Hector and Steele will be available on All Romance on June 19, and on Amazon after June 21.
Hector Gomez answered what he thought to be a domestic violence call. The neighbor who called it in sounded hysterical. As the Sheriff of Sandoval County, he took too many calls for domestic abuse. They usually involved alcohol or drugs, but something in his cop’s gut told him this was different. He pulled into the driveway, got out of his Explorer, and saw a wild, glassy-eyed man standing on the rock-strewn lawn, waving a gun, and beating a ten-year-old kid about his body. The man wasn’t drunk, he was high. He had the kid on the ground, kicking him in the ribs, groin, and legs with steel-toed boots. The gun waved threateningly in the child’s face, which the kid tried to protect with waif-thin arms.
The man and the youngster appeared to be of Hispanic origin. The boy had rolled up in a ball in the front of the house, clothed in nothing but holey blue jeans and a thin T-shirt. Although only mid-November, New Mexico was experiencing an early cold snap due to the enormous El Nino build-up in the Pacific. He jumped from his Explorer and quickly shouted at the man to step away.
“I’m going to kill you, you little faggot.” He pulled the trigger as the boy tried to roll away. He fired the gun a second time, barely missing the boy.
Gomez’s backup, Deputy Edwards, fired a warning shot. The man turned to Edwards and pointed the gun. Hector shot the weapon out of his hand. The man fell next to the boy and spit in the kid’s face. After Edwards helped him separate the man from the boy, Hector instructed him to call a bus and the Children, Youth, and Families Department.
“Take him to UNM Sandoval. After the medics are through with him, book him and hold him for arraignment on attempted murder, child abuse, child endangerment, resisting arrest, and anything else you can think of to throw at him.”
While waiting for the second bus so the EMTs could take the kid to the hospital, he got a blanket from his trunk and draped it around the boy whose chest heaved with sobs.
“What’s your name, son?” Hector knelt and put his arm around the boy’s shoulders.
“Matteo. Matteo Pena.”
A woman at the storm door shouted obscenities in Spanish, prominently featuring the word maricón, a derogatory term for gay.
Suddenly, a small boy of about five came barreling out of the house and threw himself onto the older boy. “What did he do to you? Are you okay? You can’t leave. You can’t leave me alone with them.” He sobbed as he held on tight to his brother.
“I demand that you let me take my younger son back into the house. Felipe, come.” She grabbed the kicking and screaming child, gave him a casual slap, and dragged him back through the door.
“Matteo, Matteo, please. You can’t leave me here.”
The brother, clearly fearful and still sobbing, raised his face to Hector. “What do I do? She’ll take this out on Felipe, and he isn’t strong enough to handle her or him.”
Hector put his arm around the kid’s shoulder again. “Your father, such as he is, will be in the county lockup, at least for the night. We can figure things out in the morning. I won’t let him hurt your brother.”
“But she will. She isn’t as strong as him, but she’ll use the belt to hurt Felipe for coming out of the house.” The boy’s chest heaved as tears ran down his cheeks unchecked. “Why was I so stupid? Now Felipe is going to get punished, and it’s my fault. They weren’t supposed to be home.”
The kid turned his head toward the little boy still crying at the door. “Felipe, don’t get into trouble. I’ll come get you. I won’t leave you alone for long.”