“Sometimes I hate this job.” Martin stares up at the tower block, shading his eyes from the sun. “I swear I’m counting down the days until my holiday.”

It’s the closest I’ve heard to emotion from him, and it adds to my sense of anxiety. We got the court order late last night, and weighed up the pros and cons of going in straight away or waiting a night. Getting emergency care is even harder at night – not that it’s a doddle during the day. But in the end we heard that Jake Rubin was away in Ireland, and decided that the immediate risk to Storm could be contained.

There are two policemen standing next to us. One of them – an old timer like Martin – looks bored. The other is closer to my age, tall and dark-haired, with a serious expression. When our eyes meet he shoots me a sympathetic smile, as though he knows exactly what I’m feeling.

The older policeman – I think his name’s Derek – doesn’t bother talking to me. Instead he addresses Martin, as though he’s the only person who counts. “Okay, so we’ll follow you to the third floor, but we’ll wait in the stairwell unless we’re called. The neighbours here don’t like our faces, and the less disruption we cause the better.”

Martin nods. “I’m not expecting any trouble.”

“Nor are we. As we told you, we’ve got Rubin under surveillance and he’s not here. So that should make it straightforward.”

Straightforward is all relative, because the thought of taking a child away from the only mother she’s known doesn’t feel very straightforward at all.

“Is this your first time?” The younger policeman, Matt, asks me.

“Am I that obvious?” I frown. “But yeah, I’ve only been in this job for two weeks. Everything’s my first time.”

“They say it gets easier. But I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I still have my shit days. Maybe we just learn to cope with it a little more.”  He offers me a half-smile. I guess we’re both on the front line in a way, both choosing jobs that protect the public, even when they can’t stand the sight of us.

“I hope it doesn’t get too easy,” I confess, trying to find the right words. “Maybe doing something like this shouldn’t feel easy. We should always question ourselves, and make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

He nods approvingly. “You’re spot on. That’s one thing I always said, if I find myself getting blasé, then I’m in the wrong job.”

His words are a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Though my pulse is still racing, I can breathe freely. And when Martin leads the way, explaining that he’d like me to take Storm out while he deals with Lily, I follow him without my legs shaking too much.

As soon as Lily opens the door, she knows why we’re here. It’s in her facial expression as she stares at us, the fear moulding her mouth until it’s little more than a thin line. She tries to close the door, but Martin puts his foot in the way, wincing as the heavy wood slams into his shoe.


Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.


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Paperbacks will also be available direct from Amazon nearer the time.


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