sleep. He was in a shit-ass mood, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. He was worried about his brothers Gino and Fox, and he hadn’t heard from his brother Damon who’d gone on a rampage trying to track down some gangbanger to help issue a warrant. His three brothers were intense men. Not to say that he didn’t share the same intensity, but taking on the job as chief of police in Repose had calmed that intensity down a bit. After Brooklyn’s abduction, he’d decided some more security measures and changes needed to be made.

In making that decision, he was having all his officers and the men of Repose ensure that they looked out for all the women and children and addressed any concerns they might have. With that thought, he envisioned Antonia. It had been a month since the abduction. Brooklyn was back at work, and Antonia was transitioning into a manager’s position at the Filling Station. He personally was making a habit of stopping in there more than what was necessary. He did miss stopping by her place and sharing a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun with her. He would never forget that first day he’d come up with the idea. He’d just gone into the café, ordered two of everything, and then headed to her place. He knew Antonia liked sitting out on the front porch in the morning. He knew just about all her habits, but what he still didn’t know was what exactly had happened to her in New York and why she was so adamant about talking to him about it.

He was the chief of police. He ran a safe town, just as those before him had. Why Antonia interested him so much, he couldn’t figure out. He wasn’t exactly a believer in the whole love-at-first-sight scenario, even though he’d seen it more than a dozen times in Repose. He had reservations as the chief. He needed to be careful about what women he got involved with—not that he had been involved with anyone in months. Come to think of it, maybe the better part of a year.

He ran his hand over his beard and exhaled as he stretched his muscles. Other concerns Cesar had were his brothers and the stages they were at in their lives. Committing to a woman, thinking beyond sex—they, too, would need to be on board. It was the way things were done in Repose, in their family, in the decision they’d made years ago to have exactly what their parents have. A successful, committed ménage relationship. One woman they could share, love, and protect. When he thought about his brothers and how distant they’d all seemed to grow lately, despite living in the same house, he wondered if that type of commitment was a fantasy that would never happen.

Cesar exhaled. It was just another reason, another negative aspect, of being anything to Antonia beyond a friend. His gut clenched, and he felt disappointed. God damn, he already liked her a bunch, felt protective of her and even possessive and jealous. Watching her work, wearing those pretty little skirts, seeing how petite and sexy as damn hell she was. Knowing guys came in there talking to her, talking about her, he felt like staking a claim without his brothers. That didn’t sit right at all.

Besides the fact that now it seemed Antonia was ignoring him. He’d thought they were making progress with their morning routine of coffee and cinnamon rolls on her front porch every Friday.

He wanted to smile about that thought but couldn’t. She seemed to be distancing herself from him more and more when, really, she should feel comfortable with him. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much. It wasn’t as though he could have a relationship with her. She was too young, too inexperienced, and she had secrets. Secrets he wished she would confide in him about, yet he feared his reaction and whether or not he could handle what she told him. He had gone over what he knew since meeting her, especially remembering that first night in Nevin’s office when she had to get stitches from a knife wound under her breast. That just downright pissed him off. He wanted to know who’d hurt her, who’d scared her so much that she looked at him, at other men, with such fear. Hell, even Damon had picked up on it, and he was feeling an attraction to her, too. Their lives were complicated.

He ran his hand over the scruff on his chin and then sat forward, trying to get his mind back onto work. He clicked onto the new e-mails, scanned them, and added some quick replies or forwarded what needed to be forwarded to his secretary, Eliza. Then he got updates on some criminals wanted for various crimes across the surrounding states. He checked out the national news and read a few law enforcement articles about shootings and unsolved murders. There was crime everywhere. He spotted an article on a soldier who seemed to have lost his mind and shot up a restaurant in a local town, killing three innocent people and injuring many others. The article talked about PTSD and how the soldier was receiving counseling but had been given an incorrect dosage of medication.

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