In the Cards (Road Trip Romance #8) - A.K. Evans



Sagebrush Beer Depot.

It wasn’t unheard of that there’d be a call out to the location. But the reason for which I was currently driving there was not something about which I was thrilled.

Two kids were trapped in a hot car because their mother was, more than likely, drunk.

I liked the work that I did. Working in Sagebrush, a town just outside Las Vegas, I knew things wouldn’t always be smooth sailing. In fact, I expected we’d have higher incidences of drug and alcohol abuse. It seemed to be par for the course being so close to the gambling.

The problem was that I was agitated today.

As I drove through my town, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. I understood the addictions. I didn’t like seeing it, but I understood it. I knew they developed for many reasons, and once someone got hooked, getting clean wasn’t easy. It was a long road. And sobriety was something that would be a lifelong commitment that required work and a choice every single day.

What I struggled to wrap my head around, though, was someone’s willingness to choose that addiction over their children. And I knew some people would tell me I was wrong for thinking about it like that, but I didn’t care. A child doesn’t ask to be brought into the world. In my opinion, the parents needed to figure out a way to get clean and stay clean. They needed to take advantage of every single resource available to them, whether that came in the form of family, friends, law enforcement, hospitals, clinics, or groups.

I had no doubt that this wasn’t a first-time thing for this mother. She was passed out outside the liquor store with her children. I’d be willing to bet money that this had been the norm for her. Sadly, that meant it was also the norm for these kids.

That was just wrong.

In this particular case, an eight-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl.


The help was there. Maybe not every town in every state offered the same support, but it was available in Sagebrush. If this mother couldn’t be bothered to get clean for her kids in a place that made it easy, I couldn’t imagine that anything would turn things around for her.

It was sad.

In the end, the kids were the ones who suffered the most.

As I drew nearer to the Sagebrush Beer Depot, my only hope was that these kids would have somebody in their life that they could depend on. Ideally, I believed it would be their father. But if not, I hoped there were grandparents or extended family members who could step up to the plate for these children. If they ended up in the system, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about their chances to thrive there, either.

It might be better; it might not.

Before I had the chance to grow any angrier, I arrived. Being the first officer on the scene, I hoped that my fellow officers weren’t far behind. Two scared kids were my top priority but ignoring their mother wasn’t an option either.

As soon as I pulled into the lot, I spotted the car. Not only did it match the color description I’d been given, but I could see the little boy’s face plastered against the window as he held a phone in his hand and stared at me.


A kid who was growing up faster than he needed to.

I got out of my patrol car, looked behind me, and saw two more units pull into the lot. At least there was that.

When I approached the car, I saw the mother slumped over the steering wheel, the boy at the window, and a little girl sitting in the back seat opposite of him. If nothing else, at least she was in a car seat.

A moment later, the boy manually unlocked the door. After opening it up and taking a moment to talk to the 911 dispatcher, I found that the other officers had approached.

“Medical is on the way,” I noted. “I’m taking the kids to my car.”

I didn’t stick around and wait for a response. From that point forward, I focused all of my attention on the children.

“Hey, buddy, I’m Officer Dex Taylor. What’s your name?” I asked.

“Cooper,” he mumbled quietly.

“Hi, Cooper. How about you step out of the car so I can lean in and get your sister unbuckled?”

Cooper did as I asked and stood beside the car as I crawled into the back seat.

“Hey, sweetheart,” I said when I was leaning over the seat, attempting