Chapter One: Kira
Glimpses of shattered glass glisten under the lamppost on the sidewalk. The morning shadows hide shards of glass crunching under my feet as I walk closer to the front door of my salon.
“What the hell?” I mutter under my breath as the jagged hole in the mirrored front door catches my eye.
My heart sinks as I peer through the salon’s window front and gasp. The two dimly lit security lights shine on a single brick that lay in the middle of the floor.
“Oh please, no. I must be dreaming.” I press my hand against my breastbone and carefully push the door open.
Broken glass twinkles in the light and damaged items cover every inch of the salon’s main room. As I flip on the fluorescent lights, my wandering gaze never settles.
Ripped salon chairs and contents of emptied drawers are spread all over the floor. Cords cut from curling irons and blow dryers. Smells of singed makeup brushes waft through my nose.
My eyes scan the register as it sits open, completely empty. I rub my forehead and my eyes grow watery. My breath feels shaky, I’m at a loss for what to do.
Suddenly, it dawns on me, “The safe.”
I bend down and yank open the cabinet beneath the reception desk. I take one look at it and quickly turn away.
“It’s gone, it’s all gone,” I say quietly to myself. To stop myself from hyperventilating, I make my way outside.
I need sheriff Roger. I look down the street to search for Silvercity’s oldest, yet most reliable sheriff, but he’s nowhere to be found. So I grab hold of my phone in my pocket and dial nine one one.
“Nine one one, what’s your emergency?”
“Hello, my name is Kira and there’s been a break-in at the Silvercity Salon.”
“Ok ma’am, help is on the way.”
I plop on a lonely bench under the lamppost and rest my head in my hands as a single tear runs down my face.
As the youngest business owner on Main Street, this salon represents who I am and means the world to me and my sisters. The recent renovation from my brother adds even more sentimental value to this place.
I try desperately to keep it together. My employees will be here in an hour or two and I need to be strong for them. I’ve always been tough but this break-in might be the thing that makes me crack.
“Excuse ma’am, you called about the break-in?” a deep voice calls over me.
With my head down, I hurriedly wipe the tear from my cheek before I look at sheriff Roger.
“Yes, Roger. It’s just me, Kira,” I stand up and extend my hand. “Thank you for coming.”
My eyebrows draw toward each other as I look at this man. A peaked hat hides his face, but from his strong build and empty ring finger, I know this is not sheriff Roger. The sheriff’s muscles pop out of his tan uniform, as he reaches up and removes his hat.
My heart skips a beat as he reveals his gorgeous light brown eyes and a sexy smile.
“I’m sheriff Brayden Stevenson, the interim town sheriff,” he says.
My body freezes momentarily as I soak in the sight of him. Brayden cocks his head, and I snap back to reality and start rambling.
“Sorry, I was expecting Roger,” I hesitate and immediately retreat. “I apologize that sounded rude. What I meant was, nice to meet you, sheriff. I’m so happy you’re here.”
A grin tugs at the corner of his mouth and he gives a small chuckle, “It’s not a problem ma’am, and you can call me Brayden. Roger’s out for surgery, and I’m filling in for him from the big city.”
My eyes scroll up and down his body as he speaks.
He pulls a pencil and notepad from his back pocket and points toward the front door, “Shall we take a look?”
I nod my head, yes, and he gestures for me to go ahead of him. I notice Brayden’s mannerisms are kind, and he doesn’t look much more older than me.
“I hardly touched anything, but the person got the safe and cash drawer,” I tell him. “Ugh, I can’t believe those money-hungry robbers came for the salon.”
Brayden walks around and his eyes examine every inch of the main room. He puts on his gloves and carefully picks up broken items as he looks at them closely.
He lightly shakes his head at the mess and glances up at me.
A concerned look washes over his face, “Ma’am, do you have any reason to believe someone has it out for you?” he says.
“Um,” I give him a slight head shake. “No, not at all. Why?”
Brayden stands next to me and waves a hand over the mess, “Typical robbers take cash and leave quickly, they don’t stick around to cut cords from blow dryers or intentionally damage things.”
Brayden’s words make me scan the room again. Sinks overflow with wads of paper towels crammed over the drain. Torched makeup brushes and hair products poured out on the floor.
As my mouth hangs open, he leans toward me and says, “By the looks of the damage, my guess is, the person who did this had an unfinished agenda.”
I let out a soft gasp.
He takes a brief pause then says, “Ma’am I have reason to suspect that someone could be out to get you.”
A cloud drifts over my mind as I have never imagined my life to be in danger.
A big sound comes from the back room, followed by the squeak of tennis shoes on the tile floor. The room separating curtains faintly move as someone shuffles behind them.
Quickly, Brayden puts his arm out and guides my body to stand behind him. He draws his gun and points it toward the curtains.
Brayden bellows, “This is the sheriff, come out with your hands up.”
The squeak of the shoes grows silent and the sway of the curtains stops. Brayden keeps his gun aimed and his eyes locked on the red curtains. As he leans back toward me.
He whispers, “Stay behind me, we don’t know how many people are in here or waiting outside.”
“Ok,” I whisper back. My heart races and I stand alert as Brayden slowly inches toward the curtains.
I follow his exact steps, and I feel the hard beat of my heart with each step I take. I’ve never been so happy to have a strong man like Sheriff Brayden, protecting me.
From where I stand, I get a good view of Brayden. His forearms practically rip through his shirt and his biceps are about the same size as my head. He stands solid and calm.
“There’s an exit back there, they could have gone through that,” I whisper as my voice trembles.
My body tenses in anticipation, but Brayden puts a hand out to feel for me. He touches my side and pulls me closer to him as we near the backroom. His touch makes my exterior calm but electrifies my interior and I start to feel the heat between us.
Suddenly, the curtains rip open and a masked man bolts through. He ducks under Brayden’s arm and pushes me down to the floor in an attempt to escape out the front door.
As Brayden sees me hit the ground, a look of rage spreads across his face. He darts after the man and leaps to tackle him before he reaches the front door.
I pick myself up off the ground and freeze momentarily as I watch these two men wrestle on the floor. They roll around the salon’s floor, and soon, Brayden has him pinned.
The man on the floor yells, “You’ll never lock us up.”
Brayden cuffs him and says, “Not on my watch.” He tightly grabs the man’s shoulder and stands him up. Brayden reaches over the man’s shoulder to remove his mask. “Now let’s see who you are.”
“Brayden!” I scream.
Brayden hurriedly looks at me then pauses. His furious eyes lock on a second masked man with his arm around me. The man has a pointed object and waves it in Brayden’s direction.
“Let the lady go, and no one will get hurt,” Brayden says in a stern voice.
The muffled voice from under the mask shouts back, “You let him go, first.” He motions towards the guy in cuffs.
Brayden lets go of his grip on the man and slowly inches towards us. The sound of footsteps on glass fades as the cuffed man runs out the front door.
Brayden lungs towards me and quickly pulls me from the grasp of the man. We fall to the floor as the second masked man runs out the front door.
Brayden braces my head for the fall and I squeeze my eyes closed, bracing for impact. The hard thump as we land, knocks the wind out of me. As I slowly open my eyes, I see Brayden’s face. He runs his hand through my hair and gazes at me.
“Beautiful, you’re safe,” he whispers. He caresses my face and I feel a rush of happy tears pour down my cheeks.
Impulsively, I tilt my head and pull Brayden’s face toward mine for a kiss. Our lips lock and he doesn’t pull back. I let my head rest in his hands as his lips consume mine.
Kissing him makes up for this hectic morning. This sexy man in uniform leaves me breathless.