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"Guided by Faith"


Prologue
Faith Chapter 1

By barbara.wilkey

Chapter 1 Day 1

Police Chief Seth Carter and his friend and right-hand man, Carl Jones entered the Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore. The two stood at a tall table and scanned the area. "When did this place become a dance hall?" asked Seth. "Why wasn't I notified? Who's the girl leading this? Is she new in town? I haven't seen her before."

"Chief, she's Emma Winters, Susan and Keith's daughter. Since graduating from college, she's returned back home. I've heard she's here permanently." Carl chuckled. "She's organized a line dance. Most of the patrons have joined in. Feel like dancing?"

Seth studied Emma. "What I feel like is an x-large black coffee. I've been up since one-fifteen." He checked his watch. "That's right at twenty-nine hours with only two hours of sleep and it's my day off." He drummed his fingers on the table. "So, that's who I rented my one-bedroom cabin to."

"You're right. I'd forgotten you were in Austin at your nephew's Christening the day she moved in. Keith set it up."

Chief Carter watched Emma's green eyes illuminate the bakery as she called, "Dad, play it one more time. Ms. Sadie feels like another dance."

Seth closed his eyes. "I'll never get coffee."

The music continued and Emma and the elderly lady smiled and danced with the rest of the patrons.

When the music ended, Ms. Sadie giggled and smiled. "Thank you, Emma. I haven't had so much fun since the last time you were home."

A quick check of his watch, caused Seth to snap, "I need to get back to the office. I have an interrogation in thirty minutes. I wonder since we're regulars if we can get our own and leave the money on the counter."

Giving Ms. Sadie another hug, Emma said, "I promise we'll do this whenever we're both here, but right now, I'd better get back to work." She giggled. "It's only my first day back and Dad might fire me already."

Upon hearing Emma, Seth muttered to his friend, "Maybe she'll take our order."

Emma stood in front of Seth and Carl's table with her pad and pen ready. "Hello, sorry it took so long. What can I get Beaverton's finest?"

Carl reached over and hugged her. "Welcome back. I've missed you. I'm guessing Ms. Sadie has too. You two were always trouble together." He grinned. "I see nothing's changed. I hear you're staying."

Her green eyes twinkled with an ornery glow. "I'm still me and Ms. Sadie is still Ms. Sadie. Since I've graduated, yes, I plan on living here. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be."

He moved his head toward Seth. "I don't think you've met our police chief. This is Seth Carter. He's been here about a year and a half."

Seth offered his hand. "Nice to meet you, Ms. Winters. Your Dad's mentioned you on numerous occasions." Now can I get some coffee?

She accepted his hand. "I'm sure he has. I'm Dad's favorite daughter. Of course, I'm his only one." Her eyes glistened. "It's a pleasure meeting you, Chief Carter. What can I get you officers?"

"X-large black coffee," they both said.

"I'll be right back."

Emma returned with two x-large coffees and two cinnamon rolls. "The pastries are complimentary since you had to wait until the line dance finished. Sorry about that. Thank you for being so patient."

Carl grinned. "Emma, I know you and understand how things like that happen. I'm glad Ms. Sadie enjoyed herself."

"She did. We'll do it every time we're both here. I know you understand, but Chief Carter doesn't. We just met." Her eyes danced as she left.

Seth paused at the door and glanced back at Emma. Should be interesting.

*****
The evening crowd died down, and Emma headed home. Before she drove down the fifty-yard lane to her cabin, she parked in front of Chief Carter's house, walked to the front door, and rang the doorbell.

Seth answered with his companion by his side. "Ms. Winters?"

Wide eyed, she stared at the large German shepherd.

Those green eyes! He roughed the dog's ears. "I'd better introduce Ace. He's a trained K-9 and works with me."

"Sorry." She exhaled. "He surprised me. I wasn't expecting a gigantic dog."

"He's harmless unless you break the law."

Her smile illuminated the doorway. "That I don't plan on doing."

"How can I help?" asked Seth.

"Dad mentioned I should ask about the garage door opener. It doesn't work. I changed the batteries on the remote, but it still didn't work. I can't open it manually. I'm not tall enough to disengage it and don't have a ladder."

"Before you moved in, I had a contractor in. It was supposed to be fixed. I'll check it tomorrow."

"Please don't. Sunday's a day of rest. It can wait until you have time." She turned to leave. "Thank you."

She's as religious as her parents. It's unusual for a college student. He exhaled. I've never met anyone with that shade of red hair before. It's almost copper. I wonder if she has the temper to go with it. Seth closed the door. "Ace, tomorrow we'll check the garage door after church."

*****
Molly barked and stood by the front door. Emma exhaled. "Okay, but you just went out. This is the last time until the sun comes up. Got it?" She opened the door. "I'm in my nightshirt. I can't go with you. Hurry up"

Molly barked and ran.

Emma stared into the darkness and waited. "What's taking you so long?" Tilting her head, she called, "Molly, get back here!" A few moments passed, before she stood on her small front porch. "Where are you?" She stepped onto the grass. "Ouch!" Lifting her foot, she studied it. "What'd I step on?" She called, "Molly, hurry up!"

Seth's outside lights came on, and she said, "Great! We disturbed our landlord. Molly, come here."

Moments later Ace ran up and sat in front of Emma.

Seth followed behind. "Who's Molly?"

"My Pomeranian. I hope it's all right. Dad said it'd be okay if I had a dog. She had to go out and took off."

"Dogs are allowed." Seth raised his arm and pointed. "Ace, find the dog and bring her back."

"He can do that?"

"I mentioned he's trained, didn't I?"

"You did, but..." Before long she hobbled on one foot, bent, picked up her almost four-pound dog, and hugged her. "Molly, you shouldn't take off." She studied Ace as he, again, sat in front of her. "Thank you. I'll try to keep her under control."

Seth peered at Molly. "Are you sure that's a dog?"

"I'm positive. Not a well-behaved dog, but a dog. Sorry we disturbed you and thank you for helping." She turned. "I better get inside." She limped away carrying the small dog.

"You're limping. Why?"

Emma faced Seth. "While chasing Molly I stepped on something. I'm sure it's nothing."

Searching his jeans' pocket, Seth found a key ring and turned on a small, attached flashlight. "Let me see."

"It's okay."

"I'm checking it." Seth tapped his shoulder and knelt. "Put your hand here and lift your foot." He studied it. "It looks like you stepped on a piece of glass. Come with me. I'll get it out."

"It's not necessary."

He took her arm. "Lean on me. It's not that far."

"But..."

"Let's go."

Inside his house, Seth pointed to a chair. "Have a seat. I'll get my first aid kit."

"Thank you, but you really don't need to do this. First, Molly and I disturbed you, now this."

"Ace alerted me there was a problem." Seth knelt in front of her, stood, grabbed a throw blanket, and then covered her legs. "We have two problems." He paused. "First, you're not dressed properly. Second, you're not wearing shoes." He used tweezers, removed a small sliver of glass, and then held it up. "I hope your tetanus shot's current."

As he cleaned the wound, Emma said, "My vaccinations are up to date. I never planned on leaving my house."

He put on the Band-Aid. "Next time make sure you're dressed appropriately. The outskirts of town aren't always safe."

"Yes, Sir. I will."

"I don't want to visit a crime scene and you're the victim."

"I understand. I don't want to be a victim."

"Glad to hear it. I'll walk you back to your place."

"You don't need to."

His jaw set. "We just discussed it not being completely safe."

"I guess that's true. Thank you, I appreciate your concern."

With a wide stance Seth with arms crossed at this chest, stared at her front door. "Did you leave your door open?"

"Probably."

"Ace and I'll check to make sure it's safe."

"It wouldn't do any good to say you don't have to, would it?"

Seth exhaled. A complete search ensued. "It's safe."

"Thank you. You take security seriously, don't you?"

"I'm the police chief. It's what I do."

"I guess that's true."

His hand grasped the doorknob. "Ms. Winters, make sure the door's locked."

"I will. Thank you, again."

He listened for the lock to engage before leaving her porch.

*****
Seth with is his dog, Ace, headed toward their house, glanced over his shoulder at Emma's cabin, and shook his head. "She's definitely a young'un. This is going to be interesting."


Thank you youtube for Alan Jackson and 'Chatahoocee'


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Author Notes Welcome to my new novel. It's a little different from my previous novels in that it's more faith based. I hope you enjoy reading. I'm classifying this as a romance novel, although some of you feel my novels are not romance. It seems to be the best category.

Thank you FaceBook for the image of what Emma may look like.

This post is a little over 1600 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. I know Seth shakes his head a lot, it will be addressed down the road. I also know he comes across bossy, that will also be addressed down the road. Both are character flaws that will be addressed. I promise. Again, thank you for all your help and suggestions.


Chapter 1
Faith Chapter 2

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

"Ace and I'll check to make sure it's safe."

"It wouldn't do any good to say you don't have to, would it?"

Seth exhaled. A complete search ensued. "It's safe."

"Thank you. You take security seriously, don't you?"

"I'm the police chief. It's what I do."

"I guess that's true."

His hand grasped the doorknob. "Ms. Winters, make sure the door's locked."

"I will. Thank you, again."

He listened for the lock to engage before leaving her porch.

*****
Seth with is his dog, Ace, headed toward their house, glanced over his shoulder at Emma's cabin, and shook his head. "She's definitely a young'un. This is going to be interesting."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 2

Emma sat in the church pew between her parents, Susan and Keith and listened to Pastor Pat welcome the congregation. He greeted the college students who were home for the summer and then said, "I also want to congratulate Emma Winters. We've watched Emma grow up in this church family. I understand she's officially graduated from LeTourneau University with the top honor of Summa Cum Laude. Emma, we're proud of you." His eyebrows rose as he grinned. "I'm hoping we can convince you to sing for us. We've missed your voice. Am I right?"

The congregation applauded, and Pastor Pat motioned for her to come forward. "Emma, please?"

Emma remained in the pew. "I didn't bring my guitar. I'm not prepared."

Keith stood, walked to the back of the sanctuary, and held up his guitar.

"Daddy!" Emma exhaled, took the guitar from him, and walked to the front. "I feel set up. Please forgive me. I don't have anything prepared." She thought a moment. "I'll sing one of my all-time favorites, 'Victory in Jesus'. I hope you enjoy. Many of you know the song. Feel free to sing along." She strummed a few chords and then began, "I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory..."

The congregation applauded as the song ended.

"Thank you. You're too kind."

On the way to her seat, she noticed Seth sitting in the backrow pew, watching, and shaking his head. He shakes his head a lot. I don't know what it means, but I bet it's not good.

*****
The service ended and while the congregation stood on the church's front lawn visiting, Seth walked up. "Ms. Winters, how's your wound?"

"It feels much better. Thank you for asking. I'm sorry we bothered you last night."

"Don't worry about it. Dogs can be unpredictable." Seth glanced around, before he said, "You have a nice voice. Thank you for sharing."

"You're welcome. I wasn't prepared."

Pastor Pat came from behind and pecked her cheek. "Thank you, Emma." He teased, "I'm giving you fair warning; be prepared every Sunday."

"I'm sure if that happens the congregation will quit attending."

"They'll keep coming. They love your music too much and will show up for no other reason than to hear you sing. I'm betting once the word gets out, attendance will rise."

She exhaled and frowned.

Seth shook his head. "I'm in agreement with Pastor Pat."

A soft pink glow caressed Emma's cheeks. "Thank you, both."

Susan touched her daughter's shoulder. "Emma, we're leaving. Are you close?"

"I'll be right behind you. I'm stopping by my house to get Molly." She hugged Pastor Pat. "I'm sure I'll see you in a few minutes at my parents'."

He rubbed his stomach. "I can't wait. Since you're working at the bakery, you'll see me every day and probably get tired of me."

"I'd never get tired of my godfather," she teased, "but don't trick me into singing. I need some warning."

Another parishioner walked up and engaged Pastor Pat in conversation. Emma gracefully said goodbye and headed home.

Seth walked to his pickup but kept an eye on Emma. She's full of surprises.

*****
The low evening sun barely peaked above her cabin's roof as Emma drove down the lane. In her open garage door, stood shirtless, squared jawed, rugged short-stubble, handsome Seth working on the door opener, Ace by his side. Oh my! She stepped from the car.

Molly ran and yapped at Seth.

He grabbed his T-shirt and pulled it over his head. "Sorry. I thought I was alone."

"You were until I drove up. Well, except for Ace." She reached in the backseat and lifted a box filled with dishes.

Seth stood beside her. "I'll carry that."

"I can."

He took it. "It looks heavy and smells good. What is it?"

"Leftovers from Sunday dinner. I can't remember a time when Mom and Dad didn't prepare the traditional huge Sunday dinner. Pastor Pat rarely misses the meal. Mom sent the leftovers home with me." She tilted her head. "Why don't you stay for supper? There's plenty."

"That's not necessary."

She glanced at the garage door. "Fixin' this on the day God set aside for rest wasn't necessary either."

"I guess that's true."

"So, you'll stay?"

"Sounds like I don't have a choice."

"I bet that doesn't happen often."

Seth's brown eyes widened. "Somebody inviting me to eat with them?"

"I'm sure you get plenty of invitations. I meant I doubt you don't have a choice."

"You could be right. I think this is a first." Seth moved his head toward a side door. "I'll put this inside. Where do you want it?"

"Anywhere on the kitchen counter."

He noticed she glanced at the garage door. "It should work. After I put this inside, you can try it."

Once the box was taken care of, Seth handed Emma the remote. "Ms. Winters, check it out."

A smile graced her lips as the garage door went down. "Now, I'll see if it goes up."

"It should."

Emma held her breath and pushed the button. When the door went up, she bounced up and down. Her eyes sparkled. "Thank you."

Seth shook his head and glanced around the garage. "I'll pick up the tools and then I'm finished."

"I'll wait inside." Emma and Molly went in.

Emma slipped out of her dress and into jeans before she searched for Seth. When she didn't see him, she checked the front yard. "You didn't need to wait out here. You could've come in." She held open the door.

"I didn't feel comfortable just walking in."

"I thought a landlord could enter whenever they wanted."

"A renter has rights, even a landlord or I can't enter without a warrant or an emergency."

"Thank you." Emma did a quick braid of her long copper hair and then began taking dishes from the box. "I hope you like pot roast, veggies, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade rolls, and fresh peach pie." She opened the freezer and frowned. "Thought so."

"A problem?"

"I like ice cream with peach pie, but I finished it a few days ago." She watched Seth head toward the door. "Where you going?"

"I have ice cream at home."

"It's not right to invite somebody to eat with you and then ask him to supply food."

"Ice cream's hardly food." He left, but Ace remained.

*****
Holding the ice cream carton Seth paused a few feet from the house and watched Emma roughhousing in the front yard with Molly and Ace. He shook his head. "Is this why you changed?"

"I'm more of a blue jeans and T-shirt gal. I was brought up to wear dresses to church."

He handed her the ice cream container. "Here."

They went inside, and Emma put it in the freezer, as she said, "Thank you, but you didn't need to." She glanced at her watch and then motioned to the couch. "It's a little early to eat. Have a seat."

Silence filled the room.

"Is LeTourneau University as strict as its reputation?" asked Seth.

"I guess it depends how you look at it. I didn't think so. It's a small close-knit campus. Where did you go?"

"Sam Houston State University." He hesitated. "What did you major in? Something to do with children?"

Her smile lit her face. "What tipped you off?"

"Your personality. Maybe elementary education?"

"I have a double major, elementary ed. and social work. I minored in business. I wanted to be able to help Dad." Emma watched Molly climb on Ace. "Ace is really sweet to put up with her." She went over and picked up the small dog. "You need to leave him alone. He's a guest." Her green eyes met Seth's. "I'm guessing you majored in something like law enforcement."

"A masters' in Criminal Justice."

"Makes sense. Did you come straight to Beaverton from college?"

"I worked a few years in Cedarville before I got this job. Jake Baker was my mentor."

"Jake and Dad are good friends. They fish and hunt together. He's like an uncle to me."

"Jake's like an uncle and Pastor Pat's your godfather. I'd say you're in good hands."

Her eyes twinkled and danced. "You're probably right."

Seth, again, shook his head. "A few years back, Jake introduced me to your dad." He pointed at a fishing pole in the corner. "You fish and hunt?"

"Dad taught me to fish. We go often. He tried to teach me to hunt, but I failed miserably."

"How can you fail at hunting?" Seth's eyebrows crunched together.

Emma hung her head. "I know how to shoot. I'm good at hitting the target." She exhaled. "Dad complained I'm too chatty, bubbly, and notified the prey I'm there." She nibbled her index fingernail. "I couldn't kill a cute furry animal with big brown eyes."

"But you fish?"

"Fish aren't cute and furry. Their eyes are sort of beady."

Grinning, Seth said, "I see." He noticed her guitar lying in a chair. "On hunting and fishing trips with Keith and Jake I've heard your dad play. He's good. Did he teach you? What are your favorite genres?"

"Dad got me started. I also took lessons. Religious songs are my favorite with country being a close second. I love playing. I just don't like surprise gigs. I want time to prepare."

"You did great this morning."

"Thank you." She scanned the area. "Why don't I warm up dinner? I hope you don't mind sitting at the kitchen bar. I don't have a table and chairs yet."

"How can I help?"

"I have it under control. Warming's easy."

After dinner was set out, Seth took a bite. "Your mom's a good cook. Do you cook?"

"I do. Mom started me at an early age."

"Is there anything you don't do, besides hunt?"

"I'm not sure. I don't have a regular job. So far, I'm only working with Mom and Dad."

"Were you offered a teaching job?"

"I was, five. I didn't accept them. They didn't feel right. I believe God will direct me to what I'm supposed to do."

"How will He do that?"

"Just listen with an open heart." Emma picked up her plate.

"I'll help."

"No need to. There's only a few."

Seth handed her the dishes as she rinsed and put them in the dishwasher.

The dishes were taken care of and then Seth said, "I'd better head home. Thank you for dinner."

Both heads turned as Molly stood at the door barking. Emma picked up the small dog. "You want out? It's dark. Do your job and come right back." She set her down and opened the door.

Off ran Molly barking.

"Molly, no!" Emma faced Seth and frowned. "That's what she did last night."

"Ace, get her." He pointed.

"How does he do that?"

"He's trained and he's a shepherd. They naturally herd. He's herding Molly to where he wants her to go."

Ace returned Molly to the house.

Seth picked her up and held her eye-to-eye. "She's a pretty little thing, but I'm not convinced she's an actual dog." Still holding her, he stared at the backdoor. "This little lady has issues going out. Maybe you need a doggy door."

"No, she would go in and out all day," interrupted Emma. "The problem's not that she goes out, it's what she does while she's there."

"I see. If you'd be willing to help, we could build an outside fence so she wouldn't have the run of the yard."

"I can't afford that. I barely make enough for rent and groceries."

"Your input would be to help with labor."

"Are you sure?"

"It's the easiest way to solve the problem. Let me think about it for a few days and get back to you." Seth set Molly on the floor. "I should get going. Goodnight."

Seth opened the door and saw headlights at the top of the lane. Wonder who that is and what they're doing. He faced Emma. "At night keep the curtains drawn. I'll see you at the bakery." Ace and Seth walked home.

~~~~~
Fixin' is Texas slang, I've heard it is used throughout the South.
~~~~~

Thank you Youtube for sharing Carrie Underwood's "Victory in Jesus".




*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Author Notes Thank you for the wonderful support of this new novel. I was encouraged to keep writing.

Thank you Google Images for the image of what Seth may look like.

This post is a little over 2000 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. I know it's long, but when I tried to split it, I ended up with short and still a long post. I'll post high to reward you for reading. I know Seth shakes his head a lot, it will be addressed down the road. I also know he comes across bossy, that will also be addressed down the road. Both are character flaws that will be addressed. I promise. Again, thank you for all your help and suggestions.


Chapter 2
Faith Chapter 3

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

"No, she would go in and out all day," interrupted Emma. "The problem's not that she goes out, it's what she does while she's there."

"I see. If you'd be willing to help, we could build an outside fence so she wouldn't have the run of the yard."

"I can't afford that. I barely make enough for rent and groceries."

"Your input would be to help with labor."

"Are you sure?"

"It's the easiest way to solve the problem. Let me think about it for a few days and get back to you." Seth set Molly on the floor. "I should get going. Goodnight."

Seth opened the door and saw headlights at the top of the lane. Wonder who that is and what they're doing. He faced Emma. "At night keep the curtains drawn. I'll see you at the bakery." Ace and Seth walked home.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 3

Mid-Monday morning, Seth walked up to the bakery's counter. He scanned the area and then stretched his neck checking the back area, hoping to get a glimpse of Emma. He watched her start to yank a fifty-pound flour bag from the top shelf. The flour bag next to it started to tumble and flour dust covered her.

Keith walked from his office. "Hi, Seth. Ready for your usual coffee?"

"Mornin', Keith. Yes. Things are fairly quiet this morning." Seth continued to watch Emma and shook his head.

Emma stood on her toes holding both bags to keep them from falling. "Dad? Help?"

Smiling Keith turned. "That's my daughter." He handed Seth the large coffee. "I see a disaster in the making. I'd better help. Have a blessed day."

*****
On patrol that afternoon, Seth drove through the city park and parked the police cruiser. What's Ms. Winters doing? He watched Emma help a group of young boys fly a kite.

When it flew, she sat off to the side and ate lunch. Nothing going on here. Before Seth fully backed up, he paused. "She didn't?" His voice rose, "I can't believe she climbed that tree." He spoke into the walkie-talkie attached to his shirt collar, "Leaving the cruiser. Helping Ms. Winters off a City Park shelter roof."

"What?" asked Carl.

"You heard me."

Seth heard Carl chuckle as he headed toward the shelter with Ace by his side. He paused and studied the situation.

Emma stood on the roof with her hands on her hips, attempting to figure out how to get down. Glancing at Seth, Emma pointed. "I got up here from that tree, but it doesn't look like I can get down the same way."

"Ms. Winters, get on your stomach and dangle your legs off the side. I'll catch you."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

Shaking his head, he said, "Climbing up there to begin with was dangerous."

"But..."

"Slide toward me. I'll grab your legs and help you to the ground."

"What if I'm too heavy?"

"I can lift 250 pounds. I doubt you weigh that much." He waited. "Ms. Winters?"

"I'm working up to it."

"You should've spent time working up to climbing up there."

"Maybe, but I had to help the boys get their kite."

"Ready?"

After releasing a deep breath, she rolled onto her stomach and slowly slid off the roof's edge.

"Slide down a few more inches, so I can reach you." After a few more scoots, he touched her ankles. "I have you. A little more and you're down." Once he held her thighs, he steadily guided her until he held her waist and her feet were on the ground. "You're safe."

"Thank you. I got the kite without ripping it."

"I noticed."

With pink cheeks, she studied Ace. "Am I under arrest?"

"I'm not sure. This is a first since I became Police Chief."

"Is there any way we can keep this between us?"

"Ms. Winters, are you bribing a public official?"

"Not really. I didn't offer you anything. I just asked."

Carl's voice was heard, "Chief, is Emma safe?"

Emma frowned. "They already know, don't they?"

"Yes. She asked if she's under arrest."

Carl chuckled. "Maybe a written citation."

Seth reached into his back pocket for his pad and then stopped. "How about a verbal warning?"

Her eyes met his. "I promise I won't climb up there again."

"Even if there's a kitten trapped?"

She closed her eyes and whispered, "Maybe?"

"Ms. Winters, you've had an eventful day, first flour bags and now this." He brushed some flour dust from the right side of her hair. "You missed some flour. Try to stay out of trouble."

"I'll try." Emma watched Seth walk away shaking his head. "Chief Carter, thank you. Do you always shake your head or just around me?"

He didn't turn, but answered, "Around you."

"I was afraid of that."

He continued walking, shaking his head, and chuckling.

As Seth backed from the parking spot, he noticed a car. "That's strange. That car's been parked the entire time. I don't recognize it." He spoke into his walkie-talkie. "Carl, check the license plate of a burgundy Crown Victoria early 1990's Texas plate, JHC 123."

"Roger that."

*****
Late afternoon, Seth entered the bakery/bookstore. He nodded toward Emma as she took a customer's order.

Emma exhaled before she went to the tall table where Seth stood and poured him a cup of coffee. "Hello, what can I get you?"

"This black coffee and a grilled steak and onion sandwich on a Telera roll."

"With the horseradish cream?"

"Yes."

"It'll be right out."

Seth watched her walk to the counter. She doesn't have her usual smile or bright eyes. Why?

He studied her as she waited on other customers.

Refilling his coffee, she said, "The rest of your order will be ready shortly."

"Ms. Winters?" She nodded, so he continued, "You seem uncomfortable."

"Earlier, I made a fool of myself."

"I'm used to seeing interesting situations. It happens."

"I bet not to you."

He tilted his head. "I wouldn't have climbed on the roof without first figuring out how I'd get down."

"I thought so." She turned her head as a bell sounded and said over her shoulder, "Your sandwich's up." She quickly returned and set the plate in front of him. "Please enjoy."

He watched her walk toward a delivery man who entered carrying a medium sized box and handed it to Emma.

As Emma opened it, Seth heard, "Thank you. I never expected them today. This is great."

"You said as soon as possible."

"Thank you, again. I'll start passing them out."

Seth continued watching. What's she up to now?

Emma hung one flyer on the front door and one in the window facing the outside. Then she proceeded to hand them to customers.

She walked by Seth's table without stopping. He asked, "Do I get one?"

"I'm starting a summer reading group for children. I'm guessing you don't have any children. I didn't think you'd be interested."

"I don't have children, but I'm interested in everything that happens around town." He accepted the flyer and read. "It says you're going to read a story and then follow up with an art project."

"That's right. After the art project, I'll hand out a coupon for the kids to get 25% off the book."

Seth scanned the area. "Where are you planning on doing the art project? There's not enough room here."

"I was thinking about the sidewalk. The kids can sit on the ground and use chairs for desks. Before the kids get here, I'll make sure the sidewalk's clean."

"You can't block the sidewalk."

"I think there'll be room. I don't expect that many kids. Pastor Pat said I could use some church folding chairs."

"Sounds like you have everything under control. It begins next Wednesday and lasts until the week before school begins?"

"Yes." Emma continued passing out flyers.

*****
At the end of her shift, Emma headed home, turned onto her lane, and saw Seth washing the police cruiser. She stopped and rolled down the passenger window.

He walked over. "Hello. You need something?"

"I wanted you to know I'm a fully functional adult."

"I know."

"Good. Have a blessed evening." Emma continued toward her home.

*****
Seth finished with the cruiser, went inside, and stared out his back window at Emma's cabin. "Ace, I guess I upset the young'un. I'm not sure I'd go with a fully functional adult; maybe a partially functional adult." He petted the dog's head. "Let's keep that our secret." He got a glass of water and continued staring out the window. "She put that 'wanna be' dog on a leash. Good idea. Fur Ball won't be able to take off. Maybe later we'll go down and apologize." He sipped the water.

After dinner, Seth grabbed a container of ice cream. "I know she likes ice cream so maybe she'll think I come in peace." As he walked down the lane, he noticed Emma sitting on the lawn staring at the house and shook his head. What's she doing?

When Molly barked, Emma turned. "Hello."

Seth held up the carton. "Would you like to share some ice cream?"

"There's still some in the freezer from last night. Sorry, I forgot to send it home."

"Now you have more." He ran his hand through his short brown hair and then rubbed his short stubble. "Why are you studying the front of the house?"

"If it's okay, I'm thinking about planting some flowers, and in the fall planting tulip bulbs. Tulips are my favorite. I think they'd look great here. Is it okay?"

"Sure."

Emma stood and brushed off her rear-end. "Thank you. We'd better get the ice cream in the freezer. I have one more question." After putting the ice cream away, she continued, "Can I plant three or four tomato plants and maybe two pepper plants. No, three pepper plants."

"Where?"

"By the garage."

He pointed. "That side of the garage faces west. It's too hot in the afternoons."

She opened the back door and pointed. "I was thinking back here."

"Okay. I wouldn't plant them until we're finished with the fence. They might get damaged while we're building."

"Good point." She walked toward the kitchen. "Ready for ice cream?"

"I am."

As they ate, Seth's phone rang, and he checked it. "Sorry. I need to take this." He moved closer to the front door. After listening for a few moments, he said, "Dead men can't drive cars." He hung up.

When Emma tilted her head, he said, "Carl ran a license plate. The man who the car's registered to died almost three years ago."

"That's strange."

"I agree." Seth took his last bite of ice cream. "Two things before I leave, first, I'm sorry if I insulted you." When she started to say something, he raised his hand. "How about Ace takes Molly for her nightly walk?"

Emma smiled. "Thank you, Ace."

While the dogs were outside, Emma said, "Maybe I was a little sensitive. It just seems you've witnessed every interesting thing I've done. I usually lead a very boring life."

He shook his head. "I doubt there's anything boring about you." Watching her cheeks tinge pink, he added, "I didn't mean that in a negative way."

She nodded as she let the dogs in and petted Ace. "Thank you, again."

"Thank you for sharing ice cream with me."

Emma opened the freezer. "Wait. You can take it home."

"Leave it here." At the front door, Seth said, "Goodnight, I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow."

Standing in her doorway, Emma said, "Goodnight."

As Seth walked home, he noticed the headlights of the car. I wonder if that's the same Crown Vic. He called his office, but before a patrol car could drive by the car had left.


Thank you Youtube for the video on Pomeranians. Molly is a Pom.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Author Notes Thank you Google Images for the image of what the shelter roof may look like.

This post is a little over 1800 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. I know Seth shakes his head a lot, it will be addressed down the road. I also know he comes across bossy, that will also be addressed down the road. Both are character flaws that will be addressed. I promise. I am slowly beginning to unravel Seth. Again, thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate all your kind reviews and support of my writing.


Chapter 3
Faith Chapter 4

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

Emma opened the freezer. "Wait. You can take it home."

"Leave it here." At the front door, Seth said, "Goodnight, I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow."

Standing in her doorway, Emma said, "Goodnight."

As Seth walked home, he noticed the headlights of the car. I wonder if that's the same Crown Vic. He called his office, but before a patrol car could drive by the car had left.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 4

As Seth stood at the bakery counter early Tuesday morning, Keith walked from his office and checked the time. "Good morning, Seth. Right on time for your morning coffee." He grinned, watching Seth scan the area. "In case you're wondering, Emma's not here. She went fishing. She'll be back for the lunch rush and then close tonight."

Seth, with a sheepish grin, accepted the offered coffee. "Thank you. I'll be back for lunch."

*****
A few minutes before noon, Seth stood at a tall table in the bakery/bookstore and glanced around. When he didn't see Emma, he walked to the counter. "Keith, hasn't Emma returned?"

"No. I'm starting to worry." He glanced at his watch. "She should've been back over an hour ago. It's not like her to be late."

"Have you called?"

Keith pointed to a cell phone setting next to the cash register. "When we switched vehicles this morning, she left it here. She took my pickup and the canoe. I've been too busy to drive out and check."

Seth picked up the abandoned phone. "I have time, I'll check. Where'd she go?"

"Johnson Creek. It's a good-sized fast-moving creek. It's her favorite fishing area." When Seth's eyebrows rose, Keith got a map and located it.

Heading toward the door, Seth said, "I'll call when I find her. I'm sure she lost track of time."

About twenty minutes later, Seth drove down the dirt road and saw Keith's pickup.

As he parked by it, Emma opened the door and stepped out. "I'm glad you're here. I bet Dad sent you." She glanced at the pickup. "It's not my fault."

As Seth and Ace stepped from the cruiser, he said, "He did. What happened?"

She pointed at the vehicle. "It's out of gas." When Seth's eyes widened, she added, "It had three quarters of a tank when I left town."

"That's impossible." He used his phone and called Keith. After he relayed what happened, Keith verified there was plenty of gas. Then he called Carl to bring Keith and gas. Once he hung up, he faced Emma. "Your dad agrees there was plenty of gas."

He walked around and saw tire tracks and footprints. "Did you notice anybody here?"

She turned and pointed. "No. I took the canoe down the creek around that bend. I wouldn't have seen anything. Why?"

Seth knelt, studied the tracks and footprints, before he used his phone to take some photographs. "It looks like somebody siphoned your gas."

"Impossible. The only people who knew I was here were my parents."

"You could've been followed from town." He glanced at the pickup. "You were inside."

Emma opened the door and pointed at a shotgun. "Just in case a wild animal showed up."

"Good." He paused a moment and then grinned. "Did you catch anything?"

At the creek's edge, she held up a stringer holding five pan-sized bass. "I caught the limit."

"I'm impressed. Help should be here shortly."

She smiled. "While we wait, want to fish?"

"I don't have my pole."

She held up hers. "I'll share."

"What'd you use for bait?"

Her eyes twinkled. "My favorite little spinner." She showed him.

"It's hot pink!"

"If you're not man enough to use it, there are others in the tackle box."

He studied her. "Guaranteed to catch fish?" After she nodded, he said, "Let's do this."

Seth helped her remove the canoe from the pickup bed.

After Seth removed his boots and rolled up his pant legs, he watched Emma push the boat into knee-deep water. She's pretty amazing. Those cut-off jeans are almost as good as her nightshirt.

"You coming or you standing there all day?"

After petting Ace, he said, "You need to stay with the vehicles." He walked to the creek bank. "If I use your pole, what are you using?"

"I can't fish. I caught my limit. I wouldn't want to be arrested."

Chuckling, Seth waded to the canoe and climbed in. "Where to?"

"My favorite fishing hole. If you can't catch anything there, you're not a fisherman. You have the right pole and the right spinner."

Shaking his head, Seth said, "My reputation's on the line. Absolutely no pressure at all."

She passed him a paddle. "I guess since you put it that way, if you don't catch anything I'll give you one more chance."

Seth accepted the paddle. "Thank you. Guide the way."

Soon after putting his line in, Seth caught a fish. "Is my reputation safe?"

"I guess." She glanced at her watch. "Let's see if you catch another one."

Moments later, they heard Ace bark. Seth started to reel in the line. "Helps here. We need to head back." Just as he finished, another fish attacked the spinner. "I got another one."

When they reached shore, the two fish were added to the others. Keith walked up. "I thought there was a five bass limit."

Emma smiled. "There is. I caught five and Chief Carter caught two."

Keith patted Seth's back. "Tomorrow night come for dinner. We'll have a fish fry."

Nodding, Seth said, "Thank you."

Carl walked up to Seth. "Any idea what happened?"

Seth nodded toward Emma, but quietly addressed Carl, "We'll talk with Keith later. I'm pretty sure this was intentional. Either Keith or Emma's the target. Before you leave get imprints of the tire tracks and the shoes. You stay with Keith, and I'll take Emma home. I'm sure she's needed at the bakery."

*****
After Seth parked the cruiser at Emma's house, he said, "Just a minute." He took her phone from his pocket. "You left it by the cash register."

"Thank you. I wasn't sure where it was."

Seth held out his hand. "Give it back. I'll put in my personal number and my work number."

"Do you think it's necessary?"

"I do." He opened the cruiser door. "While you get ready, I'll go to my place. Call when you're finished." He glanced at Ace. I'll leave him so the fur ball can go out."

"Thank you." She tilted her head. "Do you want my number?"

"Good idea. I didn't want to appear forward."

She tilted her head. "I can't imagine you being forward, extremely bossy yes, forward no."

"I'm not sure if that's a complement or an insult."

Emma only smiled as Seth added her number to his phone.

*****
At his place, Seth made a pot of coffee and watched her cabin from a window while he drank. I wonder what she's gotten herself into. I doubt Keith's the target. That car's stalking her. He called his buddy Jake, and they discussed possible scenarios.

About thirty minutes later, Emma called. He dropped her off at the bakery/bookstore and went to the police station.

*****
That evening as Emma locked the bakery's front door, Seth knocked, and she let him in. "Chief Carter, we're closed, but I'll scrounge up something. A long day?"

"I need to ask some questions. I'd rather do it here than at your place. I promised your dad I'd make sure you make it home. Can Ace come in, and can we sit?"

She pointed at a table and then roughed up Ace's ears. "Sure. What kind of questions?"

"I just spoke with your dad. I'm trying to figure out who siphoned your gas and why."

"I doubt I can be of any help, but I'll try."

Seth nodded. "Are there any scorned boyfriends in Beaverton who might still hold a grudge?"

"I didn't really date much." Emma paused. "In March of my senior year, Ronnie Calhoun and I started dating. We only went to school events and maybe two movies. The weekend before graduation we went to a party." She stood. "Want a bottle of water?"

"Thank you. Did you break up when you went to college?"

She handled him a bottle, opened hers, and took a drink. "No, we broke up during the party."

"Who broke up and why? I guess it didn't go well."

"The party was at one of Ronnie's friend's house. There was a lot of drinking and maybe drugs. I'm not sure. Ronnie was drinking and wanted me to. I declined. After a few beers, he wanted to..." She fingered the label on her water bottle.

"I get the picture. What happened next?"

"I called Dad, and he picked me up." After a long silence, Emma continued, "The following week there were all sorts of rumors about me. I also heard something about Ronnie losing a ten-dollar bet because he couldn't get me in bed. Don't know if that was true or not."

"Could he still be holding a grudge? Is he in town? Where did he go to school?"

"I haven't seen him since. I don't think he's in town, but I'm not sure. I think he went to UT."

Ray came from the back. "Emma, I'm finished. Are you about ready?"

She turned. "Ray, this is Chief Carter." He nodded. "Chief Carter, this is Ray Hudson. He closes for us. When I'm here late, he walks me to my car."

"I want to make sure she's safe. I've known Emma since I started working here." Ray held his open hand palm down at mid-thigh. "She was this tall and what, five or six years old?"

Seth grinned. "I'll make sure she gets home. I have few more questions. You can leave." After hearing the back door close, he continued, "So there's a good chance Calhoun's nowhere around."

She nodded. "Probably."

"What about college? Did you have a steady boyfriend or a bad breakup?"

"No. I was too busy to date. There were six of us who hung around together. We never paired off or dated. We just went places together. Patricia, Erin, and I were the girls. Jeremy, Glen, and Peter were the guys. We met as part of the Christian campus youth group. We were always together, more like brothers and sisters."

"Did you notice anybody on the fringe who never made it into the group?"

A few moments passed as she thought. "No." Her eyes widened. "Wait. The last few months I noticed an older guy, maybe early thirties. He stood off to the side and watched. I noticed him a few times outside our apartment. Our junior and senior years the girls and I lived together off campus. I told Pastor Mike about him because he made my skin crawl. I know Pastor Mike approached him a few times."

"Do you have any way to contact Pastor Mike?"

"I don't, but Pastor Pat might. They went to seminary together. I think they've stayed in touch."

"Drop by the police station tomorrow afternoon and give us a description."

She took a drink of water. "Sure."

Seth stood. "I'm finished for now. I might have more questions later."

"Okay. As soon as I check the back door, I'm ready."

He glanced at his watch. "It's late. You like Italian? I'll order and pick it up. It's just around the corner."

"You don't need to."

"Do you like Italian?"

Emma exhaled and nodded.

He put his phone away. "It's done."

After Emma locked the front door, Seth said, "Walk with me. I told Ray and your dad I'd make sure you safely make it home."

*****
With the order in hand, Seth walked Emma to her car. "I'll follow and come to your place to eat."

Seth called Pastor Pat on the way.

*****
While Ace took Molly outside, Seth studied the back door and porch. "I wanted to discuss the fence for your fur ball, but it's late. Think we'll have time tomorrow after the fish fry?"

"I think so."


~~~~~
CALLING ALL AMAZING WOMEN!!!!!!
Someone told me that Emma was too perfect, that graduating with honors, singing in church when asked, helping kids with kites, starting a summer reading program, and dancing with customers because they like to dance was making her unrelatable to readers because she was a saint. I struggle with that because I graduated with honors and did it in three and a half years with two majors' elementary education and early childhood education with a minor in microbiology, volunteered with HeadStart because I liked children, went to nursing homes and did the Charleston with some elderly ladies, well, their form of it, and did the children's sermon during church, and volunteered to help the elderly walk their dogs. My dad coached baseball and his assistant coach had two small preschool age boys, during practices I would plan activities to keep these young boys entertained, I didn't during games because I was the official scorekeeper. I also fish, but not my favorite pastime. I am 150% positive many of you amazing women on FanStory have also done amazing things. Please add that to your reviews. I want to hear about it.
~~~~~

*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Author Notes Thank you Google Images for the image of what the pink spinner may look like.

This post is a little over 1900 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. I will post high to reward you for reading this long post. I reviewed this post two days less than I normally do. I was traveling to the Gulf to celebrate my youngest son's birthday. We'll see how it does. I promise. I'm slowly unraveling Seth. Again, thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate all your kind reviews and support of my writing.


Chapter 4
Faith Chapter 5 A

By barbara.wilkey

Previous Post:

A few moments passed as she thought. "No." Her eyes widened. "Wait. The last few months I noticed an older guy, maybe early thirties. He stood off to the side and watched. I noticed him a few times outside our apartment. Our junior and senior years the girls and I lived together off campus. I told Pastor Mike about him because he made my skin crawl. I know Pastor Mike approached him a few times."

"Do you have any way to contact Pastor Mike?"

"I don't, but Pastor Pat might. They went to seminary together. I think they've stayed in touch."

"Drop by the police station tomorrow afternoon and give us a description."

She took a drink of water. "Sure."

Seth stood. "I'm finished for now. I might have more questions later."

"Okay. As soon as I check the back door, I'm ready."

He glanced at his watch. "It's late. You like Italian? I'll order and pick it up. It's just around the corner."

"You don't need to."

"Do you like Italian?"

Emma exhaled and nodded.

He put his phone away. "It's done."

After Emma locked the front door, Seth said, "Walk with me. I told Ray and your dad I'd make sure you safely make it home."

*****
With the order in hand, Seth walked Emma to her car. "I'll follow and come to your place to eat."

Seth called Pastor Pat on the way.

*****
While Ace took Molly outside, Seth studied the back door and porch. "I wanted to discuss the dog porch, but it's late. Think we'll have time tomorrow after the fish fry?"

"I think so."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 5 A

Mid-afternoon, Wednesday Emma entered the city's police station. Peggy Barton, a former high school classmate, stood frowning next to the door. "What are you doing here? If you're here for Seth, he's busy so you need to turn yourself around and leave."

Emma tilted her head. "Peggy, it's nice to see you again. It's been a while, probably since high school graduation. I'm here because I have an appointment. I hope you have a nice rest of your day." She continued to the front desk. "Hello. Yesterday, I spoke with Chief Carter. He asked me to come in this afternoon and give a description of a man to somebody, but I'm not sure who I'm supposed to do that with. He didn't say."

Peggy remained at the door and watched.

Seth's office door opened. "Ms. Winters, I thought I heard your voice. Glad you're here."

Jake sauntered through the door, walked up to Emma, and hugged her. "Pumpkin, it's good to see you again. I didn't think it was possible, but you get prettier every day. I hope you don't mind but I'm helping Seth get a good sketch of this man. I just uploaded a new computer program."

Peggy called, "Seth, could I have a minute?"

He exhaled. "How can I help, Ms. Barton?"

"I was hoping you could come for dinner tonight."

He glanced toward his office. "I have plans."

"How about tomorrow night?"

Going into his office, he said, "I'm busy." He closed the door, before he sat.

"She's persistent," teased Jake.

"That she is."

"You need to talk with her."

"Let's get started. There's work that needs to get done." Seth hesitated. "Ms. Winters, what can you remember about this man, besides he's old, maybe in his early thirties?"

Jake chuckled. "Yeah, being in early thirties is pretty old."

Pink adorned Emma's cheeks. "Am I being teased?"

Jake chuckled. "You just called us both old. I'm thirty-nine, so I'm getting close to ancient. Seth, have you made thirty yet?"

He grinned. "I will in September." His eyes met Emma's. "I'm in my twenties for a few more months. Can I still be young?"

The pink in her cheeks continued to darken. "I think I'd better keep quiet."

Jake pointed to the computer screen and nodded, but addressed Emma, "You turned twenty-two, last month, right?"

"Yes." As both men shook their head, she continued, "There's a lot of head shaking when I'm around."

Seth stood and moved a chair closer to his. "Sit beside me. You'll need to see the screen. Jake's teaching me to use this program, and you'll help with facial attributes."

Jake continued, "We already know he's a male about thirty. How tall and about how much does he weigh?"

"I'm not good at that." She studied Seth and then Jake. "He's shorter than Chief Carter. Jake, how tall are you?"

"About five foot-eleven."

She closed her eyes. "I'd say closer to Jake's height."

"Seth's about six feet two inches, so let's say about six feet." Jake hesitated. "Weight? Seth's about two hundred pounds. I'm about one hundred seventy."

"Maybe about one hundred seventy-five."

Seth faced her. "You're doing good. How about body type?"

"Slim with some muscles. Nothing like yours."

Seth's eyes met Jake's and grinned. "Thank you."

"I didn't mean..."

"Yes, you did," interrupted Jake. "We both know Seth works out. He has to so he can help females from shelter roofs."

"He told you?"

Attempting to appear serious, Seth said, "Hair color and style. Also eye color."

"Short brown hair. I'm not sure about eye color, but they were steel like. They bored into me."

"How about shape of his face?" asked Jake.

"Definitely oval."

Seth added it to the computer diagram. "Anything stand out about his forehead, or eyebrows?"

"Nothing I can remember."

"Shape of nose and anything you can remember about the nostrils."

She closed her eyes. "Extremely long nose and narrow nostrils. His cheeks and face were narrow too."

"Thank you. That was my next question, and it fits with the oval face. How about ears and mouth?"

"Just normal ears. I don't remember anything about them. Mouth?" She took a breath. "It was crooked. The left side was narrower than the right."

Seth turned the computer screen more toward Emma. "Like this?" After she nodded, he said, "You're doing good. What about chin and neck?"

"His chin was oval. I don't remember anything about his neck."

He nodded. "How about complexion?"

"White but not white white."

Pointing to the computer screen, he asked, "Like this?"

Tilting her head, she pointed to another shade. "No, more like this."

"Facial hair?"

"Unshaven, but completely different than yours. Yours is more of a short stubble."

Jake grinned. "Please explain."

"This guy's had curly parts and bare patches." Emma glanced at the screen. "Yes, that's pretty close."

"Any visible tattoos?" When she shook her head, Seth continued, "Voice? Speech?"

"He didn't talk. All I ever heard was a low raspy whisper. Maybe Pastor Mike can help more in that area."

"How did he walk?"

"He just stood and stared. I don't think I ever saw him take a step."

Seth exhaled. "Okay. We'll let the computer do its thing and then see if we need to make adjustments."

Emma studied the composite sketch. "Something's not right." She stared at it. "It's his eyes. They're not right." Her glance switched from Seth to Jake. "Can I play with it a little?"

Seth moved aside. "Of course."

After Emma made a few changes, she said, "I think that's a good likeness. Can you talk with Pastor Mike and see what he thinks?"

"Pastor Pat called him this morning and he's coming for a visit tomorrow afternoon. I'll talk with him then."

A smile crossed Emma's lips. "Could I..."

"Yes, you'll be able to visit with him," interrupted Seth shaking his head. He glanced at his watch. "I think we're finished, for now. This evening I'll drop by my house to change, so why don't I pick you up, and go to your parents' together?"

Emma glanced toward the door. "It's fine with me, but I don't want to upset your..."

"I'm not dating anybody."

"I guess it's okay. Just so you know I'm bringing Molly, so Ace's welcome." She stood and walked toward the door.

Jake opened it for her and hugged her. "Glad I got to spend this afternoon with you. I'm sure I'll be around again before too long."

"Bye for now. Drop by the bakery before you leave. If they're not all gone, I'll put a peach Danish back for you."

Rubbing his stomach, he said, "Will do."

"Why don't I get the same treatment?" teased Seth.

"I don't know what your favorite pastry is." She left the room.



*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, wants a relationship with Seth

Pastor Mike - Emma's Pastor from college

Author Notes Thank you Google Images for the image of what the suspect may look like.

I posted more of the previous post than usual because I felt it was necessary to understand this post. In case someone didn't read the previous post.

This post is a little over 1100 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. Chapter 5 is too long to post the entire thing at once so I broke it into two posts. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate all your kind reviews and support of my writing.


Chapter 5
Faith Chapter 5 B

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Yes, you'll be able to visit with him," interrupted Seth shaking his head. He glanced at his watch. "I think we're finished, for now. This evening I'll drop by my house to change, so why don't I pick you up, and go to your parents' together?"

Emma glanced toward the door. "It's fine with me, but I don't want to upset your..."

"I'm not dating anybody."

"I guess it's okay. Just so you know I'm bringing Molly, so Ace's welcome." She stood and walked toward the door.

Jake opened it for her and hugged her. "Glad I got to spend this afternoon with you. I'm sure I'll be around again before too long."

"Bye for now. Drop by the bakery before you leave. If they're not all gone, I'll put a peach Danish back for you."

Rubbing his stomach, he said, "Will do."

"Why don't I get the same treatment?" teased Seth.

"I don't know what your favorite pastry is." She left the room.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 5 B

After Seth changed into blue jeans and a T-shirt, he called Emma. "I'm walking out the door. Just so you know beignets are my favorite."

Ignoring his comment, she said, "I'm ready. I just finished planting flowers. It's supposed to rain tomorrow. The timing's perfect."

Emma watched Seth drive the fifty yards. Once he put the pickup in park, he opened the passenger door as she said, "You know Molly and I could've walked to your place. It's not far."

"True." He backed the pickup to the road.

Emma scanned the interior. "I thought you only drove police cruisers."

"I have this and a Harley Davidson customized street glide."

"Do you wear leather when you ride it?" interrupted Emma before he could continue.

"I do, but I'm thinking about selling it. I normally take Ace everywhere and there's no place for him."

"Maybe you should get a touring attachment and put him in it. He could wear a helmet and goggles."

Shaking his head, Seth said, "That would mess with the image of the Harley."

"Maybe."

"No maybe to it."

*****
Keith stood on the driveway shooting hoops when they arrived, so Seth parked in the street.

Emma and Seth walked up, and Keith hugged his daughter. "Your mom's inside."

"I'll go in and help."

Passing the basketball to Seth, Keith grinned. "Welcome. Feel like one-on-one until dinner's ready?"

He took a shot and made it. "Sure."

After getting the rebound, Keith said, "Jake dropped by before heading back to Cedarville. He said you have a sketch of a suspect that's been stalking my daughter and might have siphoned the gas."

Seth retrieved Keith's missed shot and took one. "Just a suspicion."

"Thank you for taking this seriously. Emma's special."

"If this isn't our guy, do you have any other candidates?"

Keith held the ball and avoided eye contact.

"If you know something, you need to tell me."

"There's another possibility, but Emma knows nothing about it."

"It's a secret?" He watched Keith nod. "I need to know, but I can't promise she won't find out."

"I know." Keith walked around still holding the ball. "Susan and I foster parented Emma since she was two days old. After six months, we adopted her. It was a closed adoption, but about three months ago her biological mom's latest boyfriend contacted us and said if we didn't pay $15,000, he'd tell Emma."

"Did you pay?"

"We went to a lawyer and didn't pay."

"Good. How were you contacted?"

"By letter."

"I need to see that and the contact information for the lawyer you used."

Emma opened the front door. "Dinner's ready. Who won?"

Keith grinned. "Any question?"

Smiling, she said, "Probably not."

Passing the ball to Seth, Keith said, "Can I bring all that by your office in the morning?" After Seth nodded, he added, "Good, let's eat."

As the men sat at the table, Keith said, "Jake and I are setting up an early morning fishing trip next week. Are you interested?" He glanced at his daughter. "Men only."

Both men grinned at her frown.

"How early?" asked Seth.

"Leaving here about five-thirty. We hope to be back by eight o'clock."

"I'm in."

Susan smiled. "Seth, I understand beignets are a favorite."

"I doubt you sell them in the bakery."

"We have in the past. I don't remember why we stopped. Maybe we need to add them to the menu again."

He shook his head, grinned, and studied Emma. "You didn't need to say anything."

"I did especially since Jake gets his favorite. I feel you should too."

As dinner ended, Emma stood. "Mom, Dad, you open the bakery early. I'll take care of the kitchen. Take it easy." She hugged each parent and then glanced at Seth. "The TV's in the family room. I'll show you."

"I'll help."

"You're a guest. You don't need to cleanup."

"I enjoyed eating. It's only fair I help with the cleanup."

"You're used to getting your own way, aren't you?"

He chuckled. "As are you."

*****
Once the kitchen chores were completed, Seth drove Emma home. As he parked in front of her cabin, he watched her search her purse. "What are you looking for?"

She avoided eye contact. "Promise no head shaking?" Once he answered, she continued, "I think I locked my keys inside the house."

He put the pickup in reverse, backed up to his house, and pulled inside the garage.

Silence remained, as he opened his door and got out.

Emma watched. "What do you want me to do?"

He opened her door. "Come inside." Grabbing the keys to Emma's cabin, he said, "We'll walk back." Outside, he added, "Put the fur ball down. Ace will make sure she returns."

While they walked, Emma said, "Chief Carter, I'm sorry."

His eyes met hers. "Don't worry about it. Accidents happen." He exhaled. "Sorry I've been silent. I've got a gut feeling that something's wrong, but I can't put my finger on it."

Seth unlocked the front door. He grinned when Emma lifted her key from the kitchen counter and then he scanned the area. "Is everything in its proper place?"

"Yes, but I feel somebody's been in here."

"I agree." Seth searched each room and checked the window locks. "It appears safe. Let's figure out what we're doing for the dog fence." He pointed at the backdoor. "I think we'll put a small doggy door here. Fur Ball can come and go at will." He held the door for Emma.

They stood in the grass and stared at the house. Seth walked from the left edge of the concert porch, a few feet onto the grassy area, and then across to the right side of the porch. "I think this area can be fenced off so Fur Ball will have enough grass to do her job and be safe. If we extend the roof, no wild critters can crawl in and use the doggy door." He faced Emma. "What do you think?"

"It's great, but can we really do it?"

"I think so." He opened the door for her to enter. "I'll order the supplies. When's a good time you can be here for delivery?"

"Early morning."

"Okay, I'll let you know the date." He again, walked around the inside of the house. "Tomorrow I'm changing your locks. Tonight, you're not staying here. Get what you need."

"Where am I going?"

"Since your parents are already in bed, my place." When Emma glared at him, Seth continued, "If somebody got in once, they can again. Your choice is, I sleep on your couch, or you come with me. I have a spare bedroom and a couch. It's your choice."'

"How will it look?"

"I'd rather deal with gossip than you being a victim."

"But it's my reputation."

His eyes widened. "And mine. I'm the police chief." He paused. "Do you trust me?"

"Yes."

"Then pack, get that thing you call a dog, and let's go."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth

Pastor Mike - Emma's Pastor from college

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a plate of beignets and a cup of coffee.

This post is a little over 1100 words long. This is the second part of Chapter 5. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate all your kind reviews and support of my writing.


Chapter 6
Faith Chapter 6

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Since your parents are already in bed, my place." When Emma glared at him, Seth continued, "If somebody got in once, they can again. Your choice is, I sleep on your couch, or you come with me. I have a spare bedroom and a couch. It's your choice."'

"How will it look?"

"I'd rather deal with gossip than you being a victim."

"But it's my reputation."

His eyes widened. "And mine. I'm the police chief." He paused. "Do you trust me?"

"Yes."

"Then pack, get that thing you call a dog, and let's go."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 6

Around nine o'clock Thursday morning, Jake and Seth arrived at the bakery. When Emma greeted them, Jake hugged her.

Seth pointed at the door. "Do you have a minute to step outside so we can talk privately?"

"Sure." She walked through the door Seth held open. "What's this about?"

Handing her two keys, Seth said, "I've changed your locks. These keys are the same. They'll work on all your outside doors."

Emma nodded. "Do you have a spare?"

"Two. One will be on me, and I'll keep one in my office; in case you need it and I'm not around. Day or night you can get into my office. I'll show you later where it's hidden."

"Okay." Emma avoided eye contact.

Jake studied her. "Pumpkin, I know you well enough to know there's something else. Out with it."

She faced Seth. "Since you have numerous keys to my place, do I get a key to yours?"

Seth nodded. "If it'll make you feel safer, yes. If there's a problem and I'm not home, you're always welcome. I'll get it when I bring you home today."

Emma exhaled. "You're shaking your head again."

"I am." Seth faced the police station.

"Don't leave! I have something for you." Emma hurried inside.

Seth and Jake followed and watched.

Emma returned with two large coffees, a peach Danish for Jake, and for Seth a couple of beignets.

Jake grinned. "Why do I only get one?"

"Because beignets are smaller. I hope you both enjoy."

From behind somebody touched Emma's arm and she turned. "Ms. Sadie! You snuck in on me."

After hugging, Ms. Sadie pointed to her feet and smiled. "I have on my dancing shoes."

"Great! Let's do this." Emma led Ms. Sadie to the edge of the tables and called, "Dad, Ms. Sadie has on her dancing shoes. Everyone, please join us."

As the music started, the patrons lined up along the outside of the tables. Emma moved closer to Jake and Seth. "Join in. You're not sitting out this time."

Seth shook his head. "Common occurrence now Emma's home."

Jake started dancing. "I know. I've been here before." He grinned as Seth joined.

The music continued through two line dances.

After Jake and Seth went back to their table, Seth glanced at his watch. "I need to get to the office. You coming?"

Jake took a drink of coffee. He raised his cup and mouthed to Emma, "Can I get a to-go cup?"

Emma came over with two to-go cups filled with black coffee. "Thank you for joining in. Ms. Sadie loves to dance." Her eyes met Seth's. "You're pretty good. I expect to see you out there again."

"We'll see. I need to run. Once the two pastors show up, I'll text you."

"Thank you."

*****
When Emma arrived at Seth's office Pastor Mike met her with a hug. After all the welcoming discussions were completed, the purpose for the visit began.

Seth showed Pastor Mike the man's sketch that had been generated from Emma's description. After he studied it for a few moments, he said, "Yes, that's the man. It's a good resemblance."

"I know you tried to speak with him. Did you get any information?" asked Emma.

"Not really. He identified himself as Ted Casey. I'm not sure it's his real name. I notified campus security, but they couldn't do anything."

Emma glanced at Seth as he googled the name given. "Any luck?"

"No. It's probably fake." Seth answered his ringing phone and chuckled. "Sure Keith." He faced Emma. "Your dad says you're needed. Two of the waitresses are leaving."

"Probably Marge and Patty. Late this afternoon it's supposed to rain, and they don't like driving in it." She smiled at each pastor. "Please come by the bakery."

Pastor Pat hugged her. "You don't need to ask twice. I'm sure Mike feels the same."

"We'll be there as soon as we're finished," added Pastor Mike.

*****
Most of the patrons had left when Keith came from his office. "Emma, I'm sure you were happy visiting with Pastor Mike."

"I was. We had a good church there." She shuddered at a gust of wind banging against the building.

"This storm's building. Will you help board-up the windows? Flying objects could break them."

"Sure, Dad."

After the plywood was up, they both sat in front of the computer and watched the storm heading their direction.

Emma answered her ringing phone. "Chief Carter?" She listened and then hung up. "Dad, you and Mom need to go home. I'll close up. Chief Carter said he'll bring me home within fifteen minutes. He said the state patrol has reported the areas the storm's hit have a lot of wind damage. It's still building strength."

"Emma, you need to come with us. We have a shelter."

"Dad, I'm an adult. I can make my own decisions."

Minutes after she said goodbye to her parents, Seth walked in. "Ready?"

She handed him a cup of coffee and a sack holding a steak sandwich. "I just need to lock the doors."

He held up the sack. "Thank you. You didn't need to."

"You're welcome. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night."

"You're probably right."

*****
The wind whipped around as Seth parked the police cruiser in front of his house. He faced Emma. "You're not going to like this, but you're staying here." When she started to protest, he continued, "There's an F-3 or F-4 tornado headed this direction. I have a storm shelter under the laundry room. Your dad and I agreed you don't get a choice. Let's get inside and see what trouble your fur ball got into."

Molly met them at the door as Seth held it open. "Ace, make sure she returns." He watched both dogs leave.

Emma plopped on the couch. "I'm pretty sure you're getting tired of me being around."

Seth chuckled. "You're far from boring." He paused, listened, and then looked outside. "It's hailing. I need to finish getting prepared. If we need to go to the shelter, please use the bathroom first."

She tilted her head. "Duh!" Hesitating, she said, "Chief Carter, there's dead silence."

He grabbed his NOAA weather alert radio and a few other items. "Do what you need to do. We're going underground." He studied the greenish sky. "Hurry!"

When Emma returned from the bathroom, she followed Seth to the laundry room. He moved a laundry basket, opened a floor door, and handed her a flashlight. "There's no railing. Be careful. The steps are steep." He paused. "Come on you two." Realizing the steps were too far apart for Molly, he carried her.

Seth closed the door, followed everyone down and set Molly on the cement floor. "I know it's not perfect, but you'll be safe." He pointed. "There's a seat against that wall."

"Mom and Dad have one in the backyard. We've only used it maybe two or three times that I can remember."

After Emma sat on a two-seat wood bench with cushions, she drew her legs close to her chest and hugged her knees. Seth sat in another chair.

Ace stood next to Seth. "Buddy, why aren't you on the pillow?" He glanced at it and saw Molly curled up in the center. He picked up Molly. "Ace, lie down." After he did, he placed the small dog next to Ace. "You'll have to share."

"Thank you." When Emma released a deep breath as the sound of a train surrounded them, Seth grabbed a blanket, covered her, and sat beside her. "It's scary, isn't it?" After she nodded, he put his arm around her. "I hope you don't mind. It might help."

Emma swallowed and whispered, "It does." She leaned her head against Seth's chest.

"It's okay to be scared."

"I doubt you are."

"Not necessarily scared, but nervous or cautious, knowing the possible ramifications." When he turned off his flashlight, he nodded when Emma did the same. "Thank you. We don't know how long we'll be here."

"I know."

The winds died, and Emma exhaled. "Is it over?"

"Not sure." Seth flipped on the flashlight, grabbed the NOAA radio, and listened. After the report was given, he said, "I want you to stay here, until," he pointed, "this red light on the radio goes off."

"Where you going?" interrupted Emma.

"To check the town and see if anybody needs help. After that light goes off, it should be safe for you to go upstairs, but don't go outside. Help yourself to whatever you need. I'll return as soon as possible." He studied Ace. "I want to leave him, but I might need his services."

"I understand. I'll be okay."

Seth made a group call. "I hope you and your families are safe. We need to get going. Tony, man the phones. Those of you who walk the beat check stores and residences. The rest hit the streets. Assist wherever you're needed. Be cautious of downed wires and trees. When you see them, notify Tony. He'll contact the correct agency. I'm on my way."

"Chief Carter, please be safe."

He nodded, "I will," and left the shelter.


Thank you, YouTube for Tornadoes 101, " National Geographic





*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth

Pastor Mike - Emma's Pastor from college

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of tornado damage.

This post is a little over 1500 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and support your of my writing.


Chapter 7
Faith Chapter 7 A

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The winds died, and Emma exhaled. "Is it over?"

"Not sure." Seth flipped on the flashlight, grabbed the NOAA radio, and listened. After the report was given, he said, "I want you to stay here, until," he pointed, "this red light on the radio goes off."

"Where you going?" interrupted Emma.

"To check the town and see if anybody needs help. After that light goes off, it should be safe for you to go upstairs, but don't go outside. Help yourself to whatever you need. I'll return as soon as possible." He studied Ace. "I want to leave him, but I might need his services."

"I understand. I'll be okay."

Seth made a group call. "I hope you and your families are safe. We need to get going. Tony, man the phones. Those of you who walk the beat check stores and residences. The rest hit the streets. Assist wherever you're needed. Be cautious of downed wires and trees. When you see them, notify Tony. He'll contact the correct agency. I'm on my way."

"Chief Carter, please be safe."

He nodded, "I will," and left the shelter.


TODAY'S POST

Chapter 7 A

Seth arrived home just before predawn lit the Friday morning sky and found Emma curled up on the couch with Molly in her arms, both asleep. Why didn't she use the spare bedroom? He grabbed a blanket and covered her.

Ace sniffed her and wagged his tail. Seth grinned. "You like her, don't you?" He petted the large dog's head. So do I, buddy, so do I.

On the way to his bedroom, he moved aside the curtain and glanced out the front window. He noticed the burgundy Crown Victoria on the road and muttered under his breath, "I need to find out who that guy is and fast." He stared out the window until the car left and then went to bed.

*****
A few hours later, Seth stood in his bedroom's doorway wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt. "Is that coffee I smell?"

Emma faced him. "It is. Your kitchen's well stocked."

"I like to eat."

"I hope you don't mind but I have breakfast almost ready." She sipped her cup of coffee.

He studied her before he stepped closer. "The lack of sparkle in your eyes tells me there's something on your mind. After I pour myself some coffee, we'll talk."

"Go ahead and get ready for the day. We can talk while we eat."

"Sure?"

"Yes." She watched him close his bedroom door.

A little later Seth returned, in blue jeans and a T-shirt.

Emma handed him a cup of coffee. "I hope you don't mind but earlier I showered."

"I told you to make yourself at home. Why'd you sleep on the couch and not in the spare bedroom?"

"Thank you for offering, but it didn't seem right." When Seth's eyebrows rose, she continued, "I've slept here two nights in a row."

"Circumstances have been such that..."

"No matter what's going on tonight I'm sleeping in my own bed," interrupted Emma.

"Understood. I take it that's what you wanted to talk about." Emma nodded, and then Seth scanned the kitchen. "I'm starving. How close is breakfast?"

"I hope you like sausage, scrambled eggs, and pancakes," she said, setting the plate in front of him.

He said, "It looks good." He smothered the pancakes with maple syrup and took a bite. "It is. Thank you." After a few more bites, he said, "I'm on call. The town's basically closed. When we're finished, I'll clean up the downed tree branches in both our yards. Sometime this morning, the supplies for your fence will be delivered. Can we store them in your garage?"

"Yes. I'll help with the branch cleanup." Her phone sounded. "It's a text from Mom. The bakery's good." When he nodded, she added, "You already knew it, didn't you?"

"I did."

"Thank you."

Seth grinned. "Quit thanking me."

"You've been very generous and helpful. I want you to know I'm appreciative."

"Your sparkling green eyes let me know." He walked away from the table and answered his phone. After he hung up, he said, "The lumber and supplies will be here in about twenty minutes. Can you be ready?"

Picking up plates, she turned toward the kitchen. "Yes. As soon as I get this cleaned up, I'm ready." She hesitated. "I thought you said the town was closed for the day."

"It is, but Hank said he'd go ahead and deliver this so we can get started on it tomorrow."

"That's kind of him."

They worked together and made fast work of the dishes. Before they left, Seth went to a drawer and removed his house key. "In case you need it. You're welcome anytime."

"Are you sure?" After he nodded, she said, "Thank you." As Seth shook his head, she said, "You're doing it again."

"Get used to it. Around you it's going to happen often."

*****
At Emma's front door, she smiled as Ace herded Molly to her. "Thank you, Ace."

She unlocked the door as Seth said, "Now you're even thanking my dog."

"I appreciate his help." Her eyes met his. "No head shaking."

"That's impossible." His head turned when he heard a truck drive in. "The lumber's here. Can you move your car?"

She headed toward the garage. "Sure."

As Emma helped carry the first load of lumber, Seth took Hank, the truck driver, aside, pulled the sketch from his pocket, and asked, "Was this man inside that Crown Vic?"

Hank studied it. "Chief, its close, but I couldn't swear to it. I only saw the side of his face."

"Thank you. If you get a better look when you leave, let me know."

He nodded. "Sure will."

It didn't take long for the supplies to be unloaded.

Emma put her hands on her hips, studied the supplies, and teased, "Do you think this is enough?"

"Think we need more?"

"I think there's too much."

"No way." Seth turned toward the driveway. "I'll walk around and see if there's any roof damage, then pick up the downed branches." He answered his ringing phone. After he listened, he said, "Okay, thanks, Hank."

"Isn't Hank the man who delivered this stuff?"

"He is. He checked something for me." Seth headed to the front of the house. He's left. He knows I'm watching.

Emma followed. "Do you mind if I come?"

"No." He waited for Emma to catch up. "You can let the fur ball down. Ace will make sure she stays close."

Setting the dog on the ground, Emma said, "She does have a name, Molly."

"I know. I'm not convinced there's a dog under all that fur," teased Seth. He focused on the roof as he walked the perimeter. "It looks pretty good." He pointed at an area. "See that spot?" After Emma nodded, he continued, "We'll keep an eye on it. Another big wind could further loosen the shingles. When I get out the ladder, I'll take a closer look." She started to say something, but he said, "Don't thank me. It's what landlords do."

"Not all."

"How about landlords who try to do the right thing?" When her eyes sparkled, he shook his head. He bent and picked up a large branch. "Now for the tedious work."

Emma picked up some branches. "Where do you want them?"

Seth surveyed the area and then walked to a clear space between both houses. "How about here? It's easily assessible for both places."

She carried limbs and set them down. "Here?" When he nodded, she asked, "Your place or mine?"

"We already started at yours. Let's finish here."

As they picked-up the fallen limbs, Emma stopped and stared at the flower seeds she'd planted.

Seth came up beside her and teased, "I thought we were cleaning up branches not studying bare patches of dirt."

"I'm encouraging these seeds to sprout." When he started to shake his head, Emma said, "If I can't thank you, you can't shake your head."

Chuckling, Seth said, "I guess it's only fair." He hesitated, before he continued, "I never met somebody who talked to plants."

"They also like music."

He stepped behind her and shook his head. "I think we're finished. Let's walk toward my place."

"Don't think I didn't see you shake your head."

"It had to be your imagination." Seth grinned.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a sausage, scrambled eggs, and pancakes breakfast.

I broke Chapter 7 into two sections. It's a little long for FanStory.
There really wasn't a good place to slip it, but I did anyway. Seth and Emma are still getting comfortable with each other. Seth is beginning to admit, at least to Ace, that he cares for Emma. This post is a little over 1500 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 8
Faith Chapter 7 B

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As they picked-up the fallen limbs, Emma stopped and stared at the flower seeds she'd planted.

Seth came up beside her and teased, "I thought we were cleaning up branches not studying bare patches of dirt."

"I'm encouraging these seeds to sprout." When he started to shake his head, Emma said, "If I can't thank you, you can't shake your head."

Chuckling, Seth said, "I guess it's only fair." He hesitated, before he continued, "I never met somebody who talked to plants."

"They also like music."

He stepped behind her and shook his head. "I think we're finished. Let's walk toward my place."

"Don't think I didn't see you shake your head."

"It had to be your imagination." Seth grinned.

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 7 B

Later that afternoon, they tossed the last of the branches on the pile. Both heads turned toward the driveway as Carl drove up and stepped from his cruiser.

Seth joined him. "Good to see you, but you didn't need to come out. I would've come to town. What do you need?"

Carl hugged Emma. "Pretty nasty storm last night. How you doing?" After she answered, he continued, "I felt like a drive." He handed Seth some papers and a pen. "These need to be signed."

Seth read them, signed, and then asked, "Is Maple's Gas and Convenience Store on First and Avenue B open?"

"I think it's the only place in town that's actually open. A few places have employees present, but not actually open for business."

Eyeing Emma, Seth said, "I'm running to town for a few minutes. I'll be right back." He studied Ace. "You stay and take care of the girls."

Carl asked. "Chief, you want me to hang around?"

Glancing toward the road and not seeing the Crown Victoria, he said, "I don't think it's necessary. I shouldn't be gone more than twenty, thirty minutes at the most. Ace can handle things." He got into his pickup and left.

Emma tilted her head. "I'm an adult. I don't need somebody staying with me. Is he always so cryptic?"

Chuckling Carl answered, "I can see where you might think that, but Chief's an open book. He's straightforward and to the point."

"I haven't figured him out."

"I'd better get back to the station." As he headed toward his cruiser, he muttered, "He's afraid of allowing you to. He's guarding himself."

"I couldn't hear you. What did you say?" asked Emma.

"Chief is stingy with his words. See you Monday morning for coffee." He asked, "Will the bakery be open tomorrow?"

"I don't know, but probably."

Getting inside his vehicle, he said, "I think I'm off tomorrow. I'll see you Monday for sure. Bye."

*****
When Seth returned, Emma was inside her house playing the guitar and singing. He waited until she finished, before he knocked. After she answered the door, he said, "That was beautiful. 'Standing on the Promises' is one of my favorites."

"Thank you." When his eyebrows rose, she said, "You complimented me. In polite society one answers with a 'thank you'."

"I'll give you that one. Is that the song you'll be doing Sunday when Pastor Pat asks you?"

"Only if he asks. I'm not volunteering."

Grinning he said, "He'll ask." Then he held up a large sack. "Come on. We'll have a late lunch or maybe an early dinner."

The dogs and Emma followed as she asked, "What?"

"We have firewood, although wet, so it'll take time, but we can have a hot dog roast and s'mores. I have chips and soda." He paused. "You can bring your guitar if you want." He waited as she jogged back to get it.

They studied the pile of limbs, and then Seth set down the sack. "I forgot matches and chairs. I'll be right back." He paused. "Mustard, ketchup or both?"

"Mustard." Emma watched him jog to his place. He's a nice guy and a hunk. But way too serious and bossy. Then she studied cloud formations in the sky as she inhaled a deep breath. It's beautiful here.

When Seth returned, he asked, "You look deep in thought. Care to share?" He set the folding chairs close to the pile of branches. "Have a seat."

"I was only daydreaming." She sat and watched him strike a match, before she continued, "It's so quiet and peaceful. Longview only had about 81,000 people but it was too big for me. I guess I'm a small town, country girl."

"That's where you went to college, right?" After she nodded, he added, "There's nothing wrong with that."

"My college friends couldn't wait to find jobs in large cities. I guess I'm strange. I'm happiest here."

He struck another match. "It's going to be hard to get this pile lit." His eyes met hers. "I like small towns myself."

"It's good to know I'm not the only person."

It took a box of matches, but tiny flames started. "Finally." After a few moments of watching and blowing on the fire, Seth said, "Is that the reason you didn't accept any of the teaching jobs you were offered?"

"Partly, I guess. I prayed about them, but none of them felt right. Now, I'm worried Mom and Dad wasted money sending me to college. I'm working at the bakery. I could've done that without college."

Using his pocketknife, he stripped some small twigs from a straight limb and handed it to her. "I think this will work." As he searched for another straight one, he said, "It seems your parents are happy you're home."

Her eyes glowed. "They are. We're very close."

"Then why you worried? I'm sure the job you're supposed to have will find you."

"Pastor Pat reminds me all the time that God's in charge." She lifted her guitar and strummed a few chords. "I know He is. He found this perfect cabin. With a reasonable, but bossy landlord," teased Emma. "I make enough with tips to cover my rent, groceries, and gas. I see my parents every day. I have a great church. What else do I need?"

"Good question. Are you asking me or asking yourself?"

Emma tilted her head. "I'm not sure." She leaned the guitar against her chair. "Sorry for rambling."

"I enjoyed listening. My stick's finished. Ready to start roasting?"

"Do you think the fire's ready."

Seth chuckled. "That's debatable. We'll see. If not, I have a grill."

*****
After filling up on fire roasted hot dogs, chips and s'mores, Emma said, "I'll help you clean up, then I'm calling it a night."

"Last night, I got a total two hours of sleep and that might be an exaggeration. I'm beat."

After they had made sure the fire had died and carried things to Seth's house, he walked Emma to her home and said goodnight.

As she watched Seth leave, she said, "Wait!"

He turned. "Is there a problem?"

"How early are you planning on getting started in the morning?"

He scratched his chin. "I hadn't thought about it." He glanced at his watch. "It's early. How about seven o'clock? It'll still be cool out. Can you be up by then?"

"I think so."

"I'll call before I come down."

"Thank you." Emma shut the door as she noticed him shaking his head.

Thank you, YouTube for Alan Jackson, singing 'Standing on the Promises'




*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of roasting hotdogs.

I broke Chapter 7 into two sections. This is the second part of Chapter 7. I almost post Chapter 8 and skipped this one. LOL Seth and Emma are still getting to know each other. I like to slowly build relationships. Can't hurry a good thing. Emma shares more about her beliefs.

This post is a little over 1000 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 9
Faith Chapter 8 A

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After they had made sure the fire had died and carried things to Seth's house, he walked Emma to her home and said goodnight.

As she watched Seth leave, she said, "Wait!"

He turned. "Is there a problem?"

"How early are you planning on getting started in the morning?"

He scratched his chin. "I hadn't thought about it." He glanced at his watch. "It's early. How about seven o'clock? It'll still be cool out. Can you be up by then?"

"I think so."

"I'll call before I come down."

"Thank you." Emma shut the door as she noticed him shaking his head.




TODAY'S POST


Chapter 8 A

Early Saturday morning, Emma had just finished breakfast when Seth called, "I'm on my way."

"Bring your appetite. I have breakfast tacos."

"Sounds good."

Emma stood at the door and waited for him. Once he entered, she said, "Breakfast's ready. Help yourself."

He handed her a can of coffee. "For the next pot."

"I already made one. Think we'll need more?" She opened the refrigerator. "I also made a pitcher of tea."

"Good idea." He took a bite of a breakfast taco. "Thank you. This is good." After a sip of coffee, he said, "My plan for today is to dig the holes and set the posts. The cement needs to dry at least a day before we can continue. I'd like to have the holes dug before it gets too hot."

"How deep?"

"About two feet."

Emma held up her garden spade. "I doubt this will be much help."

Seth went into the garage, returned, and held up a manual post-hole digger. "I think this will work."

Taking a sip of coffee, Emma said, "You have me beat."

Chuckling, Seth said, "It's not a contest."

"I guess that's true, but I want to do my part." She stood and picked up a plate. "I'm finished. When you finish, go on outside and get started. I'll do the dishes and be there in a few minutes. It won't take long."

*****
A little later, Emma stood beside Seth. "What do you want me to do?"

"I haven't seen a hose. Do you have one?" After she answered, he continued, "We'll need water to mix the cement. Would you mind going to my place and getting mine? It's in the backyard, next to the garage."

"Sure."

As Emma walked away, Seth pointed. "Ace, go with her." He hesitated, pulled his keys from his pocket, rushed to her, and handed them to her. "For the garage door. Will you get the wheelbarrow too?"

It didn't take long for Emma to return with the items. Seth removed his cap and used his forearm to wipe his brow. "Would you mix the cement?" When she acknowledged she would, he added, "The directions are on the packages. If there's a question, ask. I don't bite."

"Sure about that?" teased Emma as she went into the garage and tried to carry a fifty-pound bag of cement. Returning she grabbed the wheelbarrow. "It's a little heavy." Soon she brought two bags using the wheelbarrow.

Seth grinned. "Good thinking."

Watching Seth dig, she asked, "How many holes are needed?"

"Thirteen. I want plenty of support. I'm putting them three feet apart. Seven along the long side and three along both the short sides."

"Wouldn't four feet be enough?"

"Probably, but I'm extending the roof by six feet. I think we'll need the extra support. We'll have a twelve by eighteen feet rectangle."

"Cement for the first pole will be ready shortly." Emma began mixing water and dry cement.

She laid down the hose while she used a hoe to mix it. Before long Molly bumped the hose and squirted Seth. "What?" he teased, "I can't believe you did that!"

Emma glanced up. "I didn't."

Seth chuckled as he grabbed the hose. "We're on!"

He headed toward Emma. As he squirted her, she rushed toward him, and they laughed as they battled for control of the hose, still spraying water.

Jake walked around the corner, turned off the water, and chuckled. "Okay kids, enough."

Seth tossed the hose to the ground, greeted him, and then asked, "Glad to see you. Is there a problem?"

"Nope. I heard a fence that's turned into a dog porch was being built and thought I might be needed. I see I'm right. It seems more playing's going on than building."

Seth's eyes darted to Emma's dripping wet face and then crept down. Once they came to her breasts, he turned away.

Emma glanced at her blouse and whispered, "Sorry." She ran inside.

*****
While Emma changed, Jake said, "I see you two shared some flirtatious games."

"I'm glad you came. We can use the help." Seth rammed the post hole digger into the ground.

Jake continued, "There's nothing wrong with having fun."

"Normally, you're right, but Ms. Winters is a child."

"She looked like a full-grown woman to me."

"She just turned twenty-two. She's the same age as my baby sister, Abbey. I'm almost eight years older than her. I should've known better."

Seth dug the next hole and watched through the door for Emma to come from her bedroom. Once she did, on his way inside said, "I'll be right back."

Emma studied her feet. "I only laid down the hose. Molly must've bumped it. I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. I'm the one who messed up. I'm sorry I got you wet."

"We both participated."

"I won't let it happen again."

She tilted her head. "You'll make sure we don't have fun again?"

"That's not what I meant. I meant I'll make sure..."

"My clothes aren't transparent?" interrupted Emma.

"Yes." Seth avoided eye contact.

"I like that idea."

"Me too."

"Should we get back to work?" asked Emma.

Seth held the backdoor for her. "Probably."

Outside Seth studied the four holes, he'd already dug. "Only nine more to go. This is the hard part." He stared at the roof. "Adding to the roof might be tricky." He faced Jake. "Why don't you and Ms. Winters set up the poles? The cement needs to harden before we can do anything else." He grinned. "You did come to work, right?"

"I did. Emma, help me carry them from the garage."

After two poles were set in cement, Carl joined the group. Once the greetings were over, Seth said, "I thought you had the day off."

"I do. Margie's at her mom's. They're canning tomatoes and green beans. The kids went with her, so I'm free." He held up his post-hole digger. "Yesterday, when you mentioned how many holes you needed, I figured you'd need help. Still doing three feet apart and two feet deep?"

"Yep and thank you." Seth pointed. "Start on that side. We'll meet in the middle."

Jake stood. "Seth, you've been at this a few hours. You have to be getting tired. Help Emma with the poles. I'll take over digging." He took the hole digger from him.

Seth and Emma worked together but avoided each other, so Carl asked, "It's obvious I've missed something. Would somebody explain the elephant swing from the rafters?"

Both Emma and Seth studied the ground, so Jake said, "I guess I'm delegated to address the elephant." He glanced at them both then continued, "They were soaking wet fighting for control of the hose when I arrived. I think Emma was the wettest. Understand what I mean?"

"A little more showed than should've."

Seth growled, "Get back to work."

Carl chuckled. "Sure Chief."

Emma almost whispered, "I'm sorry."

Shaking his head, Seth muttered, "I didn't know a water fight would've caused so much gossip."

It wasn't long before Emma's dad arrived carrying a large box. "I heard a group got together to build this dog porch and thought you'd be hungry. I have a sandwich platter, potato salad, and coleslaw." He glanced over his shoulder. "In the truck's three gallons of tea."

Emma jumped up and hugged him. "Thank you. I'll get the rest."

Jake followed. "Thanks, Keith. I'll help Emma."

When they returned, Pastor Pat was with them, and Emma said, "Look who I found."

"Are you here to help or to eat," teased Keith.

Grinning, Pastor Pat said, "How about a little of both."

Holding a peach Danish, Jake said, "Thanks for bringing my favorite." He handed Carl an apricot Danish.

Seth searched the box. "I don't see my beignets. I feel cheated."

"Sorry." Keith pointed to Emma. "She's our beignet maker. When she's not there, they don't get made. There's plenty. Help yourself to the others. I brought an assortment."

Staring at her, Seth said, "Thank you, but you don't need to make them just for me."

With pink cheeks, she got up and went inside. "Excuse me."

Keith shook his head. "What just happened?"


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of post that has just been set in cement.

I broke Chapter 8 into two sections. This is the first part of Chapter 8. I like to slowly build relationships. Can't hurry a good thing. Will Seth and Emma be able to work together to build Molly this enclosure? Will they get closer?

This post is a little over 1300 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. My husband had total knee replacement surgery on Tuesday, so I didn't get the chance to edit this post as much as I normally do. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the hospital with him. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 10
Faith Chapter 8 B

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Sorry." Keith pointed to Emma. "She's our beignet maker. When she's not there, they don't get made. There's plenty. Help yourself to the others. I brought an assortment."

Staring at her, Seth said, "Thank you, but you don't need to make them just for me."

With pink cheeks, she got up and went inside. "Excuse me."

Keith shook his head. "What just happened?"



TODAY'S POST

Chapter 8 B

Jake exhaled. "My opinion, young love working its way through life's obstacles."

Pastor Pat and Carl said in unison, "Amen."

"This should be fun," added Keith. "Especially since Seth's stingy with words, and Emma wears her emotions on her sleeve."

Swallowing the sandwich bite, he'd just taken, Seth said, "I can hear you and don't know what you're talking about."

With raised eyebrows Jake said, "If you believe that, I have ocean front property for sale in the Chihuahua Desert."

The men chuckled.

After some time passed, Keith said, "Before I return to the bakery, maybe I should check on my daughter." He glanced at the remaining food. "I'll leave this for snacks."

Seth grabbed a sandwich and walked to the door. "I'll go." When he entered the house, he saw Emma sitting on the couch hugging her knees. "I thought you might be hungry." He held out a sandwich. "I brought this."

Emma accepted it. "Thank you." She took a bite, chewed, swallowed, and then said, "I messed up, didn't I?"

"How? By making beignets?"

"I didn't think how it would be perceived. I was trying to be nice."

"Understood. Thank you for doing it." He scanned the room. "If my cement maker wants to remain in this nice, air-conditioned room, it's okay. It's getting hotter."

She stood. "I promised I'd help. That was our deal. I'll do my part."

"I won't hold you to it. I have plenty of help."

Walking to the door, Emma said, "Let's do this."

Seth opened the door for her and announced, "Ms. Winters needed some time out of the heat."

She faced him and mouthed, "Thank you," before saying goodbye to her dad.

*****
Early evening all seventeen poles were set in cement and two side frames, each 12 feet long by 9 feet high, had been made, but not put in place. Seth wanted the cement to set for another day. He removed his cap and ran his fingers through his short hair. "Let's get things picked up and call it a day. Thank you for the help. We got a lot more done than I expected."

Jake asked, "Do you want the frames in the garage?"

"Good idea." Seth pointed to the wheelbarrow. "Who's willing to clean this?"

Emma raised her hand. "I will."

Carl stood beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. "I'll help." He grinned. "We wouldn't want another water accident, would we?"

Seth glared at him and then grabbed the side of a frame. "Jake, help me put this inside."

Soon the area was picked up, and the men headed home. Before Seth left, his eyes met Emma's. "Thank you." He hesitated. "Is everything okay? You seem quiet."

"Just tired. I'm going to space out with a movie and have an early night."

"If you need anything, let me know."

"I will. Thank you." She petted Ace. "And thank you for keeping Molly under control."

Ace licked her hand.

*****
Seth finished dinner and stared out the back window toward Emma's cabin, as he did the dishes. I need to remind her to close the curtains. He removed his phone. "Today's probably not the day to do it. She's had a hard day." He returned the phone to his pocket. "What she doing?" He studied her. "She's curled up in a blanket. She covered her eyes. She's scared. Why?"

Seth grabbed his Sig Sauer P226. "Come on, Ace. She may be in danger."

He crept toward her cabin, motioned for his dog to follow him to the back of the house, and attempted to peek through the window. I can't see who's with her.

Moving closer to the door, he hesitated.

"No!" screamed Emma.

Seth entered, gun readied, and yelled. "Hands up!"

She raised her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks.

Scanning the room, Seth said, "Who's here?"

"Me and Molly."

He checked the bedroom and the bathroom. "Are you sure?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"Why'd you scream?"

Emma pointed at the TV. "I'm watching a scary movie."

Glancing at the TV, he muttered, "You've got to be kidding."

"What's going on?" she asked and paused the TV.

"I made a complete fool of myself."

"Care to explain?"

"No." Seth placed his gun in the back of his jean's waistband. "But I owe you one." He pointed at the front window. "I was looking out the window and you looked frightened. I thought somebody had broken in. You screamed."

"You came to my rescue?"

"Yes."

"Thank you for rescuing me."

"From a scary movie." He paused. "If they scare you, why do you watch them?"

"I heard some people talking about it at the bakery. They made it sound really good, so I made popcorn and tried it."

Seth glanced at the bowl. "It looks like the popcorn hasn't been touched."

"I was too scared to eat." Emma moved the blanket aside. "Since you're here, care to join me?"

"Can we watch it from the beginning?"

"Maybe. I'll see if it'll scroll back that far."

After Emma restarted the movie, she moved the popcorn so it was between them.

Seth chuckled. "Nothing scary has happened. You're already clutching the blanket."

"Have I mentioned I don't do scary?"

Shaking his head, he said, "I've figured it out."

As warning music played, the heroine left her secure bedroom and stumbled around in the dark searching for an elusive noise. Emma grabbed Seth's arm and hugged it.

He glanced at her. "You okay?"

"Yes."

"Sure?" He moved his arm and put it around her. "Better?"

She leaned her head against his chest. "Is this okay?"

"I'm okay if you are. Nobody else gets a vote."

She nodded.

After numerous times hiding her eyes against Seth's chest, the movie ended. Emma swallowed. "Thank you for putting up with me. I don't think I'll try another scary movie."

Seth grinned. "Probably a good idea. I'd better get home."

"Thank you, again."

Noticing the lack of twinkle in Emma's eyes as she scanned the room, Seth said, "I'll leave Ace. I think Molly could use a friend. Before church you can send him home."

"Molly would appreciate it."

"I thought she would." Seth walked over and closed the curtains. "I'll lock the back doors. Be sure to lock the front door. I'll see you at church."

As Seth left, he noticed the Crown Victoria parked on the road. He phoned his office and ordered a patrol to drive by.


Emma needed some scary music so,
Thank you YouTube for 'Horror Theme'






*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - High School friend, has her eyes on Seth








Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a woman watching a scary movie. I know this may be hard for some of you to understand. I do understand it because I can't watch a scary movie. Many of you remember Dean Kuch. I couldn't read his posts late in the day because I'd have nightmares. He used to tease me about that. I also can't watch movies with a lot of violence. My husband has had me grab his arm and hide my face many times. Yes, I am a wimp.

Thank you for the well wishes and prayers for my husband's knee surgery. He's slowly improving, but not as fast as he'd like to.

This is the second part of Chapter 8. I like to slowly build relationships. Can't hurry a good thing. Seth was embarrassed about rescuing Emma from a scary movie. I do think it brings them closer together. Also, Seth and Emma are not on a first name bases at this point. It's their attempt to deny the budding relationship. Hint, it doesn't work. In a couple days, they will go to first names, but Emma is hesitant.

This post is a little under 1100 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 11
Faith Chapter 9

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After numerous times hiding her eyes against Seth's chest, the movie ended. Emma swallowed. "Thank you for putting up with me. I don't think I'll try another scary movie."

Seth grinned. "Probably a good idea. I'd better get home."

"Thank you, again."

Noticing the lack of twinkle in Emma's eyes as she scanned the room, Seth said, "I'll leave Ace. I think Molly could use a friend. Before church you can send him home."

"Molly would appreciate it."

"I thought she would." Seth walked over and closed the curtains. "I'll lock the back doors. Be sure to lock the front door. I'll see you at church."

As Seth left, he noticed the Crown Victoria parked on the road. He phoned his office and ordered a patrol to drive by.

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 9

At the end of Sunday's church service, Emma stood on the church lawn and waited for her parents as Seth walked up. "Ms. Winters, how'd you sleep last night?"

"Very well. Thank you for sharing Ace. Molly mentioned he was a huge help."

"I'm glad. When he came home, he jumped on my bed. He knows he's not allowed. You wouldn't know why he'd think the rules changed, would you?"

Studying her feet she said, "Molly sleeps with me..."

"So, Ace thought it would be okay?" interrupted Seth.

She avoided eye contact. "Maybe?"

Seth chuckled. "Thought so."

Ms. Sadie walked up and hugged Emma. "I've heard you two are seeing each other. Now I see with my own eyes you're together."

Emma held Ms. Sadie's hands in hers. "We're not together." She glanced at Seth and smiled. "We're friends."

Seth added. "That's right Ms. Sadie, friends."

Giggling, Ms. Sadie faced Emma and asked, "So the next time we're at the bakery, and I ask Chief Carter to dance, you won't be offended?"

"No, Ms. Sadie, I won't be offended. I'd enjoy watching."

Leaning over and pecking Ms. Sadie's cheek, Seth said, "I'd be honored to dance with you."

She rubbed her cheek and giggled. Her friend walked by, and Ms. Sadie said, "I'd better get going before my ride leaves without me." She winked at Seth. "Young man, I'm holding you to it."

He shook his head. "I'm sure you will." Watching Ms. Sadie walk away, Seth said, "She's a character. I bet when she was young, she was a force to be reckoned with."

"I'm sure you're right. She's eighty-eight and remains a bundle of energy."

Seth answered his ringing phone. After putting it away, he said, "Sorry, I need to take care of something," and left.

Pastor Pat walked up to Emma. "Since meeting you, Seth has come out of his shell."

"Really?"

"Yes, he's always been nice, but reserved or maybe shy. Not sure which. Keith describes it as stingy with his words. Now he talks and jokes. He never would've spoken with Ms. Sadie before. You're a good influence."

"I doubt I have anything to do with it."

Susan tapped her daughter's shoulder. "We're headed home."

Emma nodded. "I'm right behind you. First, I'll stop by my house and get Molly. While I'm there, I'll change. It won't take long. I'll be there in time to help with dinner."

*****
It was late Sunday afternoon when Emma pulled into her garage, let Molly out, and carried a box of leftovers into the house. When she realized Molly hadn't followed, she searched for her. "Molly? Where'd you go?"

Seth answered, "She's back here with Ace and me." As Emma opened the backdoor, he slipped his T-shirt over his head and cringed.

"What's wrong?" asked Emma.

"It feels like sunburn, but I used sunscreen." He picked up the bottle and showed her.

"Do you mind if I take a look?"

He turned. "I guess not."

Emma glanced at the backdoor. "Come inside and sit." Once he sat, she asked, "Can I push up your T-shirt so I can check the problem?" He nodded, so she did. "You have a nasty sunburn. I'm guessing you missed an area."

"That's impossible."

She hesitated and then almost whispered, "You're going to need to remove your shirt. I need to treat it. I'll use a cold towel and the shirt would get wet." When he turned and stared at her, she held up her phone. "I'll take a picture and show you."

Seth studied the photo and then exhaled. "I missed a spot."

"At least it's not a large area. I'll get the cold cloth. It'll relieve some of the heat." Emma grabbed a dishtowel from a drawer, ran cold water over it, and then wrung it out. "This should help. Can you hold it in place? I'll get some aloe. It's in the bathroom."

When Emma returned, she released a deep breath as she stared at Seth's bare back. He's handsome. I wonder why he's single. Probably because he's so bossy. I need to focus on the sunburn, not him.

As she got closer, Seth asked, "You all right?"

"I'm fine." Exhaling, she touched the damp towel. "It's warmed a little. Has it helped? I'll run cold water over it again."

He followed her to the sink. "A little." After watching her squeeze water from the towel, he asked, "Your eyes tell me you're uncomfortable. Is it because I'm not wearing a shirt?" When she avoided eye contact, he grabbed his T-shirt. "I'll leave."

Emma put her hand on his arm. "Don't." She paused, before she added, "This needs to be taken care of and you can't reach it." She scanned the room. "I'm the only person available. You won't be able to sleep and wearing a shirt tomorrow will be uncomfortable."

"Sounds like you've had experience."

"I have." Emma pointed to the chair. "Please sit." She placed the towel on the area." While you hold it, I'll warm up dinner. Mom sent leftovers again. I hope you like roast chicken." From the kitchen, she glanced at him. "You're missing the spot. I'll hold it." She came over and held the towel.

Again, Emma released a deep breath, Seth stood. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"You shouldn't be penalized because I've been sheltered. It's not your fault. I even went to a conservative, small Christian college."

Seth took both her hands in his and stared into her eyes. "Never apologize for who you are or for your values." He exhaled. "I've learned from experience." He swallowed. "It was a hard lesson and I'm not sharing anymore."

Both heads turned when they heard the buzzer. Emma ignored Seth's previous comments. "Dinner's ready. Once your back dries, I'll put on the aloe."

After the place settings and dinner were set out, she checked his back. "It should be dry enough." She broke some aloe leaves and spread around the gel.

"Do you have something to cover it?"

"Just a minute." Emma went into the bathroom and returned with gauze and medical tape. "When you get home, you might let it air. It'll heal faster in the open."

He slipped on his T-shirt. "Okay."

As they ate, Emma glanced at the backdoor. "I never saw what you completed today. After we eat, I'll do that."

"I built another frame. Next Saturday, we'll build one more and attach them to the posts. I'm sure the cement's dry. I divided the long one into two sections. Each one is a square, nine by nine. We'll use the center studs for support."

"Makes sense."

Seth took a bite. "This is good. I'm surprised your mom cooks on her day off."

"My parents grew up in large families where Sunday dinner was a time for immediate and extended family to get together. Everybody has either died or lives quite a distance away. I think they wanted to make sure I had that experience." Emma laughed. "I'm sure that's why Pastor Pat usually comes and sometimes Jake. For as long as I can remember they've counted as extended family. Do you have a large family?"

"No. My parents died about ten years ago and my grandparents about three years ago. I inherited this land. I have a younger sister who's married."

"I remember I didn't meet you when I moved in because you went to your nephew's Christening."

"They live in Austin."

"Do you see them often?"

"I don't get a lot of vacation time. I don't always need to be physically at work, but available."

"I understand." Emma glanced toward the back door. "Why don't we go out back? I'll do dishes later."

"I didn't clean up. I'll do that and then help with the dishes." Seth grinned. "I'm surprised you didn't comment on me working on Sunday."

"I know you went to church. I guess you weren't raised where Sunday was a day of rest. I can't force people to believe like my family and I do."

"True, but to be honest, doing things like this is resting for me. It's not work related and it takes my mind off things. Probably much like Sunday dinners are for your family."

"I hadn't thought of it that way."

After tools and dishes were taken care of, Seth said, "I need to get home. Ace, take Molly out."

While the dogs were outside, Emma studied Seth.

"Have I done something wrong?"

"Not at all. I was thinking about your back. There's no way you're going to make it all day without more aloe. Why don't you drop by in the morning, and I'll reapply it before work?"

"I don't want to be a problem."

Emma pointed to the backyard. "But you're building a dog porch, isn't that me being a problem?"

"It's not, but I see your point. I'll come by. How early is too early?"

"I'm an early riser. What time are you looking at?"

"Is six o'clock too early?"

"It's not."

As Ace herded Molly into the house, Seth said, "I'll see you then. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Emma watched him walk to his house.

*****
When Seth arrived home, he called Carl, "That Crown Vic's parked on the road again. We need to figure out who's driving it. I should've already done this, but tomorrow have everyone ask around town and see if anybody knows anything."

After hanging up, Seth called Jake. "Have you had a chance to check hospital birth records? I'd sure like to know if Emma's natural mom or dad has anything to do with who's stalking her. Let me put you on speaker."

Jake said, "I've found two possibilities. They both gave birth to a little girl on May, fifteenth, 2001." One was fifteen and the other twenty years old. I have a lead on the first one, but so far nothing on the other. I'm hoping for more information tomorrow."

"Thank you, Jake. I owe you one."

"I figure you owe me more than one, but who's counting."

Chuckling Seth said, "You're probably right. Goodnight. We'll talk tomorrow."


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to every mother, grandmother, great-grand mother, stepmother, teacher, or any female who has children in your life. You are all moms!!


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school, she's making a play for Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a sunburned back. Seth's is only a small area.

Thank you for the well wishes and prayers for my husband's knee. He is healing. Not as fast as he thought he would or wants too, but healing.

Chapter 9 in its entirety. Many people may not understand Emma's innocents. She was completely protected and even the college she went to was old-fashioned. Yes, they still exist, rare, but they do. Her family is very old fashioned in their values and morality. Also, Seth and Emma are not on a first name bases at this point. It's their attempt to deny the budding relationship. Hint, it doesn't work. In a couple days, they will go to first names, but Emma is hesitant.

This post is a little under 1700 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 12
Faith Chapter 10 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 10 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Not at all. I was thinking about your back. There's no way you're going to make it all day without more aloe. Why don't you drop by in the morning, and I'll reapply it before work?"

"I don't want to be a problem."

Emma pointed to the backyard. "But you're building a dog porch, isn't that me being a problem?"

"It's not, but I see your point. I'll come by. How early is too early?"

"I'm an early riser. What time are you looking at?"

"Is six o'clock too early?"

"It's not."

As Ace herded Molly into the house, Seth said, "I'll see you then. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Emma watched him walk to his house.

TODAY'S POST

Early Monday morning, Seth sipped coffee and stared out the window toward Emma's house. "Ace, we should see a light come on any minute." Just as he said it a living room light came on. "Let's go."

Emma was quick to answer the door. "I've started coffee. Would you like a cup?"

Seth wore a white T-shirt and carried his uniform shirt. "I've already had one and I have a thermos in the cruiser."

The supplies needed were laid on the counter. Seth sat and raised his T-shirt, so the bottom rested on his shoulders. "High enough?"

"I think so. How'd you sleep last night?"

"Pretty well. I didn't feel much pain until about four o'clock."

"I'm glad the aloe lasted that long. This should get you through until almost noon. If it starts bothering you, come to the bakery. I'll bring this stuff. I can apply it in Dad's office." As she applied the gel and put clean gauze on, she said, "I think you're good to go."

"Thank you." He slipped his arms through his shirt, buttoned it, and then glanced at the shirttail.

Emma pointed. "You're welcome to use my bathroom."

"Thank you."

"Now, who's thanking who all the time?" teased Emma.

From the bathroom he said, "Funny, really funny." When he opened the door, he said, "Thank you again. I need to get going. I'll be by the bakery later." He left.

*****
When Carl and Seth walked into the bakery, Emma carried two large coffees, two beignets and an apricot Danish to their table."

After she set down the food, Carl hugged her. "How'd you know we were on our way?"

"I saw you through the window." Her eyes met Seth's. "How's your back?"

Before Seth could answer, Carl teased, "So, digging all those holes did your back in. You're getting old."

Emma laughed. "No. He chose to work on the Lord's Day of rest and got sunburned."

Watching the tip of Seth's ears tinge pink Carl asked, "Emma, I'm surprised you didn't stop him?"

"I was at my parents for Sunday dinner. I didn't notice the problem until I got home."

Carl studied Seth. "You didn't use sunscreen?"

"I did but missed an area."

As Pastor Pat walked in, Emma said, "I'll be right back. I need to check my tables."

Soon she returned with Pastor Pat's usual order. After he hugged her, he said, "Just the two people I wanted to talk to." His eyes met Seth's.

Seth sipped coffee. "I'm sure you mean Carl and Emma."

"Nope. I think you'd be the perfect person to teach our Apostle's Creed class. It'll meet starting next Wednesday from six to seven o'clock. Its targeted audience is young adults."

"I'm positive I'm not the right person. Talking isn't my strong area."

Pastor Pat handed Seth a book. "I think you're the perfect person. Here's the book we're using. It's not exactly a teacher's manual, but it has a few hints." He then faced Emma. "Now for you, young lady. I want you to head our youth groups."

"Did I hear you correctly?" interrupted Emma. "Did you say, 'groups' as in plural?"

"I did. They'll also meet Wednesday evening. The junior highers will meet from six until seven o'clock and the high schoolers from seven to eight o'clock."

"How long do I have before you need an answer?"

Gulping the rest of his coffee, Pastor Pat said, "As long as it takes you to get me a refill."

Her smile illuminated the bakery. "This refill will take a while." She left.

Seth shook his head. "You might be waiting all day." He answered his ringing phone and then said, "I've got to go. Carl, are you coming or waiting to see how long it takes Ms. Winters to refill his cup?"

"As much as I'd like to wait, I'll come. Good luck, Pastor."

*****
When Seth came to the bakery/bookstore for lunch, Emma smiled and walked to the tall table where he stood. "How's your back? Do you need aloe?"

"If you have time."

"I'll check my tables and meet you in Dad's office." She walked away.

Within minutes, Emma shut the door to the office. "Chief Carter, you'll need to raise your shirt."

Seth sat in a chair and turned his back to her before he lifted his uniform shirt and T-shirt. "We met ten days ago. It's about time you call me Seth. Is it all right if I call you Emma?" When she didn't answer, he asked, "Is the shirt high enough?"

Emma adjusted it a little. "It is now." She removed the gauze. "If it keeps healing this fast, tomorrow should be a better day." Silence remained until she finished. "You're good to go. What do you want for lunch? I'll put in your order while you get back together."

"I think I'll switch it up a little. How about a Cuban?"

"It'll be right up." Emma left the room and closed the door.

*****
It wasn't long before Seth stood at his usual table and watched Emma tend to the other customers. Why didn't she answer about using first names? Why's she uncomfortable with it?

When a bell sounded, Emma brought Seth's lunch and coffee. "Sorry, I didn't think to bring the coffee sooner."

"Not a problem. I'm sure you have things on your mind. I don't see Pastor Pat. Did you accept both youth groups?"

"I did. I couldn't find a good excuse not to. It'll be fun. Wednesdays are going to be busy, working a full shift, my summer reading program, and now two youth groups."

He took a bite of his sandwich. "This is good."

"I'll tell Mom." Emma went to another table and refilled their coffee cups, before she returned to Seth's. "If you need more aloe, you know where to find me."

"I'll probably come by tonight."

Nodding, Emma said, "Sounds good."

Before Seth left the bakery/bookstore, he walked up to Emma. "I keep forgetting to ask. Do you have a final count for the kids attending the reading program? I'm worried about the sidewalk and safety."

"Not yet, they're still signing up. I should have it by tomorrow afternoon."

"As soon as you get it, let me know."

"I will." Emma watched him leave.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school, she's making a play for Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of an apricot Danish and coffee.

Chapter 10 is split into two parts. This is part 1. Seth suggests they use first names, but Emma doesn't comment. I'm with Seth. I wonder why? Is everything moving too fast for her?

This post is a little under 1100 words long. Of course, as usual I made changes as I posted. I never can get it exactly right. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 13
Faith Chapter 10 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 10 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"I'll tell Mom." Emma went to another table and refilled their coffee cups, before she returned to Seth's. "If you need more aloe, you know where to find me."

"I'll probably come by tonight."

Nodding, Emma said, "Sounds good."

Before Seth left the bakery/bookstore, he walked up to Emma. "I keep forgetting to ask. Do you have a final count for the kids attending the reading program? I'm worried about the sidewalk and safety."

"Not yet, they're still signing up. I should have it by tomorrow afternoon."

"As soon as you get it, let me know."

"I will." Emma watched him leave.


TODAY'S POST

Chapter 10 B

It was almost eight o'clock when Seth left the police station and noticed Emma's car parked in the bakery/bookstore parking lot. That's strange. She's normally home by six.

As he jogged across the street, he noticed Carl heading toward his cruiser and went to him. "My gut says there's a problem at the bakery. Emma shouldn't still be here. Go through the alley to the backdoor. Ray Hudson works back there and closes." He motioned to Ace. "Go with Carl."

Before Seth opened the front door, he peeked through the window. One man with a knife on Emma. There's probably two or Ray would be with her. He un-holstered his weapon, then replaced it. If I go in wielding a gun, he may use the knife.

He stood at the door. There's no way to be discreet. Seth exhaled and then walked in. "Ms. Winters, it's been a long day. I really need a cup of coffee."

The tall slender man glared at Seth and attempted to hide the knife behind Emma. "They're closed. Leave."

Slowly Seth walked forward, making sure his hands were fully visible. "Don't want any trouble. Ms. Winters is standing beside the coffee pot. The light's still on. All I want is a cup of coffee. It can be to-go."

The man moved the knife to Emma's neck. "Don't come any closer."

Seth swallowed. "Nobody needs to get hurt."

Another man forced Ray from the back at gun point. "He's the only one in back." He stopped and glared at Seth.

The man's knife pricked Emma's neck. "Where's the safe?"

She flinched. "We don't have one. Dad deposits the money every night. Overnight we only keep $25.00 in the cash register. I'll give it to you."

He aimed the knife at her heart/lung area. "You're lying."

Ray shouted, "She's not! Mr. Winters makes nightly deposits!"

A quick glance in Ray's direction, and Seth noticed Carl ready. Ace crouched and waited for the attack command, with his eyes focused on the man with Emma.

The man shoved Emma. "Open the cash register." She did. While he searched the contents, he slightly moved the knife.

Seth nodded to Carl and gave Ace a hand signal.

Synchronized, Carl shoved his gun in the man's back as Ace jumped on the knife wielding man attacking his arm and knocking him to the floor.

Carl yelled, "Hands up!"

Ray hit the floor.

Rushing to the man who held Emma Seth called off Ace and put handcuffs on him. Carl did the same with the other man. Ace went to Emma and sat. She knelt, put her arms around the large dog's neck and cried into his fur.

After Seth forced the man to his feet, he asked, "Emma, Ms. Winters, you hurt? Can I check your neck? It's bleeding." When she didn't answer, he called for officers to remove the prisoners. He watched tears streaming down her cheeks. She remained on the floor cuddling Ace.

"Carl, get Ray's statement."

"When I'm done, you want me to get Emma's?"

Seth shook his head. "No. I'll get it in the morning."

"Chief?"

"I said in the morning." Seth walked away. She needs comforting. He watched Emma. "I'm calling Keith."

It didn't take long before Keith arrived. As he entered, he asked, "Emma?"

Seth pointed to the floor where she continued to hug Ace and cry.

Keith stood beside her. "Sweetheart, are you all right?"

"Daddy!" She stood and went into her dad's arms. "No."

He led her to his office and closed the door.

Carl put his hand on Seth's shoulder. "We've been in dangerous situations before. You've got nerves of steel. I've never seen you shaken. These two are amateurs. Why'd it get to you?" He paused a moment. "Because Emma's involved."

Seth walked away and then watched the prisoners as they were escorted from the building.

*****
Almost thirty minutes later, Keith opened the office door. "Seth, is it all right if Emma goes home?"

"Yes, I'll get her statement in the morning."

"Good. I'm taking her with me. We'll leave her car here."

Emma shook her head. "No, Dad. I'm going to my home. I'm fine."

Keith and Seth's eyes met. Seth exhaled and then nodded.

"If you're sure." Keith hugged her and walked away. "I'll check the back door."

Seth followed and whispered, "Keith, I'll take her home and keep an eye on her."

"Thank you. She wants us to believe she's fine. She's not."

"You're right."

Keith grabbed a few items, put them in a sack, and handed it to Seth. "Dinner."

"Thank you."

*****
As Keith finished ensuring everything was shut down, Seth said, "Ms. Winters, are you ready to leave?"

"Yes." At the door, she turned and stared at the area where she'd been held captive.

Both Keith and Seth watched.

She exhaled. "I'm ready."

"You're in no shape to drive. We'll take the cruiser."

"I can drive home."

"It's not up for discussion." Seth held the cruiser's passenger door.

"Do I have a choice?"

"Nope."

"Didn't think so." She climbed inside.

Seth shook his head. "Young'uns." He opened the door for Ace to jump in. She has a band-aid on the knife prick. I'm glad Keith took care of it. It appeared to be only surface. Is Carl right about this case getting to me? Naw!

*****
At Emma's house, Seth rushed to open her door. "I'll go inside with you. Ace can take out your fur ball."

"Thank you, but you don't need to." Her green eyes met his. "I don't have a choice, do I?"

He held up a sack. "Your dad provided dinner. After we eat, I'll leave."

"I'm not hungry."

"Try."

"You're bossy."

"You've mentioned that before." Once Seth was assured the house was safe, he opened the sack and offered Emma a sandwich.

She removed the wrapping. "I'm trying it."

"I noticed." He took a bite and set his down. "There are a few other things in here." He took out some homemade chips and cookies.

She glanced toward the refrigerator. "I'm sure the cookies would go good with ice cream."

"Cookies and ice cream don't qualify as dinner."

Taking the container from the freezer, she said, "Tonight they do. Are you joining me?"

Seth took another bite and then held up his sandwich. "After I finish this."

Emma dished up two bowls of ice cream and handed him one. She took a bite of hers. "I'll eat this first. If I'm hungry I'll try my sandwich."

He started to shake his head, but when he noticed she watched, he stopped.

After Emma almost finished half a sandwich, Seth stood. "I need to get home. I'll leave Ace."

"No, I'll be all right."

He lifted Molly and said, "Take care of your mom." As she wagged her entire body, he chuckled, "I take that as a yes." He set down the dog, checked the backdoor and garage door, and then his eyes met Emma's. "If you need anything, call."

"I will. Goodnight and I'll be sure to lock the front door."

"Night."

After Seth and Ace left, Emma secured the door and prepared for bed.

*****
Emma cuddled Molly, lay in bed, and jumped at every sound. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She took her phone and pressed Seth's number.

"Hello."

"Seth?"

"Is everything okay?" She used my first name.

Silence. "It's really dark."

"I'll sleep on your couch."

"No."

"Do you want me to send Ace?"

"No. I'm fine."

"Emma, if you were fine, you wouldn't have called."

"Sorry."

"Don't hang up." Seth hesitated. "Are you in bed?"

"Yes."

"Do you have a phone charger close?" After she answered, he continued, "Plug in your phone, lie down, and cover up. Put the phone on your pillow. I'll be here all night. All you need to do is say something."

"Thank you."

"Goodnight, Emma."

"Goodnight."

Emma fell asleep but tossed and turned. A few hours later she awoke shaking. "Seth?"

"I'm here."

"Thank you."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school, she's making a play for Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a woman scared in bed talking on the phone.

This is Chapter 10 Part 2. Emma is scared because of the attempted robbery. Will Seth be able to calm her fears? Will this incident bring them closer together?

This post is a little over 1300 words long. As usual I made changes as I posted. I'm never happy with my writing. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 14
Faith Chapter 11 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 11 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Emma cuddled Molly, lay in bed, and jumped at every sound. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She took her phone and pressed Seth's number.

"Hello."

"Seth?"

"Is everything okay?" She used my first name.

Silence. "It's really dark."

"I'll sleep on your couch."

"No."

"Do you want me to send Ace?"

"No. I'm fine."

"Emma, if you were fine, you wouldn't have called."

"Sorry."

"Don't hang up." Seth hesitated. "Are you in bed?"

"Yes."

"Do you have a phone charger close?" After she answered, he continued, "Plug in your phone, lie down, and cover up. Put the phone on your pillow. I'll be here all night. All you need to do is say something."

"Thank you."

"Goodnight, Emma."

"Goodnight."

Emma fell asleep but tossed and turned. A few hours later she awoke shaking. "Seth?"

"I'm here."

"Thank you."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 11 A

Tuesday morning, Seth drank coffee and stared out his office front window.

Carl entered holding some files. "Emma hasn't shown up for work?"

Seth glanced at the wall clock. "No. It's after seven-thirty. She's usually there before seven. I know her car's here from last night, but nobody has left to get her." His eyes met his buddy's. "Don't ask how I know any of this."

"Wasn't going to." Carl hesitated as he sat. "When Emma comes in, are you taking her statement?"

Seth nodded. "I'll see how she's doing." He held out his hand for the files. "We'd better get busy."

*****
Almost thirty minutes later, Emma and her mom stood outside the bakery/bookstore as Emma studied the door.

Seth walked over to the window. "If I read this scene, I'd say Emma's afraid to go inside."

Carl followed and said, "I agree."

Exhaling, Seth said, "I'll give her more time. By the end of the day, I need that statement, really before noon." He stared at a file in his hand.

*****
About nine-thirty Seth and Carl entered the bakery/bookstore and stood at their usual table. When Seth's eyes met Emma's, she studied the floor and went toward the back.

Carl asked, "What just happened? Emma's our waitress."

"She's upset over last night," muttered Seth under his breath.

"Besides the robbery attempt, what happened?"

"Nothing."

A waitress, Leslie walked over and took their order.

Keith brought their coffee orders to the table and greeted them before he addressed Seth. "Emma's avoiding you."

"I noticed." Seth watched her take the long way around to another table. "Any idea how I resolve this? I need her statement."

"I meet her head on. Susan takes a softer approach." Grinning, Keith continued, "I doubt you're the softer approach type."

Last night it seemed to work. Maybe I'll combine the two. Seth gulped his coffee. "I'll force her to refill my cup and see where it gets me."

Walking to Emma, who stood at the counter, Seth asked, "Could I get a refill?"

Emma fingered her long braid, faced him, but avoided eye contact as she took the cup. "Yes." She refilled it and handed it back. "About last night..."

"You were upset and reached out for help." When Emma exhaled, Seth continued, "I'm glad I could help." He turned and went toward his table.

Emma followed partway. "I didn't get in early enough to make beignets."

He turned and his eyes met hers. "Not a problem."

"I didn't treat your back last night. I'm sorry about that. How's it feeling?"

"Acceptable."

Emma glanced toward her dad's office. "I could now, if you'd like."

Seth noticed Carl and Keith watching. "Are you sure?" Emma nodded and headed toward the office. Seth followed.

After Emma moved the chair, Seth sat and raised his shirt and T-shirt to his shoulders. "Thank you."

She pushed the shirts a little higher, applied the aloe, and then the gauze. "It's slightly redder than noon yesterday, but not bad. You'll need more aloe this evening."

"I'll make sure that happens."

"Okay. I'll leave while you get ready."

After Seth returned to the table, Keith asked, "Is everything back to normal?"

"Better, but Emma's still guarded."

When Emma walked by the table, Keith said, "Sweetheart, Seth needs your statement. It's slowing down, if you go now, you'll be back before the lunch rush."

She nodded. "I'll just be a minute."

*****
When Seth and Emma entered the police station, Seth led her straight to his office and held her chair. He sat behind his desk and pulled up the statement file on the computer.

While Emma waited, she said, "Seth...I mean Chief Carter...."

"Please. It's Seth.

She nodded. "Seth, I'm sorry about my meltdown last night."

"Don't be. Under similar circumstances most people meltdown at some point."

"I'm sure most people don't call you in the middle of the night."

"Most people don't have my phone number." His eyes met hers. "I don't consider most victims friends. When I check on them the following day, they're often still struggling. You made it into work. You did an excellent job keeping it together during the incident."

"Thank you for being there." She gulped. "I had problems walking through the door this morning."

"But you did."

Emma picked up some wanted posters that had fallen to the floor. She stared at them as tears trickled down her cheeks. "These are the two men."

"They are."

"It says they're dangerous."

"I'm glad we have them locked up. Jake will come by sometime today to talk with them about crimes in Cedarville. You did a good job keeping the robbery from escalating to violence."

"I did nothing." She used her hands to dry her eyes. "I'm sure your presence had a lot to do with it."

Seth faced the computer. "Let's get started." He printed a paper and handed it to her with a pen. "Please fill out the top. I'll type it in later. It's just name, address, and things like that." After she accepted it, he asked, "When did they come in?"

"Close to eight o'clock. Everybody had left except a young couple. When they got up to leave, I cleared their table. As they walked out, I went to lock the door. That guy with the knife shoved the door open. I told him we're closing. He grabbed me and forced me to the counter. The other guy went to the back."

"Your dad usually closes. Where was he?"

"The shop next to us is for sale. Dad and Mom are thinking about extending the bookstore. They went to talk with Mr. Henson, the owner."

"Okay. What happened next?"

"That man asked where we kept the money. I told him we don't. Dad makes deposits at least once and on busy days twice. He doesn't believe in keeping large amounts of cash lying around."

"I understand his thinking." Seth swallowed as his eyes met hers. "Please continue."

"You came in and know everything else."

He cocked his head. "You're right." He fumbled typing, using two fingers: one on each hand.

"I'm a good typist. Would you like help?"

He grinned. "Are you offering?"

"I am."

"If you don't mind?"

As Emma stood, Seth stepped away from the computer and held the chair for her.

Seth's office door burst open, and Ace strutted in. Emma's eyes widened. "Hello, Buddy. I wondered where you were."

"He was working. By his look, he's proud of himself."

An officer peeked in. "Sorry." Seth motioned him to continue, and he did, "Ace found what we expected."

"Good job." Seth roughed up Ace's ears.

The officer left and closed the door.

As Emma typed, she said, "I wonder if Molly could be trained to work."

Chuckling, Seth said, "I have a feeling her purpose in life is to be a cute companion. She excels at that."

Emma removed the paper from the printer. "Want to read over it?"

"I'd better." He read. "Looks good. Thank you. Did you save it?" He handed it to her. "Sign your name at the bottom."

After signing, she said, "I'd better get back. It's getting close to the lunch rush."

"I'll walk you." He paused and lifted the computer monitor. "Under here is where I keep your spare key."

"Thank you." Emma faced the door. "I can walk across the street by myself."

"It'd make me feel important."

"Can Ace come?"

Seth started to put his hand on the small of her back but stopped. "Of course, he likes to feel important too."

After they entered the bakery/bookstore, Emma said, "Just a minute." She got a large coffee to go and handed it to Seth. "I know you're busy."

Grinning, he accepted it. "Thank you, but it wasn't necessary."

"I know." She stared out the front window at Ace waiting. "I need to start bringing in doggie treats."

"You're spoiling him rotten." Seth shook his head as he started out the door but turned. "Don't forget to let me know the number of kids expected tomorrow."

"I'll know after the lunch rush."

"Sounds good." Seth nodded and left.

*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school, she's making a play for Seth

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a witness statement.

Chapter 11 is long again so I broke it up into 2 sections. This is Chapter 11 Part 1. Emma's embarrassed about calling Seth in the middle of the night. Will Seth be understanding?

This post is a little over 1300 words long. Although, I read this every day for two weeks, rewrote a large section yesterday. I hope it works. I'm never happy with my writing. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 15
Faith Chapter 11 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 11 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After they entered the bakery/bookstore, Emma said, "Just a minute." She got a large coffee to go and handed it to Seth. "I know you're busy."

Grinning, he accepted it. "Thank you, but it wasn't necessary."

"I know." She stared out the front window at Ace waiting. "I need to start bringing in doggie treats."

"You're spoiling him rotten." Seth shook his head as he started out the door but turned. "Don't forget to let me know the number of kids expected tomorrow."

"I'll know after the lunch rush."

"Sounds good." Seth nodded and left.


TODAY'S POST

CHAPTER 11 B

After the lunch crowd died down, Emma rechecked the number of children who'd indicated they'd attend the summer reading program. She entered her dad's office. "Seth's worried about the kids doing artwork on the sidewalk. I need to tell him how many kids I expect." She glanced toward the still crowded dining room and held her phone. "Think a text will take care of it?"

Keith took her phone. "Go to the police station. He might have questions."

"You're right." Emma laughed. "He questions everything." She retrieved her phone. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

Ace greeted Emma at the station door. She knelt and petted him. "I missed you too." She kissed his muzzle. "I'm going to have treats for you at the bakery. I'll start tomorrow, but don't tell your dad. Deal?"

Ace nuzzled her.

At the door stood Peggy Barton. "Why are you here?"

"I have information Chief Carter is waiting for."

Carl walked up and hugged her. "Seth's expecting you. He's in his office, go on in."

Emma walked to Seth's door and knocked.

Seth opened it and invited her in. "You're always welcome. Just walk in." He closed the door.

"You might be questioning somebody important."

"True. Knocking's a good idea."

"I need to hurry. We still have quite a few customers. For tomorrow, I have fourteen kids registered, but I'm planning on sixteen, just in case."

"Sounds good." He opened the door. "Carl, tomorrow we're working traffic control in front of the Winters' bakery around two o'clock for probably thirty minutes or until the kids leave." He faced Emma. "If it starts at one-thirty, I'm guessing we'll be needed about two, right?"

"I think so."

Jake walked in and hugged Emma. "Pumpkin, I've heard last night you captured some criminals."

"You heard wrong."

He chuckled. "I just spoke with them, and they said you single handedly took them down."

Shaking her head, Emma said, "I need to get back. Come by the bakery, and I'll see you get coffee. That includes Carl and Chief Carter. I'll see you all later."

As Emma reached the front door, there stood Peggy. "I know what you're doing, always including Seth. He's mine. You need to stay away. Making friends with his mangy dog won't work either."

Emma walked by her. She paused and faced Peggy. "Funny. Chief Carter told me last week he didn't have a girlfriend. I guess he's changed his mind." She watched Peggy walk to the main counter and shrugged her shoulders. Ace isn't a mangy mutt. He's a sweet boy and a talented K-9.

*****
Later that afternoon, Carl went to set some files on Seth's desk and saw Peggy hovering over it. "You shouldn't be in Chief's office. It's illegal to touch items on his desk."

"I heard Seth tell Emma Winters she didn't need to knock. She was welcome anytime."

"Emma doesn't come by without first being asked. You seem to have nothing to do but hang around the police station. You need to wait in the front lobby until you're asked to come back. Chief Carter isn't here. I'm guessing that's who you're hoping to see."

"Do you know when he'll return?"

"I don't keep his schedule. I'll tell him you dropped by."

*****
After dinner, Emma answered scratching at her door. She knelt and hugged Ace. "Where's your dad?" She glanced off to the right. "It must be an important call. He's animated and pacing. Come inside."

A few moments later, Seth knocked. When Emma answered, he said, "Sorry, I got a call. I guess Ace got impatient."

"He's always welcome. I'm sure you're here for the aloe." Emma handed him a brown paper sack. "In case Ms. Barton doesn't have the supplies, I have them ready. I'm sure she'd prefer she treated your back."

His jaw clenched. "Carl told me what Ms. Barton told you. I'm sorry. I'm not dating her, have never dated her, and will never date her. Jake and I went on a five-mile run. The sweat caused the gauze to fall off and my shirt rubbed against the sunburn. It hurts."

Emma motioned to the chair. "Please sit. Were you and Jake running for fun, exercise, to burn off steam, or to solve a problem?"

As he sat, his eyes met hers. "All of the above."

"Is the problem solved?"

He raised his T-shirt to his shoulders. "Not yet but getting closer."

"Good. This sunburn doesn't look good. If you have time, I'd like to put a cold towel on it."

"I have time."

After Emma wetted a dishtowel under cold water, she held it against the sunburned area. "I hope this gives you some relief."

"It does."

Almost whispering, Emma said, "Am I part of your problem?"

Seth faced her. "You're not the problem."

"Thank you."

Turning his back toward her, he said, "I went to Cedarville so Jake and I could interview a person of interest. It was a waste of time." He released a deep breath. "I don't like not having answers. There's not one lead on who siphoned your gas. Only lead we have is the person you described from college. He doesn't appear to be in town. It's been a week. I should've solved it in a day, two at the most."

"Maybe it was just a random act."

"Could be, but my gut says differently."

"Should I go to the aloe or another cold towel?"

"Could I have another cold towel? It felt good."

"Of course."

After a sigh, Seth said, "Sorry. Enough about me. How are you doing?"

"Better than last night."

"I'm glad. If you struggle tonight, I'm only a phone call away."

"I took one night's sleep from you. I can't do it again."

Seth faced her. "You're welcome as often as you need."

Emma swallowed. "Thank you."

As the aloe was applied, Seth told Ace to take Molly outside. When Emma finished, he lowered his T-shirt. "I forgot something. I'll be right back."

When Seth returned, he handed Emma a sack. "Maybe this will help."

She opened it and started to throw her arms around him but stopped. "Sorry."

Seth studied her. I'd like a hug.

Lifting up a moon shaped night-light, Emma said, "Thank you, but you didn't need to."

Seth inhaled. "Last night you mentioned how dark it was. I thought night-lights would help. There's a dozen. Put them wherever you want." He watched Ace herd Molly inside. "I guess I'd better get home. If you need to, call. I won't mind. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Thank you."

He nodded as he walked away.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school, she's making a play for Seth







Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a German Shepherd. Maybe this shepherd resembles Ace.

This is the second part of Chapter 11. What is Peggy up to? I wonder who Seth and Jake interviewed in Cedarville.

This post is a little over 1000 words long. As usual I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct my corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 16
Faith Chapter 12

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 12 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As the aloe was applied, Seth told Ace to take Molly outside. When Emma finished, he lowered his T-shirt. "I forgot something. I'll be right back."

When Seth returned, he handed Emma a sack. "Maybe this will help."

She opened it and started to throw her arms around him but stopped. "Sorry."

Seth studied her. I'd like a hug.

Lifting up a moon-shaped night-light, Emma said, "Thank you, but you didn't need to."

Seth inhaled. "Last night you mentioned how dark it was. I thought night-lights would help. There's a dozen. Put them wherever you want." He watched Ace herd Molly inside. "I guess I'd better get home. If you need to, call. I won't mind. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Thank you."

He nodded as he walked away.


TODAY'S POST

Chapter 12

Wednesday morning when Seth and Carl stood at their usual table, Emma had their X-large black coffees, the beignets, and apricot Danish ready and she delivered them to their table. Next to Seth's place setting she set a plate containing a dog biscuit.

Carl hugged her. "Good morning, bright eyes, and thank you."

Seth nodded and teased, "Your place was lit up like a Christmas tree last night."

Her cheeks flashed pink. "Did I use too many?"

"Not if they made you feel safe." Seth paused. "Sorry about my mood last night."

"Don't worry about it. You had a rough day. We all do sometimes."

Lifting the dog biscuit, Seth chuckled. "Ace is now officially the most spoilt K-9 ever."

"He deserves it. He's special." Emma picked it up. "He's waiting outside. I'll deliver it to him."

After she left, Carl whispered, "I haven't had a chance to ask. How'd the interview go yesterday with her biological mother?"

"I hope Emma never finds out about her."

"That bad?"

Seth nodded as Ms. Sadie walked in carrying a large bag. He went to her. "Let me help you with this. Where do you want it?"

Ms. Sadie touched his arm. "It's for Emma. I know she loves fruit, and it's expensive. She's so nice I thought I'd help a little."

His brow furrowed. I wonder what this is about.

Emma walked up and hugged her. "Ms. Sadie, it's nice to see you. Did you wear your dancing shoes?" When she giggled, Emma continued, "Coffee or dancing first?"

Taking the bag from Seth, Ms. Sadie said, "This fruit is for you."

Tears welled in Emma's eyes as she hugged her. "Thank you but this is too much."

"Dear, it's not. I wanted to do it." She handed it back to Seth. "Young man, put this wherever Emma wants it, then we're dancing."

"I guess in Dad's office." Emma watched Seth and then announced, "Line dance time. Let's get ready."

Once the music started, Emma led them as Seth danced beside Ms. Sadie.

After two dances, Emma checked her tables. When she got to Seth and Carl, she refilled their coffees. "Seth, thank you for being such a good sport."

"Not a problem. As soon as I finish this, I need to get back to work. If I don't see you at lunch, Carl and I'll be here around two o'clock.

*****
Just as Emma introduced 'Elmer' by David Mckee, Seth sat in the back, sipped coffee, and watched. Emma noticed and smiled.

Seth's eyes met hers and he nodded.

At the end of the story, Emma and the children discussed even though they all look differently they're all special, just like Elmer. Then she explained the outside expectations.

The folding chairs were set up with their backs touching the building. On each chair seat was a plastic bag containing wax paper with an outline of Elmer, different colored shapes and sizes of tissue paper, and glue. The children were to decorate their elephant in a patchwork pattern of their choice. They could choose to take their artwork home or leave them, and she would hang them around the bakery.

Emma interacted with the children as they completed their task and reminded them to remain seated on the ground in front of their chair.

*****
Carl joined them outside and brought orange traffic cones. He and Seth set them between the sidewalk and the street. They continually walked the curb to ensure no child darted into the street.

As the children finished and their parents picked them up, Linda Holton, the town librarian, and Peggy Barton, her assistant arrived.

Linda walked up to Emma. "I don't understand what you're doing. Children's reading programs are part of the library's responsibility."

"I didn't mean to overstep. I checked at the library and on-line. There's nothing about children's reading programs or any future date for one starting. I wanted to encourage children to read during the summer."

Peggy pointed to the sidewalk. "The only thing you're accomplishing is stopping the flow of pedestrian traffic. It's dangerous for children being this close to the street."

"The children remained close to the building. There's plenty of space for pedestrians to walk." Emma glanced at Seth and Carl. "Chief Carter and Officer Jones ensured the children were safe."

Rolling her eyes, Peggy said, "Of course, you'd find a way to involve Seth." She glanced at Linda. "We're lodging an official complaint. This can't continue."

They left.

Facing Seth, Emma asked, "Can they do that?" He nodded, before she continued, "It's not my fault they didn't do a summer reading program." She glanced at the chairs, started folding them, and placed them on a trolley. "I need to get these back to the church."

Seth and Carl helped load the chairs. Before they finished, Seth answered his phone. "Emma, it was Mayor Castle. I'm sure you'll be notified. We have a meeting tomorrow at one o'clock."

"Why would they do this?"

Carl said, "Because Peggy sees you as a threat to her relationship with Chief."

"I'm not a threat to anybody." Emma pushed the trolley down the block toward the church.

*****
Facing Seth, Carl said, "You know I'm right. Peggy's only pursuing this because she's sees Emma as a threat. She wants you."

"That's never happening."

"She's doing everything possible to make sure it happens. In her head Emma's a threat."

"I don't have feelings for Emma other than friendship."

Chuckling, Carl said, "I don't believe that any more than Jake does. I doubt you even believe it. We've all seen the way you look at her and how protective you are of her."

"We need to get to work." Seth collected the orange cones and went to the police station.

*****
Seth made and ate dinner as he stared out the back window toward Emma's house. "Ace, do you think Carl's right? Do I have feelings for Emma?"

Ace tilted his head. "Um."

"I'll admit I enjoy being around her. She's fun. But in a few months there'll be eight years between us. I can't have a relationship with somebody the same age as my baby sister. When Mom and Dad died, I helped raise Abbey. It wouldn't be right."

He carried his plate to the sink, rinsed it, and put it in the dishwasher. "I need to do something about Ms. Barton. Any ideas?" When Ace bared his teeth, he chuckled. "Probably not the best idea." Going out the door, he called, "You coming? We need to check on the girls."

*****
Before Emma answered the door, she splashed cool water on her face. Opening it, she said, "Come in, do you need more aloe?"

"Since last night, it's been pretty good, but probably could use a little." Seth studied her. "You've been crying."

Emma avoided eye contact and pointed. "The aloe's still on the counter."

Seth stepped in front of her. "This past week and a half, I've gotten to know you fairly well. Something's wrong." He hesitated. "Is it about Ms. Barton and Ms. Holton?"

"Neither care about whether I have a reading program or not. Peggy orchestrated this because you were there. If you wouldn't have been there, none of this would've happened."

"So, it's my fault?"

"Yes." She removed the hair elastic holding her braid together. "It's not. It's because Peggy thinks you're her boyfriend, and I'm in the way."

"She can think whatever she wants. She's not my girlfriend and not because of you."

Emma plopped on the couch. "If Mayor Castle sides with them, the kids won't have a reading program." Tears welled in her eyes. "The kids will be the ones who suffer."

Seth grabbed a few tissues from a box on the counter and handed them to her before he sat beside her. "You're right, but I think Mayor Castle will want what's best for the kids. You're providing that. As for Ms. Barton, I've tried everything short of being cruelly blunt. I may have to try that."

Drying her eyes, Emma said, "I'm sure the mayor's going to ask your opinion because it involves the sidewalk and street. Are you in favor of it?"

"I have safety concerns."

"But..." interrupted Emma.

"Let me finish, today it worked very well. As long as I can detail one or two officers, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm not sure I can always guarantee that."

"Beaverton's a quiet little town. Rarely anything happens."

'True, but we do have domestics, traffic accidents, and bar fights. A couple nights ago, we had an attempted robbery. Cedarville is our sister town. Jake and I help each other with support. If something happens during the time of your reading activity, I'd have to cover it."

"My reading program doesn't have a chance, does it?"

"I'm sure something'll come up."

"It better."

Seth got up and went to the refrigerator. "Think a bowl of ice cream will help?" He grinned noticing her braid gradually becoming looser.

Emma got up. "Couldn't hurt."

"I'll get it."

She accepted the bowl. "Thank you. When we finish, I'll put aloe on your back."

"Sounds good. While you do, I'll have Ace take the fur ball outside."

*****
I didn't realize how long her hair is. As Seth walked up the short lane to his house, he noticed the Crown Victoria parked on the road. Sure wish I knew who was watching and why.


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE DAD'S OUT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thank you Youtube for the video of a NYPD officer doing the Cupid Shuffle





*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of Elmer. My first graders always enjoyed me reading the Elmer stories to them.

There's only one part to Chapter 12. Here it is in its entirety. Peggy found a new way to cause Emma trouble. Will be able to keep her summer reading program?

I had to add the Cupid Shuffle as a line dance. I do water aerobics on M, W, & F and Senior Fitness on T & Th. Each class warms up with the Cupid Shuffle. LOL

This post is a little under 1600 words long. As usual I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct my corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 17
Faith Chapter 13 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 13 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

NOT THE EXACT ENDING, BUT CLOSE.

Before Emma answered the door, she splashed cool water on her face. Opening it, she said, "Come in, do you need more aloe?"

"Since last night, it's been pretty good, but probably could use a little." Seth studied her. "You've been crying."

Emma avoided eye contact and pointed. "The aloe's still on the counter."

Seth stepped in front of her. "This past week and a half, I've gotten to know you fairly well. Something's wrong." He hesitated. "Is it about Ms. Barton and Ms. Holton?"

"Neither care about whether I have a reading program or not. Peggy orchestrated this because you were there. If you wouldn't have been there, none of this would've happened."

"So, it's my fault?"

"Yes." She removed the hair elastic holding her braid together. "It's not. It's because Peggy thinks you're her boyfriend, and I'm in the way."

"She can think whatever she wants. She's not my girlfriend and not because of you."

Emma plopped on the couch. "If Mayor Castle sides with them, the kids won't have a reading program." Tears welled in her eyes. "The kids will be the ones who suffer."

Seth grabbed a few tissues from a box on the counter and handed them to her before he sat beside her. "You're right, but I think Mayor Castle will want what's best for the kids. You're providing that. As for Ms. Barton, I've tried everything short of being cruelly blunt. I may have to try that."

Drying her eyes, Emma said, "I'm sure the mayor's going to ask your opinion because it involves the sidewalk and street. Are you in favor of it?"

"I have safety concerns."

"But..." interrupted Emma.

"Let me finish, today it worked very well. As long as I can detail one or two officers, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm not sure I can always guarantee that."

"Beaverton's a quiet little town. Rarely anything happens."

'True, but we do have domestics, traffic accidents, and bar fights. A couple nights ago, we had an attempted robbery. Cedarville is our sister town. Jake and I help each other with support. If something happens during the time of your reading activity, I'd have to cover it."

"My reading program doesn't have a chance, does it?"

"I'm sure something'll come up."

"It better."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 13 A

Carl and Seth went to the bakery for lunch Thursday. As Emma cleared their lunch dishes, Seth said, "Ms. Winters, we'll escort you to the mayor's office."

Emma tilted her head. "Would it be viewed as conspiring with the enemy?"

Chuckling, Seth said, "I could care less."

She glanced at the dishes in her hand and then her watch. "Give me ten minutes. I need to clean up a little."

At the fifteen-minute mark, Seth finished his coffee. "Should we wait?"

Grinning, Carl said, "You're an amateur when it comes to waiting on females."

A waitress walked by, and Seth held up his coffee cup. "Could I please get a refill?" He glanced at Carl. "We'll be waiting a while?"

"Yep."

Ten minutes later Emma left her dad's office and came to Seth and Carl's table with her almost copper colored hair flowing down her back to her waist. "I'm ready."

Seth's eyes widened. "Your hair...you look nice. I thought you didn't like dresses."

"I don't. As important as this is, I felt I should look professional. I'm afraid I'll be the only person fighting for the children."

Opening the bakery door for her, Seth said, "Not true. I'm in favor of what you're doing."

"As long as you're not busy."

"Emma, that's not exactly true."

"But you can't completely support it."

Seth set his jaw as he opened the city building's door. "My job's to support safety for the entire town."

As they came to the mayor's hallway, Peggy glared at Emma. "Of course, you'd show up with police escort. You can't do anything by yourself."

Making eye contact, Seth returned an icy glare. "That comment's uncalled for."

The mayor's secretary came out and showed them in. With everybody seated and greetings completed, Mayor Castle said, "Ms. Winters, I understand you started a children's summer reading program."

"Yes, Sir." Emma proceeded to explain the story and the art project.

The mayor grinned. "Thank you." He faced Linda Holton. "This sounds like a wonderful idea. What's your problem with it?"

"A summer reading club falls under the library."

"Six years I've been mayor, and the library hasn't had one. So, you're upset because Ms. Winters thought of it first. Is that correct?"

"No, Sir," interrupted Peggy. "We're thinking about the good of the town. We're upset because the art's done on the sidewalk. It's a hazard to pedestrians and a danger to the children. The bakery's on Main Street for heaven's sake."

Mayor Castle faced Seth. "If this is true, Chief Carter, why didn't you stop it?"

"It wasn't stopped because Ms. Winters set up the art project, so it didn't impede the flow of pedestrians. The sidewalks in that area are very wide. The children remained next to the building. There was plenty of room. Traffic cones were placed on the curb and two officers made sure the children stayed away from the street. Everyone was safe."

The mayor studied Ms. Holton. "Is this correct?" After she indicated it was, he said, "I don't understand why we're here. It doesn't interfere with library activities. There are none. According to the police chief, it wasn't a safety hazard. What's the problem?"

"Mayor Castle, I think Seth has more important things to do than watch children do art. Is that what we're paying our police chief for?" asked Peggy before she continued, "If a real crime happened, he'd be supervising children."

"Chief Carter, can you guarantee an officer will be available," Mayor Castle checked his notes, "every Wednesday until school starts from two o'clock until two-thirty?"

Seth glanced at Emma. "Sir, I cannot. If a situation arises, the police department would respond."

Mayor Castle cocked his head as he rubbed his chin. "Ms. Holton and Ms. Barton, there's no reason for you to remain here. You may leave. Ms. Winters and Chief Carter can work this out."

"But, but..." said Peggy. "Why does Officer Jones get to stay?"

The mayor glared and tapped his pen. "Ms. Barton, goodbye." As the door closed, he studied Seth. "It's none of my business, but there are rumors about her. You need to solve that problem."

"Sir, I've tried. So far nothing's worked short of arresting her."

Grinning, Mayor Castle said, "I hope it doesn't come to that, but it might." He hesitated. "I like the summer reading program idea. Let's see if we can solve this. I understand there's not room inside the bakery for art activities. Suggestions?"

Emma said, "I have an idea. I'm not sure it can be done."

The three men listened, as she continued, "Is there any way we can close that section of the block for that half an hour each Wednesday? Since it's for the children, I think the citizens would accept it. The street would be blocked so if a police officer can't be there, could a city worker stand there?"

Seth nodded. "It's the best suggestion I've heard. I could support that. Mayor, what do you think?"

"So, a city worker would be there only if the police couldn't be present?"

"That's right."

The mayor grinned. "That would work." He faced Seth. "I want police presence and interaction. The children need to see them as friends."

"I agree."

Emma smiled. "Maybe you could read a story."

Seth's eyebrows rose. "Don't push your luck."

Mayor Castle chuckled. "Seth, I have a feeling you'll be reading a story."

Seth shook his head, as Carl added, "He's beginning to learn how hard it is to say no to Emma."

Chuckling, the mayor said, "That's right, you're new to town." He grinned. "I've heard a rumor you've also met Ms. Sadie."

Standing, Seth said, "I need to get back to work. Ms. Winters, we'll walk you to the shop."

After goodbyes were said, Mayor Castle added, "Seth, seriously you need to do something about Ms. Barton."

"Sir, I plan to."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a picture of what Emma may look like. I have used this image before.

Chapter 13 is a little over 2000 words. Last week a reviewer thought 1600 was a little long so I divided Chapter 13 into two parts. I was going to post the entire chapter, but instead it will be two short posts.

This post is a little under 1000 words long. As usual I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 18
Faith Chapter 13 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 13 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The mayor grinned. "That would work." He faced Seth. "I want police presence and interaction. The children need to see them as friends."

"I agree."

Emma smiled. "Maybe you could read a story."

Seth's eyebrows rose. "Don't push your luck."

Mayor Castle chuckled. "Seth, I have a feeling you'll be reading a story."

Seth shook his head, as Carl added, "He's beginning to learn how hard it is to say no to Emma."

Chuckling, the mayor said, "That's right, you're new to town." He grinned. "I've heard a rumor you've also met Ms. Sadie."

Standing, Seth said, "I need to get back to work. Ms. Winters, we'll walk you to the shop."

After goodbyes were said, Mayor Castle added, "Seth, seriously you need to do something about Ms. Barton."

"Sir, I plan to."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 13 B

When Seth walked out of the Police Station's door to head home, he noticed Emma's car in the parking lot. What now? He stood at the bakery/bookstore door and watched before he entered.

A young man sat at a table, attempting to hug Emma while she poured his coffee. "Sir, stop! Don't touch me. I'm pouring hot coffee. I don't want to spill it on you."

His words slurred, "Come, weet ting, jus a lit hug."

Emma moved away. "When you're ready for coffee, I'll return."

As she turned to leave, he grabbed her rear-end.

Seth stepped in. "She said not to touch her. You could be arrested."

He stood and staggered. "Wat? A lit hug cat be a cime."

"To start with, public intoxication, then we can move to sexual harassment." Seth used handcuffs and then his walkie-talkie. "Carl, there's an incident at the bakery."

"On my way, Chief."

When Carl arrived, Seth said, "Ms. Winters, he'll spend the night in lock-up. Are you pressing charges?"

After exhaling, she said, "I should. He's an octopus. Maybe after a night in jail he'll learn his lesson." She shook her head. "No."

Nodding, Seth said, "Take him away." After Carl led the man from the building, Seth continued, "Your shift ended an hour ago, why are you still here?"

"Since I spent so long with the mayor, I needed more hours. I told Dad to go home, and I'd close."

Seth found a chair. "I'm staying until you close."

"Thank you, but you don't need to."

Glancing towards the door, Seth sighed. "Wanna bet."

As time passed, the crowd slowed so Emma sat at Seth's table. "You're going above and beyond keeping the citizens safe. You don't need to be here."

"Maybe I'm not here as the police chief." His eyes met hers. "Maybe I'm here as your landlord. Good tenants are hard to find."

"You're a conscientious landlord, but still, this is going above and beyond." She adjusted her long braid.

"How about you attract trouble?" He swallowed.

"Okay." She studied the napkin she had refolded. "Since you're here, why don't I put in a dinner order?"

"Only if you'll eat with me?"

She scanned the dining area. "If you want, I can. After that couple leaves, I'm free.

"Sounds good."

Emma brushed loose hairs behind her ear as she stood. "Great. You're going to be my guinea pig. I have a new sandwich I want to try. If you like it, we'll try it on the menu."

After Emma locked the front door, Seth followed her towards the kitchen. "I'd better supervise. What does this sandwich have in it?"

"Wild salmon, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, and chipotle aioli on a toasted herb focaccia."

"It definitely needs supervision."

When they entered the kitchen, Ray grinned. "Is the dining room closed?"

"I locked the front door before coming back." Emma took the marinated salmon from the refrigerator. "I found a guinea pig for a new sandwich."

Seth's eyebrows rose. "I feel this endeavor needs supervision." As Ray dried a large pan, Seth said, "When you finish, I'll make sure Emma gets home safely. You don't need to wait unless you're also volunteering."

"I've sampled many of Emma's experiments through the years. They've all been good. Of course, I'll volunteer."

A discussion quickly began on how long to cook the salmon and whether it should be hot or cold on the sandwich. It was agreed to try it both ways. Different amounts of guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, and chipotle aioli were also tried until they agreed on the correct amount.

As they finished eating and decided the sandwich should be added to the menu, Seth answered his ringing phone. He hung up and said, "Ray, I'm glad you stayed. There's a bar fight. I need to leave."

"Don't worry, Chief. I'll make sure your gal gets safely home."

Seth glanced over his shoulder. "She's not, never mind. Come on Ace, we're needed."

Emma watched them leave. Be safe.

Ray came up and put his arm around her shoulders. "Emma, you know he's one of the good guys, don't you?"

"Maybe."

*****
When Seth drove down the lane to his house, he grinned when he saw Emma's lights on. She made it home. He went inside, changed, and then watched out the back window. "Ace, I think you need to take the fur ball outside." Ace wagged his tail and went to the door.

*****
Emma answered the door. "I didn't expect to see you tonight." She stepped aside so Seth and Ace could enter.

"Ace missed the fur ball and wanted to make sure she behaved on her nightly trip outside."

She tilted her head. "I see."

"Plus, I wanted to make sure you got home safely."

"You didn't trust Ray?"

"I did, but..." Seth hesitated and then pointed to her guitar. "Practicing?"

"Just playing around." She sat on the couch and continued to softly play a few riffs. "Have a seat. It's a little early for Molly's last time out." After he sat, she asked, "Do you think the salmon sandwich will do well on the menu?"

"I liked it. I'm not sure how many people like salmon."

"Good point. Maybe we should start it as a weekly special. Maybe only on Fridays?"

"Good idea."

Avoiding eye contact, Emma asked, "Are you comfortable with the outcome from the meeting with Mayor Castle? We haven't discussed it."

"You get to keep your reading program and the kids will be safe. It's a win-win situation."

"Thank you. I'm betting Linda and Peggy aren't happy."

"I doubt Ms. Holton has an opinion. Ms. Barton won't be happy. She'll be in my office tomorrow morning complaining loudly."

"I hope not. I honestly haven't done anything to her."

"That situation's ridiculous. I need to solve it."

"Good luck."

Both heads turned as Molly went to the front door and barked.

Seth let the dogs out. "Ace, time for you to do your thing." He walked to the backdoor and studied the outside. "I'm hoping we can finish the dog porch this weekend."

"I'll miss you and Ace coming down every evening. Molly will miss her friend."

His eyes met hers. "Our visits will continue. I can't imagine they won't."

She set the guitar down. "Good."

After Ace herded Molly inside, Seth said, "I'll see you in the morning. If you need anything, you know how to contact me. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." She watched Ace and Seth walk up the lane to his house.

*****
At home Seth called Jake. "That Crown Vic's on the road again. He leaves when he sees me. I don't have a good feeling about this. Any suggestions?"


I hope all of you have a safe and happy July 4th.

Thank you Youtube for a video of a man harassing a waitress. It does happen. This is long, a little over 8 minutes, but I feel it's worth the time.

Male patron harasses his waitress at a diner " What Would You Do? " WWYD




*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a waitress.

Some reviewers have asked why I add the number of days Seth and Emma have known each other. I do it because I post only once a week and sometimes like Chapter 13 A&B are the same day and it seems they've known each other a lot longer. In the manuscript, which is completed, the chapters aren't separated and it's much easier to keep track of the time in their relationship.

This post is the second part of Chapter 13. This post is a little under 1100 words long. I'm struggling writing the drunken slurs.
Happy for any suggestions. As usual I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 19
Faith Chapter 14 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 14 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Seth let the dogs out. "Ace, time for you to do your thing." He walked to the backdoor and studied the outside. "I'm hoping we can finish the dog porch this weekend."

"I'll miss you and Ace coming down every evening. Molly will miss her friend."

His eyes met hers. "Our visits will continue. I can't imagine they won't."

She set the guitar down. "Good."

After Ace herded Molly inside, Seth said, "I'll see you in the morning. If you need anything, you know how to contact me. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." She watched Ace and Seth walk up the lane to his house.

*****
At home Seth called Jake. "That Crown Vic's on the road again. He leaves when he sees me. I don't have a good feeling about this. Any suggestions?"


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 14 A

Friday afternoon, business had slowed at the Winters' bakery/bookstore, so Emma's father suggested she go home around three o'clock. Once home, she took Molly outside. While they walked around the front yard, Emma heard a meow from a live oak tree. She glanced up and saw an orange tabby lodged between two branches. She called to the cat, and received additional meows. It's trapped. Emma carried a ladder from the garage, propped it against the tree, and climbed.

She had almost reached the cat when a male voice asked, "What are you doing?"

Surprised, she jerked around, became off balance, and fell. Seth caught her. "You all right?" The ladder landed on the ground.

"It's you. Thank you. I'm fine." She pointed at the tree. "A kitty's trapped. I'm helping it down."

He set her on the ground and pointed. "You mean that orange cat that ran into the weeds that your fur ball's chasing?"

"Molly?" She exhaled and frowned. "Molly's fur will be loaded with sandspurs. I need to get her." She ran to the edge of the weeds and called.

Shaking his head, Seth said, "Ace, get her." He picked up the ladder. "I'll put this away."

Ace took off after the small dog.

Emma turned. "Thank you." Once Ace herded Molly to Emma, she picked up the four-pound dog. "Let's get inside and pick out those burrs." Seth followed her toward the house, and she asked, "Seth, would you like a glass of tea?"

After pouring two drinks, Emma sat on the couch and proceeded to clean Molly's fur.

Seth took a sip of tea. "Why are you home? I thought you stayed last night to make up missing hours."

"I did. Dad said things were slow and sent me home. He saw no reason for three waitresses to be there. Is something wrong?" She tilted her head. "Why aren't you at work?"

"I got frustrated and came home. If they need me, they can call." Seth nodded toward the back door. "I was working out back and needed some corner braces. I returned from the hardware store in time to catch you. You didn't know I came home early, did you?"

Her eyebrow crunched together. "How would I?"

"That's true."

"Out back did you wear a shirt?" When he shook his head, Emma continued, "I hope you were careful with your sunburn. It wouldn't be good getting sunburn on existing sunburn. It's better but still healing."

"I used sunscreen."

"You did before and couldn't reach that spot. Can I take a look?"

"I used spray this time. I checked in the mirror and made sure I sprayed everywhere."

"I'd like to touch it and make sure there's no heat."

Seth yanked his T-shirt over his head, stood with his feet apart, and hands on his belt buckle. "If you want to see me naked and feel my body, just say so. Don't act coy."

Emma raised her hand to slap, but instead snapped, "How dare you!" She lowered her hand as tears welled in her eyes and streamed down her cheeks. "Leave."

Clutching his T-shirt, Seth headed toward the door. "Ace, come." He exited, but Ace remained by Emma.

On the front porch, Seth slipped on his T-shirt as he turned, stared, and almost whispered, "Emma?" He entered and stood beside her. Her back was to him.

She removed her phone from her back pocket. "I'll move in with my parents. I'll be out of here tomorrow."

Seth took her phone and laid it on the counter. "Don't."

"I won't stay where I'm not wanted."

"You're wanted." Seth paused. "I'm sorry. Let me explain. If you still want me to leave, I will." He pointed to the couch. "Can we sit?"

Swallowing, Emma sat and dried her tears. Ace laid by her feet and Molly climbed on her lap.

"Even Ace is upset with me." Seth started to sit in the chair across from Emma but stood by the couch. "Can I sit beside you?" She scooted closer to the edge, as he sat.

After a lengthy silence, Seth said, "I really don't have an excuse, but I'm glad you're willing to listen."

Emma avoided eye contact as tears trickled from her eyes.

"After I left last night, I called Jake, and we discussed a few cases until well after midnight. I had just fallen asleep when Jake called back. The person Jake and I interviewed Tuesday died from a drug overdose. The syringe was still in the arm. Before I left Tuesday, Jake and I admitted this person to drug rehab."

"Overdosed in rehab?"

Seth studied his hands. "It could be accidental, but we think the dealer knew the person spoke with us, was afraid the person gave up information and was murdered. We weren't interested in the drug use. It was a different matter. Jake's conducting an investigation. The situation bothered me and couldn't get back to sleep. Bottom line, last night I didn't get much sleep." He hesitated. "It's not an excuse."

"I'm sorry this person died."

"This morning when I got to work, we released Marc Elliot, the young man who harassed you. A little later, he showed up with his dad, George Elliot. Dad was angry we had the audacity to arrest this son."

"I'm sure you know Dad's a city council member and from old money," added Emma. "I knew he had a son but didn't realize he'd gotten that old."

Nodding, Seth reached for his glass of iced tea. "I explained we didn't press charges. We just kept him safe until he sobered up. The dad threw his weight around. I explained I could've arrested him for underage drinking, public intoxication, and sexual harassment. Elliot was relentless. Somehow he got the impression the only reason, I was involved was because you and I are dating and I was jealous you liked his son."

"We're not dating, and I don't like his son."

"Elliot wouldn't believe it. He called Mayor Castle. I had to justify my actions."

"I'm sorry. I don't see how your day could get any worse."

"It did." He took a drink of tea. "After I assured the mayor, everything was above board and returned to my office. Take a guess who was waiting?"

"Peggy Barton?"

"Yep. She said you pretended to be innocent and manipulated situations where you made sure I was involved."

"It looked suspicious when I got off early the same day you did and accidently fell off the ladder just in time for you to catch me, especially when the kitty got itself down." Emma took another burr from Molly's fur and studied it. "I understand how it looked."

"At first when I looked in your eyes, I saw anger. That immediately changed, and I realized you were hurt. Again, there's no excuse for my comment. Since you're talking to me, I'm hoping you've changed your mind about moving and can forgive me."

"I'm not sure." She held Molly up and looked at her eye-to-eye. "What do you think, girl? Should we give him another chance?"

Molly barked.

Seth hesitated. "What did she say?"

"She said you're building her a dog porch, so she and her mom remain safe." Emma exhaled. "She also reminded me a few nights ago you stayed on the phone with me all night."

His attempt at hiding his grin failed. "Fur Ball, what if I take your mom to Burger Bob's for a cheeseburger basket? Would that help?"

Emma stood, walked to the back door, and stared out.

Seth followed. "Emma?"

She turned, but no eye contact. "I'd like to go, but if we're seen in public wouldn't it aggravate the situation with Peggy?

"I realize I'm allowing people I don't care about to affect my thinking. I do care about what you think."

"I don't have the extra money right now to go out."

"My treat."

"But then it becomes a date."

Seth shoved his hands in his pockets. "You fixed dinner last night. I'm simply repaying the favor."

Emma's eyes met his. "That's pushing it." After she petted Ace and exhaled, she asked, "Am I being used as a pawn against Peggy?"

"I deserved that." Seth ran his fingers through his short hair. "No, I asked because I'm trying to convince you that I'm not a jerk. When I look into your green eyes, I want to see that familiar sparkle."

"Okay, I'll go."

"Since you've never been on a motorcycle and Ace can't go, want a ride on my Harley?"

"Maybe...yes."

*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of an orange tabby in a tree.

Chapter 14 is divided into two parts. This post is the first part of Chapter 14. This post is a little over 1400 words long.

Happy for any suggestions. As usual I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 20
Faith Chapter 14 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 14 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

His attempt at hiding his grin failed. "Fur Ball, what if I take your mom to Burger Bob's for a cheeseburger basket? Would that help?"

Emma stood, walked to the back door, and stared out.

Seth followed. "Emma?"

She turned, but no eye contact. "I'd like to go, but if we're seen in public wouldn't it aggravate the situation with Peggy?

"I realize I'm allowing people I don't care about to affect my thinking. I do care about what you think."

"I don't have the extra money right now to go out."

"My treat."

"But then it becomes a date."

Seth shoved his hands in his pockets. "You fixed dinner last night. I'm simply repaying the favor."

Emma's eyes met his. "That's pushing it." After she petted Ace and exhaled, she asked, "Am I being used as a pawn against Peggy?"

"I deserved that." Seth ran his fingers through his short hair. "No, I asked because I'm trying to convince you that I'm not a jerk. When I look into your green eyes, I want to see that familiar sparkle."

"Okay, I'll go."

"Since you've never been on a motorcycle and Ace can't go, want a ride on my Harley?"

"Maybe...yes."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 14 B

Seth handed her a helmet. "First, you'll need to wear this." And then teased, "Second, no line dancing on the motorcycle." When Emma's eyes widened, he added, "Seriously, too much movement can cause the bike to become difficult to control."

"I'm wiggly." She did a little cha-cha before she pointed. "Maybe I'm not the right person to ride on this."

Chuckling Seth said, "Burger Bob's isn't far. You can keep still for a few minutes." He watched her put on the helmet before he got on. "Sit behind me. You'll need to get close." He waited, as she scooted closer. "Closer still."

"What do I hold onto?"

"Me. Either my belt or put your arms around me." Seth hesitated. "Since it's your first time; put your arms around me."

"But?"

"Just do it." After she did, Seth said, "I'm starting the bike. It'll be loud, so be ready."

Once the engine started, Emma jumped closer. He glanced back and yelled, "Ready?" She nodded so he proceeded. At first, he drove slowly, then gradually increased speed. He grinned as Emma leaned her head against his back.

Seth parked at Burger Bob's, removed his helmet, and got off. He held out his hand to assist Emma, which she accepted. As she removed her helmet and adjusted her long braid, he asked, "How was your first ride?"

"I'm surprised, but I had fun. Thank you for suggesting it." Emma studied the parking lot. "It looks busy. Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Would you be more comfortable if we went somewhere else?"

"I hope Peggy isn't here." After a short pause, Emma said, "Let's do this."

Seth held the door as they entered. They stood and scanned the dining area for a table or booth. Seth pointed to the right. "There's a free booth, four down. Or do you see something else?"

"That's fine."

A few minutes after they sat, a middle-aged waitress, Janie came to their table. "Emma, I heard you were back. I hope to see you more often." She handed them the menu. "Can I get drinks while you decide?"

Emma said, "I'll have a chocolate shake and glass of water. Has the menu changed?" When Janie shook her head, Emma continued, "I know what I want, but I'm not sure about Seth."

Grinning, Seth said, "I know what I want. Emma, go ahead and order."

Her eyes met his. "Okay, I want the quarter cheeseburger basket, no catsup with grilled mushrooms. Instead of fries, I'll have onion rings."

Janie smiled. "For you, Chief?"

"I'll have a chocolate malt, water, the quarter cheeseburger basket, with grilled jalapenos."

"Sounds good. It'll be up shortly." Janie left.

A few moments later, Bob came to their table and set down their water glasses and grinned. "As soon as I saw that order, I knew my girl was back. I'm glad you're home. I've missed those smiling green eyes."

Emma's eyebrows rose. "Are you saying I'm the only person who places that order?"

"You are. It's the grilled mushrooms without catsup. I get one or the other but never both." He hesitated. "I've heard you're staying this time."

She glanced at Seth and swallowed. "I'm not sure."

"I hope so." Bob turned his head when he heard his name. "I'm needed in the kitchen. Welcome back." He gave Emma a small hug.

"You're popular." Seth exhaled. "I thought you'd mentioned before you were never leaving Beaverton. Why'd that plan change?"

She avoided eye contact. "I'm not sure it has. I'm leaving my options open."

"Is it because of what happened earlier?"

She folded and refolded a napkin before she answered, "Maybe."

"I hope you don't leave."

Janie brought their shakes and set them on the table. "Your baskets will be out in a couple of minutes."

Small talk continued throughout the meal.

As they finished eating, Seth said, "I was thinking about catching a game at the little league field. Would you like to go?"

"I'd like that." Emma turned. "I think I'll use the ladies' room before we leave. I'll be right back."

After she left, Pastor Pat slid in the booth across from Seth. "Is something bothering Emma? She's not her usual bubbly self."

"I messed up. She's being cordial but guarded."

"That's not like her."

"Today was a bad day and I took a few things said and then verbally attacked her with them."

Pastor Pat nodded. "I understand. I came by this morning to offer help with the Apostles Creed class and heard George Elliot. His son's used to Mommy and Daddy bailing him out. He feels he's untouchable."

"Why's this the first time I've encountered him?"

"His parents are divorced. He lives in Cedarville with his mom. Dad only gets him for part of the summer. Ask Jake about him."

"I will."

"When you went to the mayor's office, I left and returned and then saw Peggy Barton."

"You heard that too?"

"Sure did." Pastor Pat paused. "I hope you don't mind me sharing some information. It's common knowledge around town, but you're new. It might help you understand Emma." When Seth indicated he didn't, Pat continued, "I've known Emma since she was a few days old. Because of the situation she was born into, she was a sickly infant and went through cocaine withdrawal. Susan and Keith nurtured her to health. Emma thrived in their care, as you can tell today."

Pastor Pat exhaled. "Because Keith and Susan were older when they adopted her and were worried they'd lose her, they protected her from everything. It was like Emma grew-up in a huge bubble. She's truly that innocent."

"Thank you. I figured as much from the way Keith talked about her." Seth glanced at his watch. "She's been gone a while. I hope everything's all right."

"Is Peggy here?"

"Do you think she'd hurt Emma?" asked Seth.

"I wouldn't put anything past her."

Seth exhaled. "Here she comes."

As Emma headed toward their table, Peggy walked by her, shoved her right shoulder into Emma knocking her slightly off-balance, and snapped, "Look where you're going!"

Emma stopped. "I'm sorry."

Seth stood, but Pastor Pat motioned him to sit. "I'll handle it." When he came to Emma, he hugged her, and continued toward Peggy.

Sitting across from Seth, Emma avoided eye contact.

Seth observed her before he asked, "Ready?" After she nodded, he stood.

When both helmets were on, Seth got on the motorcycle, and then Emma got on behind him. She sat close, but not as close as before, and put her arms around him, but not as tightly.

Starting the engine, Seth headed toward the ballpark. Almost there, he made a U-turn and headed in a different direction. When Emma raised an arm, he pulled off the road. "I've changed our plans. We're going to a lake." She nodded, and he continued.

After parking in a clearing, Seth said, "I hope you don't mind. This is one of my favorite thinking places."

Removing her helmet, Emma said, "It's beautiful. The setting sun's colors are gorgeous."

They walked closer to the lake and stared at the distant mesas as the sun continued lowering.

A period of silence followed before Seth asked, "When Ms. Barton shoved you, why'd you apologize?"

"If I said anything, it would've escalated. I didn't want to embarrass you." She almost whispered, "Or have you feel you needed to come to my rescue."

"You're incapable of embarrassing me." He hesitated. "As for coming to your rescue, I don't mind."

Emma nodded and silence followed. Seth walked over to a rock formation and sat. "Come sit."

She did.

Following another period of silence, Seth said, "You were in the restroom a long time. I almost came to check on you."

"I thought this was a thinking place not a talking place."

"It is. You've been crying." He hesitated. "Why?"

"Nothing."

"Is it about Ms. Barton?"

After releasing a deep breath, Emma said, "Sort of."

Seth nodded. "Please explain."

Emma stared at the mesas for quite a while and then studied her hands. "I was in a stall, so I doubt they knew I was there. Two women came in and started talking. They discussed that Peggy has been after you for over a year and is now upping her game. She plans on seducing you."

"Thanks for the heads up."

She tilted her head. "Why? You want to be seduced by her? Peggy's really pretty."

"No. Not at all. If she tried, I'd refuse and then she'd probably accuse me of making advances toward her. I want to make sure that never happens." Seth exhaled. "Anything else?"

Another long silence, before she almost whispered, "Laughter and comments were made about my innocence. That I wouldn't know how to seduce a man."

Seth nodded. "A woman doesn't need to seduce a man. If the relationship's such, things happen naturally. I feel there's more. Please continue."

"And I probably haven't even been kissed." Emma exhaled. "I have been kissed, but not really kissed. You know what I mean?"

Seth studied her for a few silent moments. "As for being kissed, when the right man comes along, I'm confident it'll happen." He exhaled before he asked, "What else was said?"

"I dress like an old lady."

"If my vote counts, I like the way you dress. You don't need to show a lot of skin to get a man's attention. You get it naturally. Anything else?" After she shook her head, he added, "I hope this helped."

"It did." Emma avoided eye contact. "Thank you for listening."

"That's what friends do, right?"

She nodded before she stood. "We'd better get home. I know you're really tired. Are we still working on the dog porch tomorrow?"

"I want to finish it this weekend."

On the ride home, Emma tightly hugged Seth and laid her head against his back.

*****
When they arrived at Emma's, Ace took out Molly. After the two dogs returned, Emma said, "Thank you for tonight. I know it wasn't a lot of fun, but I appreciate the time you took."

"If it helped you get closer to forgiving me, it was a perfect evening."

"It did."

"Good. Ace, come on. Emma, goodnight. I'll see you in the morning." He walked out and then returned. "Be careful around Ms. Barton. I'm not sure what she's capable of."

"I will. Tomorrow I'll have breakfast ready."

"I'll bring a can of coffee." He turned and started walking away.

Emma called after him, "I still have plenty from last week."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a Harley Davidson, maybe like the one Seth owns.

This is part two of Chapter 14. This post is a little over 1700 words long.

Happy for any suggestions. I made tons of changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 21
Faith Chapter 15 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 15 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

When they arrived at Emma's, Ace took out Molly. After the two dogs returned, Emma said, "Thank you for tonight. I know it wasn't a lot of fun, but I appreciate the time you took."

"If it helped you get closer to forgiving me, it was a perfect evening."

"It did."

"Good. Ace, come on. Emma, goodnight. I'll see you in the morning." He walked out and then returned. "Be careful around Ms. Barton. I'm not sure what she's capable of."

"I will. Tomorrow I'll have breakfast ready."

"I'll bring a can of coffee." He turned and started walking away.

Emma called after him, "I still have plenty from last week."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 15 A

Molly barked, as Emma finished breakfast. She opened the front door, but avoided eye contact. "Perfect timing. We didn't discuss the time for this morning, so I prepared for the same time as last week. Did you catch up on your sleep?"

Seth held up a can of coffee. "I did. Thank you for asking."

Taking the coffee, but still avoiding eye contact, Emma said, "Now I have more than enough. Should we expect help?"

"Not sure. Yesterday, I made the final frame. I couldn't put them up. They're large enough that it's a two-person job. When that's finished, we'll add the screen and then the roof. Fur Ball can use it without a roof. I'll add it later." Seth sat and watched Emma. She must've had a rough night. She was more comfortable with me when I left.

Emma set a plate filled with scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits in front of him and glanced at the coffee pot. "Enjoy. Coffee's almost done."

After taking a bite, Seth said, "Thank you. It's good. Are you joining me?"

Swallowing, she said, "I will as soon as the coffee's done." She started rinsing dishes.

Seth took a plate, added food, and set it at her usual spot. "Sit. I'll get the coffee."

A few minutes after she sat, he placed a cup of coffee in front of her.

Without looking up, she said, "Thank you."

Taking a sip of coffee, Seth sat. "I want to apologize again for yesterday. I'm sorry. I hope you can forgive me."

"Please don't continue apologizing. I know you're sorry." Emma hesitated. "Often when something like this happens there's an underlying feeling that the comment's connected to. I'm wondering what fed into your feelings."

"I didn't expect that." Seth exhaled. "Mistrust of women because of a previous relationship."

Emma nodded. "That would do it. I'm guessing you were hurt."

He turned away. "I was."

"I can tell you're uncomfortable. I'll accept your answer."

"Thank you." He took the last bite of food on his plate and drained his cup. "Let's clean up and get outside." He noticed Emma still picking at her food. "You finish. I'll take care of the dishes."

*****
It wasn't long before they were outside holding one of the frames next to poles already set in cement.

Both Seth and Emma turned when they heard Jake's voice, "Seth, it looks like your help's a little short."

"Maybe, but Emma can hold her own. You didn't need to come, but I'm glad you did. I was going to call you later. I need information on Marc Elliot."

"He feels he's entitled. He's always in trouble, has a drinking problem, and every time he's arrested, I suspect his parents bribe the victims, so they'll drop the charges. I haven't been able to get anything to stick. Why?"

Seth relayed Thursday's incident.

Jake faced Emma. "Pumpkin, stay away from him. If he comes into the bakery, let your dad handle him. If Keith isn't around, then Ray." After she nodded, he said, "I'm serious. I'll give Keith heads up." He took the side of the frame from Emma. "Let's get busy."

Emma glanced around. "Now what?"

Grinning, Seth pointed. "Go in the porch and look to your left. I started adding the horizontal boards, but decided they needed corner braces under them. Underneath the one I have in place add braces, one on each side. Then add the other horizontal boards and braces. I'm sure I made that as clear as mud."

"I think I understand. I'll start and when your hands are free you can check my work." She went into the garage to get more 4X4's, corner braces, nails, and a hammer.

Whispering, Jake asked, "Something happen before I got here? Emma doesn't have her sparkle."

"I screwed up. She's actually partially forgiven me. It was worse."

"Ouch! It must've been bad."

"It was."

Holding up a nail, Emma asked, "Is this what you want me to use?"

Seth studied it. "I originally thought so, but now I'm looking at it, I think wood screws would work better."

Carl walked around the corner. "I'll show her."

Jake and Seth yelled, "Hi, and glad you're here."

Carl and Emma worked adding the inside horizontal boards and corner braces. Emma studied the one she just finished. "I can use these as shelves, can't I?"

Seth nodded. "You can. I'm guessing you already have plans."

She smiled. "I do."

Pastor Pat joined the group. "What's my job?"

Pointing, Seth said, "You and Carl can work together and put up the next frame. Once all the frames are up, we'll add the screen."

Keith provided lunch. Early afternoon they worked stapling the screens to the frames.

Seth wiped sweat from his face and studied the dog porch still in progress. "Thanks everybody. This has gone a lot faster than I expected and it looks great. Before long we can start the roof." He paused. "Emma, would you mind taking my truck to the hardware store and getting asphalt felt paper. I'll call ahead and tell Hank you're coming. Someone will help carry it." After she agreed, he made the call. "Hank knows I'll be in on Monday and pay." He handed Emma the keys. "If you have any problems, call." As she started toward his house, he yelled, "The garage door opener is on the key ring." He hesitated. "Ace, go with her."

The German shepherd ran after her with Molly following.

Seth called, "Ace, bring Fur Ball back."

After Ace herded the small dog back, Seth lifted her. "You need to stay inside until Emma and Ace return." She excitedly licked his face as he shook his head.

Carl chuckled. "I see why you're building a dog porch. That little critter's a mess."

"You got that right."

*****
Emma stood at the hardware store's counter while Ace waited at the front door. Hank glanced up from some papers. "Emma, hello. Chief Carter called and told me to expect you. I have his order ready. I'll get help loading it."

"Thank you."
"I'll let you know when every thing's loaded."

"Great. I'll be in the garden section."

As Emma studied tulip bulbs, Hank asked, "Want me to add those to the bill?"

"No, but the blooms are beautiful. How much are they?"

"Twelve dollars plus tax."

Emma checked her wallet and frowned. "I'll have to wait."

When Hank's name was called, he turned his head. "I'm needed. They'll be finished loading in about five minutes. It's nice seeing you again."

Continuing to admire the tulips, Emma turned when someone bumped into her. A man grabbed her arm and in a raspy voice whispered, "We meet again." He pulled her toward the outside gate.

"Help!" She hit, kicked him, and attempted to yank free.

Ace came running. As he neared with teeth bared, the man released Emma and ran. Ace remained by Emma's side.

Hank came to her and wanted to call the police, but Emma declined and hurried away.

Inside Seth's truck, Ace laid his paw on Emma's arm as she cried. She clung to the large dog's neck. "Thank you."

When tears lessened, Emma drove home. She parked in her driveway and rushed inside her house.

*****
Ace ran to the backyard, stood by Seth, and bumped his head against his arm. Seth asked, "Where's Emma?"

Ace nuzzled Seth and walked toward the house.

"She's inside? What's wrong?"

Pastor Pat nodded toward the house. "I think Ace is saying you're needed."

Seth glanced at the board he held.

Carl said, "Go. We got this."

Leaning the board against the building, Seth walked inside, paused as his eyes adjusted, and then saw Emma sitting on the couch hugging Molly. As he got closer, he noticed tears streaming down her cheeks and sat beside her. "What happened? Was it Ms. Barton?"

She shook her head.

"I can't help if you don't talk."

Through her tears Emma said, "Will I be accused of manipulating a situation? Ace already rescued me."

Setting his jaw, Seth said, "I deserved that. No. Ace can do amazing things, but so far, he can't talk."

"That man from college grabbed my arm and tried to force me to go with him."

"He's in town?"

Emma nodded.

"Which arm? Can I see it? I want to make sure you're not hurt."

She raised her sleeve. "I'm not."

Rubbing his hand along the area Emma indicated, Seth said, "It's red. There may be some bruising."

Seth removed his phone and stepped out front. "I'm calling Hank."

After speaking with Hank and telling him an officer would be there to get the security tapes, Seth asked, "What was Emma doing in the garden section?" He listened. "Checking tulips? Did she buy them?" Seth shook his head. "Hold them. I'll be there Monday and buy them. Don't worry about not staying with her. You didn't know this was going to happen." After hanging up, Seth called his office and sent an officer to the hardware store.

Seth returned and sat beside Emma. "What can I do to make you feel better?"

"Nothing." She glanced at the backdoor. "Please go outside with the guys. I'll be out in a few minutes."

"Emma?" He studied her. "I don't like leaving when you're upset."

"I'm fine, really."

"You're not fine." He stood and then sat again. "This is because of my stupid comment yesterday, isn't it?"

Emma turned away.

"You just answered by your reaction." Seth stood. "I'll be out back if you need me."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of tulips. They're Emma's favorite flower.

Chapter 15 is divided into two sections for posting on Fanstory. It would be too long to post in it's entirety. This is the first part of chapter 15. This post is a little under 1600 words long.

The reviews of Chapter 14 were very interesting. Some thought Seth was teasing, and Emma shouldn't have overreacted. Some thought Emma should have slapped him and has forgiven him way too fast. I enjoyed reading them. They've caused me to take another look at the chapter.

I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 22
Faith Chapter 15 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 15 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Seth returned and sat beside Emma. "What can I do to make you feel better?"

"Nothing." She glanced at the backdoor. "Please go outside with the guys. I'll be out in a few minutes."

"Emma?" He studied her. "I don't like leaving when you're upset."

"I'm fine, really."

"You're not fine." He stood and then sat again. "This is because of my stupid comment yesterday, isn't it?"

Emma turned away.

"You just answered by your reaction." Seth stood. "I'll be out back if you need me."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 15 B

It took Emma awhile before she returned outside, the screen was up, the inside braces had been completed, and the roof addition started. "It looks almost done."

Jake pointed to the roof. "Just need to finish that."

Seth held up the doggie door. "And this." He glanced at his friends. "Let's clean up and call it a day. It's hot out here. I appreciate the help, but you guys can leave. I'll put in the doggy door tonight and tomorrow work on the roof. Fur Ball can use it without a roof."

Pastor Pat said, "We should finish building the roof. Then add the aluminum drip edge and the asphalt felt paper before we leave. It'll be too hard for you to do it by yourself."

Jake added, "Pat's right. The felt paper will be fine for a little while without the shingles. It doesn't rain much anyway. Let's do this."

Emma watched. "How can I help?"

The four men studied her. Finally, Pastor Pat said, "Emma, let's go inside and talk."

As they sat on the couch, Emma said, "I feel like a little girl who's being disciplined."

"Does that mean you've done something wrong?" Pastor Pat paused. "I feel there's something going on between you and Seth."

"Nothing really. I just thought Seth and I were friends. I guess I was wrong."

"Did he say something that would indicate you're not?"

"Not in so many words."

"Seth's stingy with his words. Sharing feelings isn't his strongest area."

Emma asked, "You think I..."

"I think you care for Seth and are using whatever is going on to ensure you don't get any closer," interrupted Pastor Pat. "I think you need to talk with him."

"I'm not sure I can. We talked a little last night, and I thought things were better. During the night the hurt returned."

"What happened? I promise it'll stay between us."

A few moments of silence ensued, before Emma explained Mr. Elliot's accusations and Peggy's comments. "It just went downhill from there. I got off work early the same day he did and then fell off a ladder just as he arrived. Inside I asked to check his sunburn."

"Proving Peggy's point." After Emma nodded, Pastor Pat asked, "Did Seth say he believed it?"

"No, but..."

"But nothing. Give the man a chance. He cares for you, a lot. He messed up, knows it, and is going out of his way to make things right. Let him." She studied her hands as he continued, "Emma, this isn't like you. You're much more forgiving than this. You're scared because you have feelings for him. Promise you'll talk with him."

"But..." When Pat's eyebrows rose, she exhaled. "All right."

Pastor Pat went outside. Emma remained inside, played her guitar, as she thought about their discussion.

*****
A few hours later the men left, then Seth knocked on Emma's front door. When she answered, he asked, "Can I come in and install the doggie door?"

"Of course. How can I help?"

He handed her the instructions. "Read these while I take the door down."

When Emma got a tape measure and attempted to measure a wiggly Molly, Seth grinned. "What are you doing?"

"The first step says the doggy door opening needs to be at least one inch higher than the dog. I want to make sure Molly fits."

Seth grinned as he held up the door. "This one's good for animals up to thirteen inches tall. Eyeballing your fur ball, I'm guessing if she stretches to her full height, she'll almost make seven inches. Hold it up to her and see if she'll fit."

Emma did and then avoided eye contact. "It looks like it's the right size."

"Ya think?"

"You're teasing."

"Only slightly." He picked up the door. "Would you hold the front door open? I'll cut the hole outside so there's as little mess as possible."

Standing outside holding the door, Emma said, "Thank you. After you're finished, can we talk?"

"We can talk right now."

"It can wait."

When Seth returned inside, he noticed Emma searching her cupboards. "What you looking for?"

"I was going to invite you for dinner, but I can't decide what to fix."

"Why don't I order a pizza?"

"Because you paid for dinner last night."

"You made breakfast this morning and your dad provided lunch. It's my turn." When Emma's lips formed a pout, Seth grinned, "You have a cute pout. What do you like on your pizza?"

"Mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives."

"Can I have some meat?"

"Of course. You choose. I like it all."

Seth took out a coin. When Emma's eyes widened, he said, "I'm flipping between pepperoni and sausage." He flipped the coin. "Sausage won. Thin crust or hand tossed?"

"I really don't care."

Taking out his phone, Seth called in the order. "It'll be here in about twenty or thirty minutes." He watched Emma for a few moments. "We talking while we eat?"

She nodded. "I think we need to."

"Agreed."

The doorbell rang, while Seth finished rehanging the door. He took money from his pocket. "I need to check this. Would you take care of the door and give the delivery person a tip?"

"Sure." Taking the cash, Emma answered the door and carried the pizza box to the breakfast bar. She set out plates and drinks, as Seth joined her.

He opened the box and set a pizza slice on Emma's plate. "It looks good."

Studying her slice, Emma said, "Can we talk after we eat?"

"We can talk whenever you want."

After pizza was eaten and everything cleaned up, Seth and Emma sat on the couch, one on each end.

Emma exhaled. "That was really good. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"You're waiting for me to begin, aren't you?"

"I am."

Ace came over and put his large paw on Emma's leg. She hugged him. "I guess he wants to help." Avoiding eye contact, she asked, "We were friends, weren't we?"

"I thought we were good friends, didn't you?"

"Yes." Emma hesitated. "I'm sorry I've drawn this out for so long. I've been childish. I should've trusted you more."

"Thank you for saying that." He moved so their eyes met. "When we got back last night, you were comfortable with me. Can I ask what happened for the doubts to return?"

Emma studied her hands. "I got ready for bed and put on my plain blue nightshirt. I realized everything those girls said was true."

"And one thing led to another." Emma nodded, and Seth continued, "Remember the night Fur Ball got away, and I removed the glass sliver from your foot?" After she indicated she did, he said, "You sat in a chair, and I covered your lap with a blanket because your plain blue nightshirt was incredibly alluring. I didn't want those thoughts or feelings about you. Nightshirts on the right person can be seductive."

Emma's hand flew over her mouth. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

"I'm aware of that. Emma, don't give those women power over you. They're wrong. You're an amazing young woman." When her eyes widened, he added, "You are. It's not just my opinion. I happen to know many people who believe that."

"Thank you."

A silence continued before Seth said, "I need to take off my friend hat and put on the police chief hat." He touched her hand. "I need to know about that guy who grabbed you today. Did he say anything?"

"He said something like 'we meet again' and then dragged me toward the door." She shivered. "What's he doing here? Was he looking for me? How did he find me? Is he staying in town? Why?" She became silent for a few moments. "Is he stalking me?"

"Those are all good questions. I don't have any answers."

"Is he the person who siphoned my gas? Why would he do that?"

"Again, I don't know."

"But you think it's a possibility. That's why you made that sketch of him, right?"

"Yes, but again, I don't know."

"Does he know where I live?"

"I don't know." Seth held her hand tighter. "It wouldn't be hard to figure out. Beaverton's a small town and everybody knows everybody's business."

"I'm scared."

"I know. I could..."

"You're not sleeping on my couch," interrupted Emma. "And I'm not sleeping in your spare room."

"Can Ace spend the night?"

She petted him. "He can, but people are going to talk about his relationship with Molly."

Chuckling Seth said, "That's true. You can send him home in the morning or I can get him when I come by after church to work on the roof. Whichever is easier."

"We'll figure that out in the morning." Her eyes met his. "Are we okay?"

"Are you asking if we're still good friends?" After she nodded, Seth said, "I think so. How about you?" When she smiled and her face lit up, he grinned. "Good to know."

As Seth opened the front door, he said, "If you get scared during the night, I'm only a phone call away."

"I know, but..."

"Emma, I don't believe you'd call just to involve me in the situation. I believe this man has scared you and you have a right to be scared. I'm worried about your safety, too."

"Thank you."

Seth walked up the lane to his house. The Crown Vic's not in it's usual spot. I'm betting it's the same person. Now he knows we know who he is. I just can't prove it.

*****
Later that evening, Seth called, "Emma, I'm getting ready for bed and thought I'd check on you. You doing all right?"

"Yes, thank you."

He heard a grunt. "Was that Ace? He's not in your bed, is he?"

"Hmmm."

"He's a specially trained K-9."

"At my place he's a pampered pet."

"I see that." A short silence followed. "If you need me, I'm here."

"I know that. Thank you."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a pizza.

This post is the second part of Chapter 15 is divided into two sections for posting on Fanstory. This post is a little under 1700 words long.

I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 23
Faith Chapter 16 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 16 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Are you asking if we're still good friends?" After she nodded, Seth said, "I think so. How about you?" When she smiled and her face lit up, he grinned. "Good to know."

As Seth opened the front door, he said, "If you get scared during the night, I'm only a phone call away."

"I know, but..."

"Emma, I don't believe you'd call just to involve me in the situation. I believe this man has scared you and you have a right to be scared. I'm worried about your safety, too."

"Thank you."

Seth walked up the lane to his house. The Crown Vic's not in it's usual spot. I'm betting it's the same person. Now he knows we know who he is. I just can't prove it.

*****
Later that evening, Seth called, "Emma, I'm getting ready for bed and thought I'd check on you. You doing all right?"

"Yes, thank you."

He heard a grunt. "Was that Ace? He's not in your bed, is he?"

"Hmmm."

"He's a specially trained K-9."

"At my place he's a pampered pet."

"I see that." A short silence followed. "If you need me, I'm here."

"I know that. Thank you."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 16 A


When Seth parked his pickup in the church parking lot, he scanned the area for Emma's car. He didn't see it, went inside, and asked her dad, "Keith, Emma's not here? I heard her leave almost an hour ago."

"She called and said, she was taking Florence Hawkins an aloe plant start-up." Keith checked his watch. "But she should be here." He shook his head. "She's probably talking. You know Emma."

"True."

When music began playing, both men sat beside Susan. Before the welcomes were completed, Seth's duty phone vibrated. He slipped outside to answer.

Seth rushed inside and got Keith. "Let's go. There's been an accident. Emma's involved."

"Is she all right? How bad?"

"Don't know. I don't have any facts."

*****
Seth parked and ran to the ambulance. Emma sat on a stretcher and called, "Seth!"

They held each other in a silent hug.

Keith came up behind Seth. "Emma!"

"Daddy!"

Seth stepped aside so Keith could hold his daughter and then walked over to the lead EMT. "How is she?"

"Bruising, possible concussion. I don't think there are any broken bones or internal injuries. We'll need x-rays to make sure. Have you seen the car? She's lucky she wore a seatbelt, or she'd have been thrown."

Then Seth walked over to study the car. The passenger side lay in a ditch with the driver's side pointed straight up. The driver's door caved in, and the axle bent. How'd that happen? He shook his head and muttered, "Stupid question. It's Emma. At least the ditch had a high bank, so it didn't roll over." He walked to the front. "That boulder didn't do the front grill any good."

Carl came up behind Seth. "Chief, Marc Elder caused the accident."

Seth's eyes met his. "You sure?"

"He was drunk, could barely walk. We got a call about a drunk driver heading toward town and were on our way. He hit Emma and kept going."

"We have him on underage drinking, driving under the influence, and hit and run?" After Carl nodded, Seth asked, "Where is he?"

"At the station. Don't forget speeding. This is a 40 MPH zone. It appears he was doing over 80."

"He's not getting off this time. We need to play this one strictly by the book. Have an officer contact his dad." Seth glanced toward the ambulance. "I need to check on Emma."

As Seth walked up, he heard Emma say, "I'm fine. Please let me go home."

The EMT said, "You're coming with us. We need to observe you for approximately an hour and make sure there are no complications."

Keith sighed. "Emma, listen to them." He nodded toward Seth. "Maybe she'll listen to you."

"I doubt it." He knelt in front of where she sat and took her hand. "Emma, I'm taking your dad back to church. I'm sure your mom's worried. I'll come to the hospital and stay with you until you're released. If you're as well as you think, we'll go to the station and get your statement. You'll be at your parents for Sunday dinner. Deal?"

"Can we stop by the house and get Molly and Ace?"

Seth nodded. "Of course." He turned toward Keith. "Are the plans okay?"

"Sounds good. Thank you."

Once the ambulance left, Keith and Seth headed toward the church. Seth relayed what he knew about the accident, "It appeared Elliot crossed the center line, speeding, and hit Emma's car forcing her into the ditch. The ditch was steep enough Emma's car rolled onto its side. If I find out anything else, I'll let you know."

"Thank you and you're staying for dinner."

Seth nodded.

*****
When Seth arrived at the hospital, Emma sat in bed with wires attached. She had her arms crossed at her chest. He grinned. "You don't appear happy."

"I'm not. I keep telling these people I'm fine. They won't listen. Why would I lie about that?"

"So, you can be released from the hospital."

She gave a partial smile. "I guess that's true. But I'm fine."

A nurse walked in. "Hello, Chief Carter." She checked Emma's chart. "Your blood pressure is elevated. It needs to come down before you're released."

"How far down does it need to go?" asked Emma.

"As long as it's moving downward." She checked Emma's vitals and looked into her eyes. "No evidence of a concussion. Everything seems normal except for the blood pressure, but we're waiting on the X-rays."

Emma faced Seth. "See, I told you I was fine."

"You did."

The nurse adjusted Emma's pillow. "Try lying on your side. It may help lower your blood pressure. Whichever side is the most comfortable. You still need to keep the icepacks on your left side."

Attempting to lie down with icepacks and keeping the gown covering her body, Emma asked, "Ma'am, could I please have an additional gown?"

Removing one from a cupboard, she handed it to Seth as she glanced at her pager. "I'm being called. Will you help her?"

Emma frowned. "No, he can't help me. He's the reason I need another one."

The nurse's eyes widened. "I thought Chief Carter was your boyfriend."

"No. We're friends and he's a male, but we're not dating."

Seth handed it to the nurse. "I'll wait in the hall."

Once Emma was ready, Seth returned. "I was told to help you think of happy thoughts. You've been under stress the past few days. Can you think of any happy times?"

Emma's smile lit the room. "Yes. The time you and I were in the canoe, and you caught fish." After a short pause, she said, "The night we cooked hotdogs and made s'mores. The fish fry at my parents'. I can't forget the night we made the salmon sandwiches." Pink covered her cheeks as she almost whispered, "All these include you."

"I noticed. I enjoyed them too." Seth swallowed then added, "I enjoyed watching you read the elephant book to the kids Wednesday."

"Thank you. I guess I need to concentrate on those and maybe my blood pressure will decrease." Silence continued for a few moments. "I think I need a guard dog."

"You have Ace."

"He's yours, not mine."

Tilting his head, Seth said, "True, but he spends a lot of time with you."

"But you accuse me of turning him into a pampered pet."

Chuckling, Seth said, "Because you do. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Ace enjoys it." After thinking, he added, "If you want a guard dog, I'll help you get one, but think about it."

"I will."

A nurse and the doctor walked in. The doctor studied her chart. "It's been about forty-five minutes. Let's see if that blood pressure has lowered." The nurse pushed a button on the machine and the doctor continued, "Your X-rays were good. No internal injuries. You're a lucky lady." When the machine beeped, the doctor glanced at it. "Both numbers are down. You're headed in the right direction."

"How much lower?" asked Emma.

"Another five points and you can go home." The doctor tapped the chart and faced Seth. "Chief Carter, do you two live together?"

"No, we live close but in separate houses. Why?"

"I don't want her alone for at least thirty-six hours, forty-eight hours would be best. We need to release her to somebody."

"You can release her to me. I'll make sure that happens."

"Good," said the doctor as he and the nurse walked into the hallway.

Seth shook his head at Emma's pout. "If you keep that attitude, your blood pressure won't lower."

"I can't stay at your place. That's how rumors start."

"Only Jake and your parents know you've stayed." Seth held up two fingers spread apart. "And in separate bedrooms. We'll work something out."

It wasn't long before the nurse walked in holding papers. "Even though we don't have the next blood pressure, the doctor has decided to release you to Chief Carter's care. Chief, if you'll wait in the hall, I'll help Ms. Winters get dressed." She handed him two papers. "Read this list of dos and don'ts. Let me now if you have any questions."

Before Emma left the hospital, the nurse handed Seth pain medication. "Ms. Winters should take a pill around five o'clock. She's needs to stay ahead of the pain."

*****
As they entered the police station, Carl hugged Emma. "I'm glad to see you. You scared us."

"As you can see, I'm fine, except Seth's acting like an old mother hen." She faced him. "Let's get this statement over."

Seth pointed to Carl. "He needs to take it. I can't. We need to follow the book. Use my office. I'll wait here."

With eyes wide, Emma asked, "Why?"

Carl answered, "The hug you gave him and his return hug. Elliot could use it against us."

Swallowing, she said, "I'm sorry."

Seth nodded. "It's okay."

Carl and Emma went into Seth's office where she explained she was going to Florence Hawkins' house, when she noticed a car heading toward her, speeding and crossing the center line. She slowed down and moved as far right as she could. "I remember the noise of the two cars colliding. I don't remember anything else until the EMT helped me from the car."

After Carl typed and printed it, he had Emma read and sign it. "If you remember anything else, let me know, and I'll add it." When Emma indicated she would, he led her from the office.

Seth stood. "Done?"

"Yes." Carl showed Seth the statement as he said, "Emma, be careful what you say and to whom. We need to keep Seth out of this investigation."

"I understand."

Seth read the statement before they walked to his pickup. At the pickup, Emma said, "I'm sorry my hug compromised your job."

He glanced at the sky and then his eyes met hers. "I needed that hug as much as you. Leave it at that."

She nodded as he helped her inside the pickup.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a car crash.


Chapter 16 is divided into two parts for FanStory. This is the part of one of Chapter 16. This post is a little under 1,700 words.

I made changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 24
Chapter 16 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 16 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Seth read the statement before they walked to his pickup. At the pickup, Emma said, "I'm sorry my hug compromised your job."

He glanced at the sky and then his eyes met hers. "I needed that hug as much as you. Leave it at that."

She nodded as he helped her inside the pickup.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 16 B

When the couple walked inside the Winters' home, Susan, Keith, and Pastor Pat rushed to Emma. She smiled. "As you can see, I'm fine. Mom, I'll help in the kitchen."

Susan placed both hands on the back of a chair. "You'll sit here and visit with me."

Emma frowned but sat and answered her mother's questions.

*****
The men went into the den to get the real answers as to how Emma was. Seth relayed about the elevated blood pressure, but no internal injuries or a concussion. He held up a prescription bottle. "She needs to take these for pain. Somebody will need to stay with her for a day and a half, possibly two days."

Keith sighed. "I'm sure she didn't take that news well." A moment passed before he added, "We all have jobs that require us to be present. How are we going to manage it? How about we take shifts? I'll contact Jake and see if he can help."

Seth glanced toward the door. "Mayor Castle's been after me to take the vacation time I've accrued. I haven't taken any since I started, a year and half ago. I'll take a day or so and shingle the dog porch roof. Maybe Emma will accept me being there for that."

They agreed that might work.

*****
Once everybody was seated around the table, Pastor Pat blessed the food.

Emma's eyes met Keith's. "Daddy, your Father's Day present is in the car."

Seth removed his phone. "Anything else?"

"The plant for Mrs. Hawkins and my guitar."

After Seth spoke with his office, he said, "Somebody will get them and bring them by."

"Thank you."

Before long an officer arrived and handed Seth the items. Although asked to join them for lunch, he needed to get back on patrol. The aloe plant's pot was broken, and her guitar smashed.

"I'll deal with that stuff later." Emma frowned, before she faced her dad and smiled as she handed him an envelope. "Daddy, you're what every daughter wishes for in a father. My first love."

Keith opened it. "Wow!" He held up two tickets for McDonald Observatory with the star gazing tour. "Emma?" He hugged her.

"I knew you've always wanted to go. Now you don't have an excuse not to. I'm home. I can cover the bakery."

Pastor Pat said, "I'll help," as he tapped Seth's arm. "I'm sure this guy will too."

Seth grinned. "Of course."

Susan hugged her daughter, before she said, "Perfect present." She glanced at the table. "Let's get these leftovers packed so Emma can take them home. She needs rest."

"Mom, you don't need to." Emma stood.

"I do, too. That's what Moms do. Seth, will you help her to the couch?"

"Sure." He stood and held her chair. "Emma?"

"I don't need all this help. I'm fine. I can take care of myself."

"Then why do you cringe every time you move?" asked Seth.

Emma ignored the question.

*****
Pastor Pat and Seth carried the boxes to the pickup, as Seth said, "I've helped Emma carry in food almost every Sunday."

"Keith feels he needs to pay Emma the same hourly rate as he does the other waitresses so there's no favoritism. To supplement her income, they provide leftover Sunday dinner. It's about all the help she'll accept."

Tilting his head, Seth asked, "Does she struggle making ends meet?"

"The way we figure it, she barely covers things as long as there's nothing extra. This car accident's going to set her back. I'm sure you're aware how she wants to be independent and manage things herself."

"She's voiced it more than a few times."

As Keith helped Emma out the door, she kissed his cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Seth glared at her. "What did the doctor say?" His eyes met Keith's. "The earliest she'll return is Tuesday. I'm not sure about that."

Keith added, "Sweetheart, you need to follow doctor's orders. Besides you don't have a car."

"I'll take a taxi."

Keith shook his head. "They're expensive."

Seth held open the passenger door. "We'll work something out. I'm right there. I'll let you know what we come up with."

*****
Seth turned into their lane, and Emma said, "Don't you dare stop at your house. I'm staying at my own place, by myself."

Parking in front of her garage, he faced her. "I've learned how stubborn you can be when you get an idea in your head, no matter how wrong it is."

"That's not very nice."

"But it's true." He got out of the pickup. "Wait for my help." He assisted her to the door. "While you rest, I'll carry in the boxes. Ace will take out Fur Ball."

"You're bossy." Once Seth had Emma comfortable on the couch, she said, "Seth, thank you for everything. I do appreciate it. None of this is your responsibility."

His eyes met hers. "It's what friends do for friends."

After he had the food refrigerated, he grinned at her sleeping and covered her. I need to go home, get my laptop, and a sleeping bag. That couch won't make it. He wrote a note and then said, "Ace, stay by her."

Seth returned before Emma woke up. He put the sleeping bag in the garage. I'm not arguing about this. While at home he had grabbed his Insta-pot, chicken, carrots, noodles, onion, and celery. I'm sure she has a few spices. Maybe she'll prefer some chicken broth instead of the ham and au gratin potatoes. She didn't eat any lunch.

After Seth put it on to cook, he checked his emails. He grinned at the photos Carl sent from Elliot's house with Peggy Barton partially dressed rushing outside with George Elliot wearing only a robe, both were clearly drunk. The officers called a taxi for Peggy and told George to come to the police station in the morning. No interrogation of Marc would happen until he was present. They also informed him a doctor had checked his son. He had no injuries but an alcohol blood level of .14%.

Seth glanced at his watch. It's almost time for her next pill. Should I wake her? As he studied her deciding what to do, he remembered the hug they shared. It felt better than it should've. I'm almost eight years older than her. I need to be more careful. She's breaking through my defenses, hell, she already has.

Emma started to move. After a stretch and a cringe, she sat up and petted Ace. "Seth?"

"I'm here. How you feeling?"

"Like a Mac-truck hit me."

"I'm sure." Seth opened the pill bottle. "It's time for your next pill." He handed her a glass of water and the pill. "You didn't eat much lunch. Want something to eat?"

She swallowed it. "No." When he frowned, she added, "Maybe later." She turned her head and sniffed. "What do I smell? It smells good."

"I thought some chicken broth might taste good. You can have just a cup of broth or noodles with a few veggies with it if you'd like. I also brought some crackers." He turned his head when the timer went off. "It's ready."

Emma attempted to get up. "Maybe some chicken broth would taste good. I think I'll change into something more comfortable."

"I'll help you get off the couch." He put an arm around her back and slipped his hand under her arm. He held her other arm and lifted. "I don't know another way to help."

"Neither do I." After she stood, she said, "Thank you." She walked gingerly toward her bedroom.

"If you need help, let me know."

"I won't."

Seth shook his head and grinned. "Of course."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager










Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a lady sleeping on the couch.


Chapter 16 ended up being divided into three parts for FanStory. When I edited part 2 last week, I realized it was over 2,000 words, so I divided it again. This is part 2. Next week I'll post part 3. This post is a over under 1,200 words.

During the week, I made some major changes and continued to make changes as I posted. I can't seem to get this post the way I want it. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 25
Chapter 16 C

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 16 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"I thought some chicken broth might taste good. You can have just a cup of broth or noodles with a few veggies with it if you'd like. I also brought some crackers." He turned his head when the timer went off. "It's ready."

Emma attempted to get up. "Maybe some chicken broth would taste good. I think I'll change into something more comfortable."

"I'll help you get off the couch." He put an arm around her back and slipped his hand under her arm. He held her other arm and lifted. "I don't know another way to help."

"Neither do I." After she stood, she said, "Thank you." She walked gingerly toward her bedroom.

"If you need help, let me know."

"I won't."

Seth shook his head and grinned. "Of course."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 16 C

When Emma crept back through her bedroom doorway to the living room, Seth went to help. He glanced toward her bed and saw her blue nightshirt. "I appreciate the wardrobe adjustment."

She turned her head as much as was possible. "I don't want..."

"You'd never intentionally..." interrupted Seth, then quieted as he helped her sit on the couch. When she was comfortable, he asked, "Would you like broth only or with noodles and veggies?" Emma indicated just broth, and Seth fixed her a cup. "If you want more or are ready to try it with the works, let me know."

After taking a sip she said, "This is good. Where did you learn to cook?"

"I've been on my own for nine years. At first, I ate out every night. That got old, and then I bought prepared meals. It didn't last long. Out of necessity, I learned to cook. I like to eat. For Christmas my sister gave me the Insta-pot. Over Easter, she taught me to use it. It has an air fryer attachment, but I haven't tried it."

"Maybe we can figure it out together. We did a good job with the salmon sandwich."

He grinned. "True."

Emma's eyes closed with pain as she reached for the phone in her sweatpants' pocket. "I need to call the taxi service and see about getting a ride to work tomorrow."

"The doctor said you need to remain home tomorrow. The earliest you can go back is Tuesday."

"I still need to talk with them for Tuesday."

"I've come up with an idea. Would you like to hear it?" When Emma indicated she would, Seth continued, "I leave for work around six. You go about seven. What if we compromise and go together at six-thirty?"

"You'll be thirty minutes late."

He shook his head. "My official day doesn't begin until seven. I like to go in early and get my day ready."

"You sure it won't be an inconvenience?" He indicated it wouldn't, so she asked, "Any thoughts about me getting back home."

"I do. You usually leave around six and I try to leave about that time. You can ride with me. Once in a while, I run later, when that happens, I'll have Carl or someone else bring you home. If everybody's busy, maybe Pastor Pat. I doubt that will happen. It should only be a few weeks before you have your own transportation. Sound agreeable?"

"It does. Thank you."

Seth glanced out the window and noticed the sun lower in the sky. "It's almost time for dinner. I'll fix myself a ham sandwich. Your mom added some Swiss cheese. Do you want one or something else?"

"You don't need to wait on me. I can do it myself. There's some bakery bread in the top cupboard left of the stove."

Emma attempted to get up but struggled. "I don't need anything."

"Just tell me what you want. I'm here to help."

"I don't do this well."

"You don't."

"I want to succeed on my own."

"I understand, but you're surrounded by people who love you. At some point everybody needs help." He paused. "I didn't like admitting it, but I needed your help with the sunburn."

"You handled it better than I am."

"Not really." He walked into the kitchen. "What can I get you?"

"Chicken broth with noodles and veggies."

"Crackers?"

"Maybe some bakery bread."

After they ate and Seth cleaned the kitchen, he sat beside Emma. "How about watching TV?"

"Good idea. I don't think I'm up for a scary movie."

"I'm sure you're not," he teased. "Do you like baseball? I think the Astros are on."

"Often Dad and I watch the game together, so yes."

They watched a while before Seth noticed Emma struggle to stay awake. "It's almost time for your next pill. Ready?"

"I guess."

Seth got the medication and a glass of water. "Would you like something to eat?"

Emma attempted to get up. "Grr. I hate being so sore I can't move."

"What do you want? I'll get it."

"A small bowl of au gratin potatoes."

He offered her the pill and the water. "How much is a small amount?"

She took the pill and then watched him spoon it into a bowl, until she said enough.

Removing it from the microwave, Seth asked, "You sure this is enough? I happen to know you're one of the few women who have a healthy appetite."

"I'm sure. My stomach's doing flip flops." Emma ate slowly and in small bites.

Seth took her empty bowl to the kitchen. "Want me to help you to your room? I'm pretty sure you're going to be asleep shortly."

"No. I'll watch the game with you."

She slowly fell asleep sitting up.

When her head rested against his arm, he slightly moved her and put his arm around her. She'll be more comfortable like this.

As the game ended, he rested her on the couch, turned her bed down, and carried her to bed, "Goodnight, I'll see you in the morning." and covered her up.

Seth got the sleeping bag he'd stored in the garage, moved a few chairs, and slept on the floor. This way there was no argument.



*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of chicken noodle soup. I really couldn't find anything better to represent this post.


This is part 3 of Chapter 16. This post is a little under 900 words.

I made changes as I posted. II hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 26
Chapter 17 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 17 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

She slowly fell asleep sitting up.

When her head rested against his arm, he slightly moved her and put his arm around her. She'll be more comfortable like this.

As the game ended, he rested her on the couch, turned her bed down, and carried her to bed, "Goodnight, I'll see you in the morning." and covered her up.

Seth got the sleeping bag he'd stored in the garage, moved a few chairs, and slept on the floor. This way there was no argument.

TODAY'S POST:


Early Monday morning, Seth was slightly surprised when he answered Emma's door. "Jake, hello. Always glad to see you, but why are you here this early? Is something wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong, but I'm sending you to your office. Elliot and Barton are going to show up and cause trouble."

"Emma can't be left alone until tonight at the earliest. Mayor Castle gets on me for having too much unused leave. I'm using it. Carl's handling the accident. He's more than competent. I won't risk compromising the case. As for Barton, I could care less what she has to say."

"I'll stay with Emma. Things should calm down by noon. You can leave then." Jake held up his hammer. "I'll work on the porch roof until Emma wakes up. Now, get going," he teased, gently pushing Seth out the door. He paused. "Maybe you should leave Ace? If Emma wakes up, he can let me know."

Seth decided not to argue with his mentor and friend. "You're probably right."

*****
Once Seth arrived at the police station, Carl walked up to him. "How's Emma?"

"I haven't seen her today. Last night she was pretty sore. I'm guessing today might be worse." Seth glanced around the station. "Jake strongly suggested I come in."

"We're doing fine. As you can see, all is quiet."

"It won't be for long. When Elliot arrives, put him and his son in interrogation room two. I want it videoed. I don't want any misunderstandings. Make sure you have the doctor's report. We don't want the risk of being accused that we denied young Elliot medical care."

Carl pointed to a stack of files. "Jake dropped these by before he left for Emma's. They're Marc Elliott's arrest records from Cedarville."

Glancing at the stack, Seth said, "This young man has quite a history in his short life. I doubt it'll be admitted in court, but we can try."

Seth drank a cup of coffee and watched from the window facing the parking area. Here comes Elliot. He got up and greeted him with an offered hand.

Not accepting the hand, Mr. Elliott said, "I understand you've arrested my son with trumped up charges, again."

There's no way I'm going to argue with you. Seth nodded toward Carl. "Officer Jones, this is George Elliott. Mr. Elliott, Officer Jones is investigating this case. He'll take you to an interview room. I'll have an officer bring in your son."

With everyone seated around a rectangular table, Seth stood outside the one-way window and watched. He turned the volume up so he could hear.

Officer Jones asked, "Mr. Elliot, would you like your lawyer present before we begin?"

"Marc's innocent. I'll handle it."

George was assured Marc had not been hurt in any way, and the interview began.

First, Carl showed George the blood alcohol report of .14%.

"My son doesn't drink. The cops at the scene rigged the test."

Carl remained calm and explained, "When Marc was arrested, his first stop was the hospital. We wanted to make sure he wasn't injured in the accident. This is their lab report not a police report." He pointed to the small bruise on Marc's arm. "You can see the mark where the needle entered."

After clicking some buttons, Carl pointed to the computer screen. "Here's a split screen of the police cruiser camera on your left. The arresting officer's body camera is on your right. I'll show the inside of his car." He pointed. "These are open alcohol containers. I'm sure you're aware this is illegal in Texas."

"These were planted by your cops."

He rewound the videos. "Notice the officer walking up to Marc's car and your son struggling to open the door. When the door is opened, we can see the containers inside. The officer is still walking to the car." Holding up additional papers, Carl added, "The lab tested for fingerprints and DNA. They all matched your son."

Carl changed screen shots. "We'll go back a little bit. Here shows the speed and arrest of Marc." He paused. "This shows his speed was 84 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. When he hit the car, he was in a 40 MPH zone. We're not positive of his actual speed at that point but eyewitnesses state he was speeding."

"I didn't hit anybody," shouted Marcus.

"Notice as the officer walks up to driver's side door," Carl stopped the tape and pointed, "These large dents and scratches were caused by hitting the other car. The blue paint you see is from the other car." He continued the tape. "Marc forced the door open and as he got out, he stumbled. You can hear his slurred speech when he answers the officer's questions."

Officer Jones paused. "Any questions so far?" When George indicated he didn't, Carl continued with additional photographs. "Here are pictures of the car he hit." He pointed. "Notice the dents, scrapes, and red paint from Marc's car. As you can see, he hit this car with enough force it went into a ditch and onto its side. This is also an indication that he was speeding when he hit the car."

"Whose car is it and how badly were they hurt?" asked Mr. Elliot.

"Ms. Emma Winters. She's not seriously injured. She was allowed to go home from the hospital but is under supervision until tomorrow."

Marc tilted his head. "Emma Winters? I recognize that name. Now I remember, she's the slut who got me in trouble last week." He thought a moment and then continued, "Yeah. She got all up in my face with that low cut blouse with her boobs hanging out. The more she bent over the more they fell out. Then her boyfriend walked in behind me. She saw him and innocently walked away after she got me all hot. Her skirt was all tight and barely covered her ass. I didn't know he was there and reached over and gave it a little rub. She giggled until that cop nailed me. Then she pretended to be all innocent."

Carl sighed and closed his eyes, before using the intercom. "Jonas, please send in the Winters' video from last Thursday." He paused. "The bakery has a good surveillance system. We can see exactly what happened."

After the video started, Carl stopped it and pointed to Emma. "Here's Ms. Winters. As you can see, she's not dressed seductively, but rather conservatively. She brings the coffee pot over to your son. Your son's putting his hands on her. Wait? What did she say? Did she say don't touch me?"

George covered his face with his hands. "I get your point."

"Did you notice Marc's slurred speech? As he gets up to reach for Ms. Winters, he stumbles. He's clearly drunk."

"What are we looking at?" asked George.

Officer Jones put his hand on a stack of files. "These are Marc's from Cedarville. I'm not a DA but I'm guessing with his priors and his age he's going to be tried as an adult and will see jail time. His driver's license will be suspended, maybe revoked, and he may be required to attend rehab. Don't forget the hit-and-run. Ms. Winter's car was totaled. That's a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by a jail sentence up to six months and/or maximum fine of $2,000. Since she was injured and though her injuries aren't serious, it bumps it up to a felony offense. This carries a prison term up to five years and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000."

Marc jumped up. "Dad, do something!"

"I'll try but I'm not sure I can this time. We'll discuss bail when he's arraigned." George got up and started to walk out but paused. "When's the arraignment?"

"Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00."

In the office area, George saw Seth and shook his head.

Seth watched him head toward the bakery and called to give Keith a heads up.

*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of arrest records. Maybe Marc's stack is as high.

Chapter 17 is divided up into two parts. This is part 1 of Chapter 17. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1300 words.

I made major changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 27
Chapter 17 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 17 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Marc jumped up. "Dad, do something!"

"I'll try but I'm not sure I can this time. We'll discuss bail when he's arraigned." George got up and started to walk out but paused. "When's the arraignment?"

"Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00."

In the office area, George saw Seth and shook his head.

Seth watched him head toward the bakery and called to give Keith a heads up.


TODAY'S POST

Chapter 17 B

When George Elliot entered the bakery, Leslie, a waitress, walked up to him. "Please sit anywhere. Can I bring you some coffee?"
"No. I want to speak to the owner."

Keith overheard the conversation, walked from his office, and offered his hand. "Keith Winters, I'm the owner. Mr. Elliot, how can I help you?"

Accepting Keith's hand, George said, "I need to speak with your daughter."

"Emma was in a car accident yesterday. She's at home recovering. I'd be glad to help anyway I can."

"I'll find her myself." He turned and left.

Keith called Jake and relayed the information that Elliot was on his way.

*****
After putting his phone away, Jake said to Emma through her closed bedroom door, "Pumpkin, Elliot's on his way."

She opened the door. "He's angry?"

"From what I hear, yes. I know I don't need to say this but watch what or how you say everything. Also, I'm recording the conversation."

"I know I need to keep Seth out of it. I'm glad he's at work. I'll finish getting ready."

Jake answered George's knock on the front door. Elliot's eyes widened. "Sheriff Baker, why are you here? Aren't you a little old to be a suitor for Ms. Winters?"

Aren't you a little old for Peggy Barton? Jake remained emotionless. "Emma's doctor said she shouldn't be left alone. I've been a family friend since she was little. I needed to use some vacation time and her parents were needed at work. I volunteered. So, to answer your question, no I'm not a suitor. More like an uncle or big brother." Jake tapped on Emma's door. "Mr. Elliot's here and wants to speak with you."

A few moments later, Emma gingerly left her room and offered her hand. "Hello. It's good to meet you." She pointed to the couch. "Please have a seat? Jake, the coffee's fresh, right?" He nodded, so she continued, "Mr. Elliot, would you like a cup?"

Elliot indicated he would, so Jake brought one to him.

George sipped coffee for a few moments, before Emma asked, "I'm not sure why you're here."

"I understand you were in a car accident that involved my son, yesterday."

"I was. I wasn't told who the other driver was. I hope your son's unhurt."

"He's fine. The facts are a little unclear. Can you tell me what happened?"

"Okay. I left for church a little early." Emma pointed at a small aloe plant in a broken pot. "I was taking that start-up to Mrs. Hawkins. I was about halfway there, when I noticed a red sports car coming from the opposite direction. I moved to the right to give the driver as much room as possible." She sighed. "It didn't help. The driver hit me, forcing me into the ditch. It happened so fast. I don't remember anything until EMT removed me from my car."

"How are you doing today? I noticed you didn't go to work."

"I'm very sore. The doctor's restricted me to home today. I'll be able to go back tomorrow."

Jake stood in the kitchen area. "Emma, you may need to be home a few more days. You can barely walk."

She frowned. "If I don't work, I don't get paid. I still have bills. With rest today, I'm sure I'll be a lot better tomorrow."

George glanced around the small cabin. "I thought your parents owned the bakery/bookstore." When she indicated they did, he continued, "That's one of the more profitable businesses in town. I'm sure they can help."

"My parents have offered help. I've turned it down. I'm twenty-two. I need to make my own way. Don't get me wrong. I have the best parents in the world, but I'm an adult." Emma hesitated. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Your car's totaled, right?" After she agreed, he continued, "How will you get to work when you're feeling better?"

"I have plenty of friends who've offered to give me a ride. If someone isn't available, then I'll call a taxi. I'm praying the insurance companies can agree quickly."

"I'm not turning this into my insurance company." When Emma's eyes widened, he explained, "This isn't Marc's first accident. I'm covering the cost myself." His eyes met hers. "So far you need hospital costs and at least a day's wages," he thought a moment, "along with tips, and a new car covered. Is that correct?" Before Emma answered, he held up his iPad. "Would one of these cars work?"

Emma shook her head. "They're very nice. I'm sure most people would like them, but I'm not most people. I need a serviceable car I can afford. I couldn't afford the insurance or upkeep on those cars. They're not practical for me."

"What if I agreed to pay the insurance and upkeep?"

"No. I won't accept that. I feel you owe me another car, but that's it."

"Ms. Winters, you drive a hard bargain." George kept his gaze on Ace as he walked in from the back porch. "Isn't that Chief Carter's dog? I've heard you and he are dating."

"We're friends but that's it."

Jake moved closer. "She's right. I'm doing some work on the roof while I'm here. We borrowed Ace so I could be outside. Ace can notify me, if Emma needs something."

"Okay." He stood. "I'm going to do some research on affordable cars and get back with you in a few days. Is that agreeable?"

Emma nodded. "You'll probably find me at the bakery."

"I'll look for you there." He left.

After Jake shut the door, he studied Emma. "Are you okay?"

"Do you think it went all right?"

"I do."

"Good. I'm taking a bubble bath."

*****
Almost a half-an-hour later, Seth walked in the door and held up a bag. "Keith provided lunch. Where's Emma?"

"She's taking a bubble bath."

"Can she get out of the tub by herself? Yesterday, she would've been too sore for that."

"Good question. That's why I'm staying. I'm not sure she thought that far ahead."

Shaking his head, Seth grinned. "Does she ever?"

"She doesn't have many faults but that's one. You're too close to help her. I'll stay until I'm sure she's out."

"We're only friends, but I'm glad you're staying."

"Go ahead and believe the friend part if you want."


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of a lady in a bubble bath.

Chapter 17 is divided up into two parts. This is part 2 of Chapter 17. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1000 words.

I made major changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 28
Chapter 18 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 18 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

*****
Almost half-an-hour later, Seth walked in the door and held up a bag. "Keith provided lunch. Where's Emma?"

"She's taking a bubble bath."

"Can she get out of the tub by herself? Yesterday, she would've been too sore for that."

"Good question. That's why I'm staying. I'm not sure she thought that far ahead."

Shaking his head, Seth grinned. "Does she ever?"

"She doesn't have many faults but that's one. You're too close to help her. I'll stay until I'm sure she's out."

"We're only friends, but I'm glad you're staying."

"Go ahead and believe the friend part if you want."

{EVIENDENTLY, EMMA GOT OUT OF THE BATHTUB WITHOUT INCIDENT. MY CHARACTERS NEVER COMMENTED ON IT TO ME. IF THEY LET ME KNOW, I'LL LET YOU KNOW. FOR REAL!!!!!}

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 18 A

A little after six o'clock Tuesday morning, Seth knocked on Emma's door. When she opened it, her lips formed a pout. "I thought we agreed on six-thirty. I'm not ready."

"We did. I thought you might need some help. Ace can take out ..."

"I have a wonderful doggy porch so Molly can go out whenever she wants," interrupted Emma.

"That you do." He petted Ace, standing beside him. "Sorry buddy, your services aren't needed. Is there anything I can help with?" Seth watched her walk toward the kitchen. "You seem to be getting around better. How's your neck?"

"It's just a little sore. It depends how I move it. The headache's gone, so that's a good thing."

"Your neck will probably be stiff for a few more days." Seth watched as she attempted to braid her hair. She got frustrated when she couldn't move her arms back enough, so he offered, "I've never braided hair before, but I can try."

"I need to put up my hair for work." Emma handed him a large barrette. "Can you clasp it in this? It might work. If not, Mom can braid it."

"I'll try." Seth gathered together her soft, long hair. It smells like strawberries. He put the barrette around and secured it. "I hope this holds."

"It should. Thank you." She smiled. "Now you have a new skill."

"I doubt I'll use it often."

*****
As Seth drove into the downtown area, Emma asked, "I was wondering if I could paint the bedroom."

"It was painted a few months before you moved in. Is there a problem?"

"Not really. But yesterday I spent a lot of time in there and thought it needed some color. I'll paint it myself."

With a chuckle and a head shake, Seth asked, "How are you going to paint? You're struggling walking. Besides off white has some color."

She ignored his last comment and said, "I'll wait until I'm healed."

"What color are you thinking about?"

"Robin egg blue or sea foam green. They're both light colors."

"Show me the color swatches and then I'll decide."

"Thank you."

Seth parked in front of the bakery/bookstore, got out, and opened the cruiser door for her. "I'll be in for coffee around mid-morning."

Emma walked through the bakery door that Seth held for her, as she said, "I hope so. I'll have some beignets ready."

"You don't need to go to the trouble. Please don't overdo."

"I won't."

Seth chuckled as he walked back to the cruiser. Of course, she won't.

*****
Later that morning, Seth and Carl entered the bakery and Emma was ready with their coffee, pastries, and Ace's dog treat. She set them on the table, and then Carl hugged her as Seth asked, "How are you feeling?"

She smiled. "I'm okay. Since you were early this morning, I forgot something. When I went into the kitchen, I saw some flowering tulip bulbs on the counter. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

"You've mentioned you like tulips, and Hank told me you wanted to buy them the other day."

"You bought them for me?"

"I did."

"Thank you, but you didn't need to."

"You've had a few rough days in a row. I thought they might help."

"They did," she said as she started to hug him, but a customer called to her. "I'll be back."

Emma returned and refilled their coffee cups. "In a few minutes I thought I'd walk down to the hardware store and get those paint swatches."

Seth glanced out the bakery's front window. "I know it's only two blocks, but would you take Ace with you?" He checked his watch. "I'd go but I have a meeting in fifteen minutes."

"Why?"

"That man from Saturday might be hanging around. I'd rather not take any chances. Ace is right outside. When you return, just send him to the station. He knows the way."

Emma's green eyes sparkled as they lit the dining area. "Now you understand why I need my own guard dog?"

Shaking his head, Seth said, "I've already said I'd help once you think about it for longer than a day."

Keith walked over. "What's my daughter trying to talk you into?"

"Emma thinks she wants a trained guard dog. Like Ace."

"Do you understand how expensive it is to feed a dog the size of Ace and the vet bills?" asked Keith.

"But...but..." Emma gave up and changed the subject, "I'm going to the hardware store and getting paint swatches. Yes, I'll take Ace. Dad, I should be right back."

"Honey, why do you need paint swatches?" Keith called after her.

Seth took a sip of coffee then answered Keith, "She wants to paint the bedroom."

"I'll get a coffee pot and leave it on your table. I think you're going to need it." When Keith returned, he grinned. "Seth, you're on your own with her. You sure you want to rent to her? First the dog porch and now painting."

"She keeps me on my toes."

"That she does."

Carl grinned. "I think Chief enjoys the challenge."

"I agree." Keith glanced at the kitchen. "I'd better get back. Good luck."

*****
When Emma returned with a paint swatch, Seth had returned to the police station. She prepared a large coffee to-go and put the last two beignets in a bag along with a treat for Ace. Stapled on the outside was a note, I changed my mind. Robin egg blue was too blue. I hope you like icy blue. Is it okay? Please enjoy the treats. Emma.

Before Emma sent Ace back, she sent Seth a text: "Ace is on his way with a bag." She put the bag in Ace's mouth. "Take this to Seth. There's something for you too." Standing in the doorway, she watched Ace walk across the street and then waited at the door until Seth opened it.

Seth waved and took the bag. He answered the text: "Thank you, but you didn't need to. See you about six."


Because I'll be with my granddaughters next Sunday, I doubt I'll post. I will post as soon as I can. We'll stay in a hotel Monday evening, so I may post from there. I doubt I'll post anything on Thursday.


*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of an icy blue bedroom. I doubt Emma's is this nice. I wanted something else but couldn't find anything.

Chapter 18 is divided up into two parts. This is part 1 of Chapter 18. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1000 words.


I made major changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 29
Chapter 18 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 18 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

When Emma returned with a paint swatch, Seth had returned to the police station. She prepared a large coffee to-go and put the last two beignets in a bag along with a treat for Ace. Stapled on the outside was a note, I changed my mind. Robin egg blue was too blue. I hope you like icy blue. Is it okay? Please enjoy the treats. Emma.

Before Emma sent Ace back, she sent Seth a text: "Ace is on his way with a bag." She put the bag in Ace's mouth. "Take this to Seth. There's something for you too." Standing in the doorway, she watched Ace walk across the street and then waited at the door until Seth opened it.

Seth waved and took the bag. He answered the text: "Thank you, but you didn't need to. See you about six."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 18 B

A few minutes before six, Seth walked into the bakery/bookstore. When Emma walked up to him, he frowned. "You look dead tired." He hesitated before he continued, "Ready to go home?"

"I am. I'd better tell Dad I'm leaving."

Seth watched father and daughter kiss cheeks and hug. When she returned, he said, "Tomorrow's going to be worse. You have the summer reading group and then both youth groups. Maybe you should ask Pastor Pat if you can delay the youth groups a week."

Emma shook her head. "I can do it."

They walked to the cruiser and continued toward home.

*****
Seth parked in front of his house, and Emma pointed toward her house. "I live another fifty yards that way." Her eyes met his. "I'm not sure what you're doing."

"You're tired. I'm going to help you inside, then go get your fur ball. After I bring her here, I'm fixing dinner. When dinner's over, I'll take you home. So, don't argue."

"You're bossy."

He ignored her comment, helped her inside, and then pointed to the couch. "Rest. I'll be right back."

"You're extremely bossy."

"You're right." Grinning, he walked out the door.

*****
When he returned, he shook his head and covered Emma as she slept. No way, did you overdo. Not you. He motioned to the dogs and whispered, "You two come with me. Let Emma sleep."

He started the grill and made the salad. Once the potatoes were in the microwave, he set the timer. When the grill was hot, he put on the steaks.

Some minutes later the sound of the timer dinging woke Emma. Seth frowned. "I'm sorry. I didn't get to it fast enough."

Stretching caused her to flinch in pain. "How long was I asleep? I guess I was more tired than I thought."

"Almost an hour. Dinner will be ready in five or ten minutes."

"Is there anything I can do?"

Seth checked out the back porch window. "The steaks are almost done. I better get out there." As he headed toward the door, he said, "Everything else is ready."

Seth returned with the steaks, one on each plate. He set them on the table, took the salads from the refrigerator, and the potatoes from the microwave. "I think we're ready. I hope you like dinner."

After prayer, they began eating. Emma sampled everything before she said, "This is really good. Thank you, but I have plenty of food at home."

"I knew you were tired. I thought this is one way I could help."

"You've already helped in many ways. Just taking me back and forth to work is a lot. Hopefully it won't take too long to get another car. We haven't discussed what Mr. Elliot said yesterday. I'm sure Jake showed you the video."

"He did. I thought it went well. Do you have any questions?"

"Not really. But I'm surprised he's not using his insurance company."

"Since his son has had so many car accidents, if they file another claim their insurance will be cancelled."

"Makes sense. I hope he comes through with a car."

"I have a good feeling about it." Seth studied Emma for a few moments. "I know you're really tired, but I have a feeling there's something else." Emma remained quiet, so Seth continued, "You avoiding looking at me tells me I'm right."

"I heard something at the bakery today. It's gossip, so..."

"Was it gossip about one of us or something else?" When Emma didn't answer, he said, "If it's bothering you, maybe we should discuss it."

"A few women were discussing an incident that happened Sunday morning. They said Peggy ran out of Mr. Elliot's house partially dressed. Mr. Elliot only wore a robe. They were both drunk. It seems Peggy seeing you with me Friday evening at Burger Bob's caused her to behave this way."

"I need to investigate how this became public knowledge." Seth took her hand. "What you need to understand is it had nothing to do with you, or me for that matter. Ms. Barton came in Monday morning and attempted to convince me that she was so heartbroken that she acted out of character."

"So, it is my fault."

Seth cocked his head. "You didn't take her hand and lead her to Elliot's house." After watching Emma's eyes, he added, "Please keep it between us, but her relationship with Elliot was going on long before you ever returned to town."

"Why? Peggy's a pretty lady. Why would she be involved with Mr. Elliot? He's old enough to be her father."

"Good question." Seth hesitated. "I wonder..." He stood and headed toward the back porch. "I'll be right back. I need to make a phone call."

*****
Carl answered, so Seth said, "Two things. I want a mandatory staff member meeting at seven o'clock tomorrow morning. There are no exceptions for attendance." He listened. "It seems what happened Sunday morning at Elliot's house is public knowledge. There better not be a leak from us."

Listening for a few moments, Seth said, "Secondly, find out how much Elliot's worth? I know he's from old money. Also find out how much access to financial records Ms. Barton has? I know the library has access to lots of records for genealogy and other research but check and see how deep it goes." He listened. "I have a hunch that Barton is after men with big bankrolls. We'll discuss it later."

*****
Emma watched Seth return. "Is everything all right?"

"I think so. Sorry about the privacy, but..."

"It was a need to know situation, and I didn't need to know," interrupted Emma.

"Sorry, but true."

"I understand."

He sat at the table. "I hope so."

Emma's hand covered his. "I do. Don't worry about it."

"I probably should've waited until later to make the call, but I wanted to do it when it was still fresh on my mind."

Tilting her head, Emma said, "Now who's worrying for no reason."

Seth grinned. "That would be me, right?"

"Yes." Emma stood and picked up a plate. "Let's get these dishes done."

Taking it from Emma, Seth said, "Rest. I'll take care of it."

"When you have dinner at my house, you help with clean up."

"You were just in a car accident." He watched her pick up the butter. "Okay, you can put things in the refrigerator. Will that make you happy?"

Her smile lit up the room. "Yes."

After the dishes were finished, Emma glanced toward the door. "I need to head home." When Seth took his keys from his pocket, she pointed the direction of her house. "I live right there. I can walk. The sun hasn't completely set."

"You were on your feet most of the day. You're still healing. I'm not sure you should walk." When her eyes met his, he sighed. "I'll give in on the walking, but you won't walk alone." He grinned. "I'm not completely bossy. I can compromise."

"You can."

On the way down the lane, Seth had Ace follow Molly as she ran and played.

Inside, Seth did a quick scan. "Is there anything I can help with?"

"I think I'll just get ready for bed."

"Since tomorrow's a busy day, is six-thirty too early?"

"No. It'll be fine. Goodnight."

Seth paused at the door and then faced Emma. "I'll be by at six-forty-five."

Emma smiled. "I'll see you then."


Thank you, YouTube for : MusicMan Pick.aLotTalk.aLittleMore



*****
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of a group of young women in a coffee shop possibly gossiping.

Chapter 18 is divided up into two parts. This is part 2 of Chapter 18. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1200 words.

I made major changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 30
Chapter 19 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 19 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After the dishes were finished, Emma glanced toward the door. "I need to head home." When Seth took his keys from his pocket, she pointed the direction of her house. "I live right there. I can walk. The sun hasn't completely set."

"You were on your feet most of the day. You're still healing. I'm not sure you should walk." When her eyes met his, he sighed. "I'll give in on the walking, but you won't walk alone." He grinned. "I'm not completely bossy. I can compromise."

"You can."

On the way down the lane, Seth had Ace follow Molly as she ran and played.

Inside, Seth did a quick scan. "Is there anything I can help with?"

"I think I'll just get ready for bed."

"Since tomorrow's a busy day, is six-thirty too early?"

"No. It'll be fine. Goodnight."

Seth paused at the door and then faced Emma. "I'll be by at six-forty-five."

Emma smiled. "I'll see you then."


TODAY'S POST

Chapter 19 A


Wednesday morning Seth and Carl entered Winters and noticed women putting colored beads into plastic bags. Carl said, "I bet Emma's behind this. What do you think?"

Seth grinned. "It has Emma written all over it."

Before long Emma brought over their coffee, pastries, and Ace's treat. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

Carl pointed at the women. "Emma, what's going on?"

"In the middle of the night I changed my story for today. So, the art activity changed. These ladies are helping me prepare."

"Why did your story change?" asked Seth.

"Maybe a prompt from God." She turned toward the ladies. "Sorry, but I need to help."

As she turned, a male voice yelled, "Emma!" and two arms encompassed her. "It's been a while."

She struggled to step back. "Ronnie, I didn't know you were in town."

"I got in last night. I couldn't wait to see you."

Her eyes focused on Seth.

*****
Seth quietly asked Carl, "Who's that? Emma doesn't look happy."

"That's Ronald Calhoun." Carl paused. "They dated briefly during her senior year."

Frowning, Seth said, "They broke up."

"She's told you about it?"

"She did," answered Seth. "He's a person of interest. I wonder how long he's been in town."

"I'll find out. She keeps looking at you. I wonder if she wants you to rescue her."

"From what? A greeting hug?" He hesitated, downed his coffee, and held up his cup. "Emma, could I have a refill?"

"Excuse me. One of my tables needs me." She grabbed the coffee pot and went to Seth's table. "Thank you."

"Ronnie Calhoun?" asked Seth. She nodded, then he continued, "How long has he been in town?"

"Since last night, I guess." Another table called her name. "I'd better get busy."

*****
When she turned, Ronnie stood behind her. "I'd like to catch up on old times. What time do you get off tonight? Maybe we can go to dinner."

"I'm sorry. I already have plans." Emma pointed. "My tables need me."

"When can we get together?" Ronnie called after her.

She ignored him.

*****
Just before Emma began reading her story, How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney, Seth walked in and sat at a table. Keith brought over a coffee. "Ronnie Calhoun's in town."

"I saw his entrance this morning. How's Emma?"

"Not good. She's pretending it's okay."

"Do you know where he's staying and how long he'll be here?"

"Not really. I bet right now he's staying with his mom. His parents divorced years ago. I'll listen around the bakery. I'm sure the rumor mill will be busy."

Seth nodded. "Thank you." When Keith left, Seth focused on Emma reading the story.

When it ended, Emma said, "This story is about friendship. These two friends, the sun and the clouds, got into an argument. They eventually made up. I had prepared a different story, but last week didn't go so well and I took it out on one of my friends. This person was patient, and we patched up our friendship. For the art activity, we're going to make friendship bracelets."

Emma held up the example she'd made. "I made this for my friend and used colors I thought that person would like. I want you to think very hard about your best friend and then I want you to think of your best friend's favorite colors. After you've done that, you're ready to thread the colored beads your friend likes onto the cord. If you need help tying it, raise your hand and I'll help." Then she explained the outside expectations. As they went to the sidewalk, she passed Seth, took his hand, and slipped the friendship bracelet over it.

Their eyes met, and he mouthed, "Thank you."

While the children did the art activity, Emma noticed Peggy watching from a distance. I bet she's hoping for something to go wrong.

As the children left, Emma folded the chairs and stacked them on the trolley. Carl came up. "I'll return these to the church."

"Thank you." She motioned toward Seth. "He put you up to it, didn't he?"

Carl chuckled. "I refuse to answer."

Seth walked up. "How are you holding up? Will you get a break before the first youth group meets?"

Emma glanced at her watch. "I'm not sure." She hesitated. "Did you..."

"Notice Ms. Barton watching?" interrupted Seth. "I did. Everything went perfectly. Don't worry. I need to get back to work. I'll come by later and escort you to the church."

"You don't need to."

He touched the friendship bracelet. "It's what friends do for friends. See you later."

*****
As Emma and Seth walked to the church, Seth asked, "Any thoughts on Ronnie Calhoun?"

"Do I know why he's in town? No. Do I know why he suddenly wants to catch up? No. Do I want him anywhere around me? No."

Seth grinned. "I'm glad we have that out in the open."

As they walked into the church, Pastor Pat said, "I'm glad you're here." He hugged Emma. "Both your groups will meet in room five. Seth, I need to speak with you for a few minutes."

Emma glanced at her phone. "The kids will be here in about ten minutes. I'll set up."

Calling after her, Seth said, "I'll hang around and take you home."

She smiled and shook her head.

Seth did his best to hold his temper at bay while Pastor Pat explained Peggy Barton had signed up for the Apostles Creed Class. It's just another attempt at causing trouble. Maybe she'll get bored and only attend once. I can hope.

As people arrived, they sat in the circle of chairs he'd set up. He tapped the book against his palm as he waited.

When it was six o'clock, Seth introduced himself and welcomed everyone.

As he finished, Peggy walked in. "Sorry, I'm late. I couldn't decide what to wear."



******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for image of the story 'How the Crayons saved the Rainbow'.

A reviewer mentioned that bakery/bookstore was too long. I changed the name of it to Winters.

Chapter 19 is divided up into two parts. This is part 1 of Chapter 19. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1000 words.

I'm posting in a hotel room while waiting for my husband to get ready. In my family, I'm the one who is always waiting. LOL I hope I didn't make too many mistakes.

I made major changes as I posted. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 31
Chapter 19 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 19 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Seth did his best to hold his temper at bay while Pastor Pat explained Peggy Barton had signed up for the Apostles Creed Class. It's just another attempt at causing trouble. Maybe she'll get bored and only attend once. I can hope.

As people arrived, they sat in the circle of chairs he'd set up. He tapped the book against his palm as he waited.

When it was six o'clock, Seth introduced himself and welcomed everyone.

As he finished, Peggy walked in. "Sorry, I'm late. I couldn't decide what to wear."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 19 B

Seth ignored Peggy's comment and read the Apostles Creed. After he did, he asked, "Any thoughts or comments?"

A young man, Bart, sitting to Seth's right asked, "Why does it say, 'I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church'? We're not Catholic but we repeat it probably a couple times a month during the church service."

"Good question. The word 'catholic' doesn't refer to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal or general church, and refers to the Christian faith that traces its origins to Jesus and his apostles. I agree it's confusing the way it's stated. Does that help at all?" When Bart indicated a partial understanding, Seth added, "I'll ask Pastor Pat to join us next week."

Seth went on to explain the history of the Apostles Creed.

When the class ended, everyone left, except Peggy. She walked up to Seth and used her hand to rub his muscular bare forearm. "I'm glad you let me join the class. I felt I needed to do some repentance for my behavior Saturday night."

He pushed her hand from his arm. "This class isn't a confessional. If that's what you're looking for, you need to look elsewhere."

"Why don't we go to dinner and discuss it?"

"I'm not interested."

Emma rushed into the room. "Seth, could you...Never mind. I didn't know you were busy." She turned and left.

"Goodbye, Ms. Barton. Class is over." He walked toward the door. "Emma?"

Peggy grabbed his arm. "You're leaving me to go after her?"

"Looks that way." Seth saw Pastor Pat in the hallway. "You might check my room. Ms. Barton's still in there." He entered the room where Emma's groups met. "Emma, what did you need?"

"I didn't mean to..."

"Stop. I was looking for some way to get rid of her." He grinned. "Your timing was perfect."

"Glad I could help."

He noticed a fallen free-standing chart. "Is this the problem?"

"It doesn't look heavy, but it is."

Seth pointed. "Grab that end. I'll get this side."

As they set up the chart, the teenagers started to enter, and Seth took a seat.

Emma's eyes widened. "You're staying?"

"I can hide in here," he teased.

At seven o'clock, Emma welcomed everyone, began with an opening prayer, and then said, "I wanted to start with a short song, but my guitar was destroyed in a car accident."

Janie, one of the girls, pointed to a piano. "We have this."

"I haven't played in years."

Ashly raised her hand. "I play."

Smiling Emma said, "Would you mind playing?" When she agreed, Emma said, "Good. Ashly, what song should we do?"

She started playing 'He's got the Whole World in His Hands.'

After singing it through twice, Emma said, "My goal for this group is to address issues you have as teenagers. I believe every issue can be addressed scripturally. So, what I want you to do is to text me issues throughout the week. Next week when we meet, we'll discuss it or them. I promise I won't reveal who texted me an issue." She thought a moment. "I'll get a box for next week, and you can also write down an issue and drop it in the box. Then it'll be anonymous. You might feel more comfortable that way."

Emma wrote her name and phone number on the board. "Along with that, I want you to know if you have a situation, you feel has gotten out of your control, you can call me, and I'll either talk it over with you or come get you. No questions asked."

She relayed part of her graduation party story but left out the names. "I was lucky. I called Dad. He came and brought me home. He asked no questions. After I went to bed, Mom came in. We discussed it and cried together. While in college, I discovered not everybody has that type of relationship with their parents. I want to offer it to you. Call me whenever necessary and I'll come get you. No questions asked. I promise."

Ben said, "Ms. Emma, I use my phone as an alarm, and it blocks all my calls during the night."

"Good point. So does mine. Let me think about that."

Seth held up his phone. "I have a solution. I have my police phone. I get calls on it often during the night. I'll give you that number. I live in the same neighborhood as Ms. Winters. If I get a call, I'll knock on her door, give her your number, and she can return the call."

Ashly said, "But you're the police chief, won't that be a little awkward?"

"All you're saying is you need Ms. Winters. I won't question it."

Emma nodded. "I know Chief Carter well enough to know he's good to his word." She smiled. "With me he's capable of keeping our friendship separate from being the police chief. Matter of fact, he has said, 'Now, I need to take off my friend hat and put on my police hat and ask some questions. He'll do that for you."

Seth wrote his name and number on the board. "I'd put it under Seth, so your friends won't know you have the police chief's number."

They agreed.

Releasing a deep breath, Emma said, "I need to say I'll keep whatever you tell me confidential, unless I feel you're in immediate danger, and then I'll tell Chief Carter. By that I mean if I feel your life is in danger. Understood?"

After they agreed, Emma continued, "Okay, now I want you to know we can have clean fun. Let's hear your ideas, I'll make a list on the board."

The teens started calling out ideas, from white-water rafting, to watching a professional baseball game, to fishing, picnicking, bowling, and others.

"All are great ideas. If something's just a few dollars, you can cover that yourself. The white-water rafting and the ball game will be expensive, so we'll need to do some fundraising."

Theresa called out, "How about a fifty's dance? We can supply food and music. People can dress up in fifty's outfits. I think it'll be fun. If we open it up to the church and community, we can collect a lot of money."

Emma nodded. "I like that idea." She paused, "I was thinking of booths at the July 4th celebration, an ice cream social, and hire a teenager."

"What's that?" asked Brad.

"An example would be a church member hires one of you to mow their lawn. All arrangements will be made through me. I'll collect the money. That way we'll always know where you're at and how much money we have. I'll start a youth group bank account. If our fundraising makes a lot of money, we can do more things. This is a working list, and we can always add to it or delete something." She glanced at her phone. "It's getting late, let's do something fun."

Casey went to a cupboard and grabbed a basketball. "Who's ready?"

Seth stole the ball. "Let's go." The teenagers rushed from the room.

Emma shook her head. "Hmmm? I just lost control."

After the game ended, a closing prayer, and the teens had left, Seth and Emma walked toward the police cruiser.

"How did your class go?" asked Emma.

"Better than I expected." Seth hesitated. "I wasn't thrilled Ms. Barton attended."

"Is that what Pastor Pat wanted to discuss?" He nodded, and she continued, "I hope she didn't cause trouble."

"She didn't until the end. She wanted to go to dinner and discuss her repentance." Emma avoided eye contact. So, Seth continued, "I told her I wasn't interested and if she needed to make a confession this wasn't the right place."

"I see."

"How do you think your groups went?"

"They went well. I'm glad you joined with the teens. Are you planning on becoming a regular?"

"I think so. I enjoyed it, and it helps build a relationship with them."

"I agree."

As they walked, Emma leaned her head against his arm. He glanced down. "Tired?"

She straightened up. "Sorry."

"Not a problem." He exhaled. "Hungry?"

"I'm starving. I was just thinking about dinner."

"Why don't I pick something up?"

"Because I have a lot of leftovers from Sunday, especially ham." She glanced at him. "There aren't any potatoes left. I ate them all."

He grinned. "We'll have ham, but only if you allow me to help."

"The way I feel right now, you can do the whole thing."

"Good."


Thank you, YouTube, for 'He's got the Whole World in his Hands.' This has always been one of my favorite songs because it accidently changed the direction of my life. My father was the teenagers' baseball coach. I was his scorekeeper. Anyway, his assistance coach had two young boys, about three and five years old. During a practice one of the boys asked me, "You know the song 'He's got the Whole World in his Hands?' I said, "I do." The young child continued, "Did God hold the whole world in one hand or two?" At that moment I knew I wanted to teach young children. Up until then, since Dad wouldn't pay for me to be a veterinarian, I thought I wanted to teach high school Spanish. This child's thinking outside the box influenced my life.






******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Author Notes Thank you google images for the image of a youth group poster, and YouTube for the 'He's got the Whole World in His Hands' video.

Chapter 19 is divided up into two parts. This is part 2 of Chapter 19. I do this so the posts aren't' as long. This post is a little over 1400 words.

I've returned from vacation. I had a great time. I'll be posting the letters to my granddaughters, again. Hopefully, starting Thursday. I have some interesting insight. LOL

I made major changes yesterday, then again as I posted today. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 32
Chapter 20

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 20 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As they walked, Emma leaned her head against his arm. He glanced down. "Tired?"

She straightened up. "Sorry."

"Not a problem." He exhaled. "Hungry?"

"I'm starving. I was just thinking about dinner."

"Why don't I pick something up?"

"Because I have a lot of leftovers from Sunday, especially ham." She glanced at him. "There aren't any potatoes left. I ate them all."

He grinned. "We'll have ham, but only if you allow me to help."

"The way I feel right now, you can do the whole thing."

"Good."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 20

Thursday morning proceeded as usual. Seth parked in front of Winters and turned off the police cruiser. "You didn't mention Ronald Calhoun last night."

"I don't want to think or talk about him." Emma stared through the windshield. "Maybe he's in town to visit his mom and then he'll leave."

"Having a plan might be a good idea."

"If I had a dog like Ace, I wouldn't need to worry, would I?"

Chuckling, Seth shook his head. "You're not giving up, are you?" He got out, walked around the cruiser, and opened her door. "I'd better get to work." As he opened the bakery door, he said, "I'll be in later. Have a good day."

"Thank you. Be safe. Think about the dog."

He grinned. "I will."

Emma watched him walk away. He's definitely one of the good guys.

Keith walked up behind her. "Is there a problem?"

"No. Everything's good. Just thinking about how nice Seth is."

"That he is. Are you making beignets this morning?"

She glanced at the clock. "I am. I'd better get busy."

*****
Midmorning, Ms. Sadie walked in and glanced around. "Emma, I don't see my boyfriend. Have I missed him?" She pointed to her shoes. "I have my dancing shoes on."

Emma hugged her. "Chief Carter must be busy. He hasn't been in. I'm sure he'll be here before long. He survives on coffee. Want your usual while you wait? As soon as he comes in, I'll start the music."

It wasn't long before Emma noticed Seth and Jake walk in. She smiled and motioned toward Ms. Sadie.

Seth grinned and walked over to Ms. Sadie and held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"

Ms. Sadie giggled. "Of course. I was afraid I'd missed you."

Jake walked up to Emma. "Start the music."

The song repeated twice, and then Seth and Jake went to their usual table. Emma brought them coffee and their pastries. Jake pointed at Seth's beignets. "How do I get one of those?"

Emma smiled. "All you need to do is ask."

"Then I'm asking. I want to see why my buddy likes them so much."

Returning with one, Emma waited until Jake tasted it. "Does it pass your inspection?"

"You make these?" After she nodded, he said, "It's really good."

"Is it better than your peach Danish?"

"It's close." Jake took another bite. "I might have to order both."

Seth chuckled. "Then you'll have to run an extra mile."

"True, but only when I'm here. Are we going to fit in a run this afternoon?"

Facing Emma, Seth asked, "Has Calhoun bothered you today?"

She shook her head. "I haven't seen him."

"Good." Seth checked the schedule on his phone. "We should have enough time around noon."

"What about lunch?" asked Jake.

Seth faced Emma. "Could we still get lunch about one-thirty or maybe two?"

"You two are a mess. You both know I'd see that you get lunch no matter how late you are. If I'm not here, Mom or Dad would too." Her name was called. "I need to get busy.

*****
Around five-forty-five, Ronnie walked in Winters and reached his arms out to hug Emma. "I heard you get off around six o'clock. Why don't we go to dinner and catch up?"

Emma backed away from the attempted hug and studied the front door. "Hello, to you too. I have plans." She prayed, Please God, don't let Seth be late tonight. I know he and Jake had a busy day.

"Sorry, hello." Ronnie squinted. "That's hard to believe. You used that excuse last night. You're busy two nights in a row?

"I am."

Seth's muscular body filled the door frame as he stood inside the door and studied the situation. "Emma, you ready?"

"Yes, as soon as I finish clearing my table."

He nodded.

Ronnie walked up to Seth and offered his hand. "Hello. I don't think we've met. I'm Ronald Calhoun. I'm sure Emma's mentioned me. I'm her former boyfriend, her first love. You know what they say about first loves. One never gets over them."

"Seth Carter. She's never mentioned you."

"I understand you're the police chief. I can't picture Emma dating a police officer, let alone the chief."

Emma walked up.

Seth kissed her cheek. "Ready?" When she nodded, he put his hand on the small of her back, led her to his cruiser, and opened the passenger door. "You okay?"

"Yes." She paused. "You left the impression we're dating."

"I'm hoping it'll cause him to leave you alone. Is that a bad thing?"

"No. Thank you." She released a deep breath. "It'll spread through the rumor mill and get back to Peggy."

He chuckled. "Maybe it'll solve both our problems."

Silence continued until Seth pulled in front of Emma's garage and parked. "I hope you didn't mind my familiarity."

"It was fine." Pink touched her cheeks. "I enjoyed it, a little."

Seth shook his head. "A little?" He got out and opened her door. "You can quit blushing any time." He offered her his hand. This young'un's a mess.

As Emma unlocked the front door, Molly ran up and jumped on her. "I missed you too." Then Molly rushed out the door to Ace and they romped and played.

Seth sighed as he answered his ringing phone. He spoke for a few moments before he said, "Sorry. I'm needed back at the station." He glanced at the cruiser, then at her. "I have a question, but it'll have to wait."

"No problem." As he turned to leave, she said, "Be safe."

"I will." Seth called Ace to bring Molly to the house. As he entered the cruiser, he added, "If you want, I'll call and let you know I'm home, unless it's really late."

"I'd appreciate it."

*****
It was close to eight-thirty when Seth called, "I'm home."

"Thank you for letting me know." Emma heard a loud bang in the background. "Everything okay?"

"I put dinner in the microwave. It blew up. See you in the morning."

"Bye."

*****
Later that evening, Molly ran from door-to-door barking and growling. Emma searched out each window but saw nothing. No matter what she tried Molly wouldn't settle down.

Eventually, Emma called Seth, "I'm sorry to bother you but Molly won't stop barking. It's not her normal barking, she's even bristled. She's done this for over a half an hour. She's really upset. I've never seen her like this. I've looked out the windows and don't see anything."

"Ace is pacing."

"Could he be upset because he hears Molly?"

"It's possible. I'm looking out the windows. I don't see anything." He paused. "I'm on my way. Don't unlock the door, until I let you know I'm there."

"Okay." Emma watched from the window and saw Seth and Ace jog down the lane. She switched to a back window when they went behind her cabin.

A few minutes later, Seth called, "You can open the front door." She opened the door, and he holstered his weapon. "I didn't see anything. Ace caught a scent. Has Fur Ball quieted?"

"She did about the time you went around back."

"Good. In the morning, I'll check for tracks."

"Thank you. Think it was an animal or a person?"

"I don't know."

"Thank you for showing up."

"Anytime." Seth turned to leave but paused. "Can I ask something?"

"Of course."

"You told me you dated Calhoun for a few months." He shook his head. "Never mind. It's none of my business."

Emma touched his arm, and then pulled her hand back. "I thought we agreed as friends we'd discuss things, so they don't affect our friendship."

Seth petted Ace. "You're right." He swallowed. "Calhoun stated he was your boyfriend and your first love. Then he mentioned how someone never gets over their first love. Was he your first love?" He turned. "Never mind. It's none of my business."

"Seth." Emma waited until he turned back, and their eyes met before she continued, "Ronnie could be classified as my first boyfriend. Really my only boyfriend. I never loved him. No, he wasn't my first love."

Emma faced the couch. "I know it's getting late, and we both need to get up early, but let's sit." After they sat, she continued, "My first and only love is Daddy. No other man has captured my heart."

"Keith would be a hard act to follow."

"I agree, but I have a feeling there's a man out there who can do it." Emma watched Molly so she avoided eye contact. "I believe God created a true love for each of us. How about you?"

"I agree."

"You've mentioned, you've been hurt and it's hard to trust women. Did you believe she was your soul mate?"

"As things continued, I realized how wrong she was. Getting over her was easy. Getting over the anger at myself for being so stupid was the hard part. I questioned myself. It made me realize I should never compromise my faith or values."

Emma tilted her head. "I remember you told me never apologize for who I am or my values."

"I believe that. No man worthy of you would ask that." Seth stood. "It's late and you're still recovering. You need to get to bed." He swallowed. "Maybe someday, I'll tell you about it."

Emma nodded and held Molly. "Thank you for coming down."

Seth opened the door. "Anytime. Goodnight. I'll be here at six-thirty."

"I'll be ready. Goodnight and thank you again.


Alcoa PD Git Up Challenge








******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Author Notes Thank you google images for the image of a kiss on a cheek, and YouTube for the 'Alcoa PD Git Up Challenge' video.

Chapter 20 is posted in its entirety. It's not a long as my previous chapter. This post is a little under 1600 words.

I made major changes on Friday and yesterday, then again as I posted today. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. As I posted the spacing messed up. I hope it's right now. Thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 33
Chapter 20 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 21 days ago.

SORT OF ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Okay." Emma watched from the window and saw Seth and Ace jog down the lane. She switched to a back window when they went behind her cabin.

A few minutes later, Seth called, "You can open the front door." She opened the door, and he holstered his weapon. "I didn't see anything. Ace caught a scent. Has Fur Ball quieted?"

"She did about the time you went around back."

"Good. In the morning, I'll check for tracks."

"Thank you. Think it was an animal or a person?"

"I don't know."

"Thank you for showing up."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 21 A

Early Friday morning, Emma finished preparing for work while Molly went onto the dog porch. Immediately she barked and growled.

"Molly, what's got into you?" asked Emma. "First last night and now this morning?" She went to the porch to get the small dog. Not seeing her, she called, "Molly, where are you? Seth will be here any minute. I don't have time for this. How'd you escape? Molly?"

*****
Seth parked in front of Emma's garage and opened the cruiser door. Ace jumped over the seat pushing his owner aside and ran toward the backyard. Seth followed.

The sound of growling and Emma screaming, caused Seth to un-holster his gun. As he turned the corner, he saw Emma hitting a large canine with a broom. The canine held Molly in its mouth. Ace attacked. As they fought, Molly fell to the ground. Seth fired his gun. The gun's sharp crack chased away the canine. Emma scooped up Molly's limp body.

Seth checked the blood on Ace and scanned the area. "Emma, we need to get Molly to the vet." He grabbed a blanket from the back of his cruiser and wrapped Molly in it.

As Seth drove, he called Carl. "Molly's been attacked, have Dr. Mason meet us at the vet clinic. Send a crime scene team to Emma's backyard." He listened. "Ace has a nasty bite, but is okay." After listening again, he said, "Not sure about Molly." He hung up.

They arrived the same time as Dr. Mason. Seth stepped from the cruiser. "Thank you for coming in early. I have two victims, Ace and a Pomeranian, Molly. She's hurt pretty bad." He stepped closer to the vet. "I'm paying for both dogs but keep it between us." He walked around and opened Emma's door. "Ready?" She nodded, and he took the blood-soaked blanket holding the small dog from her.

Dr. Mason showed them to an examination room and motioned for Seth to set Molly on the stainless-steel table. He carefully removed the blanket from the barely breathing dog. "Do you know what attacked her?"

"I saw it." Seth shook his head. "But not sure if it was a coyote, wild dog, or mixed."

Tears streamed down Emma's cheeks. "Will she be okay?"

The veterinarian's eyes met hers. "Right now, I can't promise. She's lost a lot of blood. Until I examine her, I won't know how deep the bites are or if any vital organs are involved. Why don't you wait in the lobby?"

As the doctor's words rang in Emma's ears, she collapsed into Seth's arms and melted against his chest before he led her to the waiting room. Silence continued as he held her until his phone rang. "Sorry, I need to take this."

With one arm around Emma, Seth said, "Carl, call Keith and let him know Emma won't be in." He listened. "Thank you. Any evidence?" He set his jaw. "Last night Molly and Ace knew something was wrong. The cut screen's how Molly escaped. See if you can get fingerprints and shoe imprints, maybe a trail. I'll be here a while."

*****
A few hours later Dr. Mason came into the lobby. "Chief Carter and Ms. Winters, please follow me." He led them to a private room.

He had moved Molly to a large pillow on the floor. An IV remained attached. Ace lay next to her. He raised his head when they entered and then lowered it.

The doctor pointed. "Ace won't leave her side. I cleaned and bandaged his wound. As a precaution, he'll need to take antibiotics for a few weeks." Watching Molly, he continued, "I've done all I can for her. She's a fighter that's for sure. She'll need to stay the night. You two might as well go home. I'll call after I close with an update." He glanced at Ace. "Chief, if it's all right, Ace can stay."

Seth nodded. "It's fine. They're best buds."

Emma swallowed. "Can I have a few minutes with her?"

"Sure." Dr. Mason turned to leave. "Tell one of the assistants when you leave. I need to make sure Molly's supervised."

Seth offered his hand. "We will. Thank you for everything." After the doctor shut the door, he watched Emma kneel next to Molly. "Do you need to be alone?"

"If you want, you can stay. I'm going to pray for God's healing hand," she paused, "if it's His will."

He knelt beside her and bowed his head.

After a few minutes, they stood, and Emma went into Seth's arms. "Thank you for staying."

He held her. "It's what friends do for friends."

*****
Inside Emma's house, Seth said, "The crime scene investigators are still here. If it's all right, I'm going to speak with them."

"I'm taking a shower. Maybe it'll make me feel better."

*****
When Seth returned inside, he peeked through her open bedroom door and saw her kneeling in prayer.

God, I come humbly before you. Thank you for all you've done in my life. Thank you for surrounding me with wonderful people. Molly needs your healing hand. I love that feisty little dog. If it's your will, please give Dr. Mason the knowledge to save her. I've missed two days of work this week. I'm not sure I can pay my bills. I want to be independent. I need guidance. Mom and Dad want me to move home. Should I? Please guide me. Amen.

She turned her head when she heard Jake's voice. "Seth, I thought you went to town." Silence. "Oh sorry."

Emma walked into the living room.

Seth's eyes met hers. "I wasn't eavesdropping." He watched for a reaction and got none so continued, "I came in to see if it's okay if I go to the hardware store. Jake's here so..."

"Thank you for thinking to ask. I don't mind you leaving. I'm fine."

He touched her hand. "You're not fine. It should only take about thirty minutes."

Jake moved closer. "I'll keep an eye on her."

When Seth left, Emma tilted her head. "Jake, you don't need to babysit. I'm okay, really."

He pulled her into a hug. "Pumpkin, I can tell from your eyes you're not okay. Seth's right to be concerned."

She forced a smile. "I'm surprised Daddy hasn't shown up. I have you, Pastor Pat, and now Seth, making sure I'm all right. I've been blessed with strong men in my life. But please do what you were doing. If I need you to hold my hand, I'll call."

He grinned. "Promise?"

"Yes. I promise."

*****
When Seth returned, he walked in and didn't see Emma. He checked the backyard, and she wasn't there. As he walked by the kitchen counter, he saw a ledger and glanced at it. It looks like she has thirty-one dollars left for groceries a week after bills are paid. I wonder if tips are figured in.

Emma walked in from the bedroom. "Seth, you're back."

He held up a sack. "I'm putting thumb-turn deadbolts on the front and both the garage doors, the one to the kitchen and the one to the backyard." He held up another form of a deadbolt. "I'm putting this on the porch door."

"Do you feel it's necessary?"

"If I didn't, I wouldn't do it." Seth glanced at the porch. "Someone cut the screen. That's probably what Molly and Ace were upset about last night. I think they were trying to get onto the porch. If they stretched their arm just right through the doggy door or cut it, they could reach the doorknob."

"Then they'd be inside."

"Yep. I'm placing this deadbolt high enough they won't be able to reach it. I have small shrubs, large rocks, and some cement blocks to put along the bottom. If the screen's cut, Fur Ball won't escape."

"Thank you." Emma started to say something, but paused and then faced her bedroom.

Seth touched her arm. "Emma?" She turned. "You were about to say something."

"Not really."

"You know you can talk to me about anything, don't you?"

Emma nodded. "Thank you, but I'm fine."

"I'll be outside repairing the screen."

*****
A little later Jake came in. "I'm getting a drink. It's hot out there."

"Help yourself. There's iced tea in the refrigerator." Emma hesitated and then asked, "Did Seth send you in to check on me?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Because you two are a tag team."

He grinned. "I'd prefer to believe 'great minds think alike.'" He brought his glass of tea over and sat on the couch beside her. "I've watched you grow into a beautiful young lady."

"Thank you. You're like an uncle or big brother. You've attended all my school and church events." She hugged him. "I don't think you've missed a birthday or holiday."

"I haven't." Jake paused, before he said, "I'd give anything if I could heal that little dog."

"I know. Dr. Mason's not sure she'll make it. It's a wait and see situation."

"Dr. Mason's a great vet. He's who we take all our K-9's to."

"I'm glad Seth recommended him. I'm sure he's expensive."

Jake hugged her before he continued, "Since you've now missed two days this week, I'm guessing you're worried about how you're going to cover next month's bills."

"I am. But don't even consider offering money. I won't accept it."

"I wouldn't think of it."

"Thank you."

His eyes met hers. "A different subject. Seth and I've known each other for seven years. Seth and your dad are my best friends. He's a great guy. If you were my daughter, I'd be very comfortable with Seth and your friendship. Just in case you're wondering."

"Why would I be wondering? We're only friends."

*****
Seth turned around when he heard a noise. "Keith, if you're looking for Emma, she's inside with Jake."

"I know. I heard them talking. I really wanted to catch you." When Seth stood from fixing the screen, Keith said, "I overheard Calhoun tell you he was Emma's first love. Although they dated, he lied."

"I know." Seth chuckled. "I spoke with Emma. She said you were her first love and still the only man in her life."

"I have a feeling there's a man capturing my daughter's heart. I wish him luck."

"I'm sure Emma's heart is large enough for both men."

"I bet you're right." Keith held up a sack. "I brought lunch and needed to check on my daughter."

They went inside and ate lunch.

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a coyote.

Chapter 21 is posted into two sections. I could've almost posted this chapter into three sections. This is part one of Chapter 21. This post is a little over 1700 words.

I made major changes on this post all week one. I hope the Emma's emotions come across. I hope I don't need to correct those corrections. Thank you for your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 34
Chapter 20 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 21 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"I know. I heard them talking. I really wanted to catch you." When Seth stood from fixing the screen, Keith said, "I overheard Calhoun tell you he was Emma's first love. Although they dated, he lied."

"I know." Seth chuckled. "I spoke with Emma. She said you were her first love and still the only man in her life."

"I have a feeling there's a man capturing my daughter's heart. I wish him luck."

"I'm sure Emma's heart is large enough for both men."

"I bet you're right." Keith held up a sack. "I brought lunch and needed to check on my daughter."

They went inside and ate lunch.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 21 B


Late that afternoon Seth finished fixing the dog porch, putting the deadbolts in place, and then stared out the back patio window.

"Thank you, for everything." Emma stood beside him. "I like those big rocks between the shrubs. I think I'll put some dirt in the crevices and plant hen-and-chicks." She paused. "Is it all right if I paint the cement blocks?"

"You can paint them any color you want," he teased.

"Even polka dots?"

Seth shook his head. "If you want to take the time to paint polka dots, feel free. I won't stop you. I think succulents will look good in the rocks."

"Thank you." She checked her phone. "I wish Dr. Mason would call."

"He said he'd call after he closes. He doesn't close for another twenty-five minutes." After a pause, he asked. "Any thoughts on dinner?" He watched her search the cabinets and refrigerator. "I'll run to my place and get something."

Seth started out the door, just as Keith drove up. When Keith stepped from his car, he held up a bag. "I brought dinner."

Emma hurried to him. "Daddy, you didn't need to." When she opened the sack, she said, "It's the marinated salmon from today's special."

"You weren't there, so nobody knew exactly how to prepare it. It won't last until next Friday, so..."

"Should we grill or bake it," interrupted Seth.

Emma tilted her head. "I say grill, but I don't have a grill."

Seth started out the door. "I'll get mine."

Keith stayed until Seth returned. As Seth lit the charcoal, Dr. Mason called. Emma put her phone on speaker, so Seth could hear.

"Molly's holding steady," said Dr. Mason. "I'm still pushing antibiotics and pain reliever, but other than that she's on her own. Ace has been a huge help. If she continues to improve, I'd say by late tomorrow afternoon, you can bring her home."

Emma bounced. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Seth said, "You made this young lady very happy."

"I can hear." Chuckled Dr. Mason.

Putting her phone in her back pocket, Emma said, "Prayers were answered."

"They were."

*****
Dinner and dishes were finished, before Seth asked, "Feel like a walk around the pond?"

Emma studied the pond. "Are there fish in that pond?"

"Good question. I've never seen anybody fishing it. Have you?"

"No. I wonder what feeds water to it. That probably should be the next question. It may not be safe."

As they walked toward the pond, Seth's phone rang. "Sorry. I need to take this." He stepped away. When he hung up, he ran his fingers through his short hair, before he said, "The shoe imprints outside the dog porch matched the prints taken when your gas was siphoned."

"So, it's the same person. Why? Who?"

"I don't have the answers."

"Would you tell me if you did?"

"If I knew, I'd tell you what I could. If I had information, I couldn't disclose I'd say that. My best guess is it's the man you gave the description of. He's probably the same man from the hardware store. Calhoun wasn't in town when your gas was siphoned." Seth studied her for a few minutes. "Do you need time alone?"

"Let's walk."

They continued until the sun set, mostly in silence.

Inside Emma's house, she walked around as tears welled in her eyes.

Seth studied her before he asked, "What are you thinking?"

"It's so quiet without Molly. I'm not used to silence."

"She wasn't quiet that's for sure." When Emma stared at him, he added, "In a good way. She was perpetually happy."

Emma sat on the couch. "I'm used to her always being beside me." She checked the time. "You probably need to go home."

"I'm not leaving you like this."

"You can't stay here, and I won't stay at your place."

"There's a man who at a minimum is stalking you. I'm not leaving you alone. You don't even have your dog to warn you. You're vulnerable."

"I won't be able to sleep without Molly. I'll hear everything."

Seth thought for a few moments. "Would you go camping with me?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Why?"

"I'll be right back." Seth left.

Emma watched him jog to his house. When he returned, he carried something, but she couldn't tell what. When he got closer, she asked, "What's that?"

"A sleeping bag and a few things we might need. Want to sleep on the back patio? I'd suggest that over outdoors. There's mosquitos out there."

"You're crazy." When his eyebrows rose and he grinned, she added, "In a nice sort of way."

"I'm just doing what a friend would do. Inside or out?"

"The porch would still be hot. How about on the floor? At least there's air conditioning." She sighed. "Until I can't afford to pay my electric bill."

"I won't allow that to happen." When she started to protest, he said, "Let's hold that argument until it becomes a problem. Then we can fight about it."

"Okay." She watched Seth go toward the garage. "Where you going?"

"Getting my other sleeping bag." When she started to speak, he said, "Don't ask. You don't want to know."

"You slept here after my accident, didn't you?"

"I plead the fifth." Seth motioned around the area with his arms. "Where do you want to set up?"

"Seth?"

"Emma?" He ignored her glare. "Where do you want the sleeping bags?"

"You're stubborn and bossy." She stood beside the couch. "Maybe if we move this, we'll have room here."

"Good idea." He stood in front of the couch and shoved it back a few feet. "How far? We'll need room to walk around."

"I think that's good. Can we have s'mores before bed?"

He chuckled. "I brought the ingredients just in case."

"Thank you."

"How upset are you with me?"

"After a few s'mores, probably not at all."

"Good. Then I'd better get the grill started. It should still be hot so won't take long."

As they roasted the marshmallows and watched the moon and stars, Emma said, "I miss my guitar. I needed it today. It helps me destress."

"Any thoughts on getting a new one."

"I'll have to save for months before I can afford one."

"Did you say anything to Elliot about replacing it?"

"It's been almost a week, and I haven't heard anything about the car. I doubt I'll even see that."

"You have a ride to work as long as you need."

"Thank you." She glanced toward the living room. "I guess we're ready." She went inside and crawled into a sleeping bag.

Seth turned off the lights and crawled into his. "Is there any way I can turn off some of the night lights. Maybe leave on only a kitchen and a bathroom one?"

"I guess I won't need them with you here."

"Thank you." He got up and turned them off. "Is this, okay?"

"Yes." After a few minutes of silence, Emma said, "Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

Time passed, before Emma reached for Seth's hand. He gave hers a squeeze.

During the night, their hands separated. Emma woke up. "Seth?"

"I'm right here." He took her hand and held it.


******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a couple sleeping in sleeping bags.

Chapter 21 is posted into two sections. This is part two of Chapter 21. This post is a little over 1200 words.

A reviewer asked if a dog could get blood transfusions. Yes, a dog can, but I decided not to go there, because it would make the story a lot long. It's very technical to give a dog a transfusion. Find the exact match is very difficult.

This week I only made minor changes, so I'm really worried I've messed up. Thank you for your help and suggestions. I appreciate you dropping by and leaving reviews and your support of my writing.


Chapter 35
Chapter 22

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 22 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Yes." After a few minutes of silence, Emma said, "Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

Time passed, before Emma reached for Seth's hand. He gave hers a squeeze.

During the night, their hands separated. Emma woke up. "Seth?"

"I'm right here." He took her hand and held it.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 22

While Emma dressed, Seth answered her door. "Carl, what brings you out this early on a Saturday?"

"Your signature. When you weren't home, I figured you're here." He held up a sack. "I brought breakfast."

"Thank you, but you didn't need to. You should've called, I would've come in."

"I'm worried about Emma."

Emma opened the bedroom door. "Hi Carl, thank you for being concerned, but I'm fine."

Hugging her, he pecked her cheek. "Your eyes aren't sparkling. You're not fine."

"I need to start wearing sunglasses. Too many people read my eyes."

Carl chuckled. "Don't do that. Your dancing green eyes bring us joy."

Seth poured a cup of coffee and held it out. "Carl, do you have time for a cup? It's fresh."

He handed Seth a manila file. "Not really. After you sign these, I need to get back to the station."

After Carl left, Emma asked, "Has Dr. Mason called?"

"Not yet. Ready for coffee?"

"Yes, please." Emma sipped the coffee. "This is good. Thank you." She licked her lips. "About last night..."

"Emma," interrupted Seth. "We're good friends. I'm glad I could help. Don't worry about it." He checked the sack Carl had left. "Ready for breakfast?" After she nodded, he handed her a Styrofoam container. "See what's in it."

Emma opened it. "An omelet. Are they both the same?"

"Mine has bacon on the side. How about yours?"

"Yes, and Texas toast."

"Yep." Seth opened a second sack. "Two cinnamon rolls."

Smiling Emma said, "My favorite." She answered her cell phone. "Dr. Mason, hello, how's Molly?" She put it on speaker and listened for a few moments. "Molly had a difficult night." Tears crept down her cheeks as she listened. "Changing her antibiotic should bring down her fever, right?" She set the phone on the counter.

"Emma?"

"I'm sure you heard. He'll call this afternoon. Ace hasn't left her side." Emma dried her tears. "Like you haven't left mine."

"And I'm not going to."

Seth studied Emma as they ate. Pouring himself another cup of coffee, he asked, "More?" After she accepted it, he continued, "Why don't we go on a picnic? I think it'd do us good to get out of the house."

"What if Dr. Mason or your office calls?"

"We have cell phones. People can contact us."

After thinking for a few moments, Emma said, "Okay. Any ideas for lunch?"

"Don't worry about it. I'll call in an order." He hesitated. "Not Keith either. He won't let me pay."

"True. Let me know what my half is."

"That's not going to happen."

"Do you ever get tired of being bossy?"

"What do you think?"

"Nope."

Seth grinned. "Then why'd you ask?"

"Since you put it that way, good question."

His eyes met hers. "What should I order?"

"I know it's not healthy, but I need comfort food. Can we have fried chicken, potato salad, Cole slaw, and biscuits?

"How about some fresh fruit and vegetables too?"

"Sounds good."

Before Seth made the phone call, he asked, "How long before you're ready?"

"Maybe thirty minutes."

After placing the order, Seth faced Emma. "I've been concentrating on your fur ball and haven't asked how you're feeling. It hasn't been a full week since your car accident."

"I'm doing well. My neck's still a little sore."

"And the bruising?"

"Still there. I have some interesting colors."

Seth grinned. "I'm sure. Have you followed up with the doctor?"

"I will Monday." When he frowned, she added, "I promise."

He scanned the area. "Since you're about ready, I'll get my pickup."

"It's not necessary. I can walk. Your place is really close. Any idea where we're going?"

"I might have one."

*****
As Seth parked, Emma asked, "Is this another one of your thinking spots?"

Chuckling, Seth said, "It is."

"Are we thinking or talking?"

He handed Emma a blanket. "Will you carry this?" He then picked up the sack. "How about a little thinking, some talking, and a lot of relaxing?"

"Sounds good."

When they arrived at a clearing, Emma laid the blanket on the ground and sat. "It's beautiful." She pointed. "I wonder how deep that river is flowing through those mesas."

Seth sat beside her. "I have no idea. I'm betting on another day we could drive over and see. It'd probably take a few hours to get there."

"Let's do that." Emma tilted her head. "You, Dad, and Jake never did go fishing, did you?"

"Nope. Life got in the way."

"That happens a lot. Maybe we can plan a fishing trip."

"Good idea."

Silence continued as they stared at the scenery and reflected on their own thoughts.

Emma laid back. "I enjoy cloud watching. Have you tried it?"

"Not since I grew up." He chuckled and laid back. "What am I looking for?"

"Different shaped clouds."

"See that small one?" Seth pointed. "It looks like a small tornado. It even has a spout."

"The idea is to see happy things in the clouds, not tornados."

"I guess I need some work."

Sometime later, Seth asked, "Getting hungry?" When she nodded, he set out the food. As he did, he tossed her a penny. "A penny for your thoughts."

Her eyes sparkled. "My thoughts cost more than a penny."

"I'm sure they do, but it'll have to do for now. What are you thinking?"

"How awesome God is. So much has happened. I've forgotten that."

"It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day garbage of life and forget." He pointed to the food. "Help yourself."

Emma picked up a chicken breast and took a bite. "God created all this beautiful scenery and those beautiful clouds." She smiled. "He also put wonderful people in my life. My parents, Ms. Sadie, Pastor Pat, Jake, and now you."

"Thank you. I can say the same for you. You've reminded me how important it is to enjoy life. I'd forgotten. My life revolved around work."

"I'm sure when you took this job and didn't know anybody, it was easy to do."

"Jake came around often. He had already introduced me to your dad. Carl was easy to get to know and became a quick friend. The rest of the force was accepting, but I still kept to myself."

"Can I ask why?"

"That would require me to open up."

"Sorry." She took another bite of chicken breast.

A long pause continued, before Seth said, "A few months after I arrived in Cedarville, I met this pretty young lady, Jillian." He chuckled. "To be honest she wasn't nearly as beautiful as you." He grinned at Emma's blush. "She was from Boston and was in town because her elderly grandma, Ellen, needed help in her final months."

"How did you meet Jillian?"

"Where else, but a coffee shop?" Seth rubbed his short stubble. "It seems I'm addicted to coffee. Jillian drank those fancy almond milk something or others. That should've been my first clue." He took a bite of chicken and chewed slowly. "There were clues I could've caught onto."

"Maybe you didn't want to."

"You're probably right. I took Ms. Ellen and her dog, Tina on walks. Tina was a sweet little beagle mix. Jillian wanted nothing to do with walking with her grandma or Tina." Staring off into space, he continued, "When Ms. Ellen needed to go to the store, I took her. It seemed as if she embarrassed Jillian. She'd always find an excuse not to go."

"I'm glad Ms. Ellen had you."

"Her last week of life was spent in hospice. I took the week off and stayed with her. I read to her, talked with her, and held her hand. Jillian never visited. She said she was too busy wrapping up her grandma's affairs."

Emma touched his hand. "I'm sorry."

"I figured Jillian would remain in Ms. Ellen's house, but Jillian immediately sold it and wanted to return to Boston."

"What happened to Tina?"

"Jillian said she'd found a nice family who adopted her." Seth exhaled. "I discovered six months later she'd placed her in the pound. If I'd have known that I would've taken her."

Seth stood, walked around, and then sat again. "Jillian convinced me we should become engaged, and I should move to Boston. She said her family would help me get a job with the police department. I sent applications to Boston's police department." He paused. "Or I thought I did. I filled them out. Jillian said she'd mail them. I found out later she never did."

Emma's hand flew over her mouth but remained silent.

"I quit my job, and we went to Boston. To make a long story short, I went to the police department to see about my job prospects and discovered they never received my application."

"What did you do?"

"I approached Jillian, and she abruptly explained I'd be working in her father's company and should report to work the following morning. Not only that, but I was also to upgrade my dressing habits, jeans and T-shirts wouldn't be appropriate for an office job. I'd be required to wear a three-piece suit." He glanced at his feet. "Cowboy boots weren't allowed either."

"It seems Jillian had your life planned."

"You're right. My purpose was to be eye-candy on her arm."

"Seth, I'm sorry. I can see why you struggle trusting women."

"I allowed Jillian to manipulate my life. I had trusted her. It took a long time to get over being angry with myself for allowing her to do it. There were all sorts of missed signals, the way she treated her grandma and Tina. The wedding never happened. I returned to Texas and got my old job back."

"Thank you for trusting me enough to share this." Emma glanced at her ringing phone. "It's Dr. Mason."

As Emma's eyes sparkled, Seth began packing. She put away her phone, and he said, "I can tell by your eyes that Molly's coming home. Ready?"

"I am. Dr. Mason thinks she'll heal faster at home. I hope Dad doesn't mind her coming to work."

"I'm sure he won't."

*****
At the veterinarian clinic, Dr. Mason explained how to care for Molly, her medicine and special diet.

Dr. Mason lifted Molly still on the pillow he'd had her on. "You can take this home. It has a board on the bottom for extra support. She'll need to remain on this for a few days. The less she's moved the better. I want to see her in one week, before if necessary."

Emma reached for Molly, but Seth took her. "I'll carry her. At the car, I'll hand her to you."

"Good idea." Emma's eyes met Dr. Mason's. "How much do I owe?"

"Nothing. Everything's been paid in full."

"By whom?"

"They've asked to remain anonymous."

Emma faced Seth. "Did you have anything to do with this?"

Dr. Mason cleared his throat. "Molly's bill was divided by four."

"Dad, Jake, Pastor Pat, and Seth; my four guardians." Emma reached up and kissed Seth's cheek. "Thank you."

"Thanks for the kiss, but..."

"Are you denying any part of this?" interrupted Emma.

"Thank you, Dr. Mason. We need to let you get back to work and Molly home." Seth turned to leave. "Emma, are you coming?"

She followed. "You can ignore my question all you want, but I already know the answer."

"I see no reason for continuing this conversation."

"Grrr, you're frustrating."

"Get in. I'll pass you this bundle." As he did, he said, "There really was a dog under all that fur, a tiny dog, but a dog."

Studying Molly, Emma asked, "She's going to be all right, isn't she?"

Seth touched her arm. "I think so or Dr. Mason wouldn't have let her come home."

*****
After dinner, Emma went to the garage and grabbed a sleeping bag. When she returned, she asked, "Can I borrow this tonight? I don't want Molly to be alone and she's not ready for my bed."

"I doubt Ace is ready to leave her. I know I'm not ready to leave either of you."

"Seth?"

He stared at her.

Emma frowned. "I'm going to lose this one, aren't I?" After he grinned, she said, "Not surprised." She watched Seth go to the garage and get the other sleeping bag.

When Seth returned, Emma said, "You can't continue staying here."

"I don't plan on it. Right now, Molly's vulnerable. Ace would never forgive me if I let anything happen to her."

"Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?"

He ignored the question and picked up the TV remote control. "There's a ball game on. Want to watch?"

"Sounds good. I'll probably spend most of my time staring at Molly." She checked her phone. "In twenty minutes, I'll need to give her some medicine and try some food."

"I'll help. It may take both of us."

*****
Seth held Molly's weak body as Emma gave her tiny sips of liquid antibiotics from an eye dropper. After she was sure it stayed down, she attempted a few drops of water and the liquid food.

When they finished, Seth set Molly back on the pillow and covered her. He glanced at Emma and saw moisture in her eyes. "She's getting stronger all the time."

"I know." Then she whispered, "I think."

Putting his arm around her shoulders, he said, "She is."

Emma watched a little of the game, but most of the time watched Molly.

When it came time for bed, Emma asked, "What are your plans for tomorrow?"

"Are you asking about church?" After Emma nodded, Seth said, "I figured you'd go."

"Think it would be okay if Molly attended?"

"I doubt Pastor Pat can deny you anything. I'm concerned about Ace. He won't want to leave her."

"We'll figure it out in the morning." Emma crawled into her sleeping bag.

Seth checked the doors and turned off the lights before he got in his.

After studying Molly, Emma sighed and reached for Seth's hand. "Goodnight."

Seth used his thumb and caressed her hand. "Goodnight."


******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a cloud shape. I still enjoy looking for cloud shapes. My young granddaughters and I did it this summer. Please take time to do it. It's very relaxing.

Chapter 22 is posted in its entirety. Until yesterday I originally was going to post it in two sections. I hope putting it together I didn't mess it up. It's a little under 2400 words. It would've been two shorter posts. A few reviewers have mentioned, they wished I'd post longer. I will post it high, so you're rewarded for reading.


Chapter 36
Chapter 23

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 23 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Are you asking about church?" After Emma nodded, Seth said, "I figured you'd go."

"Think it would be okay if Molly attended?"

"I doubt Pastor Pat can deny you anything. I'm concerned about Ace. He won't want to leave her."

"We'll figure it out in the morning." Emma crawled into her sleeping bag.

Seth checked the doors and turned off the lights before he got in his.

After studying Molly, Emma sighed and reached for Seth's hand. "Goodnight."

Seth used his thumb and caressed her hand. "Goodnight."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 23

After Seth parked in the church parking lot, he opened Emma's door. "I'll carry Molly."

As Emma climbed out, Ace jumped from the pickup bed. Seth shook his head. "Buddy, you can't go inside. You'll have to wait here."

Ace followed but waited inside the vestibule as Emma and Seth entered the sanctuary.

Pastor Pat rushed to Emma and hugged her. "I'm sorry I didn't come by. Hazel Hunter died early Friday morning, and I've been with her family."

"I understand. I know you prayed and were with me in spirit." Emma glanced at Seth. "This guy never left my side." After the pastor nodded toward Seth, she kissed the pastor's cheek. "Thank you for helping with the veterinarian bills."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Pastor Pat turned toward the pulpit. "I'd better get busy."

Once they sat beside her parents, Seth handed Emma the pillow holding Molly.

Pastor Pat welcomed everyone and then stared at the back door before he motioned for an usher. "Amos, please open the door. We have a distinguished member of our police force in the vestibule." He faced Seth. "Chief Carter, ask Ace to sit beside you."

When the door opened, Seth said, "Ace." Once the large dog entered, he gave him hand signals on where to walk. At Seth's side Ace sniffed and licked Molly before he lay down.

"Now, I'll begin." Pastor Pat mentioned happenings in the life of the church. After he announced all the Apostles' Creed classes, he added, "Seth's leading a young adults' class that meets Wednesdays from six until seven o'clock. There's room for one more. See me if interested."

Pastor Pat held out his hand. "Emma, please come forward." He waited until she handed Molly to Seth. "Emma's leading our youth groups. Please share what's happening with the youth."

Emma explained what they'd discussed and then all the fundraisers. "One teen suggested a fifties themed dance. I think it's a great idea. Wednesday when we meet, we'll schedule it along with the rest of our activities."

As Emma started toward her seat, Pastor Pat said, "Emma, wait. Last Sunday you were in the car accident which damaged your guitar." He went to the organ and held up a guitar case. "The congregation donated money to replace it." He handed it to her. "All we ask is for you to bless us with songs."

Tears streamed down Emma's cheeks as she opened the case. "A Gibson! It's too much. I can't accept this."

Pastor Pat put his arms around Emma. "We wanted to do this for you. The congregation was anxious to help." Once Emma got her emotions under control, he asked, "Could you play for us?"

Emma released a deep breath before she played a few chords. "Thank all of you for this. I'm sorry. I'm overwhelmed." She took some deep breaths. "Okay. I'll sing 'Shine, Jesus Shine'. Feel free to join me."

The congregation asked for a few special requests that she willingly sang. When Emma rejoined her parents, Seth, and the dogs, Seth held her hand. "You, okay?"

"Not really," she whispered.

"I'm here."

She briefly touched her head against his arm and whispered, "I know. Thank you."

When the service ended and the congregation gathered on the lawn, Ms. Sadie came up and hugged Emma. "We were happy to replace your guitar. We watched you grow up and love you."

Emma kissed her cheek. "Thank you."

Sadie's eyes met Seth's. "Take care of her. I can't wait for the fifties dance. Save me a dance."

Seth shook his head. "I'll save you two."

"You know I'm holding you to that, don't you?"

"Sure do."

Ms. Sadie held Emma's hand. "Bye, dear." She followed her ride to the car and said over her shoulder, "I'm wearing my dancing shoes to the bakery next week."

Before long, Susan and Keith came up, and Keith asked, "Ready to head to the house? Seth, you know you have a permanent seat at our dinner table, don't you?"

Seth chuckled. "I didn't but do now. Thank you. We'll follow." He pointed toward his pickup. "I parked over there."

*****
As they headed toward the vehicle, Mr. Elliot walked up with Marc beside him. George said, "Ms. Winters, your voice is beautiful. You never mentioned your guitar was damaged. You should've. We would've seen to it that it was replaced."

"Thank you."

"What day next week is good to get together?"

"I work every day but come to the bakery. We can talk in Dad's office."

Marc stared at Molly on the pillow which Seth carried. "What happened?"

Seth used his free hand and gently petted her. "She was attacked. We're not exactly sure by what."

"Will she be all right?"

"Probably. She's a fighter." Seth chuckled. "In her opinion, she won."

Mr. Elliot glanced around the emptying parking lot. "We need to get going. I'll see you in the middle of the week."

Emma nodded. "I look forward to it."

Seth and Emma continued toward his pickup.

*****
At her parents' home, Emma said, "Mom, as soon as I give Molly her medicine and some food, I'll help in the kitchen."

Seth followed Emma. "I'll hold Molly." As he did, he said, "While you were singing Molly held her head up. I think it helped."

"I hope so."

*****
A little later, Keith and Seth went outside while Emma and Susan finished preparing dinner.

As they shot hoops, Jake drove up and greeted both men before he said, "Seth, I figured you'd be here. I need your department's support. Can we talk?"

"It's Sunday," interrupted Keith, "Why don't you stay for dinner? I'm sure this can wait an hour or so."

Jake agreed to share dinner as Pastor Pat joined them.

*****
Emma stood at the door, called to the men, and then said to her mom, "Jake's here. I'll set another place."

Once everyone had entered the dining room, Emma walked up to Jake and held both his hands. "Thank you for helping pay Molly's vet bills." She pecked his cheek and then turned toward her parents. "Mom, Dad, thank you for the help with the vet bills. I hope you all know I appreciate it, but I'd have figured out some way to pay them myself."

Jake grinned. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I have no clue what she's talking about. Do you?"

Everybody agreed they didn't.

Finally, Susan said, "Let's eat. Pat, will you bless the food?"

*****
When they'd finished eating, Emma and Susan gathered dishes, as Seth's eyes met Emma's. "Jake and I have something to discuss. We need to go to the police station. I don't know how long it'll take. I can either drop you at your place or come back and get you." He paused. "If you want, I can ride with Jake, and you can take my pickup home."

Pastor Pat joined the conversation. "I'll take Emma home."

Emma nodded. "I'll wait here. If it gets too late, I'll ride home with Pastor Pat."

Seth glanced at Ace lying next to Molly. "Pastor Pat, do you mind giving Ace a ride? He doesn't like leaving that fur ball."

Keith teased, "She's hardly a fur ball any longer."

Chuckling, Seth agreed, "You're right. I didn't believe there was a dog under all that, but I was wrong. Ace has decided it's his job protecting her."

Jake grinned. "Like his handler has appointed himself protector of her owner."

Pink touched Seth's ears. "No idea what you're talking about." He hesitated. "Are we going to do this or not?"

*****
Later that evening, Seth knocked on Emma's door. When she answered, he said, "I thought I'd drop by and get Ace. I hope he didn't cause problems."

"Of course, not. He's always a perfect gentleman." Emma studied Seth's face for a few moments. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." He exhaled. "In the morning, I need to leave about four-fifteen. We have a joint mission. I've already spoken with your dad. He'll be by just before seven to get you."

"Thank you." Emma fingered her braid, before she asked, "Will it be dangerous?"

"Probably not, but there's always the possibility something could go wrong."

She checked the time. "Since you have an early morning, you'd better get home." She turned toward Ace. "Buddy, you need to leave."

Seth stepped further in the room. "Before I go, I'll help give Molly her medicine and some food."

"Thank you. I appreciate it."

They worked mechanically avoiding conversation and eye contact.

Before Seth left, he said, "I have an idea how Molly can sleep with you." He glanced around the room. "If we move some chairs to the side of the bed she sleeps on, she won't risk rolling off. You'll be on the other side. She'll still be on her pillow. What do you think?"

"It'll work."

They moved chairs along the left side of the bed to ensure Molly couldn't fall off.

After Seth left, Emma watched him drive up the lane. "Dear God, thank you for all you've done for me. Please protect Seth and all the officers taking part in tomorrow's mission. Amen."

She sighed and got ready for bed.

~~~~~
I'd also like to announce that a dear friend and great author just released a novel 'Grain of Wheat Broken Promises' by Charles Ezell. We know him as Ben Colder. You can find it on Amazon.com.
~~~~~


Thank you YouTube for 'Shine Jesus Shine'




******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a small dog after it's been attacked. I also want to thank YouTube for 'Shine Jesus Shine'.

Chapter 23 is posted in its entirety. This post I had intended posted it in its entirety because it's a shorter chapter. Of the reviewers who commented on the length, 4 said they liked it and 1said it was too long because it took too long to read. This post is a little over 1550 words.

Question: Someone has said they see no romance in this novel. I'd like your opinion on this. Thank you.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 37
Chapter 24

By barbara.wilkey

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

This post has mild violence, so I did put a violence warning on it. There is nothing graphic in it.

I'd like to welcome those reviewers who dropped by for the first time. I appreciate the time you take to read it. Please understand this novel is about 60% complete and this is the 24th chapter. The entire novel has 37 chapters. You may not completely understand all the relationships going on. I will welcome all questions. Please enjoy.

Seth and Emma met 24 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

She checked the time. "Since you have an early morning, you'd better get home." She turned toward Ace. "Buddy, you need to leave."

Seth stepped further into the room. "Before I go, I'll help give Molly her medicine and some food."

"Thank you. I appreciate it."

They worked mechanically avoiding conversation and eye contact.

Before Seth left, he said, "I have an idea how Molly can sleep with you." He glanced around the room. "If we move some chairs to the side of the bed she sleeps on, she won't risk rolling off. You'll be on the other side. She'll still be on her pillow. What do you think?"

"It'll work."

They moved chairs along the left side of the bed to ensure Molly couldn't fall off.

After Seth left, Emma watched him drive up the lane. "Dear God, thank you for all you've done for me. Please protect Seth and all the officers taking part in tomorrow's mission. Amen."

She sighed and got ready for bed.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 24

It was almost four o'clock Monday morning, when Seth prepared to leave for the station and noticed Emma's light on. What's she doing up this early? I'd better check.

Moments later, he knocked on her door. When she answered, he asked, "Is everything okay?"

Emma watched Ace go into her bedroom. "I guess he wants to check on Molly."

"I'm sure he does, but you didn't answer my question. You're not normally up this early. Is something wrong?"

She avoided eye contact. "No."

"Are you sure?" When Emma nodded, Seth said, "Then I need to get going." He called, "Ace, let's go."

As Ace walked by Emma, she knelt, hugged him, and kissed his muzzle. She stood and her eyes met Seth's. "He's wearing a bulletproof vest."

"He is."

Studying Seth, she said, "So are you."

"I am." After a moment of silence, Seth said, "I doubt we'll need them, but I like to be prepared, just in case." He checked the time. "I need to leave."

Emma watched him walk away with Ace at his side. "Seth?" She hurried to him. When he turned, she threw her arms around him and squeezed.

Seth pulled her closer. She almost melted into my chest.

When Emma backed away, her eyes were filled with moisture. "Please be careful."

He dried a tear. "I will. When I return, I'll let you know." His eyes met hers. "Thank you for being concerned."

*****
The drive to the bakery Monday morning was silent. Keith commented, "I don't think I've ever known you not to talk. What's going on?"

"Nothing," answered Emma.

"If I were a betting man, I'd bet you're worried about Seth." Keith glanced at his daughter. "Jake says Seth's one of the best cops he's seen. You trust Jake's opinion, don't you?"

"Yes, but he's wearing a bullet proof vest."

"It's probably precautionary."

"That's what he said."

"He dropped by?"

"Sort of. He noticed my light and wanted to make sure everything was okay."

Keith shook his head and grinned as he parked at the bakery. "Imagine that. Get inside and make that man some beignets. He'll want them when he returns."

"You're right." Emma sighed. "I told Seth I'd see the doctor today for my follow-up."

Her dad nodded. "Good idea."

*****
Mid-morning, after her doctor's appointment, Emma walked toward the bakery and noticed police cruisers returning to the station's parking lot.

Seth headed for the bakery as Peggy ran to him, encompassed him in a hug, and stated loudly, "I'm so glad you're back."

Seth removed her arms from around his neck and followed Emma into the bakery. "Emma?" When she turned, his eyes met hers. "She hugged me. I didn't hug her. I was on my way here." He cupped her elbow, led her into Keith's office, and closed the door.

"I'll get your coffee and beignets." She reached for the door handle.

He used his body and blocked her. "I didn't come for coffee. I came to let you know I'm back. Don't let Ms. Barton..." He hesitated. "This morning, I thought you were worried. I guess I was wrong." He started to open the door.

Emma covered his hand with hers. "I was. I appreciate you telling me." She swallowed attempting to stop tears.

Seth wiped an escaped tear from her cheek. "She's not worth it. You're the first person I wanted to see."

"Really?"

"Really." Seth scanned the office. "I need to get back. We'll talk later. We okay for now?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"Good. I'll be by for lunch, and we'll give Molly her medicine and food." Seth opened and then closed the door. "I noticed you came from the doctor's office. Did he clear you?"

"Yes. I'm officially healed."

"Glad to hear it." He started to leave. "If Ms. Barton attacks me again, it means nothing."

"Thank you for saying that."

Seth gave Emma a brief hug.

Once he entered the restaurant area, cheers and claps were heard. One patron yelled, "We saw on the news how you guys raided a meth lab and also found suspected fentanyl tablets. We appreciate you getting this off the streets and arresting those pushers."

"You're welcome," said Seth as he walked out the door. He glanced back and his eyes met Emma's, he paused, and gave a nod.

Emma's smile lit her face.

*****
Both Seth and Emma were quiet on the way home that evening. At Emma's, Seth opened the cruiser door and carried Molly. Inside Emma said, "I'll throw something together for dinner."

"You don't need to. I'm needed at the station. I'll grab something there." He glanced at Ace. "Do you mind if I leave him? I'll get him when I return."

"Of course. I'll see you then."

*****
Carl was ready to leave the station when he heard a noise from the basement and went to check. "Chief, you're still here. I thought you left hours ago."

"I had paperwork so came back."

Scanning the area, Carl grinned. "This looks like a workout, not paperwork. I know you have a great gym at home, so I'm guessing this is a female problem, particularly Emma."

Seth kicked the training bag. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You can deny it all you want, but I've noticed the way you look at each other and how protective you are of her."

"She's young. There's a lot of bad people out there."

"Your feelings go beyond that."

"Have you appointed yourself my therapist?"

"Nope, but I am your friend. What's going on?"

Seth kicked the bag once more and then sat. "She's almost eight years younger than me. She's a baby."

Carl grinned, shook his head, and whistled. "She doesn't look like a baby. She looks like a full-grown woman." When Seth started to speak, Carl continued, "Don't tell me you haven't noticed. You're not blind."

"I've noticed. That's the problem."

"Buddy, Emma's intelligent, fun, and one of the kindest people around. I know you've fallen for her. You're lucky she feels the same. Not many men could capture her heart. I've known some who've tried and failed. What's the problem?"

"The age difference."

"It doesn't seem to bother her. I know you don't share thoughts or feelings, but you need to." Carl glanced at the stairs. "Get your butt home and talk with this woman!"

*****
On the dog porch Emma played the guitar and sang with Ace and Molly. She stood when she heard the front door. "Seth's here. I'll be right back."

Emma went inside and the door closed behind her. She froze.

He walked toward her. His wicked eyes glared through her. He aimed his Smith and Wesson .38 revolver at her. "We're alone."

Emma turned her head as Ace growled, teeth bared, and tried to break through the door. "What do you want?"

"It seems both your protectors aren't available." His menacing laugh filled the room. He used his free hand to remove a knife from its sheath.

Emma backed up.

He moved closer until her back pressed against a wall.

He maliciously cackled.

Tears flowed and her voice trembled, "Don't!"

Using the knife, he sliced her blouse and ran his index finger along the edge of her bra.

He started cutting her bra, as Seth opened the front door. "Why's Ace barking?"

The intruder turned and fired.

Seth fell.

Ace's 150 pounds repeatedly hitting the door knocked it in. He leaped and grabbed the assailant's arm. The weapon fell to the floor.

Emma rushed and picked it up.

As she aimed at the attacker, Seth yelled, "Ace! Down!"

Emma took the shot.

The man dropped to the floor.

She grabbed her blouse, knelt beside Seth, wadded it up, and put pressure on his shoulder/upper arm wound.

Seth motioned her to get his phone from his back pocket. "I need to call this in." He told her what buttons to push. He used his good hand to hold the phone and made the necessary notifications.

His eyes met Emma's. "Are you hurt?"

"I'm fine." She stared at the blood-filled blouse. "Better than you. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. I should've been here. Why was Ace out back?"

Emma explained why they were outside. "I left the door unlocked because I knew you'd return." She gulped. "I think he's dead."

"I'm glad Keith taught you to handle a gun."

She nodded. "Me too."

They both glanced around as sirens sounded coming down the lane.
Moments later, the emergency team, police, and crime scene investigators filled the house.

Before long Jake entered. "I'll help you get a blouse." They went into her bedroom. After Emma put it on, he held her. "Tell me everything. Don't leave anything out."

Emma told the story, and then Jake asked, "After he cut your blouse, did he touch you?"

Tears streamed down her cheeks as she moved her hands above her bra. "He ran his finger here and started to cut my bra, then Seth arrived."

"Did you tell Seth?"

She shook her head. "Please don't."

"I have to. It needs to be in the report."

The lead emergency worker stood in the doorway. "Sheriff Baker, we need to transport the victims to the hospital."

Jake nodded and put his arm around Emma. "Let's go."

"I'm not a victim. I'm fine."

"You're a victim. I'll call your parents. They'll meet you there."

*****
While they examined Emma, Jake called Pastor Pat and checked on Seth.

Once Emma was released, she stopped at the nurses' station and asked about Seth. After being given his room number, she hurried to him.

Peggy Barton stood outside his door, so Emma remained back. How'd she find out? Maybe I should leave. No, I need to make sure Seth's all right.

Peggy stepped closer. "Why are you here? Haven't you done enough?" Before Emma could answer, Peggy continued, "You're trash like your slutty mom."

"How dare you!" Emma didn't back down. "Mom's a wonderful person."

"You're adopted. Your mom's a crack whore." Peggy's attack continued, "You were born addicted to crack." She pointed her finger at Emma. "You're nothing but a white trash tramp. Do you really believe a man like Seth would want you?"

As Jake and Carl came from Seth's room, Jake stated, "Barton, leave!"

"I will not!"

Emma's tear-filled eyes met his. She turned and ran.

He went after her. "Emma!"

*****
Pastor Pat walked up. "What did I miss?"

Carl explained what Peggy had said.

Glaring at Peggy, Pastor Pat said, "This is low even for you. You need to leave and don't return."

Peggy pulled her shoulders back but turned to leave.

*****
As Emma left the hospital, Keith and Susan walked up. Emma glared at them. "My life's been a lie."

Jake followed behind and answered their questioning look, "She just found out she's adopted."

Susan fell into Keith's arms.

Continuing after Emma, Jake said, "I'll talk to her."

Pastor Pat stopped to assist Keith and Susan.

Jake caught up with Emma and encouraged her to sit on an outside bench. At first, they sat in silence with only the sound of her crying.

Eventually, Emma asked, "How long have you known?"

"Almost twenty years."

"The Winters told everybody but me."

"It wasn't like that. Mary and I had tried but failed to have a baby. Keith told me how adoption filled that emptiness in their lives. We had started the adoption process when Mary died."

"I'd forgotten you were married. I was young when your wife died. I'm sorry."

"You were maybe three?"

"Probably." She stared into space. "My whole life's been a lie."

"Not really." Jake took her hand. "Did you ever doubt you were loved?"

"Keith and Susan were good to me. But that's not the same as being my parents."

"How would biological parents have been different?"

"They just would."

"Give me examples."

When Emma didn't respond, Jake continued, "Keith and Susan, as foster parents, took in a sickly baby. They fell in love with that baby and chose that baby to be part of their family. You were about a month old. Since that time, they gave you all the love humanly possible. I've heard you say they were perfect parents. Now you're telling me they're not?"

"They should've told me I was adopted."

"Probably, but is that an unforgivable sin?" Jake pointed over his shoulder. "They're worried and love you. Go to them."

Emma stood and crept to Keith and Susan.

Through her tears, Susan said, "We're sorry we didn't tell you. At first you were too young."

Keith drew Emma into a hug. "We waited for the right time. I guess it never came. I'm sorry you found out this way."

"The entire town knew."

Susan nodded, and Keith said, "Probably. It's impossible hiding a baby." He paused. "Let's go home and discuss it."

Emma inhaled a deep breath. "I'm going to my home. I need time to think."

Jake stepped closer. "That's impossible. It's a crime scene. I'll repair your back door in the morning."

"What about Molly and Ace? Molly needs medicine."

"Go home with your parents. I'll bring the dogs."

Pastor Pat stood in the distance. "Emma, I'll take you to your parents'. Jake will get the dogs and the medicine. I'll drive slowly and give you time to think."

Scanning the area as she thought, Emma asked, "Are you going to give me one of your talks?"

"I don't think I have one for this situation."

"Okay."

As Emma got into Pastor Pat's car, he said, "When your house is cleared, I'll have the women's organization come in and clean. You should be home by the afternoon."

"Thank you, but I can clean it."

"I don't want you to."

She nodded.

After driving around town in silence and taking the long route to Emma's parents, Pastor Pat parked in their driveway. "The only advice I'm sharing is to listen to your heart."

When Emma opened the front door, she hugged her parents.

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a German Shepherd wearing a bullet proof vest.

Chapter 24 is posted in its entirety. I'll post it high to reward you for the time it takes to read it. This post is a little over 2300 words.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 38
Chapter 25 A

By barbara.wilkey

YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE LOVE WHEN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THEIR SOUL, BEFORE YOU TOUCH THEIR SKIN.

Seth and Emma met 25 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Jake stepped closer. "That's impossible. It's a crime scene. I'll repair your back door in the morning."

"What about Molly and Ace? Molly needs medicine."

"Go home with your parents. I'll bring the dogs."

Pastor Pat stood in the distance. "Emma, I'll take you to your parents'. Jake will get the dogs and the medicine. I'll drive slowly and give you time to think."

Scanning the area as she thought, Emma asked, "Are you going to give me one of your talks?"

"I don't think I have one for this situation."

"Okay."

As Emma got into Pastor Pat's car, he said, "When your house is cleared, I'll have the women's organization come in and clean. You should be home by the afternoon."

"Thank you, but I can clean it."

"I don't want you to."

She nodded.

After driving around town in silence and taking the long route to Emma's parents, Pastor Pat parked in their driveway. "The only advice I'm sharing is to listen to your heart."

When Emma opened the front door, she hugged her parents.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 25 A

Mid-afternoon Tuesday Jake drove Emma home, and on the way, she asked, "Have you seen Seth?"

"Yes, I saw him before I picked you up. He should be released later today." When her eyes widened, he teased, "I think they're anxious to get rid of him. He's not a good patient."

"Probably true. He doesn't like following orders. He'd rather give them."

Jake chuckled. "You know him too well." He paused. "The ladies have finished cleaning. I fixed the backdoor and put on a new handle. Ace can open this one. There won't be a need for him knocking it down."

"Hopefully, he'll never have another reason to."

"True. It might be hard for you to be there for a while. I'll stay with you."

"You don't need to."

"We'll see." Jake parked in her driveway and got out. He opened her door and then carried Molly and her pillow. "Ace, come on."

Emma stared at the front door before she inserted the key.

Jake watched. "Pumpkin, you don't have to do this. You don't have to prove how strong you are. I already know."

She exhaled and continued, "I need to prove it to myself."

Ace leaned his head into her arm.

Emma petted the large dog. "I know you're here for me, too." She swallowed and turned the key and doorknob, but held it shut.

As she glanced at Jake, he said, "I'm right beside you."

She nodded and opened the door. Hesitantly she stepped inside and searched the area. "It looks normal."

"It does." He held up Molly. "Where do you want this little one?"

She walked over by the TV and pointed. "We put her pillow here. I think it's as good a place as any." She studied the little dog. "She's looking better every day, don't you think?"

"Before long, she'll be getting into things."

"That's true." Emma walked toward the kitchen. "Would you like something to drink?"

"A glass of tea would be nice." Jake answered his ringing phone and walked to the front porch.

When he returned, Emma handed him the tea. "If you need to leave, I'll be all right."

Jake glanced at his watch. "Seth should be home in about an hour." He picked up her new guitar. "I haven't heard you play for a while. Why don't you play something?"

"If it's a trick to make me feel better, it's not necessary."

He chuckled. "I honestly enjoy listening to you play."

She sat and tuned the guitar. "Any requests?" She played and hummed, 'Grandpa, Tell me about the Good Old Days'.

"You know that's one of my favorites, don't you?"

"You've requested it a few times."

"I like the idea of simpler times."

"Me too." Emma continued singing.

This continued, until Jake glanced out the front window. "It looks like Seth's home. I want to check on him myself." He went and picked up Molly.

Emma studied her guitar. "I'm not going. You can give me a report."

"Seth has asked about you. He wants to see you."

"I doubt it."

"I'll leave Ace. You two can figure out how he gets home."

After they hugged and said goodbye, she closed and locked the door.

*****
Carl opened the door for Jake and said, "He's home, but not in the best of moods."

"Imagine that." Jake chuckled. "Anything in particular set him off?"

Seth growled. "I'm right here." He glanced around Jake. "Where's Emma?"

"She said you didn't want to see her."

"What?" He shook his head. "I need to talk with her." He eyed Carl. "Get her and both dogs."

"Yes, Chief."

Once Carl left, Seth asked, "How's she doing?"

"Outwardly, fine. She's attempting to hide the inner turmoil. When you speak with her, you need to be careful." He paused. "In your present frame of mind, I'm not sure it's a good idea."

"In less than twenty-four hours, she was almost raped, killed a man, verbally attacked, and discovered she's adopted. A few days before that she almost lost her dog."

"Remember all of that when you speak with her." Jake's eyes met Seth's. "A while ago, I got a call. I'm needed in Cedarville. I didn't leave because I didn't want Emma to be alone." He slapped his buddy's back. "I'll keep in touch."

*****
Expecting Carl and Emma, Seth answered the door and there stood Peggy Barton. "What do you want?"

She held a casserole dish and a suitcase. "I brought dinner. I knew you'd need help for a few days. It's okay if you don't have a spare room." She winked. "I don't mind sharing." She attempted to walk by.

Seth blocked her entrance. "You're not welcome. Turn around and leave."

Both heads turned as Carl parked and opened the passenger door for Emma.

Peggy said, "I'll get rid of that slut."

Emma viewed the situation. "Carl, I told you he didn't want me here. I'll walk back." She closed the vehicle door and headed home, carrying Molly.

Seth yelled out the door, "Emma, we need to talk." He turned to Peggy. "You need to leave."

Peggy stomped. "No! She's trash and almost got you killed. You need to stay away from her. Tomorrow, I'll list that cabin for rent."

"Leave!"

"I'm not leaving."

Exhaling, Seth said, "Carl, I want Ms. Barton arrested." When Carl's eyes widened, Seth continued, "Right now, we have criminal trespassing, breaking and entering, both of my office. Also, defamation of character, disorderly conduct, and disturbing the peace. We'll start with those. I'm sure others will follow. Carl, handcuff her and put her in lock up. Make sure her arraignment's late tomorrow afternoon. I'll need to be there."

Carl put the suitcase and casserole in the cruiser before he placed handcuffs around Peggy's wrists. As he led her to his cruiser, he checked Seth over his shoulder.

Without emotion Seth said, "This time she's gone too far."

Seth used his body to hold the door open for Emma. "I'm sorry you had to witness that." When Carl came to the door, Seth took him aside. "I know what I'm doing. She needs to be stopped. I want her treated as any criminal. She had to find out the details about Emma's mom from the file on my desk. Her actions have consequences. I'll call later tonight for you to escort Emma home."

"Understood." Carl whispered, "Seth, you've scared the daylights out of Emma."

He nodded. "I'll deal with that."

Emma stood just inside the door. Seth used his good hand and pointed to the couch. "Please have a seat."

She sat.

"I'm sorry about what happened. When I sent Carl for you, I didn't know Ms. Barton would show up." Seth sat beside her and pointed to a sack on the counter. "I had Carl stop and get us dinner on the way home."

"That wasn't necessary."

He held up his arm. "I'm out of commission for a few days."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault Mickey Casey broke into your home."

"Is that his name?" Seth nodded, and she continued, "Is he the person who siphoned my gas, grabbed me at the hardware store, and cut my dog porch screen?"

"We think so. We're still connecting the dots but feel confident we will." Seth touched her hand. "I know you have questions." When she remained quiet and stared at Molly, he asked, "Emma, why didn't you visit me in the hospital? I expected you."

She remained silent, but eventually said, "I didn't think you wanted me there."

"Why? Does it have anything to do with Ms. Barton?"

Emma remained silent.

"What about our friendship?"

She avoided eye contact.

"I wasn't aware anything changed."

Emma dried her eyes with her hand. "Discovering my life is a lie is bad but having somebody break into my house and me taking his life is worse." Her tear-filled eyes met his. "All this happened within a few hours. I know you don't want to be friends with somebody like me. I don't blame you."

Seth drew her close. "I'm here for you. As far as I'm concerned, our friendship has never been stronger."

"But?"

"But nothing." Seth took her hand. "Let's start with you being adopted. I agree it would've been helpful if you knew, but that doesn't change Keith and Susan's love for you or your love for them. If I'm not mistaken, you told me Keith was your first love and remains the only man in your life. Has that changed?"

"No, I'll always be Daddy's little girl."

Almost grinning, Seth said, "I figured as much. You being adopted has no bearing on my feelings for you." Seth briefly closed his eyes. "I'll tell you everything I know. Keith told me the day of the fish fry while we were shooting hoops."

"He just blurted out Emma's adopted?"

"I asked if he had any idea who could've siphoned your gas. He told me a few months back he received a letter from your birth mom's pimp wanting 5000 dollars to keep quiet about the adoption." When her hand flew over her mouth, he said, "He didn't pay. He went to a lawyer who handled it."

"Why didn't you tell me then?"

"Keith had me promise not to. I told him I couldn't guarantee I'd be able to keep the secret if he had anything to do with the siphoning. I did give my word I'd try."

Emma was silent as she thought for a few moments. "The woman you and Jake talked with and who died in rehab was my mother, wasn't she?"

Seth nodded. "Yes."

"You've met her. What can you tell me about her?"

"Emma, are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Your mom was fifteen when she had you. She was living on the streets, struggling to take care of herself. There was no way she could support a baby. Her love for you is why she put you up for adoption."

"Why was she on the streets?"

~~~~~

A reviewer mentioned that a baby born to a cracked addicted mother would have issues. I understand that many babies born addicted to crack do have problems. I've worked with them in the classroom as well as babies suffering from alcohol syndrome. I, also, know of children born under those conditions who don't have any problems and grew up to be wonderful adults. Some believe the difference depends on if the baby remained in that environment or were able to get out, example. Emma was adopted. In case you don't believe me, here's the latest research on it.

Does using cocaine increase the chance of birth defects?
Every pregnancy starts out with a 3-5% chance of having a birth defect. This is called the background risk. Based on the studies reviewed, it is not known if cocaine can increase the chance of birth defects above the background risk. Birth defects that have been reported with cocaine use in pregnancy include abnormalities of the brain, skull, face, eyes, heart, limbs, intestines, genitals, and urinary tract. HOWEVER, MOST BABIES EXPOSED TO COCAINE DURING PREGNANCY DO NOT HAVE BIRTH DEFECTS.
SOMETIMES, prenatal cocaine exposure has long-term effects on a child's health. Specifically, the child may face a HIGHER RISK of developmental problems like:
difficulty paying attention,
trouble with self-regulation (the ability to manage emotions and behaviors appropriately),
mild problems with memory and language

~~~~~


Thank you YouTube for - The Judds 'Grandpa, Tell me 'Bout the Good Old Days'






******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Author Notes Please have a wonderful THANSGIVING. It's my prayer your Thanksgiving is filled with blessings, family, and friends. Don't forget to be safe!! HUGS!!!!


Thank you google images for the photo of a True Love Quote.

I really wanted to post Chapter 25 in its entirety, but unfortunately its close to 3500 words. I just couldn't do it to you, so I'll post it in two posts. I feel it actually flows best together, but this is FanStory and people want the FanStory money. This is the first part of Chapter 25 and a under 1700 words.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 39
Chapter 25 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 25 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST

Emma was silent as she thought for a few moments. "The woman you and Jake talked with and who died in rehab was my mother, wasn't she?"

Seth nodded. "Yes."

"You've met her. What can you tell me about her?"

"Emma, are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Your mom was fifteen when she had you. She was living on the streets, struggling to take care of herself. There was no way she could support a baby. Her love for you is why she put you up for adoption."

"Why was she on the streets?"


TODAY'S POST:


Chapter 25 B

"Your mom was on the streets because she'd run away. Her older brother and his friends were sexually molesting her. When her mom didn't believe the accusations, she felt she had no option but to leave."

"She was hooked on drugs."

"Her pimp hooked her, his way of controlling her." He paused. "From what I could tell she once was as beautiful as you. Life dealt her one raw deal after another." His eyes met hers. "Nothing Ms. Barton said was true."

"She was a homeless prostitute, a drug addict, and has no idea who my dad is."

"Only because of circumstances not by choice. There's a difference." Seth stared over Emma's head and then his eyes met hers. "When I met your mom, my opinion of you never changed."

Emma tilted her head. "Is that a good thing?"

Seth grinned. "I hope so. You matter to me."

Emma studied him a few moments before Seth's stomach growled. "Are you ready to eat?"

"Yes."

"Good." Seth held out the front of his T-shirt. "Give me a minute. I need to change." He went into his bedroom and closed the door.

Within moments, Emma heard struggling sounds coming from his room. She knocked on the door. "Is there a problem?"

"I can conquer this shirt."

"Seth, I'm coming in."

A faint smile crossed her lips when she saw Seth tangled and fighting with the T-shirt. "Stop, just be still. I'll help." Once he stopped, she lifted the shirt over his head and handed it to him.

He tossed it into a trash can. "Thank you. It had a bullet hole and blood. I haven't had a chance to change since I got home."

She pointed to the closet. "Is it okay if I get one?" After he nodded, she said, "Which one do you want?"

"Just get one!" As soon as the words and tone escaped his mouth, he closed his eyes and exhaled. "Emma, I'm sorry." He walked into the closet as she stood there. He took his good arm and drew her to his chiseled, bare chest. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

They stood in silence.

Emma backed away and gently touched the bandage under his sling. "I'm sorry I caused this. I need to leave. I knew I shouldn't have come." She attempted to walk by him.

"Emma. Don't go." He touched her hand. "Please."

Swallowing, she said, "Seth?"

"We need to talk," he interrupted.

"Everything's been said that needs to be."

"It hasn't." He glanced at his hanging T-shirts and reached for a blue one. "Please help me with this, then we'll eat. I'm starving. It'll be better to talk after I eat. Really it will."

Once the shirt was on, Emma set out the food, and they ate in silence.

Seth carried some dishes to the sink. "I'll take care of this later."

"I don't mind. It's the least I can do after getting you shot."

He took her hand and led her to the couch. "The dishes can wait!" After a few deep breaths, he said, "Sorry. I don't mean to snap orders. I'm in pain and angry with myself. My carelessness almost got you raped, and it got me shot. It's not your fault. It's mine. That's what I want to talk about."

They sat on the couch, and Seth began, "Monday evening after dropping you at your home, I went back to the station."

"You had some work to finish."

He cringed but ignored her comment. "I knew by leaving you alone, I was putting you at risk. I knew you were being stalked and probably in danger. I didn't know exactly who, but knew it had to be the man who siphoned your gas, attempted to grab you at the hardware store, and cut your screen. I'd seen the same car watching your house at various times."

She fought back tears. "All this time I thought you enjoyed being with me. You were with me because it was your job. I feel so stupid." She stood. "I'm leaving while I still have some dignity."

Seth stood and grabbed her arm and drew her into a hug. "You're wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I care for you a lot."

She stepped back and her tear-filled eyes glared at him. "Don't touch me."

He removed his arms. "Emma, I'm sorry you're hurt. Please let me finish." He rushed the next sentence. "If you were only a job, I would've had one of the other officers stay with you. You're a lot more to me than a job." He took her hand. "Please sit. There's more that needs to be said."

After they both sat, Seth continued, "When I returned, I heard Ace barking. I was lost in thought and didn't pay attention. I knew that bark was one of danger. I ignored him and opened the door without thinking. I got myself shot. My carelessness and selfishness put us both in danger. I'm sorry." She stood. "Please don't leave. I don't want this to come between us. We need to talk it out."

Glancing toward the kitchen, she said, "I'm taking care of the dishes. Leave me alone while I do it."

He nodded.

Almost finished with the dishes, Emma broke down in tears.

Seth came to her and put his good arm around her. "I deserve your anger." He closed his eyes and took a few breaths. "You shot a man because of me. I don't know how to fix this. I don't know what to do or say." Still holding her, he said, "Your well-being is important to me. Please don't keep this bottled inside."

Emma took time to think before she answered, "This man was plotting to get to me. I don't understand why. We're both human and mistakes happen. He would've eventually gotten to me. I don't blame you for anything." She wiped her eyes. "As for killing somebody, I wish it didn't happen, but my choices were you or him. I'm glad it was him."

"Will you do something for me?" After Emma nodded, Seth continued, "Would you talk with Pastor Pat about it? I'm worried so much has happened that it hasn't fully sunk in. Officers need to go to counseling before they return to the street if this were to happen to them."

"I can't believe he won't approach the subject, at least once."

"You're probably right." Seth petted Ace's head. "Finally, our friendship. I know emotions have been spiraling out of control, but my feelings for you haven't changed. Early Monday morning, the hug we shared surprised me at how much it meant to me." He took a breath. "When I returned, all I could think about was you." He shook his head. "We needed to immediately do an-after-action report, and I gave the officers a break because I needed to see you."

Emma studied Seth for a few moments and then threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you."

As he returned the hug, he said, "You had me worried for a minute." Another hug lasted a while. Their eyes met and their lips almost touched. Seth backed away. It's too soon. Too much has happened. But... Seth took a deep breath. "Fill me in on the news. How's Molly?"

Studying Seth for a few moments, Emma said, "She's getting stronger each day. Tomorrow's her last dose of antibiotics. I think she's getting tired of the liquid food and wants real food, but she needs to wait until I take her to the vet Saturday." Emma paused and took out her phone. "I'll call Dad and see about getting a ride to work tomorrow."

He put his hand over hers. "You probably need a little more time. Carl will be coming to get me later in the morning. Call your dad and tell him you'll be in later."

After she called, she said, "You just got out of the hospital, you probably shouldn't go in tomorrow."

"I need to be there for Ms. Barton's arraignment and to pull security for your summer reading program." He grinned and teased, "Neither of these are negotiable."

"You're teasing."

"Only slightly."

As Seth yawned, Emma stood. "You must be tired. I need to head home."

"It's dark. You're not walking by yourself."

"You're not walking me. I won't let you."

Seth took out his phone. "Carl, are you busy?" He listened. "Good, could you come by and escort Emma and Molly home?" Again, he listened. "Thank you." After he put the phone away, he said, "He'll be here in a few minutes and he's glad my personality has improved."

"Imagine that." Emma reached for Molly's bag. "It's time for her medicine."

"I'll help."

"It might be difficult with one arm."

"I can do it. She's small."

After Molly took her medicine, Emma picked her up and walked toward the door.

"Where are you going?"

"Mother Hen, I'm taking my dog outside to use the bathroom, unless you want her to do it on your carpet."

"Really funny." Seth shook his head. "Ace, go with the ladies." He stood in the doorway and watched.

When Emma re-entered, she said, "You're very bossy."

"You've mentioned it before." Seth yawned again as he answered his phone. After listening, he put it away. "There's a disturbance at a bar. Carl will be here after he takes care of it."

"Seth, go on to bed. I'll wait for Carl." When he stared at her, she said, "I promise." She curled up on the couch. "I'll be right here when he comes."

He turned toward his bedroom. "If you promise." When she nodded, he said, "I can't wait to get rid of this sling."

"When does it come off?"

"In a week. Then I can be almost normal while it continues to heal."

"Is there anything I can help with?"

He grinned. "Not really, besides you promised to stay on the couch until Carl gets here."

"Ha ha, Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

*****
Seth crawled out of bed when Ace notified him somebody had pulled into the driveway. As he went to the door, he grinned at Emma asleep on the couch. When Carl was inside, they both studied her.

Carl asked, "Chief, what do we do?"

Grabbing a blanket, Seth said, "Help me cover her. She'll be upset in the morning but let her sleep." He grinned. "She's upset with me most of the time anyway."

As Carl headed toward the door, he said, "I take it you've worked things out."

"We did. We're good. Thank you for asking. I'll call for a ride to work. You'll be bringing Emma too."

"I figured." Carl left.

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for a photograph of a lady sleeping on a couch.

This is the second part of Chapter 25 and a little over 1700 words. I wasn't able to edit every day this week because my young granddaughters were visiting for Thanksgiving, and I choose to spend time with them. I did edit numerous times before. I hope there isn't' tons of errors, but there may be.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 40
Chapter 26 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 26 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST

Seth crawled out of bed when Ace notified him somebody had pulled into the driveway. As he went to the door, he grinned at Emma asleep on the couch. When Carl was inside, they both studied her.

Carl asked, "Chief, what do we do?"

Grabbing a blanket, Seth said, "Help me cover her. She'll be upset in the morning but let her sleep." He grinned. "She's upset with me most of the time anyway."

As Carl headed toward the door, he said, "I take it you've worked things out."

"We did. We're good. Thank you for asking. I'll call for a ride to work. You'll be bringing Emma too."

"I figured." Carl left.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 26 A

When Seth entered the living room, Wednesday morning Emma was still asleep. She must've been dead tired. She probably didn't sleep well Monday night.

Coffee aroma filled the air and caused Emma to slowly wake up. "Is that coffee?"

"It is sleepy head." Seth got up from the table. "I'll pour you a cup."

She stood. "I can get my own."

"Just because I have a bad arm doesn't mean I'm an invalid."

"I didn't mean that. I meant I'm not helpless."

Seth handed her the cup. "Sorry, my frustration has only improved slightly."

Emma smiled. "I see." She glanced around. "Last night I thought Carl was coming to take me home."

"He did, but you fell asleep, and we decided to leave you alone. You were especially cute all curled up on the couch."

A light shade of pink grazed her cheeks as she sipped coffee. "I'll finish this, then go home and get ready for work."

"Can you wait a few minutes? I might need your help. After I'm finished, I'll send Ace with you and watch from here. I need to know you're safe."

"That guy can't bother me anymore."

"We're not one hundred percent positive he's the only person. We're still investigating. I prefer not to take any chances." Seth turned toward his room. "It'll only take a few minutes."

While he got ready, Emma started breakfast. She glanced up when she heard footsteps. "What's wrong?" she asked, studying his face.

He held up a hanger holding his uniform shirt. "With one arm there's no way I can tuck in this."

"Don't get any ideas." Emma's hands firmly on her hips. "I won't do that, and there's no way you're convincing me to."

"Calm down. I'd never expected or asked you to." He glanced around her. "Is that breakfast?"

"It is. Hungry?"

"Definitely."

As they finished eating, Emma said, "I might have an idea. When I was in college the ROTC students had a dress uniform and another one that wasn't as formal. Do police departments have something like that? You could wear that until you have use of your arm. You'd be in a sort of a uniform."

"Good idea." Seth went into his room and brought out some black slacks and a T-shirt with Beaverton Police Department written on it. "This will have to work. I have two sets. Thursday evening I'll do laundry. Since Monday's a holiday, I'm hoping Friday I can lose the sling."

Seth returned to the bedroom and finished getting ready.

Before Emma started the dishes, she saw Seth's billfold, keys, and the friendship bracelet on the corner of the counter. She touched the bracelet. He kept it. Why?

As she finished in the kitchen, she heard colorful language coming from the bedroom. "Is there anything I can do?"

Carrying a wadded-up T-shirt, Seth, with jaw set, said, "I'm struggling with the shirt again."

Emma attempted to hide her smile as she took it from him. "I'll help. If I'm careful, can I remove the sling and gently pull the sleeve up your arm? It'll be more comfortable than having your arm under it."

Seth studied his arm. "We can try. The shoulder needs to remain immobile, but if you're careful, it might work."

"I can be very gentle."

He shook his head. "I bet you can."

After Seth sat, Emma unfastened the sling, removed it, and held up his T-shirt. "I'll put your left arm in first, and then pull it over your head. If that doesn't work, I'll stop."

Emma carefully slipped the sleeve up his arm, repeatedly asking if everything was okay.

Seth put his finger over her lips. "I'm fine. Quit worrying. If something's wrong, I'll tell you. You don't need to check every second."

"Sorry."

"There's nothing to be sorry about."

When she got the sleeve to his armpit, she said, "Now I'll try to stretch it enough to pull it over your head without moving your shoulder."

Standing in front of him, she straddled his leg and moved closer as she attempted to stretch the T-shirt over his head.

"Emma, rethink your position."

She glanced down, noticed her breasts rubbed against his face, and backed away. "Maybe I should do this from the back."

Seth shook his head and grinned. "You think?" Under his breath he muttered, "Classic Emma."

"What does that mean?"

"Don't worry about it. I've come to expect it."

She continued from the back. "I'm almost done. Now to get your other arm through the sleeve."

"The right arm shouldn't be a problem."

After the T-shirt was on, Emma said, "I need to go home and get ready." As she turned toward the door, she whispered, "And regain my composure."

With his good arm Seth hugged her shoulders. "Don't worry about it. We're good." Opening the door for her, he said, "Ace, go with her. Let me know when you're about ready, and I'll call Carl."

Watching her walk away, he added, "Quit worrying. We're good."

*****
As Carl parked at Winters, Emma said, "You can park at the police station, I'll walk from there."

Carl grinned and carried Molly. "But then I couldn't get a coffee and an apricot Danish."

Emma's lips formed a pout. "I didn't make Seth's beignets."

Seth rubbed his chin. "You've done plenty for me today. You made breakfast, helped me with my T-shirt," he grinned, "and more I'm not at liberty to discuss."

With crimson cheeks, Emma went inside the shop.

As Seth and Carl followed, Carl said, "This sounds good. Want to share?"

"Can't. Let's just say classic Emma."

"I bet it was good."

Seth grinned. "Something I won't forget."

Once the coffees and pastries were brought, Seth and Carl got ready to leave, and Seth said, "We'll return in time for the reading group."

*****
Just before the reading group, Seth entered the bakery. He stopped when he saw Ronnie Calhoun following Emma as she took care of her tables. I wonder what he's up to? He grinned. She's ignoring him, but he's not getting the message. Seth walked up and kissed Emma's cheek. "How's your day?"

She touched her cheek. "Pretty good. You're timing's perfect." She turned when she heard her dad call. "I'll be right back."

Calhoun studied Seth. "I don't understand why you're still hanging around. I've already explained about Emma's and my relationship. Emma's always been mine and always will."

"There's a fallacy to that. When I discussed it with Emma, she denied it, except for the part you did date in high school."

"But." Ronnie watched Seth walk away. "You're wrong. Emma and I are a couple."

When Emma came out of Keith's office, Seth walked toward her. She touched his arm. "Thank you." She glanced toward Ronnie. "I see he's still hanging around. Can you arrest him or something?"

He grinned. "I wish I could, but I can't arrest somebody for thinking they're in love."

"I don't know his angle, but I know he has one and it's not love." She faced the door. "The children are arriving."

Seth held up a book. "I've got this today."

Emma turned the book around so she could see the cover and read, "'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein. I love that story. What brought this on?"

Grinning Seth said, "You'll see." He walked to the front of where the children sat. "Are you coming?"

"Of course." As she checked the children, she smiled. "It appears we're ready."

Emma welcomed the children and then said, "Today, we have a special guest. Chief Carter has a book he wants to share. I can't wait to hear it. It's one of my favorites."

Billy raised his hand. "Ms. Emma, will we still do art?"

Facing Seth, Emma's eyebrows rose. He grinned. "Yes, there's an art project planned. Officer Jones will be here in a minute with it. Ready for the story?"

After the children indicated they were, Seth pointed to his shoulder. "As you can see, I have an injury. This injury caused me to think about how much people give to me." His eyes met Emma's. "Especially a certain person. I'm really blessed. I have many people who give to me."

He paused. "Then I thought about how much I give back and decided I don't give nearly as much as I receive. My mom used to read this story to my sister, Abbey and me when we were young. As you listen, think of examples how you can give."

Seth introduced the book, read it, and then asked, "What are some ways the tree gave?"

The children offered suggestions, and then Seth asked, "Then what happened?"

Again, the children answered.

He nodded toward Carl, who brought him a box. Seth reached inside and held up a piece of construction paper. "What I did was glue this tree trunk onto the paper." He then pointed to the leaves. "On each leaf I wrote some way I could give to another person. If you struggle with spelling, you can draw the picture. The idea is to put as many leaves on your tree as possible."

Emma stood beside Seth and reviewed the outside expectations.

On the way out, Emma put her hand on Seth's arm. "You did a great job."

He glanced at her hand and grinned. "Thank you. I've watched you, and you're a natural."

Carl and Seth walked along the curb ensuring no child got close to the street. Emma interacted with the children as they completed their projects.

When the parents arrived around two-thirty, Seth walked up to Emma. "I need to leave. Ms. Barton's arraignment begins at three. If you need additional help, I'll call for another officer."

She scanned the area to see how many children were left. "I'm fine. Good luck with the arraignment."

"Thank you. Carl can stay as long as you need, but he'll need to come to the courthouse when he's finished."

As Emma watched Seth walk away, she whispered a prayer.

The last child left, and then Emma folded the chairs and loaded them on the trolley. As she started to push them toward the church George and Marc Elliot walked up. She smiled. "Hello."

George studied the trolley. "I was hoping we could talk."

"We can. I just need to take these back to the church. It'll only take a few minutes."

He glanced at his son. "Can Marc take them?"

"If he doesn't mind. Pastor Pat's waiting."

Marc pushed the trolley toward the church, and George and Emma went into her father's office to talk.

After Keith shut the door and everyone was seated, George handed Emma a check. "I hope this is enough to cover a day's work and tips."

Emma studied the thousand-dollar check. "Mr. Elliot, I don't make this much in an entire week, let alone a day. This is way too much. I can't accept this." She held it toward him.

He refused it. "Marc and I discussed it and feel with everything he's put you through it's only fair. There's some pain and suffering added." He exhaled. "All of your doctors' bills have been covered. If for some reason you receive any bills, please contact me. The hospital has assured me you won't but sometimes they make mistakes."

Fighting back tears, she said, "Thank you. I really appreciate your generosity."

George stood. "Now, for the matter of your car replacement. Will you follow me?"

Keith and Emma followed him outside. He stopped at a white Ford Fiesta. "I hope you like it. I had a mechanic check it. I thought if I had a daughter, I'd want to make sure the car wouldn't leave her stranded. If you have problems, let me know, and I'll get something else." He handed her the keys and opened the driver's side door. "Let's take it for drive and see how you like it."

Keith glanced toward the shop. "You two go. I need to take care of some things."

As they took the car for a test drive, Emma said, "You've done way too much for me. Why?"

George stared at the windshield. "When I was presented with the facts about my son, I took a hard look at my life. I realized my priorities were wrong. I was a poor example for Marc." He exhaled. "Since he's out on bail, I actually went to church for the first time since I left my parents' house."

"I hope you felt welcome."

"I did."

Emma parked by the bakery. "The car is perfect. Thank you." As she got out, Marc walked up. Emma said, "I lead the church teens' youth group. We meet tonight at seven o'clock. You're invited if you'd like to attend."

"I'm...on...bail. My trial date hasn't been set. I also go to school in Cedarville."

"You're here now, so maybe you could meet some other teens and hang around with them. We're planning some activities, like whitewater rafting. You're welcome."

Marc asked, "Dad, can I?"

"I don't see why not. Thank you, Ms. Winters."

She continued toward the bakery. "Good. I hope I see you tonight."


******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Author Notes I've been researching men and women's relationships. Basically, to see how far off from reality my romance novels are. I'm discovering they really aren't. I'll start sharing a few things I've learned, one at a time. "People who are late to lose their virginity are shown to have higher education, income, and healthier relationship than those who lose it earlier." I'm sure there are exceptions, but interesting point.

Thank you, Google Images, for a photograph of 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein.

This is the first part of Chapter 26 and a little under 2200 words. If I posted Chapter 26 in its entirety it would be around 3900 words, too long for FanStory.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 41
Chapter 26 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 26 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST

Emma parked by the bakery. "The car is perfect. Thank you." As she got out, Marc walked up. Emma said, "I lead the church teens' youth group. We meet tonight at seven o'clock. You're invited if you'd like to attend."

"I'm...on...bail. My trial date hasn't been set. I also go to school in Cedarville."

"You're here now, so maybe you could meet some other teens and hang around with them. We're planning some activities, like whitewater rafting. You're welcome."

Marc asked, "Dad, can I?"

"I don't see why not. Thank you, Ms. Winters."

She continued toward the bakery. "Good. I hope I see you tonight."

TODAY'S POST:


Chapter 26 B

From inside Winters, Emma glanced out the front window and saw Seth heading toward the shop. He stopped in front of a lady, threw his arm around her and kissed her cheek. Emma watched for a few moments. He did it again. This time he lifted her with his one arm and hugged her.

I knew what Seth and I have was too good to be true. Emma walked past her dad. "I need some air." She continued through the kitchen and into the alley.

*****
Before long, Seth with his hand on the small of the lady's back came into the bakery. "Keith, where's Emma? I'd like to introduce her to my sister, Abbey."

Keith's eyes widened. "Your sister?"

"Yes." Seth's eyebrows rose and he pointed outside. "She saw. Not good."

"She's out back." As Seth headed toward the alley, Keith handed him a clean dishtowel. "You'll need this."

Seth accepted it. "You're right."

In the alley, Seth paused and studied Emma. She had her back to him. "Emma, why are you out here?"

She sniffed. "I needed fresh air."

"This is the opposite of fresh air." He moved in front of her and used the towel to dry her cheeks. As she prepared to say something, he said, "Please, listen. Then ask questions."

Again, Seth dried her eyes and cheeks. "The lady you saw me hugging..."

"And kissing," interrupted Emma.

"And kissing," he exhaled, "is my sister, Abbey. I wasn't expecting her. Her husband, Gary accepted a teaching position at the university in Cedarville. He's filling out paperwork, so she came to get Grandma's house key," he touched his shoulder, "and check on me. She'll only be in town maybe thirty minutes. They'll move into the house before school starts."

"Your sister?"

"Yes, my sister. There are only two females I spend time with, you and Molly." His eyes met Emma's. "Are you ready to meet Abbey?"

Emma took the towel from Seth and dried her eyes. "Yes."

"Good."

As they walked inside, Abigail met them partway. "Emma, I'm glad to meet the woman Seth keeps talking about."

Studying Seth's deep brown eyes, Emma asked, "You told her about me?"

"Of course, he has. He talks about you all the time."

"Really?"

Seth touched Emma's arm and grinned. "Really."

Emma swallowed. "I'm sorry. I'm surprised." After she exhaled, she continued, "Abbey, I'm glad to meet you. It'll be nice having you closer."

Keith grinned. "I think it'd be nice if you came to our Sunday dinners."

Nodding, Emma said, "That's a great idea."

Smiling, Abigail said, "I'd like that and I'm sure my husband, Gary would too, but I'm not sure you're ready for a six-month-old little boy and a two and half year-old little girl."

Emma faced her dad. "I'm sure we would. Right, Dad?" After Keith nodded, she asked, "Where are the kids now?"

"With Gary's parents. That's why I'm in a hurry. They're not used to little ones. We need to drive back to Austin and rescue them."

After she answered and then hung up her phone, Abigail said, "That was Grandma. It seems Micah woke up from his nap rather grumpy." She smiled. "Micah inherited Uncle Seth's temperament. He can be as sweet as honey, but when he's grumpy he's..."

"A grizzly bear," interrupted Emma.

"You know my brother too well," teased Abigail.

Seth exhaled. "I'm being ganged up on."

Emma's attempt to hide her smile failed. "Are you disagreeing with us?"

"Not really, but..."

"But nothing." Abigail took his arm. "I need to leave. Emma, it's great to finally meet you. We'll be seeing each other again very soon." She smiled. "Just remember my dear brother tends to be stingy with words, so you don't always understand what he's thinking."

Seth shook his head before his eyes met Emma's. "As soon as Carl gets here, I'm going home to get the key, and then we'll follow Abbey to Cedarville. I need to talk with Jake." He glanced at his watch. "I'll be back in time to walk you to the church. See you then."

*****
Almost thirty minutes later, Jake walked into Winters. He hugged Emma. "Pumpkin, you look surprised."

"Seth's on his way to Cedarville to talk with you."

"I'm here. I've been meeting with Pat." Jake hesitated. "I'm wondering if you're available to come with me. Pat and I have something to discuss with you."

Emma glanced at her dad, who nodded. "I guess." After a moment, she said, "Dad, Seth said he'd meet me here. Please tell him I'm at the church."

"Sure will."

As Jake put his hand on the small of her back and led her to the church, Emma asked, "What's this about?"

"Nothing you need to worry about."

Once there, they went to Pastor Pat's office. He immediately offered them a seat.

Before he sat, Jake closed the door.

Watching, Emma said, "Now, I'm really worried. Have I done something wrong?"

Pastor Pat said, "No." He tapped a pen on his desk. "Jake, Seth, and I have a few concerns."

"Should we wait for Seth?" asked Emma.

When Jake shook his head, Pat continued, "First, we feel you need some counseling concerning the incident Monday evening. I'd like to set that up."

"Seth and I have talked about that. We figured you'd contact me. When do you want to do it?"

"Saturday morning around nine o'clock. That shouldn't interfere with the rest of your day. Will that be all right?"

"Yes. Where?"

"I think you'd be most comfortable at your place."

Emma nodded. "Okay. Come hungry, I'll fix breakfast."

Chuckling, Pastor Pat said, "I hoped you'd suggest it."

She stood. "If that's everything, I'll get back to the bakery."

Jake took some files from a briefcase. "It's not everything, Emma. Now comes the hard part. Please have a seat."

"What are those?"

Studying the closed files, Jake inhaled a deep breath. "We found Mickey Casey's Cedarville apartment."

"Does Seth know about this? Why isn't he here?"

"I haven't told Seth, yet." As Emma's eyes widened, Jake continued, "Part of what we found I won't share with Seth, but you should know about it."

Emma almost whispered, "You're scaring me."

"I understand. That's why I wanted Pat here." She glanced at Pastor Pat and nodded. Jake continued, "You're not the only female Casey stalked. You're the only one who survived. We're in the process of contacting their families so they can get closure."

"No!" Her hand covered her mouth.

"There are six others in as many states. He left immaculate notes and photographs on how and where he stalked them. He took four trophies from each victim and detailed the time and places he raped and murdered them. Finally, he left maps where he buried their bodies."

Tears welled in Emma's eyes. "I'll pray for those families. I know I shouldn't be selfish, but what about me?"

"He'd already taken three trophies. The fourth one is always taken after death." Jake removed a pink collar from his briefcase.

"That's Molly's. The day we moved into the cabin she lost it in the weeds." Her eyes met Jake's. "He took it off her?" When he nodded, she asked, "He watched me from the first day I arrived?"

Jake tapped the folders. "Pumpkin, he stalked you while you were still in college. He took photos of you there."

"Can I see the photos?" She hesitated. "You said three trophies. What else did he take?"

Holding up a sheet of paper, Jake said, "We'll get to the photos in a minute." He handed her the paper. "Here's his second trophy."

Emma took it and read it. "I wrote this."

"When?" asked Pastor Pat.

"The Friday evening after the tornado."

Both men nodded, as Jake asked, "Can you tell us about the song?"

She swallowed. "Seth and I had cleaned up the branches lying around both yards. We had a hotdog roast and ate s'mores. We talked and got to know each other. It was almost a perfect night. Why?"

Pastor Pat asked, "So you wrote this song about Seth and your budding relationship?"

She nodded. "How did he get it? I thought I'd lost it."

"It seems Casey was jealous over your relationship with Seth." Jake held up a large barrette. "He took this too."

"I wondered where that went. Seth used it after my accident to tie back my hair. I was too sore to braid it."

Jake opened a folder. "Now, for some photos. He scratched out or stabbed Seth in the ones you're both in. I won't show you all of them. In some, you're in various stages of being undressed?"

"He took nude photos of me?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"He took some through the window and some inside your home."

"How'd he get in my house and why didn't Molly bark? Who's seen them? Has Seth?"

"We don't know how he got inside, or why he didn't act then. He seemed to work within a timeline. No, Seth has not and won't see them. Only the officer who found them and I have seen them. I wanted you to know in case they're needed for evidence. Since Casey's dead, I doubt they ever will."

Jake showed Emma some of the photos in timeline order starting while still in college and ending the day before he died."

"That's a picture of Seth and my water fight. He's documented everything."

"He did." Jake held up a folder with other photos. "There are still these, but you don't need to see them."

Seth walked in. "Don't need to see what?"

"Seth!" screamed Emma.

Pastor Pat put his hand on Emma's arm. "It's all right." His eyes met Seth's. "Jake has information about Casey. It's a little unsettling."

He reached for the folders. "I need to see these."

Jake pulled them closer. "You don't. At least not all of them." When Seth cocked his head, Jake filled him in on everything until the photos. "There are photos documenting Emma from college until he died. I'll show you some. There's no reason for you to see them all."

Emma received a text. "It's Dad, I forgot my guitar, so he brought it. I'll get it then I'm going to get the room ready for the kids." She left.

Seth watched her leave and then faced Jake. "Are there nude photos?" After Jake nodded, Seth said, "I'll be right back."

*****
He waited in the hallway until Emma returned. "Emma, are you all right?"

She wiped her eyes. "Not really. There was nothing private. Even sleeping or taking a bath he was with me."

"I'm sorry." He held her hand. "Even if Jake would let me, I wouldn't look at them. I respect you too much."

She swallowed. "Thank you." She dried an escaped tear. "It seems he was jealous over you. You were in danger too." She touched his wound.

"Thanks to you, I'm fine. Remember it was my carelessness that allowed him into your house and got me shot." Seth put his arm around her and drew her close. After a few moments he said, "I probably need to get back."

Emma nodded. "I'm going to set up the room for the kids. Will I see you later?"

"I'll be there for the high schoolers."

"Good." Emma smiled. "I have a car. I'll give you a ride home."

"I heard. We'll grab something to eat on the way."

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. I'm pleased so many of you agreed with last week's quote. "When a man has genuine feelings for a woman, making love to her is not the first thing on his mind." I'm sure there are exceptions, but interesting point.

Thank you, Google Images, for a photograph of a couple hugging on the street.

This is the second part of Chapter 26 and a little over 1900 words. If I posted Chapter 26 in its entirety it would be around 4000 words, too long for FanStory.

Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 42
Chapter 27 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 28 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST

He waited in the hallway until Emma returned. "Emma, are you all right?"

She wiped her eyes. "Not really. There was nothing private. Even sleeping or taking a bath he was with me."

"I'm sorry." He held her hand. "Even if Jake would let me, I wouldn't look at them. I respect you too much."

She swallowed. "Thank you." She dried an escaped tear. "It seems he was jealous over you. You were in danger too." She touched his wound.

"Thanks to you, I'm fine. Remember it was my carelessness that allowed him into your house and got me shot." Seth put his arm around her and drew her close. After a few moments he said, "I probably need to get back."

Emma nodded. "I'm going to set up the room for the kids. Will I see you later?"

"I'll be there for the high schoolers."

"Good." Emma smiled. "I have a car. I'll give you a ride home."

"I heard. We'll grab something to eat on the way."


PLEASE HAVE A SAFE AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY!!!



TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 27 A

Early Friday morning Emma parked in the lot beside Winters and asked Seth, "What time's your doctor's appointment?"

"Eleven. When I'm finished, I'll come by and let you know how it went." Seth held up his arm. "Hopefully, I can lose the sling. I'm sure you're getting tired of helping me with my shirt."

"I'm getting used to it, sort of."

He chuckled. "Sure, about that?"

"Not really." As she went inside the bakery, she added, "I'll have beignets ready for your morning coffee."

"Can't wait." Seth crossed Main Street toward the police station.

*****
Seth came by the bakery after his doctor's appointment, and Emma was in her dad's office. He stood in the doorway and held up his arm. "No sling."

Emma's eyes lit up the office. "That's great! You can put on your own shirt."

"I've been thinking about that. I'm going to miss the help," teased Seth.

With raised eyebrows, Emma started to say something, and then stopped.

Keith chuckled. "Emma, this is the first time in your life you didn't have a comment."

Seth faced Keith. "What does it mean?"

"I don't know. It's never happened before."

Emma's lips formed a pout.

Seth walked over and held his arms out. "Come here." When she went into them, he said, "We're teasing."

"I'm not sure."

Glancing at his ringing phone, Seth held it out. "I'd better get this." After he did, he said, "I'm needed at the station. I'll be back for lunch, probably a late lunch."

She nodded. "Not a problem. We'll make sure lunch's available."

*****
It was close to three o'clock when Seth returned to Winters.

Keith walked up to him. "You mentioned you'd be late. What can I get you?"

"Since I'm this late would a Cuban or the steak sandwich be easier?"

"There's one of those new salmon sandwiches left. Would you prefer that?"

Seth nodded but his eyes focused on Emma and the man she sat with at a table. "Who's Emma talking with? I've seen him around, but we haven't met."

"That's Tim Matthews. He's the principal of the upper elementary school in town. I think he's offering Emma a job."

"It'd help solve her financial problems."

"Sure would." Keith turned to leave. "I'll be right back with your order. You want coffee too?"

Seth grinned. "Of course." He continued watching Emma.

*****
Mr. Matthews said, "I know this is a strange place for an interview, but I've been impressed with everything I've heard, from the summer reading program to the church youth groups. When this position became available, I didn't want to waste any time."

Emma inhaled a deep breath. "Mr. Matthews, I'm honored you've offered me this job." She scanned the area. "When do you need an answer by?"

"When do you think you'll have an answer?"

"Monday's a holiday. How about Tuesday morning."

He stood. "Tuesday's fine. I'll speak with you then."

Emma started to walk toward Seth but paused and went to Mr. Matthews as he opened the front door. "Sir, I can give you an answer now. Yes, I'll accept the fifth grade Language Arts and Social Studies teaching position."

He offered his hand. "I'm glad you'll be part of our staff. Come by my office Tuesday and sign the paperwork."

After Mr. Matthews left, Emma faced Seth. He grinned as she got closer. "Are congratulations in order?"

She did a little dance. "Yes. It felt right. I knew God would guide me. I have a teaching job starting in August." She threw her arms around his neck.

He lifted her off the ground and twirled her around. "Great!"

Seth's phone rang and he exhaled as he answered. "Okay, give me a couple of minutes to finish eating." His eyes met Emma's. "I need to get back to the station. Do you have time to sit with me while I finish?"

Emma glanced around the dining room. "We're not busy. I do." She studied Seth for a few moments. "Is there something we need to discuss or just spending time together?"

He grinned. "Spending time together. Is that okay?"

"It is." Emma pointed to Seth's sandwich. "I see you ordered the salmon. What do you think?"

"We did a good job putting it together. Any new ideas floating around in that pretty little head of yours?"

"Not right now. I'll let you know when I need a Guinea pig."

Seth took his last bite and wiped his mouth with the napkin. "I'll be back around six o'clock. I'm hoping a little earlier." He winked. "See you then."

"Bye."

*****
A few minutes after six o'clock, Seth arrived at the bakery and saw Ronnie Calhoun following Emma around. Seth listened, "You and that cop can't be a couple. I've never seen you on a date. Why doesn't he take you out? Give me a chance and I'll show you how a real man treats a lady. Let's go to dinner tonight. The whole town saw him hug and kiss that woman in the center of Main Street the other day."

"It was his sister."

"That's what he told you."

Before Emma could answer, Seth said, "Emma, you don't need to defend me. As for dating, I didn't know we needed to check with you." He offered Emma his hand. "Ready to leave?"

She accepted it. "Yes."

Inside the car, Seth said, "Why don't we go to a restaurant in Cedarville tonight?"

"Seth, you don't need to."

"He's right. I should take you out more often. So much has happened that time has slipped away. You were just offered a teaching job. We should celebrate."

As Emma drove down their lane, Seth said, "Go ahead and park in your garage. Ace and I'll walk home. I don't have a sling. I can drive tonight."

Emma nodded. After she parked, she opened the back passenger door and picked up Molly on her pillow. "Maybe tomorrow you can lose the pillow. We'll see."

"I'll carry Molly."

"I have her."

"On the way home, you were quieter than normal. Is everything all right?" asked Seth.

"Everything's okay."

"I'll pick you up around seven o'clock. Will that give you enough time to get ready?"

"Seven's good."

*****
Seth, with Ace by his side, knocked on Emma's door at six-thirty-five.

When Emma answered, she said, "You're early. I'm not quite ready." Her eyes widened as she stared at his blue jeans and shirt. She glanced down at her dress. "I guess I'm overdressed. I thought we were..."

"Going to a restaurant?" interrupted Seth. "We were. On the ride home, I got the impression you thought things were moving a little fast. That's why I'm early. Maybe you'd be more comfortable going for Mexican and bowling."

Emma's green eyes sparkled. "I would. Thank you."

"You look amazing, but maybe a little over dressed," teased Seth. "I'll wait while you change."

When Emma came from her bedroom, she wore a blouse and blue jeans.

Seth grinned. "You still look amazing. How about Ace stays with Molly while we're out?"

"Good idea."

*****
Inside Seth's pickup, he studied the windshield. "Emma, I wish you would've said you were uncomfortable with going to a restaurant. Was it the way the invitation happened?" He hesitated. "I know we talk, but I need you to include talking about things bothering you. I noticed you were quiet and had to guess as to why. Why didn't you want to go to a restaurant?"

She swallowed. "I didn't want you to spend that much money on me."

He cocked his head. "What? I don't understand."

"While in college some girls explained what their dates expected," she exhaled, "sort of a payment in return for the money spent on them." She studied her passenger window. "After graduation, Ronnie commented about the amount he'd spent on dates, so I owed him..."

"Enough said," interrupted Seth. "I understand." He took her hand. "I built the dog porch and all I expected in payment was your help. If I expected more, I'd have already tried something, right?"

"That makes sense. I've dated a little but nothing serious. I'm new at this relationship thing."

"Our almost eight-year age difference concerns me." He gulped. "But I'm willing to see where this goes."

She exhaled. "I feel you've questioned whether I'm a fully functional adult."

Seth chuckled. "So far your antics have only impressed me."

"Are those the times you've shaken your head?"

He nodded. "Yes."

"Then you've been impressed a lot."

"I have." Squeezing her hand, he asked, "We good?" When her smile lit up the inside of the pickup, he grinned. "Ready for Mexican?"

"I am."

He turned the ignition key.

*****
As they sat at a table, Emma noticed Seth cringe and touch his shoulder wound. She started to say something, but the waitress, Sally yelled, "Emma! I'd heard you're back."

While the young ladies talked and giggled, the owner, Ted came over and hugged Emma. "I'm glad you're back. I see nothing's changed. Sorry, Chief. These two were good friends in high school. They lost touch through the college years. I guess they needed to catch up. I'll take your order, or it may never get put in."

They both ordered and then Sally left. Seth reached across and took Emma's hand, shaking his head.

"It wasn't me."

"That's true."

Setting crispy corn tortilla chips, queso, and guacamole on the table, Ted said, "I'll keep Sally busy."

Grinning, Seth said, "Thank you."

Emma dipped a chip. "I'm sorry about that."

"No reason to be."

"But it's a reminder of our age difference."

"It happens when Ms. Sadie's around and she's almost ninety. Quit worrying."

"I guess you're right."

After they'd eaten and walked to the pickup, Seth teased, "Ready to get beaten at bowling?"

Emma stopped walking. "No." When his eyebrows rose, she continued, "I don't think we should go bowling. I've noticed you've cringed and touched your shoulder a few times. It's healed enough, you don't need the sling, but I don't think it's healed enough to bowl. I'm sure you still have restrictions."

He nodded. "I do, but I bowl with my right hand."

"I'm sure you balance the ball with your left."

"You're right." He opened the passenger door. "Any ideas?"

After she climbed inside, she said, "Not really." She smiled. "But I'm not ready for the night to end, are you?"

He sat behind the steering wheel. "Me neither."

As Seth started the pickup, he said, "There's not a lot to do here. We could go to Cedarville."

"I need to go tomorrow to get the youth group stuff for July 4th." She hesitated. "Why don't we go to my place and play a game, maybe Scrabble?"

His eyes met hers. "Are you comfortable with that?"

"Most of our time together has been in each other's homes. Now's a little late to be worried about it."

Seth chuckled. "I guess you're right."

When Seth parked, his eyes met hers. "You've been quiet. What's going on?"

"I don't want our relationship to change. I like it the way it is."

He grinned. "Maybe nothing needs to change. We've already been dating. Calhoun just caused us to be aware of it."

"Maybe."

"I have something to tell you." Swallowing, Seth tapped the steering wheel before he continued, "When I went back to the station that Monday evening..."


******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "You wanna be different? Take her to church, not to bed. Buy her flowers, not shots at a bar. Commit to her, don't use her. Be a man, not a boy." Those men are out there, we just need to wait for them.

Thank you, Google Images, for a photograph of a job interview in a restaurant.

Chapter 27 in its entirety it would be around 4000 words, too long for FanStory. Reviews just want the fast money. Again, I have broken a chapter into two segments. This is the first part of Chapter 27 and is a little under 1900 words. I will post it high to reward the reviewers.

Yesterday, I rewrote part of this chapter. I hope I didn't make it worse. Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 43
Chapter 27 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 28 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST

When Seth parked, his eyes met hers. "You've been quiet. What's going on?"

"I don't want our relationship to change. I like it the way it is."

He grinned. "Maybe nothing needs to change. We've already been dating. Calhoun just caused us to be aware of it."

"Maybe."

"I have something to tell you." Swallowing, Seth tapped the steering wheel before he continued, "When I went back to the station that Monday evening..."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 27 B (Please read last line of previous post. How Emma responds makes more sense.)

"I remember," interrupted Emma. "You had paperwork to finish."

"I lied. I went back to work to be alone. I needed time to convince myself I didn't have any feelings for you. I thought because of our age difference, I shouldn't feel the way I did. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't. Instead of paying attention to what was happening here, I was consumed with that."

Emma studied her hands in her lap.

Seth reached over and touched her arm. "Emma, talk to me. What are you thinking?"

"You weren't honest with me."

"You're right. I wanted to tell you before our relationship went any farther. Not only did I lie but I allowed Casey to get to you. I'm sorry. I hope you'll accept my apology."

Silence lingered before Emma said, "I've acted pretty childish at times, and you've accepted my apology. We're good."

"Thank you." Seth closed his eyes. Thank you, God. He went around and opened her door. "Let's get this game started."

Emma carried the Scrabble game, as she glanced around her home. "Maybe I should get a table with my first teaching paycheck."

Walking toward the door, Seth said, "I'll be right back. I have a card table."

*****
When Seth returned with the card table, they played two games. It was tied, one win each. Seth asked, "Do we play one more game for bragging rights or stop for the night?"

Emma started picking up the board and tiles. "It's getting late, let's stop for the night."

Seth watched her. "What does tomorrow look like?"

"Pastor Pat's coming over around nine o'clock." When Seth's eyes widened, she said, "For counseling. Molly's vet appointment is at eleven. Then I need to go to Cedarville for the youth group supplies."

"Is it okay if I come by around ten-thirty?"

"Of course, but you don't need to."

"What if I want to?"

"I'd like that."

"Good."

As they stood at Emma's door, they stared into each other's eyes, Seth swallowed. If I kiss her, am I moving too fast? Maybe. He leaned over and hugged her. "Goodnight. I'll see you in the morning."

"Goodnight."

At home, Seth received a phone call. "Thank you for tonight. It was perfect."

"You're welcome. Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

*****
A few hours later, Ace motioned for Seth to look out the window. He saw Emma's car backing from the garage. "What's going on?"

Seth went outside and stood in the lane. When Emma stopped and rolled down the window, he asked, "Is everything all right?"

"I got a call from Elizabeth Higgins. I need to meet her at the first picnic area at the city park."

He motioned her to unlock the car door. "I'll go with you." He opened the back door. "Ace, get in." Then he sat in the passenger seat. "Did she say why?"

"No, but she was crying. I can do this by myself."

"I know. Why when you're dating the police chief?"

"I guess that's true."

At the park Emma parked and then walked up to the picnic tables. Seth and Ace remained by the car, allowing them privacy.

Sitting on the table beside her, Emma handed her a tissue.

They sat in silence until Elizabeth was ready to talk. "Thank you for coming."

"I told you I would, with no questions asked."

"John and I were out here talking, well, necking. I stopped him because I had something we needed to discuss." Her crying became heavier.

Emma put her arms around the teenager. "It's okay. It can't be that bad. We can fix it."

"I'm pregnant!" Elizabeth sobbed. "When I told John, he said it's not his problem and left. He wants nothing to do with me or the baby."

"You're not alone. I'm here." Emma glanced at Seth leaning against the car and took a deep breath. "Have you told your parents?"

"No, they'll kill me."

"I doubt that, but I'm sure they'll be upset."

After Elizabeth calmed some, Emma said, "I think the first thing you need to do is tell your parents."

"Will you come with me?"

"Of course. I wouldn't allow you to walk home in the dark anyway." Emma faced Seth. "Chief Carter's with me. Can he come?"

Elizabeth nodded as she dried her eyes. "Everybody will know soon enough. I can't hide being pregnant."

Emma motioned for Seth to come closer. When he stood beside them, she said, "We're taking Lizzy home and talking with her parents. She has something she needs to tell them."

At the car, he held both doors and then sat in the backseat with Ace. I need to find a way for the police department to assist teenage girls, so they don't have to walk home after dark. It's not safe.

*****
Parked in front of Elizabeth's house, Seth said, "I'll wait here."

Swallowing, Elizabeth said, "Would you come in? Maybe Dad won't kill me if you're here."

He studied Emma's eyes. "Sure. Ace, stay on the porch."

Inside, Elizabeth called, "Mom, Dad, I need to talk with you." Elizabeth turned. "Ace, can come inside."

Seth motioned for Ace. After greetings were finished and everybody seated, silence continued for a few moments. Ace laid his head on Elizabeth's lap.

Calvin Higgins, Elizabeth's father said, "Lizzy, you called us together. Why?"

Silence continued, before Emma said, "Lizzy, would it help if I started?" With tears in her eyes, she nodded, so Emma said, "Earlier tonight, Lizzy called and asked me to meet her at the park. There was something she needed to discuss."

Her mom, Gretchen said, "Lizzy, you didn't need to bother Emma. You could've talked to me."

When Elizabeth's tears became heavier, Emma swallowed. "Lizzy's..."

"I'm pregnant!" screamed Elizabeth.

"You're what?" yelled Calvin. His jaw tightened.

"I understand you're upset, but anger won't solve anything. We can't wish this away. We need to decide what to do from this point on." Emma studied Elizabeth. "Have you made any decisions?"

The teenager nodded. "I refuse to get an abortion. John doesn't want me or the baby. I don't want him involved."

Emma nodded. "Okay, we'll go from there. First, you need to see the doctor, hopefully next week. From there you have a few options. You can drop out of high school and maybe go live with a relative."

Calvin wiped his brow. "That's not happening."

"Okay." Emma continued, "You can complete the upcoming fall semester. The baby shouldn't be due until sometime during the spring semester. For that you can do home schooling with on-line courses. Your counselor can help with that. This way you'll still be on target to graduate the following year with your classmates."

Gretchen nodded. "That makes sense."

Glancing toward Seth, Emma exhaled. He took her hand and nodded.

"Now for the hard decisions." Emma squeezed Seth's hand. "These need to be discussed and decided on as a family where everybody's opinion counts equally. No opinion counts more than anybody else's or there could be resentment and destroy the family unit."

I'm glad my second major was social working. It'll help now. Emma studied each person before she continued, "You can put the baby up for adoption. There are good Christian adoption agencies. Pastor Pat can lead you in that direction. Since I mentioned him, he'd be a good resource for guidance through the entire process."

Elizabeth wiped her eyes. "How would I know the baby went to a good home? I've heard horror stories."

"That's true. Sometimes bad things happen." When Emma took a deep breath, Seth patted her hand. "I'm adopted. You know my parents. I couldn't have asked for more loving parents. My life has been wonderful, and I was blessed. There are good couples who can't have children and want them."

Both parents nodded, as Elizabeth studied her hands.

After a silence, Emma said, "The other option is you keep the baby. There are variations of how this can work. I'll tell you about the one that works the best. Remember each family can modify it to fit their circumstances. For this to work every person in the family needs to be in complete agreement. Each person will be important."

Calvin stood, walked around the living room, before he sat, again.

"With this approach, Lizzy would be able to finish her senior year and even attend college at Cedarville, if she wanted."

Emma paused before she continued, "Lizzy, you'll need to get a job and probably as soon as possible to support your baby as much as you can; no after school activities and no dating. You'll work after school, on weekends, and on school breaks. You won't be able to completely support your baby, but you should as much as possible. You'll need to be responsible for this new life." She hesitated. "My dad often hires high school students and there are a few other places that do too."

"Who'll take care of the baby?" asked Gretchen.

"That's where the family comes in. Gretchen, I don't know if you work outside the home or not. If not and only if you feel you can, you'd babysit while Lizzy's at school and at work, but not for her to have outside activities. The baby's her priority. Her carefree days of being a teenager are over."

Emma took Elizabeth's hand in hers. "Lizzy made an adult decision with adult consequences. She's a mother. Gretchen, if you aren't able to babysit, then Lizzy will need to find appropriate childcare she can afford."

Calvin ran his fingers through his graying hair. "Wow!"

"Now you understand why I said every family member needs to be in 100 percent agreement for this to work. Getting up with the baby during the night would be Lizzy's job. She takes on the full roll of motherhood. Although, like I said, she'll need financial help, but all the money she'll earn goes directly to the baby." Emma exhaled. "No decisions need to be made now. You probably have six or seven months to talk and decide what's right for your family. Any questions?"

There were none, so Emma glanced at Seth. "I think it's time we leave." She faced Elizabeth. "I'm available at any time to listen or help in any way possible. Pastor Pat's available too." She stood.

At the door Elizabeth tightly hugged Emma and through her tears said, "Thank you."

"I meant what I said, I'm available for you."

*****
Outside the car Seth squeezed Emma's shoulders and then held out his hand. "The keys. I'm driving. You're an emotional wreck. I can see it in your eyes."

Inside the car, silence continued. Seth glanced at Emma. I'm surprised tears aren't flowing.

Seth parked in Emma's garage, followed her inside, and laid the keys on the kitchen counter. "I set your keys here."

Emma glanced at them, nodded, and then picked up Molly before she sat on the couch, holding the small dog. Seth sat beside Emma and watched. After a few moments, he lifted Molly, moved closer to Emma, and set the dog on the other side. "I think she'll be all right." He put his arms around Emma and adjusted her head against his chest. "I've learned to read your eyes. It's not good to hold it inside." He hesitated. "It's okay to cry."

The tears started slowly and gradually got heavier. When they finally stopped, Seth asked, "Ready to talk?" Emma shook her head, so he said, "Okay, I'll continue to hold you."

Time passed, before Emma whispered, "I wish you wouldn't have done that."

"Done what?"

"Been all nice and understanding."

"Why?" asked Seth.

"I was trying to be mature and control my emotions. When we got back, you should've gone straight home."

"So, you could cry alone?" When she nodded, he put his hand under her chin and studied her eyes. "I appreciate you wanting to be older, but Emma, I want you to be you. When you're happy, the whole world knows it. Your happiness is infectious."

"When I'm upset, everybody around me becomes upset?"

"No, but the people who care about you want to be there for you," interrupted Seth. "I'm one of those people. I could tell by your eyes how upset you were. I wanted to help."

When Emma cuddled into his chest again, he said, "I was impressed with how you handled Calvin, Gretchen, and everything you did for Lizzy."

"Thank you. My social working major came in handy. I wish I could do more."

"I have a feeling you'll get that opportunity."

As time passed, Emma's composure returned. She inhaled a deep breath and slowly blew it out. "I think it's safe for you to leave."

Seth grinned. "You sure?"

She nodded and smiled. "I'm sure." She leaned into his chest again. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. If you need anything, I'm only a phone call away."

"I know. Thank you."

*****
Merry Christmas!! It's my prayer you all a very safe and blessed Christmas filled with family and friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgens

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "Reasons for teen pregnancy: curiosity and/or experimentation, peer pressure, family related problems, lack of information, and influence from liberal views and social media about sex. Another interesting fact: Only 38% of girls who get pregnant before 18 complete a high school diploma."

Thank you, Google Images, for a poster of a teenage pregnancy.

Chapter 27 in its entirety it would be around 4000 words, too long for FanStory. I appreciate the reviewers to tell me not to worry about the length of the post. It warms my heart. This is the second part of Chapter 27 and is a little over 2100 words. I will post it high to reward the reviewers.

Yesterday, I rewrote part of this chapter. I hope I didn't make it worse. Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 44
Chapter 28 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 29 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

When Emma cuddled into his chest again, he said, "I was impressed with how you handled Calvin, Gretchen, and everything you did for Lizzy."

"Thank you. My social working major came in handy. I wish I could do more."

"I have a feeling you'll get that opportunity."

As time passed, Emma's composure returned. She inhaled a deep breath and slowly blew it out. "I think it's safe for you to leave."

Seth grinned. "You sure?"

She nodded and smiled. "I'm sure." She leaned into his chest again. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. If you need anything, I'm only a phone call away."

"I know. Thank you."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 28 A

Saturday morning as Pastor Pat sipped his second cup of coffee, he said, "I've always wondered why your dad felt it necessary to teach you how to use a gun."

"Me too." Emma tilted her head. "I'm sure he's mentioned I'm a lousy hunter."

Pat chuckled. "He has. Something about you being loud and unable to shoot furry animals with big soft eyes." He grinned. "I guess God prompted him knowing someday you'd need that skill. Keith said you were great at target practice and skeet shooting."

"I am, and it came in handy."

"I'm curious what do you think would've happened if you didn't shoot Mickey Casey?"

"He would've killed Seth, then raped and killed me."

"You didn't have a choice, did you?"

"No. But I took a life. That's a sin. If I'm not mistaken it's the sixth commandment."

This discussion continued for about a half-an-hour, before Pastor Pat said, "We'll continue with this next week. I sense something else is going on with you."

After a few deep breaths, Emma shared with him what had happened the previous night with Elizabeth and what she'd told her and her parents. "I guess God's prompt for me to major in social working along with elementary education was for this purpose. I'm worried I didn't do enough or gave poor information. Mr. Higgins didn't say much. I have a feeling he'll have a lot to say once he's had time to process everything and is alone with Lizzy."

"Sounds like you did everything right. All we can do now is pray they seek guidance. Knowing Calvin, I'm positive he'll have a lot to say and very loudly. I'll remind them I'm available."

"I'll check with Lizzy every chance I get." Emma studied her coffee cup. "He wouldn't hurt Lizzy, would he?

"I doubt it, but I'm sure she'll get lectured and disciplined." Pastor Pat stared at Emma a few moments. "Anything else on your mind?" When she looked away, he said, "Emma, I've known you for twenty-two years. Out with it."

"Seth and I are dating."

"You've been dating for about a month. How's that news?"

Her eyebrows rose. "So everybody knew, but us?"

Chuckling Pat said, "I guess." He hesitated. "Does this bother you?"

"Seth's great, but..." She swallowed.

"There's not a 'but' to it. You two make a great couple. I'm happy for both of you."

Both heads turned at a knock on the door. Emma glanced at her phone and then stood. "It's ten-fifteen. Seth said he'd come by around ten-thirty. I'm sure it's him. He's always early."

Pastor Pat grinned. "It's time for me to leave anyway."

When Seth entered, Pat gulped the rest of his coffee and stood. Seth offered his hand. "Pastor Pat, good to see you. You don't need to leave on my account."

"I'm not. I have another meeting I'm almost late for. Emma and I have covered the reason I came and then some." Pat hugged Emma and pecked her cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow at church and is next week at the same time all right?"

"It is. Thank you."

After Pat left, Emma asked, "We have time before we need to leave for Molly's appointment. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"That would be great."

As Emma handed him the coffee, she studied him. "What's on your mind?"

He chuckled. "I guess if I expect you to be open, I should be too, right?" When Emma nodded, he continued, "I was wondering three things, but one of them, I shouldn't ask about; Mickey Casey. That's private."

"I don't have anything to hide. If I didn't kill him, he would've killed you. I didn't have a choice."

Seth sat. "That's true." After a sip of coffee, he continued, "Did you discuss last night or anything about us?"

"Pastor Pat said I did everything right last night and now we wait and see what happens. All we can do is to be there for them." She smiled. "You were right."

He nodded, but was silent.

"As for us, he already knew we were dating and he's happy for us."

"I guess everybody knew, but us."

*****
As Seth and Emma left the vet clinic and sat inside Seth's pickup with the two dogs, Emma said, "I'm glad Molly's ready to move around and get off her liquid diet. She was protesting."

"I'm sure, but she's still on a special soft diet. Did I hear Dr. Mason right, she won't be able to eat her regular food for another six weeks?"

"I'm afraid so." Emma glanced toward the truck bed. "There are a lot of cans of food. The last week I need to mix her food with the special food." Giggling she added, "Maybe if Ace helps her, she can finish the cans faster."

Shaking his head, Seth asked, "Really?"

"Just an idea. At least she doesn't have to be on the pillow anymore."

"True." As Seth turned into their lane, he said, "Should we grab something to eat when we put the dogs inside or when we get to Cedarville?"

"Maybe something quick now. I've got chicken in the crockpot. I thought we could do pulled chicken for dinner."

"Sounds good."

*****
After lunch and on their way to Cedarville, Emma asked, "Are you getting Dad's basketball hoop tomorrow after church?"

"Yes. I'll get the dart board from the station on the way home this afternoon."

"Great. At the sports store, I'm getting the gift certificates for that. I'm hoping part of the cost will be donated. All I need at the craft store is face paint and brushes."

"What type of gift certificates are you thinking about?" asked Seth.

"The boys suggested a twenty-five-dollar certificate for first place, ten dollars for second, and then five dollars for third. I guess if we have a tie, we'll have a tie breaker."

"The highest score?"

"Yes, but I think we'll modify the dart game and just add up the points and not mess with the doubles and triples. What do you think?"

Seth thought a moment. "Good idea. The maximum points from basketball would be fifteen; five, three pointers. One-hundred-fifty from three darts, hitting the fifty circle three times. That's a total of one hundred-sixty-five points."

"Whoever has the most points is the winner. Sound right?"

"It does. It'll be fun."

"Can you help supervise that?" asked Emma.

"Sure." Seth reached over and took her hand. "Can we watch the fireworks together?"

"Wouldn't miss it."

*****
As Emma talked with the sports store manager, Charlie Michaels, Seth stood off to the side. She has him wrapped around her little finger. He shook his head. She's completely unaware she's being hit on, and he's unaware that Emma's always happy and bubbly.

As they left the sports store, Seth asked, "Did you get a discount on the gift certificates?"

"I did. Charlie was happy to donate all three certificates to the youth group. Wasn't that nice?"

Chuckling, Seth said, "Very nice. Did he say anything else?"

"Not really. He said something about meeting up with me later."

Seth shook his head. Another man in the mix. Calhoun and this guy will both attempt to date her. I'd better make sure I'm on my A game.

"Is something wrong?"

"Nope. Which craft store do you want to go to?"

"I like the one on Second Street best. This should be really fast."

After they left the craft shop with numerous colors and containers of face paint and brushes, Seth asked, "Before we leave Cedarville, do you mind stopping by the house Abbey and her family will move into? I haven't checked it for a few months."

"Sure. Is this another property you inherited?"

"It is. My grandparents willed it to me."

"What about Abbey? What did she inherit?"

Seth blew out air. "Nothing. She made our grandparents angry. She was specifically written out of their will, and it stated she'd never own any of their property."

"Wow! I can't imagine she could do anything that horrible."

"She didn't. Just in their eyes." As Seth drove, he glanced toward Emma. "She's your age." He paused. "You're from May to August older than her."

"And she already has two children. I'm behind."

Chuckling, Seth said, "I wouldn't worry about it. When she graduated high school, she and Gary wanted to get married immediately. He's four years older and had just graduated from college with a teaching degree and had a job. Our grandparents raised us after our parents died and refused to give her permission. She was still underage. The day after she turned eighteen, they married. Our grandparents never forgave her. After they married, he continued his education."

"What about Abbey?"

"She's been working on her degree between having children." Seth parked in front of the house.

"Their marriage appears to be working. Abbey seems happy."

"She is." He exhaled. "More than once she's ended up on my doorstep in tears."

"So you're used to drying tears and listening to young women. No wonder you're good at it."

"I wouldn't say I'm good at it. I still mess up, but I've had practice. It's what big brothers do, they protect their baby sisters."

Emma placed her hand on Seth's arm. "You've done a good job drying my tears."

"I've also caused some." Seth removed the key from the ignition, got out, and opened Emma's door. "Ready?" He offered his hand.

Accepting his hand, they went into the house.


*****
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Please have a safe New Year's Eve! I know many of my FanStory family/friends have had a difficult 2023. It's my prayer that 2024 brings my FanStory family/friends joy, happiness, and blessings.

******
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Not a lot is happening in this post, but it necessary for the rest of chapter and the rest of the book. It has background information and information about our characters.

Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "Being physically attracted to someone is common...but to be mentally, intellectually, and spiritually attracted to someone is something all of us ultimately long for. It's mutual faith in Christ, friendship, and loyalty that holds relationships together when things get tough."

Thank you, Google Images, for an image of a dart board.

Chapter 28 in its entirety it would be around 3000 words, too long for FanStory. I appreciate the reviewers to tell me not to worry about the length of the post. It warms my heart. This is the first part of Chapter 28 and is a little under 1600 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. Of course, when I continue to break the chapters into two part it's still plenty of weeks away.

I have a new computer. I'm hoping my updated Microsoft word helps in editing. We'll see. Thank you for dropping by and reading. I appreciate your help and the time you took to read it.


Chapter 45
Chapter 28 B

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 29 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After they left the craft shop with numerous colors and containers of face paint and brushes, Seth asked, "Before we leave Cedarville, do you mind stopping by the house Abbey and her family will move into? I haven't checked it for a few months."

"Sure. Is this another property you inherited?"

"It is. My grandparents willed it to me."

"What about Abbey? What did she inherit?"

Seth blew out air. "Nothing. She made our grandparents angry. She was specifically written out of their will, and it stated she'd never own any of their property."

"Wow! I can't imagine she could do anything that horrible."

"She didn't. Just in their eyes." As Seth drove, he glanced toward Emma. "She's your age." He paused. "You're from May to August older than her."

"And she already has two children. I'm behind."

Chuckling, Seth said, "I wouldn't worry about it. When she graduated high school, she and Gary wanted to get married immediately. He's four years older and had just graduated from college with a teaching degree and had a job. Our grandparents raised us after our parents died and refused to give her permission. She was still underage. The day after she turned eighteen, they married. Our grandparents never forgave her. After they married, he continued his education."

"What about Abbey?"

"She's been working on her degree between having children." Seth parked in front of the house.

"Their marriage appears to be working. Abbey seems happy."

"She is." He exhaled. "More than once she's ended up on my doorstep in tears."

"So you're used to drying tears and listening to young women. No wonder you're good at it."

"I wouldn't say I'm good at it. I still mess up, but I've had practice. It's what big brothers do, they protect their baby sisters."

Emma placed her hand on Seth's arm. "You've done a good job drying my tears."

"I've also caused some." Seth removed the key from the ignition, got out, and opened Emma's door. "Ready?" He offered his hand.

Accepting his hand, they went into the house.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 28 B

Back inside the pickup, Emma said, "The house is really nice. I like the large open rooms."

"I think they'll like it there. With the master bedroom and three bedrooms each child will have their own. Maybe the third can be a playroom or a guest room." Seth paused. "I was going to let them live there for free, but Gary wouldn't accept that. So I'm asking they pay the property tax and insurance. It comes to six hundred a month."

"That's more than reasonable."

*****
After they got the dart board and darts from the police station, Seth asked, "Before we head home is there anything else we need?"

"I don't think so."

"Okay." He headed toward their homes.

"Wait."

"What'd you forget?" Seth pulled off to the side of the road.

"Nothing really." When his eyebrows rose, she said, "I'm not sure what else we're having besides pulled chicken."

"What were you thinking?"

"Maybe some kind of potatoes, buns for the pulled chicken, coleslaw, and a dessert."

"What do you already have?"

"Chicken and cabbage."

"So, we need to stop by the grocery store."

"Maybe."

Shaking his head, Seth made a U-turn in the street. "In the glove compartment, there's paper and a pen. Make a list."

"You're being bossy, again."

"Probably or we can make a second trip to the store later this afternoon."

She opened the glovebox. "I get your point."

He grinned at her pout.

*****
After leaving the grocery store, Emma said, "We didn't need more ice cream. There's plenty."

"I didn't want to take any chances."

"I was thinking." She hesitated. "For potatoes why don't we try your air fryer and do French fries?"

"Good idea."

"I'll get it and the instructions. I think the Insta-pot's still at your place."

"It is."

*****
Inside Emma's house, they worked together, read the instructions, and turned it on for the French fries.

After Emma made coleslaw, and put it in the refrigerator, Seth asked, "How about a play-off Scrabble game?"

"There's time before dinner." Emma set up the board and the game began. As it came toward the end, Emma put RR beside a G. "I win."

"Grr is not an official word."

"Is too. I use it all the time, plus Daddy always lets me use it when we play."

"I'm sure he does."

"Are you saying Dad lets me do whatever I want?"

"Not really." Seth paused. "I'm pretty sure when you bat your big green eyes, he struggles saying no." When she crossed her arms over her chest, he added, "It's not just him. I'm willing to bet they affect most men."

"But not you?"

Seth shook his head. "I've fallen for them on more than one occasion."

"But you won't accept Grr as a word?" Emma stood. "I happen to have an official Scrabble Dictionary. I'll prove it."

After she took the dictionary from her bookshelf, she found the word and pointed. "I win."

Grinning Seth said, "So, you do."

Both heads turned when the air fryer beeped.

Emma walked toward the kitchen. "Dinner's ready. I hope you're hungry."

"I am."

Scanning the area, Emma said, "Why don't we just leave everything where it's at and fill our plates?"

After lifting the air fryer's lid, Emma blew on a French fry and then took a bite. "This is good." She took another fry from it, blew on it, and offered it to Seth.

He opened his mouth and accepted it. "You're right. It's pretty good."

As music started playing, Seth said, "What's that?"

"A radio station I grew up listening to. I have it set to come on at six o'clock. It's a cross between sixties and seventies rock and country."

"Why haven't I noticed it before?"

"Somehow the radio got unplugged. I noticed it this morning and plugged it in." Emma walked toward it. "I'll turn it off."

"Keep it on. I just never noticed it before."

As they ate, Emma asked, "Want to play another Scrabble game after dinner, or something else? I have a few more games."

"Any you don't normally win at?"

She laughed. "Let me think about it." After a few moments, she said, "While in college my friends and I used to play a game on our phones where you listen to a snippet of a song and have to guess the name of the song and the musician."

Seth studied her. "You've got to be kidding. You're a musician. I wouldn't have a chance."

"I guess that's a no."

"It's a maybe." He hesitated. "We can try it." When she smiled, he shook his head. "Like I said, I fall for those big green eyes, often."

After the dishes were finished, Emma found the music game on her phone.

Emma won five straight games before Seth took her phone and set it on the counter. He turned up the radio and held out his hand. "Will you dance with me?"

She accepted his hand. "I guess that game's over."

"You'd be correct. I didn't have a chance."

As the dancing continued, they moved closer to each other, their movements slowed. Emma laid her head against Seth's chest, and he rested his head against hers. The dancing stopped, and they stared into each other's eyes.

I can't do this. Seth exhaled and whispered, "Goodnight, Emma." He left, leaving Ace and his pickup.

Emma stood in the center of the living room. Moisture filled her eyes.

*****
Almost an hour later, Emma answered her phone.

"Is everything all right?" asked Susan. "Mother's intuition said I needed to call." Emma sniffled. "You're crying. What's wrong?"

"Seth walked out. He didn't say anything. He just left. I don't know what I did wrong."

"Did something happen?"

"No. We had a great day together. After dinner, we were dancing, and he suddenly left."

"Tell me about dancing. Fast or slow? Describe it."

"We were dancing, and then the dancing slowly became slower."

"Where was your head?"

"Mom? Really?"

"Emma, I think I know why Seth left, but before I say anything I need details."

"Against his chest. His head rested on mine. Our eyes met, the dancing stopped, he said, 'goodbye,' and walked out. He left Ace and his pickup. Why?"

"I'm sure he'll explain tomorrow. I'm guessing he left to protect you. You did nothing wrong."

"What? Protect me from what? It was only him and me."

"From himself. I think he left because his feelings or desires for you were so strong, he wasn't sure he'd be able to trust himself if he stayed. He respects you that much."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm sure you felt something too," interrupted Susan.

All I wanted was for him to kiss me. "Mom, what do I do?"

"Nothing. Wait for Seth to come to you. When he does, just be understanding. He cares so much for you that he won't risk..."

"Mom, Seth's calling," interrupted Emma.

"Okay. Be careful. He's vulnerable right now. Men don't like that feeling. Especially men like Seth."

*****
By the time Emma said goodbye to her mom, Seth had hung up.

Emma put her thoughts together before she returned the call. When he answered, she said, "Sorry I missed your call. Mom called."

"Is there a problem? Are they all right?"

"Mother's intuition told her she should call."

"I'm sure." He hesitated. "I'm sorry I left like I did. I'm sure you were hurt."

"A little hurt but more confused. I thought we'd had a good day. I don't understand what happened."

"You didn't do anything wrong."

"That's what Mom said."

"You told her!" Seth took a moment to compose himself. "What did she say?"

"She said you care about me and left to protect me."

"She's right."

"Do you want to get Ace and your pickup?"

"No. I'll get them tomorrow. I'll be by to escort you to church."

"Okay. I can send Ace home."

"Let him stay with Fur Ball."

"Seth?"

"Emma, I'm not good at putting feelings into words. Please understand you did nothing wrong. I left because I didn't want to risk hurting you or damaging our relationship. I care about you."

"I care about you, too."

"Thank you for saying that. I'll see you in time for church tomorrow. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." After she hung up, she whispered, "I had those feeling too."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Move your coffee table aside grab your partner and slow dance in the living room to Johnny Rivers.

Johnny Rivers - 'Slow Dancing Swayin' To The Music'






Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "With the right person, you won't need to ask for attention and time. You will be spoiled with care." by Rahul Kaushik

Thank you, Google Images, for a photo of a couple dancing.

This is the second part of Chapter 28 and is a little under 1500 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. Of course, when I continue to break the chapters into two part it's still plenty of weeks away.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 46
Chapter 29

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 30 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Emma, I'm not good at putting feelings into words. Please understand you did nothing wrong. I left because I didn't want to risk hurting you or damaging our relationship. I care about you."

"I care about you, too."

"Thank you for saying that. I'll see you in time for church tomorrow. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." After she hung up, she whispered, "I had those feelings too."

TODAY'S POST:

Sunday morning, Emma answered the door. "Come in. I'm almost ready."

"Mornin'." Seth glanced at his watch. "I'm a few minutes early." He knelt and roughed up Ace's ears. "Were you a good boy?"

From the kitchen, Emma said, "Of course. Is he ever not good?"

"That's true." Seth watched Emma lift her guitar case. "I'll carry that." He took it from her. "Ready?" he asked as he walked toward the door.

Emma moved in front of him, their eyes met, and she threw her arms around his neck.

Seth set down the guitar and drew her closer. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay." She stepped back. "I just needed to make sure we're good."

"We're good."

"Thank you." Emma glanced at her phone. "We'd better get to church."

"You're right." He opened the extended cab passenger door, set her guitar inside, and then helped her into the passenger seat. After he turned the ignition key, he asked, "What are your plans for today?"

She took a piece of paper from her purse. "Pastor Pat wants me to announce the upcoming youth group's activities. After that, I think it's the usual. Do you have any plans?"

He grinned and touched her hand. "The same as yours."

*****
Inside the church, Seth and Emma sat beside her parents. As Emma sat, Susan took her hand and patted it. Emma mouthed, "All is good."

Susan smiled.

Pastor Pat welcomed everyone and then called Emma up front. "And please bring your guitar." While Emma walked to the pulpit, he continued, "Chief Carter, please stand. Seth teaches our young adult Apostles Creed class. I've heard great reports from those who attend. I think there might be room for one more. If interested, see me." He faced Emma. "Ready to give us an update on the youth group's activities?"

She held up the bulletin and pointed to the back. "They're listed in today's bulletin and are on the church calendar. Tomorrow's fundraiser begins at eleven at the city park. The girls are face painting. The boys will have a combination of shooting hoops and darts competition." She smiled and pointed. "I see Charlie Michaels is here today. Welcome. He donated gift cards for the winners of this activity. Please give him a hand for his generosity. As you leave, introduce yourself and tell him thank you."

Emma held up her paper. "I want to thank everyone for supporting our hire a teen project. It keeps our teens busy. Next Sunday, I'll give you the amount the teens have earned. I wanted to wait until tomorrow's activity to give you a total."

After a pause, she said, "Now for the dates of upcoming activities. I'll just list them: July 16th, a fifties' dance. I'm hoping to get donations for cookies and punch. The teens have suggested we open this up to the community. It's a great opportunity to invite people to our church, but I don't think Fellowship Hall is large enough."

The high school principal, Tim Wilson stood. "Emma, you can use the high school gym or cafeteria."

"Wow! Thank you, Mr. Wilson. God keeps working with the youth."

She frowned at her paper. "I guess I didn't stick to the plan of just giving you the dates. I'll try to do better or we'll be here all day. July 24th, that's a Wednesday, we're looking at an ice cream social. More information will follow. Our white-water rafting is tentatively scheduled for August 20th."

Ronnie Calhoun stood up. "Emma, I know our police chief is helping with the youth. Since his recent accident, I'm sure he won't be able to help chaperone that activity. I'm volunteering."

Seth stood. "I'm sure I'll be healed by then. It's six weeks away. But thank you for the offer."

Emma glanced at Pastor Pat, who said, "We have plenty of time to worry about that. Thank you for volunteering."

"I haven't discussed this with Pastor Pat, but I'm thinking of scheduling Vacation Bible School, the first week in August. I know we normally use a canned curriculum, but I'm thinking of doing something different. The theme, Stories of Jesus." She reached for her guitar. "That leads me to the song I'd planned for today, 'Tell me the Stories of Jesus.' Pastor Pat, is it okay?"

He shook his head and grinned. "Of course. Try discussing it with me first, next time."

Her eyes lit up the sanctuary. When the song finished, Emma said, "Teens, after the service would you please meet me in our room for a short meeting. If everyone gets there right away, it shouldn't take longer than five minutes. Thank you."

When she returned to her seat, Seth held her hand.

*****
The service ended, and Emma rushed to Charlie to thank him for the donated gift cards. "If possible, it'd be nice if you attended and handed the cards to the winners." She glanced at Seth by her side. "What do you think, around eight-thirty? Think we'll have the winner by then?"

Seth nodded. "We should. The fireworks are scheduled to start around nine o'clock."

"Sorry." Emma put her hand on Seth's arm. "Charlie Michaels, this is Seth Carter. He'll be supervising this activity."

Both men shook hands, before Charlie said, "I can be there." His eyes met Emma's. "Will you?"

"Of course." She glanced toward a door leading to the back of the church building. "Sorry, I have a meeting with the youth and promised it wouldn't take long." She walked away.

Seth called after her, "I'll be there in a minute."

*****
After the youth meeting, Emma checked the posters they'd made. "They look good."

She turned her head when she heard, "Yes, you do look good."

Emma said, "Thank you but why are you here?" She tried to walk by him, but he moved in front of her.

"It appears we're alone. We need to talk."

As he walked closer, Emma backed up. "I need to leave. Seth's waiting. My parents are expecting us for dinner."

He kept closing in and now had her against the wall. "We were good together. I know you haven't forgotten. One doesn't forget their first love. I'm confused why you're wasting time with that cop."

Ronnie used the side of his hand to caress her cheek. "He doesn't know how to treat you. I do."

"You need to leave."

"Emma, Emma, Emma, you don't get it. I'm used to getting my way and I want you." He pressed his lips against hers.

She moved her face and struggled. When he didn't stop, she kneed him in the groin. Ronnie backed up, hunched over, and covered the painful area with his hands. He rushed from the room.

As he left, Seth entered, but paused and watched Ronnie leave. "What's wrong with Calhoun?" Emma went to Seth and put her arms around his neck. He drew her closer. "Are you all right?"

"I am now." Emma backed away. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

Seth pulled her into a hug. "If this has to do with last night, I still plan on hugging you, especially when you need it," he interrupted. "What happened?"

She pointed to the wall. "Ronnie came in and pressed me against it. He tried to kiss me. I told him to leave. He didn't so I kneed him."

Grinning, Seth said, "I'm glad you did. Maybe he'll understand you're not interested." He hesitated. "You're not, are you?"

Her eyes widened. "I'm surprised you asked, but no, I'm not."

He put his hand on the small of her back. "Ready?"

*****
Once the dogs were picked up and they'd changed their clothes, they continued to her parents for Sunday dinner.

When Seth parked in front of Keith and Susan's house, Jake pulled up. Seth helped Emma from the pickup.

Jake walked up, hugged, and kissed her cheek. "Pumpkin, good to see you again."

Emma returned the hug. "I'm glad you've become a Sunday regular."

He chuckled. "I guess two weeks in a row makes me a regular."

"I'll go inside and help Mom. I'm sure you two have things to talk about."

Seth nodded. "You can leave Fur Ball here with Ace. I'll watch her. We'll be in shortly."

Jake watched Emma walk to the house. "She's not bubbly. Is something going on between you two?"

Running his hand through his short hair, Seth said, "Sort of, but not really." He exhaled. "Last night I..." He hesitated. "You know if I mess up, I'll have you, Keith, and Pastor Pat to answer to?"

"What happened?"

"Nothing happened. I left before anything did." Jakes eyes widened, before Seth continued, "We were dancing." Jake moved his hands motioning for Seth to hurry along. "Then we stopped."

"In an embrace?"

Seth avoided eye contact but nodded. "I said goodnight and left without Ace or my pickup."
"You left Emma standing in the center of the living room with no explanation?"

"Pretty much."

"Did you go back later and talk?"

"I called. I didn't trust myself around her. Susan had a feeling something was wrong and called Emma. Emma told her what happened, and Susan explained why it happened."

"I guess you'll finally admit Emma's not a child but a fully developed woman."

"That she is. That revelation hit me like a brick wall. I wasn't prepared. I knew I cared for her, but..."

"Now what?" interrupted Jake.

"I'm aware how attracted I am to her, and I need to be careful. I won't make that mistake again."

"Have you thought about Emma? I'm betting she had the same desires, probably for the first time in her life."

Closing his eyes, Seth took deep breaths. "No, but I bet you're right. How do I approach this?" He paused. "Maybe Susan did."

"Are you willing to risk that she didn't?"

"Not really." Seth watched Pastor Pat drive up. "I'll talk with her tonight."

*****
As the boxes of leftovers were being put in Seth's vehicle, Emma hugged her dad. "Daddy, are you feeling all right? You look tired."

Keith kissed her cheek. "I'm fine, Sweetheart. I've been working extra hours with the contractors over the bookstore expansion. Once that's over, things will calm down."

Emma hugged her dad. "Is there any way I can help?"

"Just having you around is enough."

"You have that. Get some rest. If I don't see you tomorrow, I'll see you Tuesday."

*****
On the way home, Seth asked, "Is everything all right? You seem quiet."

"Daddy seemed tired. I asked, and he said he was all right, just tired from the extra time he's been putting in over the bookstore expansion."

"That'll be nice. It'll make the dining room larger." Seth chuckled. "If it's completed before next summer, you'll have room for the reading program's art projects."

"Hmm, I hadn't thought about that, but it's true."

"You all ready for tomorrow?" asked Seth.

Emma glanced through the back window. "I see the basketball hoop. I guess we are." She smiled. "I think it'll be fun."

After the leftovers were carried inside and put away, Seth asked, "Can we talk?" When Emma nodded, he took her hand and led her to the couch.

Swallowing Emma asked, "What do you want to talk about?"

His eyes met hers. "Don't look so nervous. It'll be all right."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. We need to talk about last night." When Emma started to stand, Seth took her hand. "Stay. We should discuss it." He saw concern in her eyes. "I'm not comfortable talking about it either, but as a couple we have to."

Seth checked his phone. "It's Abbey. I'll call her later."

After a moment of silence, he began, "Before we go any further, I want to say I care for you, a lot. I knew your parents before I became Police Chief. Jake had introduced us. I knew from the beginning how religious they are. When you stopped by my house and asked about the garage door opener, I realized how religious you are."

Molly sat below Emma and whined. Emma picked her up and cuddled her. "Does that bother you?"

"No. I'm glad you are." Seth swallowed. "We've never talked about it but have talked around it." He tapped his fingers on his knee. "You're a virgin and plan on staying one until you're married, right?"

She nodded and moisture formed in her eyes. "Is that a problem?"

Seth covered her hand with his, as he rushed his answer, "No! It's not." His eyes met hers. "I hope the next part isn't a problem for you. I'm not..."

"I figured you weren't," interrupted Emma. "It's all right."

His eyebrows rose. "How did you know?"

"I read between the lines when you were discussing Jillian."

He nodded. "I want you to know I have no problem honoring your wishes. I do ask that you speak up if I cross a line or make it uncomfortable for you."

He took a few deep breaths. "Last night holding you close for that long caused a desire I wasn't prepared for. I didn't trust myself, so I left."

Emma studied Molly on her lap and whispered, "I had feelings I've never experienced before."

Seth picked up Molly, moved her aside, and put his arms around Emma. "I suspected as much. That's why we needed to talk. We'll be careful from now on." He moved her chin so his eyes met hers. "It doesn't mean I won't hold or hug you."

She whispered, "Thank you."

"You're beautiful, but your modesty reveals your inner beauty."


Tell Me The Stories of Jesus by Becky Buller




Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "Never open a person's heart with no intention on catching them when they fall in love with you." Cody Brett

Thank you, Google Images, for this poster.

This is Chapter 29 in it's entirety. It's little under 2300 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. Of course, when I continue to break the chapters into two part it's still plenty of weeks away.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 47
Chapter 30

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 31 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

He took a few deep breaths. "Last night holding you close for that long caused a desire I wasn't prepared for. I didn't trust myself, so I left."

Emma studied Molly on her lap and whispered, "I had feelings I've never experienced before."

Seth picked up Molly, moved her aside, and put his arms around Emma. "I suspected as much. That's why we needed to talk. We'll be careful from now on." He moved her chin so his eyes met hers. "It doesn't mean I won't hold or hug you."

She whispered, "Thank you."

"You're beautiful, but your modesty reveals your inner beauty."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 30

Inside the youth group room, early Monday morning, Theresa asked, "Ms. Emma, how many tables do you think we'll need?"

"Theresa, I'll have an answer in a minute." Emma released her breath. "Seth, I never asked if we could use your pickup to transport things to the city park."

"I thought it was a given. Of course, you can use it."

Standing beside Theresa, Emma said, "At first I didn't think any, but then I realized even though we're at Picnic Shelter Three, they'll need those tables for people eating and resting, so I'm guessing two." She glanced at Seth. "Maybe only one."

"I'd take two to be safe and what fourteen or fifteen chairs?"

Nodding, Emma said, "Sure." She continued addressing the teens, "Make sure we get all the posters."

*****
At the city park, Seth told Ace to stay with Emma as she placed posters announcing their July 4th activities in numerous areas around the park but then she'd move them.

Jacob, one of the teens, watched as she moved one for the third time. "Seth, do all women change their mind that often or just Ms. Emma?"

Seth shook his head, "Jacob, I think it's fair to say all women, but Emma might hold the record." He cocked his head as she, again, moved a poster. "I think it's time I step in or we'll never be ready."

Taking the posters, Seth put up each one. After they all had a spot, he asked, "I think these places are perfect, don't you?"

As Jacob watched and laughed, Emma faced him and frowned. "I'm not sure about this."

Putting his arm around her, Seth grinned. "I am." He checked his watch for the time. "And just in time." He rounded up the boys.

*****
While waiting for people to come to their activities, the youth challenged Seth to the basketball shoot and dart throwing. He scored fifteen shooting the three pointers, the maximum amount, and one hundred points shooting darts. The third dart hit the center, but with the other two already there it bounced out. He totaled one hundred fifteen points.

Emma watched and smiled.

He winked at her once he'd finished.

*****
Around seven o'clock, Emma watched Carl walk up to Seth. They had a private conversation.

Seth came to her. "Sorry, but Ace needs to be a police dog." He nodded toward Carl. "His uniform's in the pickup."

Emma hugged Ace and kissed his muzzle. "Be safe."

He licked her cheek.

It was almost eight o'clock when Charlie Michaels arrived and stood beside Emma. "Ms. Winters, may I call you Emma?"

"Of course."

"Good. Emma, I'm wondering after we hand out the gift cards, could we watch the fireworks together?"

She glanced toward Seth. "I'm sorry, but I already have a date for the fireworks."

Seth walked over, put his arm around Emma's waist, and nodded toward the dartboard. "Once he's finished, we're ready to announce the winners."

"The girls are almost finished cleaning up the face painting area."

Seth walked slowly toward the boys.

Charlie sighed. "You and the police chief are dating?"

"We are."

"Is it casual?"

She shook her head. "I'm afraid not. It's serious."

When Emma said that Seth glanced at her and winked.

The girls finished and joined the boys. As Emma stood beside Seth, he leaned over and whispered, "I'm glad you think we're serious. I agree."

Her eyes twinkled.

People gathered around for the gift cards presentation. Emma stood in front and reminded everybody that Charlie Michaels had generously donated them from his sporting goods store in Cedarville. After she called out the names and their scores, the recipients came up and claimed their prizes from Charlie.

*****
Everything was loaded on Seth's pickup to be returned to the church once the fireworks had ended.

Seth and Emma found a semi-private area by the stream to watch, and Emma said, "Can I share an idea with you?"

"Of course."

"In January, after I get caught up on my finances, I thought maybe I'd go back to school. To be a 'Community In Schools' worker a master's degree is required. That way I can work with troubled teens. It would take a while. Since I'd be teaching, I'd only take a few classes each semester. I think most of them can be on-line. The college in Cedarville offers that. What do you think?"

"You don't need my permission. Since you asked, I think it's a wonderful idea. I'll support you anyway I can."

Emma smiled and laid her head against Seth's shoulder. "Thank you."

The fireworks display started, and Emma's eyes sparkled. "Seth, did you see that one? It was beautiful."

He watched the enthusiasm radiate from her. "Yes, you are beautiful."

She faced him. "I meant the fireworks."

Chuckling, he said, "And I meant you." He slipped his arm around her waist.

"Chief?" When they heard the voice, they turned. Carl walked up and said, "I'm returning Ace. He found more than we expected. We need you. Sorry, Emma."

"It's all right. It's a hazard of dating the police chief."

Seth's eyes met hers. "Sorry. I'll be back as soon as possible." He scanned the area. "Move closer to the crowd." He asked Carl, "Is Ace needed or can he stay with Emma?"

"He's done."

"Good." Seth removed Ace's uniform, petted him, and teased, "You're back to being a pampered pet."

Seth started to walk away, but returned and removed a key from the key ring. "Emma, I can't leave you without a way home. In case this takes a while, take my pickup and Ace home. I'll catch up with you later."

After she accepted the key, she put it on her ring. "I won't lose it this way."

They hugged.

*****
The fireworks display had ended and almost everybody had left when Emma petted Ace. "I guess Seth isn't going to make it back. We'd better go home."

At home Emma waited about an hour and not hearing from Seth, got ready for bed. I guess whatever happened must be big. Well after midnight and numerous prayers, she fell into a restless sleep.

Around two-forty-five, Ace nuzzled Emma awake. She went to the door. "Who is it?"

"It's me, Seth."

"I'm in my nightshirt."

He chuckled. "I figured you were. Put on a robe. It'll be all right. I'll only be here for a few minutes."

She ran to her room and slipped a pair of sweats under her nightshirt, before she unlocked the door.

Once she opened the door, Seth hugged her. "I needed to know you made it home. I'm sorry I stranded you."

"You didn't strand me. You left me with Ace and your pickup." She went to get her keyring. "I'll get your key."

"Keep it. I wish I could promise this won't happen again, but I can't. I always want you to be able to get safely home. I can easily get a ride." He hesitated. "I used my spare. I'll get an extra one made next week."

Emma tilted her head. "You used your spare? Why? When?"

"Carl and I came somewhere around two and took things back to the church and the basketball hoop to your dad's." He tapped a folded paper on the palm of his left hand.

"I guess I slept through it."

Seth pointed to the window. "Ace checked us out."

Petting the large dog, she said, "I'm sure he did."

He held up the paper. "I'm sure this can wait until morning, but since I'm here it was taped to the youth group door."

"What does it say?"

"I don't know. It's addressed to you."

Emma pulled off the tape, unfolded it, and read it out loud, "A science teacher's making meth and using students to sell it." Her eyes met Seth's. "What does this mean?"

Seth reached for the note. "This needs to go to the lab." He exhaled. "I can't go into details but after reading this, tonight makes a little more sense." He stood. "I need to let you get back to sleep. I just came by to apologize and make sure you're safe." He grinned. "When I realized how late it was, I called and left a message. Your phone wasn't accepting calls."

"Will I see you tomorrow?"

"I'll be busy but will make time for you."

"Thank you." Emma followed Seth to the door. "Are you taking Ace?"

Watching Ace cuddle beside Molly, he said, "I hate to break that up, but I'd better. I might need him before you get up." Emma started to speak, but he interrupted, "I know. If you had a dog like Ace, you wouldn't need to borrow him."

She smiled. "Very true. You're catching on."

After a hug, Seth said, "I'll make time for us tomorrow."

"Goodnight."

~~~~~~~~~~
I'm excited! My novel about Katherine and Gabriel was returned to me Friday by my publisher for my final review. It should be published in a few weeks. YEAH!!!!!! I'll keep you posted.
~~~~~~~~~~


Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Today's quote from what I've learned from my research. "You deserve someone who will guard your heart and destroy anything meant to harm you, with loyalty running so deep in their veins that they get physically ill at the mere thought of betrayal.
You deserve to be seen.
You deserve to be heard.
You deserve to be wanted.
And most importantly.....
you deserve to be loved."
Cody Brett

Thank you, Google Images, for the photo of July 4th fireworks.

This is Chapter 30 in its entirety. It's little under 1500 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. Of course, when I continue to break the chapters into two part it's still plenty of weeks away.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 48
Chapter 31 A

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 32 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Seth reached for the note. "This needs to go to the lab." He exhaled. "I can't go into details but after reading this, tonight makes a little more sense." He stood. "I need to let you get back to sleep. I just came by to apologize and make sure you're safe." He grinned. "When I realized how late it was, I called and left a message. Your phone wasn't accepting calls."

"Will I see you tomorrow?"

"I'll be busy but will make time for you."

"Thank you." Emma followed Seth to the door. "Are you taking Ace?"

Watching Ace cuddle beside Molly, he said, "I hate to break that up, but I'd better. I might need him before you get up." Emma started to speak, but he interrupted, "I know. If you had a dog like Ace, you wouldn't need to borrow him."

She smiled. "Very true. You're catching on."

After a hug, Seth said, "I'll make time for us tomorrow."

"Goodnight."

TODAY'S POST

Chapter 31


Knowing the July 4th activities would cause her to be out late, Emma had planned to come to work Tuesday in time for the lunch crowd.

When Emma arrived at the bakery, Keith greeted her with a hug. "Glad you're here. Did you have fun last night?"

"I did. The youth made a lot of money. I put it in the night deposit on the way home." She glanced around the dining room. "I hope this morning was as slow as we expected."

"It was. How did your meeting with Mr. Matthews go?"

"Great. All the paperwork is signed. I'm officially a teacher come August."

"I'm glad to hear it. Seth's been in for coffee three times. He looks like he didn't get much sleep last night."

"I doubt he did. Our date was cut short. Something happened, but I don't know what. He doesn't share police business with me."

"I'm sure he's protecting you."

Emma nodded as she tied her apron around her slender waist, and watched Seth walk across the street. She met him at the door with a smile. "Hello. How's your day?"

He slipped his arm around her and led her to his favorite table. "It just got better."

"I have a feeling you're really here for coffee and food."

"I could use both, but I also needed to see you. What time are you getting off?"

"I'll talk with Dad, but I'm betting I can leave around six o'clock. Earlier if you're free."

Seth glanced at his watch and thought. "Six it is. Plan on going to dinner. Since I stranded you last night, I want to make it up."

"You don't need to."

"I know."

Keith walked over. "Emma, get this man his coffee and some food."

She giggled. "He hasn't given me his order."

Hearing his name called from the kitchen, Keith turned and walked toward it. Almost to the counter, he collapsed.

Emma ran to him and knelt. "Daddy? Daddy?"

Seth, close behind, felt for a pulse and started CPR.

Before Emma could call 911, Carl walked in. "What happened?"

Continuing with CPR, Seth said, "I think Keith had a heart attack. Call it in, then help."

Emma and her mom stood off to the side, held each other, cried, and prayed.

Moments later the ambulance arrived. EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) examined Keith, did emergency stabilizing care, and then he was on his way to the hospital. Susan was allowed to ride with him.

*****
Seth nodded toward Carl. "I'll take Emma and stay with her."

"I'll handle things at the station."

"Call if you have questions." Seth paused. "I'm sure Jake will help. Can you call him?"

"Sure."

Carl made the call as Seth escorted Emma to his police cruiser.

The trip to the hospital was silent except for the sound of Emma crying and praying.

*****
At the hospital, Seth and Emma found Susan seated in the ER (Emergency Room) waiting room. "The doctors are with Keith. They haven't said anything." Tears flowed down Susan's cheeks.

Emma and her mom hugged as they both cried. Seth stood nearby.

When the tears lessened, Emma put her hand on Seth's arm. "I know you have a lot of work. You don't need to stay."

He drew her into a hug and kissed her forehead. "I'm not leaving you or your mom."

When Pastor Pat, Carl, and Ace walked up, Seth petted Ace. "I'm not sure he should be here."

Carl studied the large dog. "Chief, he knows something's wrong and there's no way he's going to stay away. He demanded I bring him. He's just as stubborn as his handler."

Watching Ace cuddle with Emma, Seth nodded. She needs him.

Pastor Pat walked up and embraced Susan. Before long everyone formed a circle, held hands and prayed.

After the prayer, Carl and Seth found a quiet area and discussed police business. When they finished, Carl left.

Jake joined the group, as the doctor came from examining Keith.

The doctor approached Susan and offered his hand. "Mrs. Winters, I'm Dr. Holden. I'm the cardiologist who's in charge of your husband's care." After she accepted his hand, he pointed to some chairs. "Let's sit and discuss his condition."

Dr. Holden acknowledged everyone present before he began, "Mr. Winters suffered a massive heart attack. This happened because the coronary arteries that branched from his aorta were blocked. That stopped all circulation and oxygen to the heart. This caused extensive damage."

"You can fix it, right?" asked Emma as tears crept down her cheeks.

"I'll try to answer that. Before I do, I have a question." The doctor took a deep breath, before he asked, "How long has Mr. Winters had high blood pressure and high cholesterol?"

"I don't know. I don't think Keith's seen a doctor in..." Susan thought before she continued, "I honestly don't know. I can't remember him ever visiting a doctor. He always seemed healthy."

Putting his hands together, Dr. Holden said, "I was afraid of that." He glanced toward the ER door. "We're doing what we can. He needs surgery, but right now he's not strong enough to survive it."

Pastor Pat held Susan's hand. "Doctor, what can we do?"

His eyes met Pat's. "Pray." He stood. "I need to get back to my patient."

They remained silent as they watched him walk back into Keith's ER room.

Emma held Seth's hand, swallowed, and whispered, "It's not good, is it?"

Seth gave her a brief hug. "It doesn't sound like it."

Pastor Pat said, "Dr. Holden said pray, so let's pray." He led them in prayer.

The waiting continued.

Eventually Jake and Seth found a quiet corner and talked. As Jake prepared to leave, Mayor Castle came in and hugged Susan and Emma before he pulled up a chair. Jake and Seth walked over and shook his hand.

Jake said, "Sorry, but I need to leave." He hugged and kissed Susan's cheek. "I'm only a phone call away. I'll be at the police station if you need me. Before I leave town, I'll return." He hugged Emma. "Pumpkin, call if you need anything." He glanced at Seth. "See that this guy gets some food. He's running on coffee and no sleep."

Emma reached for Seth's hand. "Sorry. You never did get lunch."

Seth patted her hand. "Don't worry about it." His eyes met the mayor's. "I know there's a lot going on right now, but..."

"Don't say another word," interrupted Mayor Castle. "You're where you should be. I'd be concerned if you weren't here." He glanced around. "This is where your heart is. I know if you're needed, they can call, and you'll answer."

"Jake's going to the station now to make sure everything's running smoothly."

"By the way, I got your memo about the teenage girls walking home after dark. I like the idea about providing transportation. We'll discuss it later." The mayor's eyes met Seth's. "Did I hear you haven't eaten in a while? How long is a while?"

Emma exhaled. "I'd like to know that myself."

When Seth didn't answer, Mayor Castle continued, "I'll be back with food for everyone."

Seth exhaled. "You don't need to."

His comment was ignored.

Before long Mayor Castle returned with sandwiches, fresh fruit, and water. Very little was eaten, but the drinks were consumed.

Often Emma got up, paced the floor with Ace by her side or stood outside her father's door. Seth remained close to hold a hand, give a hug, or dry a tear.

Pastor Pat remained by Susan's side.

*****
Close to ten o'clock Dr. Holden returned. "Mr. Winters has regained consciousness." His eyes met Seth's. "You're Seth, right?" When Seth indicated he was, the doctor continued, "He's asking to speak with you."

Seth stood. "Why me?" He followed the doctor into the room.

When Seth stood by the bed, Keith motioned for the nurse to remove his oxygen mask before he reached for Seth's hand. "I have some things I need to say." The nurse pulled up a chair for Seth, and then Keith continued, "I've noticed the way you and my daughter look at each other." He paused. "You two have something special. You're taking my place in Emma's heart."

"I've mentioned before that Emma's heart's large enough for both."

A partial grin came to Keith's lips. "That's true. I know you're worried about the age difference. I was too with her mom, but don't. You have my blessing." His eyes closed for a moment, before he continued, "Promise me even if something happens and you two don't get married, that you'll always make sure my little girl's safe."

His eyes met Keith's. "I'll always look after Emma."

Nodding Keith said, "Thank you. Also, I want Jake to take my place walking her down the aisle."

Seth swallowed. "Keith, you're going to walk Emma down the aisle."

Keith shook his head, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

The nurse adjusted the mask and checked the tubing before she said, "Mr. Winters needs to rest."

Seth returned to the waiting room.

Emma studied Seth as she walked to him. "Are you all right?"

He hugged her. "I'm fine."

"What did Daddy say?"

"Not a lot."

"What are you not telling me?"

He shook his head. "After he rests, I'm sure you'll be able to see him."

*****
When Jake returned, he tapped Emma's shoulder. "Pumpkin, got a hug for me?"

Emma went into Jake's arms. "Always."

Over her shoulder, Jake nodded at Seth and mouthed, "How's she holding up?"

Mouthing back, Seth said, "Acceptable."

Jake kissed Emma's forehead. "Can I steal Seth for a few minutes?"

"Of course." She glanced toward her mom. "I'll sit with Mom."

*****
When Pastor Pat joined Seth and Jake, he asked, "Seth, how did it go with Keith?"

Seth moved making sure Emma wouldn't be able to read his lips. "He gave me his blessing to marry Emma. He said he knew I had taken his place in her heart." He ran his hand through his short hair. "I reminded him Emma's heart was large enough for us both. He also asked if something happened, and we didn't get married I'd promise to keep Emma safe."

Pastor Pat touched his arm. "I know that had to be hard." After a moment, he asked, "Did he say anything else?"

Nodding, Seth continued, "Yes." He exhaled. "He's ready to die." His eyes met Jake's. "He wants you to walk Emma down the aisle. I attempted to assure him that he would do that. He wasn't convinced."

Jake swallowed. "I'd be honored, but don't share this with Emma or Susan."

"I won't, but Emma's asking about our conversation. I'm not sure how long I can avoid the subject. I won't lie to her."

Pastor Pat nodded. "Lying is never the right answer." He glanced toward the ladies. "I'll sit with them. I'm sure you two have business to discuss."

*****
After Jake and Seth found a quiet corner, Seth offered his hand. "Thanks, buddy for taking care of this so I can be here."

Jake reached his arm out and hugged Seth. "It's what friends are for. Besides I'm happy Emma has you. Keith was there for me when my wife died. In a way I'm repaying the favor." He paused. "He was also there for you when you needed someone."

Then he shared information about the ongoing investigation. It wasn't long before he answered his ringing phone. After answering it, he said, "It was Carl. I need to get back. We have the science teacher narrowed down to two suspects." He glanced toward Emma. "I need to share something with her."

Both Seth and Jake walked up to her. As Emma stood, Jake hugged her. "I know now's not the best time to tell you, but I don't want you to find out by accident. Peggy Barton was released today. If she messes up, she'll go back to jail. She has daily community service. She's painting residential house numbers on curbs."

"Thank you for telling me. I'm sure that will keep her busy."

Seth shook his head. "Hopefully she's learned her lesson."

Jake kissed Susan's cheek and then Emma's. "I need to get going. Please call if you need anything. I'll be in town for a while longer."

Seth walked toward the elevator with him. "If you need a place to sleep, mine is available. I have a spare bedroom."

"Thanks. Cedarville's only twenty minutes away."

"But it seems like hours when you're dead tired."

"That's true." Jake glanced at Ace. "Carl's been to the house and checked on Molly. Why don't I take Ace for a walk and feed him? I know you keep food in the cruiser."

"He'd appreciate it." Seth stayed with Jake and Ace until they got on the elevator.

*****
Emma stood by the door to her dad's room. Her head turned when she heard Ronnie Calhoun's voice, "Emma, I know Chief Carter's busy with police stuff. I heard last night he left you without a way home. That's no way to treat a lady. I'd never treat you that way."

"Seth made sure I safely made it home. You've treated me a lot worse."

"Are you still holding something against me that happened back in high school? I was young and foolish. I've matured since then."

"Just Sunday you made an unwanted pass."

"All the signs were there, you wanted me to kiss you."

"Seth or no Seth, I don't want you anywhere near me. You need to leave."

Ronnie reached for her arm. "I'm not going anywhere."

Ace returned ahead of Jake and bared his teeth.

Removing his arm from Emma, Ronnie said, "Emma, call off the dog."

Pastor Pat and Jake arrived at the same time. Jake said, "Ace." He nodded at the large dog, before he faced Pat. "Please escort Emma and Ace to her mom. I need to have a friendly chat with Calhoun."

Jake watched them until he was sure they were out of hearing range before he said, "Emma told me that she knows you're up to something, she doesn't know exactly what, but she doesn't trust you. Stay away from her."

"Aren't you a little old to be dating Emma?"

"You're right, I am. I love her like a daughter. On the other hand, Seth's younger and hasn't got complete control over his temper. He's fed up with you. If you're smart, you'll stay away from her or you'll have to deal with both of us." Jake chuckled. "Matter-of-fact, Pastor Pat thinks of Emma as a daughter. Who knows what he's capable of?"

"If Seth's so concerned about her, where is he?" Ronnie glanced around the area. "Why isn't he with her?"

"I'm betting he's searching for coffee." Jake checked his watch. "He hasn't had any sleep in probably thirty-six hours. He knows Pastor Pat's with her. I can promise you he's not far. When he returns, he won't be happy to see you. If I were you, I'd leave."

Ronnie studied Emma. "Can I say goodbye?"

"Not your best idea." Jake escorted Ronnie to the elevator and watched him get on. When he turned around, he saw Seth with a large coffee heading in his direction.

Seth studied Jake's face. "What did I miss?"

"Calhoun."

He searched the floor. "I don't see any blood."

"I was on my best behavior. I think, or at least hope, he got the message." Jake studied Emma, before he said, "As soon as I say goodbye to Emma and Susan, I'll go the station and then head home. Call if anything changes. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night."

After goodbyes were said, Jake left.

*****
A little after midnight Dr. Holden walked up to Susan and Emma. "Mr. Winters is awake and asking for both of you."

Emma searched Seth's face and he said, "I'm right here." She nodded, before she went into the room.

Inside the room, Susan took Keith's hand and said, "We've been worried about you."

The nurse removed his oxygen mask so he could speak, "Don't be. God's taking care of me." Keith swallowed. "I need both of you to listen carefully. Susan, we've had a wonderful life and marriage. I love you more than you can imagine. You're everything a man could ask for in a wife and more. You're still young; only fifty-four. I don't want you to spend the rest of your life alone. I want you to open your heart to love again."

Susan cried. "What are you saying?"

Keith reached for his daughter's hand. "Emma, come closer. Your mom and I had a perfect marriage. I didn't think life could be any better, but you came into our lives and made it even better. I love you. You brought a bright spot to our life."

"Daddy, why are you talking like this?"

"I needed you both to know how much I love you." Keith closed his eyes.

Within moments the alarms on the machines sounded.

The doctor ran in, and Susan and Emma were ushered out.

Pastor Pat hugged Susan. Seth hugged Emma.

A little later the doctor came out and shook his head. "I'm sorry."


Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Today's quote from my research: 'Time and time again someone will date a person because of their "looks".
You should look at all the qualities they possess as a person.
Someone√???√??√?¬¢??s physical appearance plays an extremely small role in the dating world.
Look at their work ethic, the way they treat other people, their bubbly personality, their ambition, the way they communicate with you, their confidence, and most importantly... their heart.
This will be who raises your children someday.' Cody Brett

Thank you, Google Images, for the poster of a heart attack.

Chapter 31 is posted in i's entirety. My choices were two short chapters or one longer post. I chose one longer post because I didn't want any of you to worry about whether Keith survived his heart attack. It's little over 2800 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. Of course, when I continue to break most chapters into two part it's still plenty of weeks away.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 49
Chapter 32

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 33 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Keith reached for his daughter's hand. "Emma, come closer. Your mom and I had a perfect marriage. I didn't think life could be any better, but you came into our lives and made it even better. I love you. You brought a bright spot to our life."

"Daddy, why are you talking like this?"

"I needed you both to know how much I love you." Keith closed his eyes.

Within moments the alarms on the machines sounded.

The doctor ran in, and Susan and Emma were ushered out.

Pastor Pat hugged Susan. Seth hugged Emma.

A little later the doctor came out and shook his head. "I'm sorry."

TODAY'S POST:

It was around mid-morning on Wednesday, when Pastor Pat asked to speak with Seth and Jake. "We're ready to leave the hospital, and I know Emma will argue, but I feel she should stay with her mom for a few days. They need each other."

Jake nodded. "I agree. Suggestions on how to make that happen?"

Shaking his head, Pat said, "All I can think of is we present it as it'll be best for Susan."

Seth glanced toward Emma. "She'll do it for her mom."

Pastor Pat rubbed his chin. "I know we're dead tired, so we need to divide up the work. Seth, you'll have the hardest job, Emma. She wears her emotions on her sleeve. She's going to struggle with this."

"I know." Seth nodded toward Emma. "She's questioning why God didn't answer our prayers."

Pat continued, "Just be there and comfort her. My stock answer is 'we're not promised to be free of tragedy. We're only promised God will be by our side and help us through it'. Keith is in a better place." Pat exhaled and patted Seth's shoulder. "Emma's faith will be tested. Remember Jake and I are here to help in any way."

"What do you want me to do?" asked Jake.

"You have a choice. Be there for Susan or be a go between with the hospital, funeral home, and the family."

"Susan. We have a good relationship." Jake faced Seth. "You're going to have your hands full with work and Emma. Let me know how I can help."

After releasing a deep breath, Seth said, "Thank you, but you have the sheriff's department that needs you."

"Remember we're running on no sleep and emotions are raw. Tempers may flare, we need to give each other grace." Pat studied the women. "They're headed this way. I'll spend most of my time at the house with Susan and Emma but will have meetings at the funeral home and anything that might come up with my congregation. I imagine the church ladies will be at the house as if it has a revolving door."

*****
The drive to Emma's house was silent before she said, "I miss Daddy. I know Mom misses him even more. They were married for thirty-three years. When they married, Mom was younger than I am."

Seth reached over and touched her arm. "It's good you'll be there for her."

She studied Seth. "How long's it going to hurt?"

"I don't know. When Mom and Dad died, I was in high school. It hurt for months. I became almost functional after a while. To be honest it still hurts, but I've learned to live with it."

"Think I can learn to live with it?"

"I do, God will help."

"I'm angry with God. He ignored our prayers and let Daddy die."

"He understands. He'll wait for you."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Being understanding."

Seth parked in front of Emma's garage door. "What are your plans?"

"I'm trying to decide if I should shower and change and then pack or pack and shower at Mom's."

"What do you feel like doing?"

"Nothing."

"Okay." Seth listened. "I hear Molly. I bet she needs you. She knows you're hurting. She wants to cuddle."

"You're right, but Molly can't bring Daddy back."

Seth exited the pickup and opened her door. He put his arms around her. "I'm here whenever you need a hug, to talk, or a shoulder to cry on."

She nodded.

Inside her house, Emma picked up Molly and carried her into her bedroom.

Seth watched as Ace followed Emma.

After a few minutes of silence, Seth heard Emma crying and entered the room.

Emma sat on the edge of her bed holding a photograph of her and Keith as tears streamed down her cheeks.

He sat beside her and held her. She melted into his chest.

Eventually Emma cried herself to sleep. Seth laid her on the bed, covered her, and went into the living room. He called Jake, "Emma had a photo of her and Keith on her nightstand. When she saw it, she lost it. She cried herself to badly needed sleep. We'll be there when she wakes up."

Jake said, "I hope you held her while she cried."

"Duh, of course. After she fell asleep, I even covered her."

"Sorry buddy, I guess I could use some sleep myself."

"We all could. I think I'll hit the couch until she wakes up. Try to catch some sleep yourself."

*****
A few hours later, Ace came in and nuzzled Seth. He woke up and was eye-to-eye with his large dog. "Is she waking up?"

Ace turned and walked toward Emma's room.

Seth stood at her doorway and watched. When she was fully awake, he asked, "Feel better?"

"Maybe, but I feel guilty for falling asleep."

He sat beside her. "Why?" He paused. "Emma, you need to take care of yourself. Keith's watching over you. He'll always be part of your life." He started to touch her chest but paused and touched his own. "He's in your heart. You'll feel his presence, especially when you need him."

Emma took Seth's hand and guided it to her heart. "Right here?"

His eyes met hers. "Yes, right there." He held her hand.

"When things went wrong, Daddy would hold me and dry my tears. He was always there and made things better."

Seth exhaled. "I'm here for you. I'll hold you and dry your tears. Only I can't make this better. I wish I could."

"Nobody can." Emma scanned her room. "I guess I'd better pack. I'm sure Mom's worried."

Seth stood. "I'll wait in the living room. If you need anything..."

"I'll let you know," interrupted Emma.

He nodded as he left the room.

*****
When Seth stopped for traffic at the edge of their lane, Emma touched his hand. "With all that's going on, what's going to happen to us?"

His eyes met hers. "Right now, we need to concentrate on healing." He inhaled. "I met Keith five maybe six years ago. He was a close friend. I miss him too. To answer your question, I believe this will make us a stronger couple."

*****
After Seth parked along the curb, he opened Emma's door, and she said, "I don't want to do this. Look at all the cars. I'm struggling keeping myself together. I don't think I can be nice to anybody."

"Understood." Seth scanned the area. "What do you want to do?"

Before Emma had a chance to answer, Pastor Pat opened the front door. "I'm glad you're here. Your mom was starting to worry."

Emma nodded. "Sorry. I fell asleep." She whispered to Seth, "We've been discovered."

Seth helped her from the pickup. Molly and Ace followed. Once he grasped her suitcase, he held Emma's hand, and they walked up the sidewalk.

Before going inside, Emma knelt and picked up Molly. "She can be a little much in large crowds."

Nodding, Seth said, "I'm sure." He tapped his thigh for Ace to stay close.

Standing in the foyer, Seth lifted the suitcase. "What should I do with this?"

Scanning the area, Emma said, "It needs to go to my room, but..." She opened a closet door. "Put it in here. If I go to my room, I may not return." She peeked in the kitchen and exhaled. "I can't do it."

"Then don't." He glanced around. "Where would you feel comfortable?"

Searching the area and seeing people everywhere, Emma pointed. "In Daddy's den."

When Seth opened the door, Pastor Pat, Jake, and Susan were sitting inside. Susan sat on a love seat and reached for Emma's hand. "Too many people?"

Emma knelt and hugged her. "Yes, I'm sorry, but..."

"Don't be sorry. I couldn't either." Susan patted the seat beside her. "Please sit."

Pastor Pat said, "We can sit in silence if you prefer, or we can share our favorite Keith memory." His eyes met each of theirs, before he started, "Keith was on the church committee that interviewed me. A few days later, he represented the church council and offered me my job. He immediately invited me to Sunday dinners. I don't think I've missed one. Keith always saw good in people. We became instant friends." He paused. "That was twenty-five years ago."

Jake leaned over and folded his hands. "I met Keith of all places, in the fishing section of the sporting goods store. We became immediate friends. He was there for me when my wife died. I don't know what I would've done without him. I met him almost twenty years ago." He glanced at Seth. "He helped you when you were beating yourself up over Jillian." His eyes met Emma's. "Sorry."

Seth nodded. "It's all right. Emma knows." He took Emma's hand. "I met Keith around six years ago through Jake. Keith didn't seem to care if as my sister says, 'I'm stingy with words.' He understood." He glanced at Jake. "You're right. I was beating myself up for allowing Jillian to manipulate me. Keith's guidance helped me through it."

Emma rubbed Seth's hand. "I don't have a memory that doesn't involve Daddy." She swallowed. "Daddy was my first love. He always accepted me for who I am. I want to marry a man who'll unconditionally love me like he did." She leaned her head on her mom's arm. "Both my parents helped shape me into who I am today. They not only modeled Christianity but had the perfect marriage. I want that."

Susan dried her tears. "Emma, you were an easy child to parent." She smiled. "You did keep things interesting because you were active and questioned everything, but never mischievous."

She got up and took a picture of her and Keith from the wall and held it to her chest. "As you know Keith is twelve years older than me. I was eighteen when we met. Because of the age difference, my parents were against us dating. We spent years dating at my parents' house. They were our chaperones. His patience was amazing. Most men wouldn't have stayed around. When I turned twenty-one, we were married. Keith was thirty-three. I've never regretted it one second."

She faced Emma. "We did have disagreements, but God was the center of our marriage, and He helped us work through it."

*****
When Pastor Pat answered a knock on the den door, Ms. Sadie said, "Dinner's ready."

Pat nodded. "I'll bless the food."

They walked into the kitchen area where a buffet style meal was laid out. After Pastor Pat blessed the food, Emma retreated to the den.

It wasn't long before Seth brought his plate in and sat. "Emma, you need to eat."

"I don't think I can. My stomach's doing flip flops."

He offered her an apple slice. "Try a bite." She shook her head, so he stopped.

Before long Ms. Sadie brought in a plate and hugged Emma. "I noticed you didn't fill a plate. I filled one for you." When Emma sighed, she continued, "I'm not leaving until you take a bite."

Emma forked a piece of potato and put it in her mouth.

Hugging her again, Ms. Sadie said, "Sweetheart, you've got to eat."

Seth nodded toward Ms. Sadie. After she left, he said, "She's right."

"I know but can't."

"Can you at least drink some water?"

Emma nodded and took a sip. She set the bottle down. "I never noticed you being stingy with words."

He grinned. "I'm comfortable around you. You're easy to talk to."

She covered her mouth. "Today's Wednesday!"

"Pastor Pat canceled everything." Seth finished eating and set his plate aside before he studied Emma. "We're alone. It'll help if you put your feelings into words. Your dad helped me with it. Willing to try?"

"I'm scared and angry with Dad and God. Dad was my anchor. I feel empty and alone, abandoned."

Seth took her hand and held it. "You're not alone or abandoned. Your mom, Pastor Pat, Jake and I will always be here for you." He released a deep breath. "God's willing to help you through this, but there's no quick fix."

When Emma leaned her head against his chest, he kissed her forehead. Silence filled the room as Emma melted into Seth.

*****
Jake opened the door and saw Seth holding Emma. "Sorry, I guess I should've knocked."

Emma raised her head. "Not necessary. Have a seat." She leaned her head against Seth's arm.

"I just wanted to ask if there was anything I could help with." Jake glanced at the door. "If not, I'm headed toward Cedarville."

Seth glanced at his watch. "I should probably head home myself."

Emma stood. "I'm sorry. I know you're tired. I shouldn't have kept you so long."

He stood and drew her into a hug. "I'm here for you."

"I'm fine, really, I am. Please go and get some sleep."

"Show me where your room is, and I'll carry your suitcase upstairs."

After retrieving the suitcase from the closet, Emma showed Seth to her childhood bedroom.

Scanning the room, Seth grinned. "It's exactly as I imagined." After setting down the suitcase, he asked, "You have a phone charger handy?"

Emma grabbed one from her bag and held it out. "Why?"

He plugged it in and set it on the nightstand. "If you need anything tonight, I'm only a phone call away."

"Thank you."

"I'm serious about you calling."

She nodded. "I will."

"One more thing, I'll go into work first thing in the morning and come by around noon. I'll spend the rest of the day with you. But if you need or want anything, call and I'll drop everything to be here."

"Don't stop for lunch. I'm sure there'll be enough to feed an army. Plan on eating here."

Seth nodded. "Okay. Speaking of food, I'm going to ask and expect a yes that you ate something for breakfast and drank a glass of water."

"I'll do my best."

Holding out his hand, he said, "Walk me to my pickup. Ace will watch Fur Ball outside."

Accepting Seth's hand, they walked outside, with Ace and Molly.

Molly took off toward the backyard with Ace close.

Emma walked to the west side of the house and watched the sun lower in the sky.

Seth stood beside her. "It's a pretty sunset."

"It is." She leaned her head against his upper arm. "I forgot how pretty they can be. There are different shades of yellow, orange, coral, and violet."

"I wonder if God put it here tonight to remind you, He's available."

"Maybe, but He should've been there for Daddy."

"I believe He was, but we don't understand everything. What would your dad tell you?"

"He'd say everything works out the way it's supposed to according to God's plan."

Ace brought Molly to them.

"That's right." Seth leaned over and pecked the top of her head. "I'll see you around noon. If you need anything, call." He turned toward his truck.

He and Ace got halfway to the truck, when Emma called, "Seth?" and ran to him and threw her arms around his neck.

He acknowledged Pastor Pat and Jake standing on the sidewalk, but said, "Emma?"

Through her tears she said, "I don't want you to leave."

"Then I won't."

Her eyes met his. "But you're the police chief. I'm single, and the whole town would know and gossip."

"I don't care. If you need me, I'm here."

She studied his eyes before she said, "You'd do that for me?"

"I'd do anything for you." Seth drew her into a tighter hug as she melted into his chest.

After a few moments, Emma backed away, and Seth used his thumb to dry her tears.

"Thank you, but you need to leave." She swallowed. "I'll be all right."

"Emma?"

She nodded. "Really, I will. If I need anything, I'll call."

"Promise?"

She nodded and turned toward the house.

*****
Jake and Pat met Seth at his truck, Jake asked, "How's Emma?"

"About like we expected. She's angry that Keith abandoned her."

Pastor Pat glanced toward the house. "I'd say you're doing everything possible to assure her that she's not alone."

Seth shook his head. "But is it enough?"



Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for the poster to help explain grief.

Chapter 32 is posted in i's entirety. Again, it came down to two short posts or one longer one. It's little under 2800 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. So far it appears the final chapter will be posted March 31, unless I combine some more chapters.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 50
Chapter 33

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 34 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Jake and Pat met Seth at his truck, Jake asked, "How's Emma?"

"About like we expected. She's angry that Keith abandoned her."

Pastor Pat glanced toward the house. "I'd say you're doing everything possible to assure her that she's not alone."

Seth shook his head. "But is it enough?"

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 33

Thursday close to noon, Seth walked up the sidewalk to Susan's house. A few steps from the door, Emma opened it. "Hello."

He moved closer and kissed her cheek. When she touched that area, he asked, "I hope it's okay?"

Her green eyes had a hint of sparkle. "It is."

Seth handed her a bouquet of tulips. "I hope this helps."

"Thank you. You remembered they're my favorite."

"I did. The bulbs are still attached, I hope you can plant them in your garden."

Emma hugged him. "Thank you." Then she glanced inside. "Lunch is almost ready. Mom is in the den. Want to join her?"

Nodding, Seth took her free hand, and they went into the den.

Susan smiled when they entered. "Hello. The flowers are beautiful."

He kissed Susan's cheek and glanced at her lap. "What are you looking at?"

"An old family album. This one covers Emma's toddler years through early elementary."

They sat beside Susan.

Seth pointed and chuckled. "I'm not surprised how cute you were. How old was she?"

"Around two and a half." Susan pointed. "This is one of my favorites. Look how she's melted into Keith's chest. It was her favorite place to be."

He put his arm around Emma's shoulders and squeezed. "I believe it." When she tilted her head, he continued, "You've melted into my chest occasionally."

Her lips formed a pout. "Sorry."

"I'm not complaining. It shows you trust me."

Emma almost whispered, "I do."

All heads turned when Pastor Pat entered. "This is where you're hiding."

Susan's eyes widened. "We're not hiding."

"Why didn't you tell me you wanted to go to Keith's cremation? I should've gone with you. If not me, either Seth or Jake."

"Emma and I were capable of going by ourselves. We were only there long enough to say goodbye. We didn't stay the entire time."

Pastor Pat's eyes met Seth's. "Did you know about this?"

"No, but I'm not surprised. I've learned the Winters' women have minds of their own." He glanced at each of them. "I think they're okay. They did what they needed to do for closure."

Jake walked in. "What did I miss?"

After Pastor Pat explained what they were discussing, Jake grinned. "Pat, I agree with Seth. It's all right."

Susan walked up to Pastor Pat and held his hands. "Keith liked to fix things, but through the years he learned to wait and watch. Sometimes he was just needed for support."

Pat sighed. "Are you saying this is a support time?"

Nodding Susan said, "Yes. You can't fix this."

He glanced toward the kitchen. "I can bless the food."

"That you can do." Susan motioned for Emma and Seth to join them.

Seth said, "We'll be right there." He waited until they were alone, before he took Emma's hand. "About what your mom just said..."

"You want to know how you're doing?" interrupted Emma. After Seth nodded, she said, "When we met, you were a fixer." His eyebrows crunched together, and she continued, "But you've learned to wait and lend support as needed."

"Thank you." He pointed toward the kitchen. "Let's eat. I expect you to make a plate."

"Sometimes you revert back to the fixer role." She hesitated. "Like now."

"Funny." He slightly tugged her hand. "Come on."

After prayer, everyone stood back while Susan and Emma prepared their plates. Emma chose a little sliced fresh fruit salad, a deli meat pinwheel, and a few chips. As she picked up a bottle of water, Seth nodded approval.

Back in the den, Seth said, "Thank you for trying."

Emma stared at her plate, took a sip of water, and then set the plate aside.

Seth noticed. "Still unable to eat?"

"Just looking at food makes me nauseated."

"Okay." After Seth finished eating, he picked up both plates, but left her water bottle. "Try to get as much water down as possible."

A few moments later, Seth returned. "What are your plans for this afternoon?"

"I don't have any. Hopefully Mom and I have answered all of Pastor Pat's questions about tomorrow. I don't see how he could possibly have any more."

"The funeral is at ten. I'll be here around nine o'clock and escort you to the church."

"Thank you. You might want to talk with Pastor Pat. I think he's got something planned."

"I already did, but before I leave, I'll double check." He scanned the room. "Want to sit in silence, go for a walk, shoot hoops, or play a game?"

Emma studied Seth for a few moments. "I'm sorry." She touched his shoulder. "I've been so wrapped up with my problems, I haven't asked how's your gunshot wound's healing."

"There's no reason to apologize. It's doing well. Want to go bowling? I think I'm ready."

"Not really." Emma knelt in front of a cupboard. "In here are numerous board games. Why don't you choose something? I really don't care."

Seth joined her on the floor and held up a disk. "What's this?"

"Daddy had our family VCR tapes put on disks."

"Feel up for watching one?"

Emma put the disk in the player and pressed buttons on the remote control.

Still on the floor, Seth leaned his back against a chair. "Come sit by me."

When she did, he put his arm around her. "If it gets too difficult to watch, I saw a tulip puzzle we can put together."

As Keith cuddled baby Emma, Seth said, "Your dad was so proud of you."

"He was. I must've only been about a month old."

They continued watching the video, as Keith taught Emma to ride a bike. Seth glanced at her and stopped the video. "You're crying. We'll watch it another day."

"These tears are both happy and sad."

"I didn't know tears could be both at the same time."

"They're sad because I miss Daddy. They're happy because I was blessed with a wonderful childhood."

"I knew from my sister that females were complicated, but I'm learning from you exactly how complicated."

When Emma tilted her head, Seth continued, "It's a good thing." He held up the remote. "Should we continue?"

"Yes." Emma melted into Seth's chest.

He glanced down at her and shook his head.

"I felt the head shake."

Seth chuckled. "It was your imagination."
"
Before long, Seth's phone rang. "I'd better answer." He stood and walked to the back of the room.

Emma watched him put his phone away. "It's not good, is it?"

"I'm sorry, but I need to leave."

"I'll be fine. I know you have an important job."

Reaching his hand down to help Emma up, Seth said, "I'll return as soon as possible."

"I know."

He drew her into a tight hug. "I'll let Pastor Pat and Jake know I'm leaving."

Emma walked him to his pickup.

As he opened the door for Ace, to climb in, he said, "He might be needed."

Hugging Seth, Emma said, "I know he's not really a pampered pet, but has a job."

She stood on the front porch until the pickup was out of sight.

Jake opened the door. "Pumpkin, you all right?"

She nodded and they went inside.

*****
A few hours later Seth entered the den. When he didn't see Emma, he asked, "Jake, any idea where Emma is?"

"I think she's on the back patio. Everything all right at the station?"

"For now. Five teenage boys drank themselves unconscious. They're in the hospital. It's a strange case. Not sure what's going on. We'll have to wait until they can answer questions. They're from good families and not troublemakers. This isn't like them." Seth glanced toward the backdoor. "I'll check on Emma."

Seth watched her sitting on a bench through the backdoor window. God, give me the words to ease to her pain. He opened the door. Before he could get through it, Ace ran up to Emma and laid his head in her lap.

She leaned over and kissed his muzzle. "I'm glad you're back."

Shaking his head, Seth sat beside her. "As much as I love Ace, I can honestly say I've never kissed him or had the urge to."

"No wonder he likes spending time with me," teased Emma. After she watched Seth shake his head, she asked, "Is everything taken care of at the station?"

"For now." Seth shared the same information as he did with Jake. "None of it makes sense. Why would teenage boys wake up early on a Thursday morning and meet in an abandoned house for the sole purpose of drinking? We're missing something. Teenage males usually aren't up before noon."

"That's a very good question."

"We'll have to wait until they're able to talk before we get answers."

"Since the house was abandoned, who found them?"

"Two teenage girls just happened to go into the house."

Emma frowned. "Why would two girls randomly go into that house?"

"I didn't interview them." Seth stood and removed his phone. "Excuse me a minute. I need to make a phone call."

A few minutes later Seth, again, sat beside Emma, and Jake came to the porch. "I'll send two men to keep an eye on the teens. Are you putting tails on the girls?" Seth nodded, and then Jake said, "Pumpkin, I'm sorry. We shouldn't discuss this in front of you, especially with everything you're going through."

"Don't worry. I won't discuss it with anyone."

Jake grinned. "I'm sure of that."

*****
Just before dinner, Seth offered Emma his hand. "Let's take the dogs out." Outside he asked, "You okay with everything happening tomorrow?"

"As okay as I can be." Emma turned her head and frowned as Pastor Pat called them to dinner. "Everybody sure eats a lot around here."

"Will you give eating an effort?" asked Seth. After she nodded, he said, "Thank you."

*****
Emma was still unable to eat, so Seth waited until most people went home before he said to Susan, "Emma's not eating. If you have some ice cream, I'd like to see if she'll eat it."

"Help yourself. Keith always made sure we had plenty. He and Emma used to sit out on the back porch and eat it together. Maybe it'll work."

Seth put a small scoop in a bowl and walked to the back porch where Emma sat. He held it out for her. "Would you like to try some?"

"Are you going to?"

"I hadn't thought about it, but if you'll eat it, I will."

Emma took the bowl and spooned some to her lip. As she opened her mouth, she started gagging.

Seth took the spoon and the bowl. "Sorry."

She wiped her mouth. "It's not your fault. You were trying to help. You might as well eat it."

He set the bowl down and both dogs licked it up. Glancing toward the setting sun, he said, "It looks like we're having another beautiful sunset."

"It does." Emma hesitated. "It means it's getting late, and you're going to have to leave, doesn't it?"

He nodded. "There's a few minutes before I need to go."

Emma cuddled in closer. "I don't need you to stay, but I'd like you to."

As Seth started to say something, Jake opened the door. "I'm headed home. Pumpkin, I'll be here in time to escort you and your mom to the church."

When she glanced at Seth, he said, "I'll be here too." He stood and offered his hand. "Want to walk outside with me while Ace takes Fur Ball for a walk?"

She accepted his hand.

Chuckling Jake said, "Molly's not really a fur ball anymore."

Grinning Seth said, "It's growing back. It won't be long before she is again. Fur Ball fits, but I did discover there's a dog under all that."

After Molly finished and Ace herded her to Emma, Seth's eyes met Emma's. "What should I do?"

"It's best if you go home."

"Are you sure?"

When she nodded, he took her in his arms. "If you're sure, I'll see you around nine o'clock."

Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for the photo of tulips.

Chapter 33 is posted in i's entirety. It's little under 2100 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. So far it appears the final chapter will be posted March 31, unless I combine some more chapters.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


Chapter 51
Chapter 34

By barbara.wilkey

Seth and Emma met 35 days ago.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As Seth started to say something, Jake opened the door. "I'm headed home. Pumpkin, I'll be here in time to escort you and your mom to the church."

When she glanced at Seth, he said, "I'll be here too." He stood and offered his hand. "Want to walk outside with me while Ace takes Fur Ball for a walk?"

She accepted his hand.

Chuckling Jake said, "Molly's not really a fur ball anymore."

Grinning Seth said, "It's growing back. It won't be long before she is again. Fur Ball fits, but I did discover there's a dog under all that."

After Molly finished and Ace herded her to Emma, Seth's eyes met Emma's. "What should I do?"

"It's best if you go home."

"Are you sure?"

When she nodded, he took her in his arms. "If you're sure, I'll see you around nine o'clock."



TODAY'S POST:

About eight-forty-five Seth stood outside Susan's front door, expecting Emma to open it. When he knocked, Jake answered, "Morning."

Seth walked in. "Where's Emma? She usually meets me before I have a chance to knock."

"She hasn't come down. Neither has Susan."

"This can't be good. Should I go up?"

"Not sure." Jake checked the time. "Let's wait. Want some coffee? It's a fresh pot."

"Sure do."

As Jake poured Seth a cup, he asked, "Any news on your latest case?"

"Still unable to talk to the boys. I have a feeling the girls might be the key. They're playing dumb."

"Of course, they are."

Susan walked in. "Good morning. You two look very handsome. I'm glad you found the coffee pot."

Jake grabbed a cup. "It's fresh. I'll pour you some."

She nodded and then glanced around. "Where's Emma?"

Seth eyed the stairs. "She hasn't come down."

After a sip of coffee, Susan sighed. "I'd better check."

Touching her arm, Seth asked, "Want me to?"

She nodded. "Please?"

"Sure." Seth set his cup on the counter and headed toward Emma's room.

At the door, he took a deep breath before knocking. "Emma, can I come in?"

After she opened it, she glanced at his suit and then held his face between her hands. "You look very handsome, and you shaved."

"Thank you. I do shave for certain occasions. Today is one of those occasions." He glanced at her wet hair, sweats, and T-shirt. "You look very comfortable." He noticed numerous dresses scattered across the bed. "Can't decide what to wear?"

Emma pointed to what she had on. "I know I can't wear this."

"Probably not. What's the problem?"

"Nothing seems right."

"My suggestion would be which dress are you the most comfortable wearing?" When she glanced at the closet, he opened it. "Is it still in here?"

"Probably the solid light blue one."

Seth held it up. "This one?" After she nodded, he handed it to her. "I'll rehang the others."

"You don't need to."

"Will it help?" She indicated it would, so he said, "Then I'll do it."

"Thank you." She faced her bathroom and touched her hair. "I'd better dry my hair."

"After I finish rehanging these dresses, I'll go downstairs and meet you there."

"Okay." She smiled. "I'm sure there's a cup of coffee with your name on it."

He grinned. "There is." He checked the time. "Think you can be downstairs in thirty minutes?"

"I'll do my best." She sighed. "What's the drop-dead time to leave?"

"Probably nine-thirty-five."

"I'll be down by then."

*****
Emma showed up just after nine-thirty. Seth held out his hand. "Ready?"

"I don't want to do this."

Susan hugged her daughter. "Sweetheart, neither do I, but we have to."

"I know." Emma blinked away tears before she accepted Seth's hand. "I'm ready."

Jake, Susan, Seth, and Emma walked to the black SUV the funeral home had provided.

*****
At the church Susan accepted Jake's offered arm and walked up the sidewalk.

Seth stood by the open door. After waiting a few moments, he reached his hand inside, but said nothing.

Eventually Emma took it and stood beside him. Seth said, "We'll wait as long as you need."

Attempting to hold back tears, Emma said, "The funeral's the final goodbye. I'll never see Daddy again."

"He'll never leave you. He's in heaven watching over you."

"I know." Emma glanced inside the SUV. "I forgot my purse. I'll need Kleenexes."

Seth opened his suit jacket and from the inside pocket took out numerous folded tissues. "I have you covered."

"Thank you."

"I tried to think ahead, but I'm sure I forgot some things."

Emma leaned her head against Seth's arm. "I doubt it." She exhaled. "I'm ready."

He held his arm for her to take. "I'm by your side every step of the way."

She nodded as they entered the church and sat beside Jake and Susan in the front row.

A few moments later, Pastor Pat greeted everyone and explained Keith's wishes would be honored. He took Emma's guitar from its case. "Emma, your dad requested you sing, 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'.

She stood and crept up front. Beside Pat, she whispered, "I know Daddy wanted me to do this, but I'm not sure I can."

Pastor Pat swallowed and handed her the guitar. "God will provide help."

Accepting the guitar, she faced those attending and played a few chords while she gathered herself. She made it through the first line before tears flowed and turned her back to the pews.

Seth walked to her and removed the guitar strap from around her neck. As he put it over his, he whispered, "We'll do this together." When her eyes met his, he continued, "It was Grandma's and Mom's favorite song. I'll play it through a few times until you're ready."

The third time through Emma began singing, and Seth joined her.

When they finished singing, Pastor Pat took the guitar from Seth and whispered, "I'll take this."

Seth slipped his arm around Emma's waist and led her to the pew. Once seated, he interlocked his left hand fingers with her right hand fingers. Her other hand rested on his arm. After she leaned her head against his arm, she whispered, "Thank you."

He mouthed, "No problem."

Pastor Pat continued with the service. Since Keith was cremated, only Emma and Susan continued to the cemetery. Jake and Seth followed.

Susan and Emma watched the funeral director place the urn in the columbarium. As the cemetery crew attached the temporary plaque, Mother and Daughter hugged and cried.

*****
Pastor Pat walked to Jake and Seth, standing off to the side. "Why aren't you comforting the ladies?"

Jake replied, "This is something they need to do together."

Seth agreed. "They know we're here if they need us."

"Maybe I worry too much."

Nodding, Jake said, "Only because you care."

Seth studied the ladies. "Emma just glanced this way. I think we're needed." He walked toward the ladies.

Jake and Pat followed.

Emma went into Seth's arms.

Susan took Jake's arm. "We're ready to go home."

Pat walked toward the church. "I'll meet you there."

*****
When Jake, Susan, Seth, and Emma returned home, the ladies from church had a bereavement dinner ready and the house was filled with friends. After Pastor Pat blessed the food, Susan and Emma started the line.

Emma headed for the den with a prepared plate. As she set it aside, Seth entered. "Still not ready to eat?"

She studied the plate. "My stomach says no."

"At least try to drink water."

"Okay."

Before Seth had time to sit, Susan called Emma to the dining room.

Susan started to speak, but Emma interrupted, "Seth?"

Seth caught Emma as she started to fall, picked her up, and carried her to her bedroom. "Get a doctor."

*****
Seth laid Emma on her bed, and said, "Jake, get my first aide bag from my pickup." He took Emma's pulse, got a damp washcloth from the bathroom, and wiped her face.

Jake returned with Seth's bag. "What do you think?"

Seth removed his stethoscope. "Pretty sure dehydration. She hasn't eaten or drank for three days. Her body's revolting."

Emma's eyes fluttered. "Seth?"

He kissed her forehead. "I'm here."

Dr. Tyler James walked in. "Emma, what's going on?"

Glancing between Seth and Jake, Emma asked, "Why's Dr. James here?"

Jake answered, "You fainted, and we want to make sure you're all right."

"Chief, what's going on?" asked the doctor.

"For sure dehydration and it's been a few days since she's eaten."

Shaking his head, Tyler said, "I've learned to trust Chief's diagnosis. He missed his calling. Why don't you gentlemen leave me with the patient, and I'll see how close he is?"

Jake patted Seth's back as they walked to the hallway. "You're EMT training paid off."

*****
When Dr. James opened the door, Susan stood with Jake and Seth. Once they were inside the room, he said, "You're right. Emma's dehydrated and weak from not eating. It seems she's not sleeping either."

Seth moved closer to the bed. "You didn't mention you're not sleeping."

"You didn't ask."

He stared at her. "I won't be leaving tonight."

"You're bossy."

"You're right."

"You shouldn't be so proud of it."

Seth raised an eyebrow. "Wanna bet?"

Tyler chuckled. "I think we'd better leave you two alone."

Jake nodded. "I think you're right. Susan?"

"Emma, I'll be back later."

When they were alone, Seth closed the door before he faced Emma. "Why didn't you tell me you weren't sleeping?"

"Because you would've stayed."

"You're right, but..."

"You're the police chief. There'd be rumors," interrupted Emma.

He sat on the edge of the bed. "I'd rather deal with a few rumors than something happen to you." He chose his words carefully. "I appreciate your concern, but your well-being is important to me."

Emma swallowed hard.

Both heads turned when a knock sounded on the door. Susan asked, "May I come in?"

"Mom, of course."

Susan held a cup in her hand. "Seth made this for you."

He grinned. "Thank you for bringing it up. I didn't keep track of the time."

"What's that?" asked Emma.

Susan handed it to Emma. "Chicken broth."

Seth added, "It helped after the car accident." He watched her lift it to her lips. "The only choice you have is to drink it."

"You're being bossy again." Emma took a sip and hesitated. "When did you have time to go home and get the Insta-pot?"

"I didn't. I asked Carl to get a few things." Seth stood. "I'll let you and your mom talk." He left.

*****
Mid-afternoon Seth answered a knock on the front door. He grinned and hugged his sister. "I'm happy to see you but what are you doing in town?"

"I wanted to give Emma my condolences. How's she doing?"

"She's struggling." Seth put his hand in the small of Abigail's back and led her toward the stairs. "She's in her room."

"I'm surprised you're not with her."

"She's resting. I was preparing her something to eat." He knocked on her door. "Emma, somebody's here to see you." After she acknowledged they could come in, he opened the door.

Abigail went to Emma and hugged her. "Sorry I couldn't make it to the service. We sold our house in Austin and were closing on it."

"I understand." Emma glanced around the room. "As you can see, I'm on restrictions."


"What happened?"

Emma studied Seth. "My stomach was upset and couldn't eat. I fainted."

She eyed her brother standing off to the side. "I see. Have you eaten since?"

"Seth made some chicken broth and forced me to drink a cup."

Chuckling, Seth said, "Forced is a strong word."

"Maybe, but the result was I got it down."

Seth moved closer. "I was getting another cup ready. Do you want straight broth or are you ready to try some veggies and noodles?"

"Maybe both?"

"Both it is." Seth started out the door. "I'll be back."

After he left, Abigail asked, "Is there anything I can help with?"

"I wasn't sleeping either. Seth's going to demand to spend the night. Can you convince him it's not a good idea? He's the police chief, and I'm single. Rumors will fly. I don't want to tarnish his reputation."

"If he was in the room, would you be able to sleep?"

"Maybe."

"Then he should stay."

"We're not..."

"Intimate?" interrupted Abigail. When Emma nodded, she continued, "I know my brother. He'll do what's necessary for you. He's serious about you. He won't worry about gossip."

Both women silenced when Seth returned.

"What were you talking about?" asked Seth.

Emma smoothed her dress.

Abigail said, "How good a cook you are." She tilted her head. "Why don't you find something to do? I think Emma would be more comfortable if she got out of that dress."

Her lips formed a partial smile. "I would."

Seth turned toward the door. "Why do I feel you two are trouble?"

"Maybe because you know both of us."

As he left, he said over his shoulder, "Make sure she drinks some broth."

Abigail closed the door and then faced Emma. "Where would I find comfortable clothes?"

*****
Just before dinner, Seth returned. "It looks like you had a good time getting to know each other." He checked both empty cups. "Good. Abbey, I hope you'll stay for dinner."

She glanced at her cell phone. "It's that late? No, I'm sorry. I need to get home. It takes both of us to get the kids to bed. I'm sure Gary's struggling with dinner." She hugged Emma. "We need to do this more often."

"We do. Thank you for dropping by."

Seth touched Emma's arm. "I'll walk Abbey out and be right back." He picked up both cups. "I'll bring more."

When Seth returned, he handed Emma a bowl of chicken noodle soup. "Please enjoy."

She took a spoonful. "Did you ask your sister to visit?"

"I did not." Seth sat on the edge of the bed. "She did it on her own." He grinned. "She seems to have a sixth sense and knows what is going on with me. Did you enjoy her company?"

"I did. We get along very well. We understand each other."

Chuckling Seth said, "I'm glad but a little afraid at the same time." He watched Emma take another spoonful of soup. "You're eating again. Let me know when you're ready for something else."

"I will." Emma released a deep breath. "You know I don't need somebody with me all the time. You can eat dinner with everybody else."

He touched her arm. "Honestly, I'd rather be with you than anyone."

"Thank you. You can bring your plate up and eat it with me."

"That's true. I'll be right back."

When Seth returned, he brought a sleeping bag.

Emma studied it. "That's not your dinner."

"I know. I'm going back to get it." His eyes met hers. "Arguing with me about this, won't work. My mind's made up. I'm sleeping on your floor."

"I didn't say anything, did I?"

"You didn't verbally but your brain did."

"So, I'm guilty for my thoughts?"

"I'll be right back." With a filled plate in his hand, Seth sat in a chair beside Emma. "If you see anything on my plate you want, help yourself." He grinned. "From the family videos, I learned as a child you enjoyed helping yourself to mouse bites from other people's plates."

"I did, but I grew up, sort of."

"Nothing would make me happier right now than for you to help yourself to my plate."

Emma studied it and then whispered, "Can I try some mashed potatoes?"

He used his spoon, filled it, and offered it to her. "Of course, I told you to help yourself."

"Yum, I'm getting my appetite back."

Seth turned the plate around so Emma could reach the potatoes easier. "I'll get more if I need to."

She paused and stared at him.

His eyebrows rose. "What's the problem?"

"Why are you so nice to me?"

He swallowed. "Why do you think?"

"Your sister said I'm important to you."

"She's right. What else did she say?"

"Nothing I'm willing to discuss."

"I'm supposed to be the one who's stingy with words."

"I've never noticed."

"Maybe with you I'm not."

Emma cautiously helped herself to more potatoes.

Seth put his hand over Emma's. "Don't be shy. I want you to help yourself."

She put a spoonful of potatoes in her mouth as she glanced at the sleeping bag.

Noticing, Seth asked, "Why does that bother you? I promise nothing's going to happen."

"I know. As Police Chief you need an impeccable image. I don't want to tarnish it."

"I'm not worried about it. Anybody who knows us knows nothing immoral is going on. Anybody who might gossip needs to clean their own house." Seth raised an eyebrow. "You're not planning on anything happening, are you?"

With crimson cheeks, she stuttered, "I...I..."

"Well?" teased Seth. As she became more flustered, he said, "I knew the answer before I asked." He took her spoon and scooped some potatoes. "Here."

*****
As the sun began to set, Seth walked over to the window. "Come here." After Emma stood beside him, he said, "Another beautiful sunset."

"You think God's giving me a sign, don't you?"

"I do. I think He's reminding you, He's in charge and your life will be okay."

She leaned her head against his arm. "Are you going to be part of it?"

"I hope so." He turned as Molly started jumping up and down and whining. "I think Ace needs to take her out. I'll be right back."

When Seth returned, he laid the sleeping bag on the floor.

Emma watched. "Are you sure?"

"You're struggling sleeping. If staying helps, then yes, I'm positive."

She lay back in bed. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

About an hour later, Emma grabbed her blanket and lay on the floor beside Seth. Her hand rested on his arm. She sighed and closed her eyes.

A few moments later, Seth asked, "What are you doing down here?"

"Sleeping."

He studied her hand on his arm. After he released a breath, he said, "Get back to bed." He stood, waited until she was in bed, and lay on the outside of the blankets beside her. "Is this better?"

Emma scooted over and laid her head on his shoulder. "It is now."

I'd better hurry and marry this girl.


Tennessee Ernest Ford 'His Eys Is On The Sparrow'


~~~~~
Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Winters - the bakery/bookstore Emma's parents own.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Sheriff Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery

Peggy Barton - Emma knew her in high school and is the assistant librarian, she's making a play for Seth

Linda Holton - the town librarian

Mayor Castle - mayor of Beaverton

George Elliot - city council member, from old money, and father of Marc Elliot

Marc Elliot - troubled teenager

Ronald Calhoun - dated Emma her senior year of high school

Dr. Mason - veterinarian who took care of Molly

Mickey Casey - Man stalking Emma and she killed him

Elizabeth Higgins - 'Lizzy' pregnant teenage girl

Calvin and Gretchen Higgins - Parents of Elizabeth Higgins

Charlie Michaels - Sports store manager, donated gift certificates

Author Notes Thank you, Google Images, for the photo of a columbarium.

Chapter 34 is posted in it's entirety. It's a little under 3000 words. I had originally had it separated into twos posts, but a few reviewers' messages sounded in my mind that they liked the longer posts. I changed it as I posted today. I won't do any larger than 3000 words. There are 37 total chapters, so Seth and Emma's story is close to the end. So far it appears the final chapter will be posted March 24, unless I combine some more chapters.

I appreciate the time you took to read this post. I appreciate the help editing. Thank you.


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