Sheriff Hank Keough muttered under his breath as he pulled up behind the patrol car with flashing lights. He didn’t recognize the red Mercedes stopped in the front of their little line. He grunted and got out of his own patrol car.
Gravel crunched under his boots and he slammed the car door. He put his hands on his hips as Deputy Sharon Gare rushed up to him. “What is going on?” he asked irritably.
Sharon frowned. “I’m sorry we had to call you on your off night, Sheriff.” She nodded towards the Mercedes. “But it’s Hector.”
Hank rolled his eyes. “That kook’s back in town.”
“I’m afraid so and he’s been drinking. He almost hit a tree.”
Hank rubbed his forehead in a futile attempt to ward off the incoming headache. “So tow the car and take him to the drunk tank.”
Sharon nervously shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “I didn’t want to do that, not after what we all went through with the croc. No one was hurt and…”
Hank held a hand up. “Yeah, I know,” he grudgingly allowed.
“I was going to let him crash on my couch, but he doesn’t want to go with me. He locked himself in,” Sharon continued. She bit her lip. “He asked for you. He said he’ll only budge from the car for you.”
“That fruitcake,” Hank hissed in exasperation and brushed past her. He marched up to the driver’s side of the Mercedes. He found Hector apparently passed out in the driver’s seat. He shone his flashlight inside and knocked on the window. “Hector.”
Hector Cyr blinked and held his hands up. “Away from me wench,” he slurred. “You only want me to go home with you so you can have your way with me.”
Hank lowered the flashlight. “I certainly don’t want to have my way with you.”
Hector rolled down the window and peered at Hank. He grinned. “My friend the sheriff, the man who never left my side in the hospital. How are you?”
“I was enjoying my night off.”
Hector waggled his eyebrows. “Did you have a hot date?”
Hank rested his arm across on the top of the car. “Do you mind telling me what you’re doing here?”
Hector giggled and shrugged. “I thought it might be fun to see the town without a monster croc running loose.”
“I see,” Hank replied dryly.
“I found this great little bar. The beer was great.”
“How much did you have?”
Hector’s brow furrowed. “Only two.”
“Right,” Hank drawled and unlocked and opened the door.
Hector almost fell out but Hank’s hand on his shoulder kept him steady. He grabbed Hank’s hand. He looked up at Hank mournfully and stuck out his bottom lip. “Sheriff, you’re not going to make me go with her, are you? Cause I don’t want to.”
Hank pulled Hector out of the car. “No,” he grunted.
Hector staggered into Hank. “Good.” He waved a finger in Hank’s face. “And I don’t think I deserve to go to jail, either.”
Hank jerked his head back but held onto Hector’s arm to keep him from falling down. “All right. You can sleep on my couch.”
Hector put an arm around Hank’s neck. “I knew you were my friend despite our differen…” he couldn’t get the last word out and his voice trailed off.
Hank rolled his eyes again and wrapped an arm around Hector’s waist. “Come on, Mental. It’s late.”
Sharon appeared on Hector’s other side and helped Hank get him into the squad car. “You want me to come back to your place and help you get him inside?” she asked Hank.
Hank shook his head. “No. I can handle him. Go back to your patrol.”
Fifteen minutes later, Hank parked in front of his small house. He looked into the back seat to see Hector passed out. He got out, opened the back passenger door, and shook Hector’s shoulder. “Come on.”
Hector opened his bleary eyes. “What?”
“Come on.” Hank hauled Hector out of the car and inside. He turned on the lamp and dumped Hector onto the couch.
Hector bounced up and down on the lumpy cushions. He laughed. “It’s like the one we had in our dorm room in college. Did you go to college?”
“Uh, no,” Hank answered sarcastically. He went into the hall and retrieved a pillow and blanket from the closet. He came back into the living room and would’ve tossed them at Hector if he thought Hector capable of making a bed on the couch at that moment. He set the pillow at the end of the couch. “The bathroom’s down the hall, first door on the left. Do you have to go?”
Hector shook his head vigorously. “No. I did it before the lovely deputy caught up with me.” He shook his shoes off and wiggles his toes. He pointed at his feet and laughed. “Sock puppets.”
One end of Hank’s mouth quirked up. He pushed Hector to lay down and covered him. “Good night,” he said gruffly.
Hector grabbed Hank’s hand and rubbed his cheek against it. “Night, Sheriff. I hope I’m your favorite mental.”
Hank looked puzzled but didn’t jerk away. “You are,” he murmured. He waited until Hector sighed, closed his eyes, and released his hand. He switched off the lamp and headed to bed.
In the morning, Hank woke to Hector curled up next to him with an arm over his chest. Hector was still in his rumpled clothes while he wore his boxers and t shirt.
Hank stared up at the ceiling and sighed. Hector was warm. Hector’s breath tickled the side of his neck. He was surprised that he didn’t panic. In a strange way, he was comfortable.
“Are you sure you don’t want to have your way with me?” Hector mumbled against Hank’s side and snuggled closer.
Hank was even more surprised that he was actually considering it.