Ben watched the boys cross the street and enter his house before he walked quietly to Rachel’s back door. He tried the doorknob and the back door opened. Ben walked into the kitchen, noticing a broken dinner plate on the floor, the boy’s dinners still sitting on the kitchen table, half eaten. The chairs were pushed away from the table, it looked like the boy’s had fled from dinner. Rachel’s chair was laying on its side on the floor. Ben walked further into the kitchen as Rachel came into the kitchen at the same time. Ben’s presence scared her.
“Ben, you have to leave right now.” She said in a loud whisper. “Ben leave now. Please. You, have to go.”
“No, not until I am sure you are okay.”
“I’m fine. Just go. Please.”
Ben could hear Rhett’s footsteps coming closer. As the noise of his footsteps grew closer, Ben could see the panic in Rachel’s eyes.
“Rachel, where are you? We aren’t finished. You’re going to hide from me, in my house? Why don’t I just go get the boys again to help me find you, you slut.”
Rachel turned and walked out of the kitchen back towards Rhett, as soon as she heard his footsteps move away from the kitchen and towards the stairs. Rachel knew Rhett would use the boys to hurt her.
“I’m right here. Please Rhett, please.”
“Please what Rachel? Leave? This is my house, with my sons in it. They deserve better than the whore of a mother they have.”
“You are angry. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to..”
“To what? Rachel?”
Ben walked out of the kitchen and into the dining room where Rhett stood, with Rachel’s arm clenched tightly in his fist.
“What the fuck? I thought I told you to get the hell out of here, pig.”
“Mr. Lawson, let her go.”
“You broke into my house, I didn’t invite you in. I am going to have your badge, do you know who I am? Turn around, get the hell out of my house right now and I will pretend that this didn’t happen.”
Ben stood his ground.
“Go! Get the hell out of my fucking house!” Rhett roared.
Ben could see Rhett’s knuckles turning white, from grasping Rachel’s arm so hard.
“Let her go now, this is your last warning Mr. Lawson.”
“Or what? Are you going to shoot me? I’m not afraid of you.”
“Ben go home, I’m fine, really.” Rachel squeaked out.
Rhett turned to look at Rachel, almost surprised that she spoke up. While his attention was diverted Ben ran at him. He tackled Rhett down to the ground, Rachel falling too. She got away and scrambled up to her feet. Ben expected Rhett to come up swinging but he froze underneath him.
“I’m not hitting you. You’ve broken into my house, scared my wife, and attacked me. You are so fucking done. Get the fuck off of me. I am not dumb enough to hit a cop.”
Ben held him down, praying Rhett would hit him. Rachel stood in shock at the scene. She took a step towards the men.
“Ben please let him up.”
He looked at Rachel and got up. Rhett stood and walked back towards Rachel.
“You just made the mistake of your life buddy. Get the hell out of my house. See this,” Rhett grabbed back onto Rachel, “this,” he thrust her forward, “this is mine, not yours. She belongs to me, to be at my beck and call. Don’t you babe? Tell the officer, tell him how much I please you.”
Ben looked at Rachel, deep into her eyes. Ben stepped to the side where Rachel’s head blocked Rhett’s view. She nodded yes, for Rhett as she mouthed the word, “help.”
“What was that baby?” I don’t think officer pig can hear you, “speak up.”
“Mr. Lawson, I am placing you under arrest for assault and battery. Please let go of Rachel.”
“You can’t arrest me. We are just having a discussion. I never hit her.”
“You are cutting off the circulation in her arm for the second time in two minutes, I am sure with your record, I will have no problem making the charges stick. Let her go, now.”
“Oh, you really want to do this, save face in front of this slut? Got to act the big cop? You are pathetic.”
“You are the only one in this room hanging on to a woman who doesn’t want you anymore. How desperate is that, at least I didn’t have to beat the shit out her to get her to spend the night with me.”
Rhett pushed Rachel out of the way and lunged towards Ben, fist first. Ben looked at his hand for signs of burns as he brought it closer. Ben took the punch, circling around Rhett and took him down to the ground. Rhett fought underneath Ben, reaching around and bringing Ben down too. Ben could hear the sirens coming closer, the boys had to have called. He let Rhett get in two good punches as the uniformed officers entered Rachel’s house.
“Detective Benjamin Carter shield 4075 CPD” Ben called out.
The uniformed officers instantly helped wrestle Rhett down and cuffed him.
Ben got up off his knees as he wiped the blood from under his nose. He pulled out his badge.
“Domestic, assault and battery, resisting arrest and assault of an officer,” Ben said out loud. “Mr. Lawson you are under arrest.”
One of the uniformed officers read Rhett his rights as they began to go through his pockets. Ben walked over to Rachel. She reached out for him, as she buried her face in his chest. He put his arms around her. Suddenly, she pushed out his arms and looked towards the stairs.
“The boys, oh my God.”
She took a step away.
“They’re safe Rachel. They are at my house.”
The officer pulled Rhett up onto his feet as Rachel rushed out of the front door, towards Ben’s house.
“Oh, this isn’t done you fucking slut!” He yelled at Rachel.
“Hold on guys,” Ben said as he walked up behind Rhett, clenching the handcuffs tight until they dug into his wrists. Ben looked closer at his hands, again, no sign of any burns.
“Cute. I will so have your fucking badge for this.” Rhett roared.
Ben signed all of the paperwork and watched Rhett leave in the back of the police car. He called his Captain and Marty to let both men know what had happened. He knew he had majorly jeopardized his ability to look into Rhett personally, as a suspect but it was worth it to keep Rachel safe, and her boys. He walked across the street to his house. He walked in and didn’t see anyone inside. He walked upstairs and saw all three boys and Rachel laying on his bed. She held her boys in her arms. Luke, her youngest was asleep, while Tommy and Evan were still awake and red in the face, with tear stains down their cheeks.
“Thank you, Ben. Thank you for keeping my boys safe.”
“They did good tonight. I am really proud of you guys.”
“Is my dad going to prison?” Tommy asked.
“Honey,” Rachel said trying to soothe her eldest son.
“I want him to go to prison far away.”
“He doesn’t know you boys called it in.”
‘I hate him.” Evan said.
Rachel kissed the top of Tommy’s head.
“You dad is sick. He doesn’t know how to control his emotions. He needs to get some help and talk to people who can help him.”
“Will he really take us away from you, mom?”
“That will not happen,” Ben spoke up.
Rachel took a deep breath. “We should go home and let Ben go to bed. We are taking up his bed. Come on.”
“You all are welcome to stay.”
“No, we aren’t going to put you out of your bed. Besides, the boys need to be in their own beds. Come on, guys.”
“What about Luke?” Tommy asked.
“I’ll get him.” Rachel said as she scooted out of the bed.
“Let me,” Ben said as he scooped up the little boy. Luke roused, looked up at Ben and laid his head back down on Ben’s shoulder, falling back asleep.
Together they all walked back across the street to Rachel’s house. Once inside the foyer, Rachel said, “okay boys up to bed, I will be up to tuck you in, in a minute. Let me get Luke down and then I will be in see you guys okay?”
The two older boys started up the stairs, as Tommy stopped and turned around.
“Mom, I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” Evan said.
“Okay go get in bed and I will bring something up.”
“I will put Luke down for you.” Ben carried the little boy upstairs and laid him on the bed, slipping Luke’s sandals off of his small feet before he pulled the blankets over the boy. Ben looked down at his sweet face, as sadness reached into his core, that this little boy lived in this situation. Rachel walked in and clicked on the nightlight on Luke’s dresser. Ben stood and walked out into the hall, waiting for Rachel to come out.
Tommy walked out of his room, with half of a sandwich in his hand. Evan came out onto the landing too, just as Rachel came out of Luke’s room.
“Boys get into bed, it is late.”
“We want Ben to stay, in case Daddy comes back.”
“I can stay if that is okay?”
“Ben has his own house across the street.”
“Please, mom?” Tommy asked. “I don’t want Daddy to come back tonight.”
Rachel looked at Ben. She took a deep breath.
“Go to bed, Ben and I will discuss it.”
“Guys, your dad won’t come back tonight. I promise.”
“How do you know?” Evan asked.
“He is going to have to talk to a judge, and those kinds of judges only work during the daytime. You are safe tonight, I promise.”
“Will you please still stay?” Evan asked.
“Your mom and I will talk about it. You should get to bed it is late.”
Rachel came out of Tommy’s room and headed into Evan’s guiding the boy to his bed. “Evan Michael, that is enough please.” Rachel said. Ben could hear the fatigue in her voice.
Tommy got back out of bed and came back into the hallway.
“Thomas, bedtime, now.” Rachel said.
“Hold on mom, I just wanted to say thank you to Ben. Thank you for helping my mom and my brothers tonight.”
“You helped your mom and you’re brother’s tonight Tommy. You did the right thing by asking for help and listening to directions. I am proud of you.”
Tommy reached out and hugged Ben, surprising him. He put his arms around the boy and patted him on the back.
“You’d better get back in bed before your mom comes back out here.”
Tommy let go of Ben and smiled.
“You’re welcome bud, you did good tonight.”
Tommy shut the door behind him as Rachel walked out onto the landing, closing Evan’s door behind her. She pointed down the stairs, signalling to Ben to talk downstairs.
Ben walked into the living room, Rachel followed.
“Thank you for tonight, for keeping my boys safe.”
“Rachel, what happened?”
“Look you don’t have to do this, any of this. I know what this looks like.”
Ben walked back towards Rachel.
“Rhett will not scare me off, Rach, I don’t scare that easily. I see creeps worse than him every day. Unless there is something else I should know?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you two still married, are you two together still?”
“No, not at all! He is threatened by me moving on. Rhett doesn’t scare easily. Ben, he is dangerous. The fact that I have been able to keep the peace with him as long as I have has been a miracle. He is unhinged.”
“No, tonight, wasn’t that bad.”
“I know about his record. This morning, your reaction to the gun and Luke, and Rhett. I looked him up. Rachel, you have rights, so do your boys. The law can protect you.”
“What am I supposed to wave a restraining order at him as he beats me until I black out or worse? I’ve been down this road before Ben. I am alone. Last time I stood up to him, I almost…”Rachel stopped mid-sentence.
“Rachel I am here, you are not alone. Whether we are together or not, I will not let him anywhere near you or the boys. You have my word.”
A tear fell down Rachel’s cheek.
“I am not this trashy, pathetic woman who lives like this. Every time I try to move on, Rhett is there.”
Ben pulled her in closer, embracing her.
“Rachel there is nothing about you that is trashy or pathetic, I don’t think you could be either of those things if you tried.”
“He won’t stop Ben. If he can’t get to me, he will get to the boys. He’ll use them, to manipulate me.”
“I know. His game isn’t new. Rachel, I will protect you and the boys, I promise.”
“Ben, will you stay tonight? I will sleep better knowing you are here? See pathetic and desperate.”
“Needing to feel safe is not pathetic or desperate. It is a basic human right. I will absolutely stay tonight.”
Rachel clung onto Ben.
“Come on,” Ben let go and sat on the couch. Rachel came and sat down next to him. She yawned as she cuddled up next to him. He put his arm around her.
“Thank you, Ben, for it all.”
He kissed the top of her head, as they both fell asleep on the couch.
Ben woke noticing Rachel was not cuddled up next to him on the couch. He looked around, instantly feeling the strain in his neck from sleeping in that position. He got up and listened for Rachel. It was still dark outside. He looked at his phone. It was just after 2:30 in the morning. He walked through the house looking for her quietly. He turned towards the kitchen as he felt a cool draft from that direction. He walked into the kitchen to see the back door open.
“Rachel?” He called out softly.
“I’m out here,” she replied.
He stepped out onto the back porch. She had her hair up in a towel and her bathrobe on. She sat at the table, knees tucked up to her chest, her long robe draping down over her toes.
“Are you okay?” Ben asked, feeling instantly stupid asking the question.
“I couldn’t stay asleep. Dinner was still left out.”
“Why don’t I tuck you into your bed? Come on?”
Rachel looked away.
“Ben, why are you so nice to me?”
He could hear the quiver in her voice. He knelt down next to her and she turned and looked back towards him.
“Because I love you. Tonight, I would have..If Rhett had hurt you or the boys..Rachel I meant what I said earlier. I will protect you and your boys no matter what, whether we are together or not. Tonight will never happen again. You have my word. I will keep you safe.”
“I love you too Ben.”