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The Penalty Box: Chapter 33

CHARLIE

I OPENED MY EYES, taking in the unfamiliar hospital room. I glanced over to see Mica. He was sitting in a big hospital chair, his feet up on the end of my bed. His arms were crossed over his chest and he was breathing heavily with sleep.

My husband. I studied his beauty, taking in his messy hair and dark stubble, loving the thickness of his arms that crossed over his muscular chest. How had I gotten so lucky to have this man in my life?

As if he could sense my stare, he opened his eyes and his face broke into a gorgeous smile.

“Hey.” He put his feet down and leaned closer. His eyes traveled over my face. “How are you feeling?”

“Surprisingly fine.” My voice sounded scratchy. “What happened?”

“You had a blood transfusion, and they gave you some iron.”

“The baby is okay?” I confirmed.

He smiled and picked up my hand, bringing it to his mouth to kiss my fingers gently. “Baby is fine.”

We stared at each other.

“I’m sorry I doubted you,” I confessed. “I never should have.”

“Shhh,” he soothed. “Don’t even talk about that.”

“I believe in you,” I added, scared that he didn’t know that.

“I know.”

I studied him. He looked rumpled and tired. “You’ve been through hell.”

“So have you.”

I frowned as memories of the horror washed over me. “Is that woman okay?”

He nodded and gave a sad smile. “She’s doing good. They treated her for malnutrition and dehydration, but her family is around her and they expect a full recovery.” He cleared his throat. “They came to thank us for helping find her.”

“You saved us.” I blinked. “Sniper. Is Sniper okay?

He squeezed my hand. “He’s fine. Zoey took him to the vet. He was given a large dose of tranquilizers, but he’s fine.”

More memories washed over me. Andrew, with a gun. Telling me I was his wife. “Andrew is crazy.”

His face looked grim. “Yeah. He is.”

I didn’t want to think about Andrew or how close he came to destroying my life.

“Mica, I’m so sorry.”

He stood, picked me up and climbed into bed with me. I sighed as I felt his big body gently curl around me. “We’re safe. It’s going to be okay.”


A DAY LATER, I got released from the hospital. All I wanted to do was get home. Mica hovered over me as he walked me to the car. I actually felt better than I had in weeks. The doctor said it was because of my iron infusions.

We drove home in silence. We had so much to talk about, but neither of us seemed to want to talk.

As we passed Andrew’s house, we saw a large white tent set up in the front driveway and several police vans.

“What’s going on?”

Mica didn’t answer. Instead, he pulled into our driveway and moved with me inside. The dogs went bananas when they saw me. Sniper whined and pressed his head against my legs.

“It’s okay. It’s okay.”

When we got over our happy reunion, I settled on the couch.

Mica came to sit beside me. He had that look on his face.

“What is it?”

He swallowed as he debated how much he wanted to tell me. “Andrew was never married. There is no record of him ever being married.”

My eyebrows went up. “But…”

Mica looked grim. “The house belonged to his mom, and he moved in there after she passed away.” He took my hands in his. “They found some other bodies.”

Horror washed over me. “What do you mean?”

“They found two shallow graves in his backyard and the bodies of two women.”

Revulsion made my skin crawl. “Are you serious?”

He squeezed my hands. “It was never Yazimoto scaring you. It was always Andrew.”

I thought about the figure in the backyard, the scarecrow, the doorbell ringing in the night. “That was him?”

“Not sure what his motives were, but police think you were the object of his obsession. Maybe he hoped that if you got scared, you’d be drawn to him for comfort.”

Bile rose up my throat. “It worked.”

“Hey,” he said softly. “You didn’t know. He had the entire world fooled. His dog walking group, his work—no one can believe who he was.”

“Was?” Mica was using the past tense.

He looked down at my fingers. “Andrew was arrested and transferred to a high-security location. Yesterday they found him dead in his cell.”

I swallowed hard. “Was it suicide?”

He slowly shook his head. “He had defensive wounds on his arms and legs. They reviewed the cameras, but apparently, all the cameras outside his cell malfunctioned for over an hour that night.”

My voice faltered. “Someone… killed him?”

Blue eyes held mine. “Someone wanted to make sure he hurt no one else again.”

I thought about the voice on the other end of the phone, but I didn’t want to say those words. “Okay.”

Mica leaned forward and kissed my forehead before rubbing my arms. “It means there won’t be a trial. This is all behind us now. It’s over.”

“What about Sabrina?”

“She’s being charged with mischief and fraud.”

I nodded, satisfied. “That’s what I call a crazy ex.”

Mica laughed and yanked me onto his lap, burying his face in my neck. “Sorry about that.”

I put my palm on his cheek. “Mark knew about our ruse.”

Those blue eyes I loved so much crinkled as he smiled at me. “He told me.”

“We got married for no reason.”

His expression got serious. “Any regrets?”

Love filled my heart as I stared at my husband. “No regrets. You?”

That smile I loved so much broke across his face. “Nope. No regrets.”

“What about the baby?”

He leaned forward with that mouth I loved so much and kissed me. “Can’t wait.”

“You mean that?” I breathed, staring into his eyes.

“With all my heart.”

The doorbell pealed and Sasha broke into wild barking.

Mica lifted me off the couch and walked to the door. I followed closely behind him.

When he swung the door open, a stern-looking woman flashed her badge at him.

“Mica Petrov?”

He stiffened. “What now?”

“I’m Detective Klaassen, and I wanted to let you know they assigned me to your case.”

He crossed his arms, unimpressed. “What happened to Detective Wallace?”

She glanced at me before speaking. “Detective Wallace is under internal investigation. He’s on leave.”

I moved to stand next to Mica.

She cleared her throat. “You were under investigation for the night that a dock warehouse got raided. It’s come to our attention that Detective Wallace was using unnecessary means to investigate you and exerted an unnecessary force on you as a citizen. There is no evidence to suggest that you were involved in any illegal activity, and I wanted to let you know that we’ve closed that investigation. The case should have been dropped the morning of, and you should never have been detained or charged. On behalf of the Vancouver Police, we’d like to apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. I hope our actions didn’t disrupt your life too much.”

Mica looked at me with wide eyes. “Apology accepted.”

She gave a curt nod. “Well, have a good day.”

He shut the door and looked at me in disbelief. “Detective Wallace should have never detained or charged me.”

I stared at him. “If he hadn’t, you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble with Mark.” I thought about it. “Which means you wouldn’t have had to marry me.”

He swept me into his arms. “Do I really have Detective Wallace to thank for all of this?”

“I’m the inconvenience he caused.”

“This marriage was the best inconvenience of my life.”

I smiled up at him. “Now what?”

He smiled back. “Now we start the rest of our lives.”


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