“Get back here, Derek!” Eli took after his four year old running down the hallway, dripping wet. Eli was also dripping wet thanks to Derek splashing around and screaming that he didn’t want a bath.
The door opened just as Derek sped passed it. Grant quickly grabbed him, and Eli was thankful for the save. He did not want to mop up the entire house or dry off any more furniture.
“Whoa there, Derek.”
“Gwanpa!” Derek wrapped his short little arms around his grandfather’s neck, getting the Captain wet.
“You are wet,” Grant teased. “Were you taking a bath?”
Derek shook his head. “No bath!”
Eli sighed. “I’ve been wrestling with him in the bath for the last twenty minutes, and he took off before I could finish rinsing him off.”
Grant handed Eli his son. “Sounds like his father, taking off and running when he shouldn’t.”
Eli rolled his eyes. “Funny. Come on, sport. Let’s get you rinsed off and into bed.”
“NO BED!” He arched his back and tried to fight Eli’s hold on him.
Eli cringed as his ears popped. He wondered how long these toddler tantrums were supposed to last. He thought the terrible twos were bad, but Derek still threw mega tantrums even at the age of four. Grant followed him into the restroom and watched while Eli continued to fight and scrub his son.
“So, what brings you by?” he asked Grant.
“To see Sam. She around?”
Eli looked over his shoulder and shook his head. “She got a double shift at the hospital. Someone called in sick or something. So, I’m stuck with the little booger.” He turned and Derek smacked his hand, making Eli drop the soap into the water. Dammit.
Derek laughed. “You dwopped the soap, Daddy.” He laughed again, “Gwampa, Daddy dwapped the soap!”
Eli waited, and sure enough Grant went there. “And I’m sure that’s not the first time. Am I right, Ryder?”
Eli flipped him off. “Never happened.” He never did, in fact, drop the soap in prison. He had Roy to thank for protecting him in that way. Eli pulled Derek out and fought him as he dried off the boy. “Okay, now time for bed.”
“Yeeeeees.” Eli poked his boy’s little nose. “And if you ask nicely, I bet Grandpa would read you a bed time story.”
Derek’s eyes lit up and he hopped on his feet. “Can you, Gwampa? Can you? Pweeeease!”
“Sure, little man. Let’s go.” Grant took Derek’s hand and led him to the room. Eli stayed and went to drying off the flood in the bathroom Derek caused.
When he was done, he found Grant grabbing a beer from the fridge and held one up. “Want one?”
Grant handed him one and they both sat in the living room. Grant put his feet up on the coffee table. “Comfortable?” Eli asked.
Grant took a long pull. Okay, Eli had never seen Grant looked so…was that a nervous twitch? Something was going on. “You okay, Grant?”
Grant sat his beer down. “Nervous is all.”
“You,” Eli asked with a teasing grin. “Since when is the great and powerful Captain Williams nervous?” Then a cold chill ran his back. He could think of scenarios that would be frightening and scary. “Something happen at work? I mean, did like someone threaten you or something? Cause, I gotta tell you, even I ain’t that stupid. Never was.”
Grant laughed. “No, you just made me chase you for two miles.”
“It wasn’t that far.”
“It was too! I know, I had to walk back there and by the time I got back to the precinct, everyone was calling me Marathon Williams.”
Eli snorted up his beer. The burn was so worth it. He wiped his mouth and nose of the suds with the back of his hand. “That’s awesome.” He put his beer down and leaned back. “Okay, Marathon Williams, why are you so nervous?”
Grant sighed. “There’s a woman.”
Oh boy. “A woman, huh? She hot?”
“To me? Yeah. She’s my age. She just moved down the street last week. She keeps coming over asking if I could do this or that around her place. I don’t know if I like it, or if it’s annoying, but I keep saying yes if only to see her. And damn, but I love it when she pours a thing of tea for both of us. I am too old for this dating shit.”
Eli snorted. “Please. Since when does love have an age limit? You like her? Ask her out. Take her to a dinner and a stroll in a park. Not a movie. That’s too cliché.”
“And what do I tell Sam?”
Eli rolled his eyes. “You tell her that you are old, not dead, and even you have needs. Come on, man. When is the last time you dated? Hell, when’s the last time you got laid?” Not that Eli wanted to know, but hey, all guys have needs.
“Point taken.” Grant patted Eli on the knee and stood. “Thanks Ryder.”
As Grant headed out, Eli asked, “Did we just have a civilized conversation?”
Grant chuckled and his lips twitched almost into a grin. “I think we did, but don’t get too comfortable.”
Eli snorted. “Oh, no. Wouldn’t want Sam to actually think you like me.”
Grant did laugh this time. “Oh that would be the day. See you around, Eli.” He patted his badge.
Eli rolled his eyes. “You know, that badge doesn’t scare me anymore.”
Grant winked and headed out, “Keep that nose clean, kiddo.”
Eli flipped him off after the door closed. In truth, Grant and him had a pretty good relationship. Ever since they started the bi-monthly poker night, his relationship with his father-in-law had improved. Even his relationship with his brother had gotten better.
Anthony had finally moved after another month of working at the prison. Nathan, one of Anthony’s and Eli’s new friends, had offered to get an apartment with Anthony. It had been a good three weeks of living with just his family and working with Marv. Life couldn’t be better. Especially with only a few more weeks before meeting his new daughter. Yeah, he was having a daughter. Sam’s last sonogram confirmed it, and Sam couldn’t have been more thrilled. Eli was just happy he was being there with her this time around.
Sam closed the door and placed her bag down. Her feet were swollen, her back hurt, and she just wanted to go crawl into bed and never wake up. Of course she was a mom, and the moment she closed the door, her son’s bedroom door opened. Sam just knew that sleeping was not in her future.
“Mommy!” Derek ran to her, and Sam picked him up.
She kissed her prince. “How’s my big boy?”
“I saw gwampa! He wed me a stowy las’ night.”
“He did? Did you give him lots of hugs and kisses?”
Derek nodded his head like the bobble head he was. “Where is Daddy?”
Derek pointed to their bedroom. He held up his finger to his lips. “Shhh.”
Oh there would be no shushing. She carried Derek into the room and whispered into his ear. “Let’s wake Daddy.” She placed him on the bed, and immediately Derek started to jump on the bed.
“Daddy, daddy, wake up!” Derek shouted. He crawled up Eli, and patted his head. “Mommy say wake up!”
Eli batted his eyes open and stopped Derek from hitting his face. “Stop, Derek.”
Sam rolled over into bed as the only way an almost eighth month pregnant lady could. “Hey, baby.” She kissed Eli on the lips.
“Mmm,” he hummed. “How was work?”
Sam cuddled up against Eli while he held their son. “ You shouldn’t be taking these types of days. Not anymore,” he said. He even said that yesterday when she got called in. He really was concerned about her, and it was so touching. She couldn’t help but kiss him on the forehead.
“I know, and I wouldn’t have if they really didn’t need me. They did. We got swamped last night. I just want to roll over and sleep though the end of times now. And put my feet up. I mean, look at them. They’re swollen and ugly.”
Eli placed Derek onto the mattress, and rolled Sam over on to her back on the bed. He smiled up at her. “You need sleep, baby.”
He bent down and kissed her belly. “And there is nothing ugly about you, sweetie. You’re more beautiful today than the day I met you.”
“It’s true. You’re stunning.” He rubbed her belly. “My two angels are both stunning. You get some rest, and I’ll take Derek to work with me today. You just be your loving self, and rest.”
Sam liked that idea. She liked to have a few hours of alone time in bed and sleep off the last twenty hours. Eli shuffled out of bed, picked up Derek as Sam closed her eyes. She didn’t hear the two leave, and she really didn’t care.
Eli pointed to the wrench. “Hand me that one.”
Derek handed him the heavy tool and Eli smiled at his son sitting there in his coveralls. “I help.” Derek said.
“Yes, you are helping Daddy, aren’t you?” He pointed to another tool. “Hand me that one now.” Derek did.
“What that?” Derek pulled out from under the car to look at what he was pointing too. It was an oil can he must have left out. Oops. Eli grabbed it and put it away before Derek thought it would be fun to play in a can of motor oil. Now, that would not be fun to explain to Sam.
He turned to see Derek heading over to a rag. Crap. He rushed to his son, grabbed the rag before Derek could and tossed it into the bin. This place was definitely not child safe. He heard a bell from the front of the shop. He hoisted his son into his arms. “Let’s go see who’s in the front office.”
He was surprised to see an officer with Janet. His gut clenched a little. “Hey Janet, this is, uh, a surprise.”
She gave him a tight smile. “We’re going to need you to come down to the station.”
He almost dropped Derek. “Can I ask, why?”
The officer answered. “There was a robbery down the street last night at the local food mart.”
“And you think I did it?”
Janet’s thin smile thinned even more. “It’s just standard procedure, Elijah. We need you to come in for questioning.”
Eli bit his tongue from lashing out at his parole officer. He was furious that this shit was still happening to him. This hadn’t been the first time in he had been questioned by police, but it irritated him that every time there was a robbery around this part of town at a gas station or liquor store, he was the first suspect. Fucking cops.
“And what about my son? What the hell am I supposed to do with my boy?”
“I’ll take him with us, and call Sam to come pick him up.”
Eli grimaced, but agreed and locked up the place since Marv had taken the day off for his daughter’s birthday.
Derek’s eyes lit up at the police cruiser. “Daddy! It a police caw! Can I wide? Can I? Pweeeease?”
The officer chuckled.
Eli kissed his son’s cheek. “Maybe some other time. Right now, you need to go with Aunt Janet here. She’s going to take you to Grandpa’s work. You like Grandpa’s work, right?”
Derek jumped up and down in Eli’s arms. “Gwampa! Gwampa!”
“Okay, go with Ms. Janet.” He handed Derek off to his parole officer. “Don’t let him see,” he whispered to her.
Janet took the boy and Eli put his hands behind his back. The officer began the all too familiar words, “Elijah Ryder, you are under arrest…”
The metal clicked and he closed his eyes. Someday, Eli hoped, this would all change and he wouldn’t be their first suspect for every armed robbery of a liquor store and gas station.
Eli was escorted through the precinct and locked into a holding cell. He sat on the bench and waited. They had nothing on him. He had been home last night. Had gone to sleep shortly after Grant left. They had nothing. So why the hell did he get arrested? Why did they always want to question him? He hadn’t robbed anything or anyone since he was eighteen-nineteen years old. He was in his thirty-four for fuck sake. He wasn’t that kid anymore. He turned his life around. This shit wasn’t fair.
The door opened, and Eli stood up at the sight of his father-in-law. Grant smiled at him and waved him out of the cell. “Sorry about this, Eli. The Detectives dropped the ball on this one. Anyway, Derek’s upstairs waiting for you.”
“Well, when the Captain of the Major Crimes Unit is your alibi, there’s not really much to question or charge you with.”
Eli almost wanted to laugh. “Thanks, but, uh, how did you find out I was arrested?”
Grant smirked. “Your parole officer brought in Derek, and I asked what was going on. When she told me, I looked for the detective in charge of the case. I asked him what time the crime occurred, and realized there was no way you could have been having a beer with me and robbing the food mart at the same time. I told him where you were, and here we are. Come on up. Derek’s a little upset you got to ride in the squad car and he didn’t.”
“Someday, you are going to have to give him a ride-along. He loves it here.”
Grant gave a boisterous laugh and patted Eli on the back as they headed back toward the front of the precinct. “With any luck, I will get that boy so excited about becoming a cop, I’ll steer him away from your footsteps.”
“Fine by me, Grant. Fine by me.” Eli grinned. He would definitely rather have Derek follow his grandfather’s footsteps than his own.