Romance Fiction posted November 12, 2023 Chapters:  ...35 36 -37- 38... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
The stalker is dealt with.

A chapter in the book Guided by Faith

Chapter 24

by barbara.wilkey

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

Depend on God in every part of your life, and He will guide, protect, and comfort you. Will God guide Emma's life? If He does, will she listen?
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.


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.


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." 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."


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

Book of the Month contest entry



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.

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