Suffer for another month. She felt like she’d just been stabbed straight through the chest with a white hot poker.

            Daxton rested a hand on Kamree’s upper back.”Ms. Gothel—“

            “Your initial caseworker warned you that this would be hard.” Gothel spoke over Daxton. She had a hard stoic calm about her. “You were told that your judgment would be harder. Teen guardians rarely make it in the foster care world.”

            “Wait, wait, wait.” Daxton held his hands out, palms flat in front of Gothel. “Just hold on a minute.”

            Without waiting for a reply from Ms. Gothel, Daxton pulled Kamree—who kept Paisley tight to her side—into the kitchen to talk in private.

            “What is going on?” He held her by the shoulders, gently urging with his eyes to share.

            Dear God, at this point what could she possibly say to her boss that wouldn’t make her sound either totally pathetic or incompetent?

            “I…” Kamree settled a hand on Paisley’s head, feeling the softness of her hair and finding comfort there.

            Daxton only waited with expectant eyes.

            “Ree is in trouble.” Paisley spoke up. Her eyes were wide and watery. Fearful, her little sister began to explain in a cracked voice. “The child catchers came to get me at school. But—but I told them—“

            “It’s okay, Paisley.” Kamree soothed a hand down her black hair. “You don’t have to—“

            “I had to wait for Mrs. Briggs because she was—“

            “Shh.” Kamree smiled brokenly at her sister. “It’s alright.”

            Paisley dug her face into Kamree’s hip.

            “’Child catchers’?” Daxton asked in a low tone.

            “That’s what I call them.” As a joke. She didn’t realize the effect such a name could have on her little sister.

            “Where are your parents?”

            Kamree didn’t want to do this now. Not to mention that it truly wasn’t any of Daxton’s business. “Can we talk about this later?”

            Her boss stepped back and frowned deeply at her. Frustration seeped into his face. “There is a woman out there who wants to separate you from your sister and I know for sure that I’m your best bet at getting out of this mess.” 

            “How could you possibly do that?”

            Daxton looked down at Paisley. “Trust me. But I need to know that I’m doing this for a good reason.” He said, “So either tell me now, or tell me later.”

             A big sigh escaped her lips. “Yes. Fine, later.”

            “Good.” Daxton crossed his arms over his chest. “Then let’s settle this mess.”

            He made his way over to Ms. Gothel and presented her his business face. “Ms. Gothel, I’m sure you can understand this is a complicated situation.”

            Gothel peered at his frame and pulled her shoulders back. “I’m sorry, what was your name?”

            How could anyone forget or be so unaware of Daxton’s presence with his giant body and imposing masculinity?

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