Family Fiction posted January 31, 2024 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 

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Miranda waits for Waylon.

A chapter in the book Miranda's Trouble In Paradise

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Miranda Jessup Buckley has been trying to find out what happened to Dougie Wilcox.
So far, Miranda has decided to find out what happened to Dougie Wilcox. She thought he was dead but he's contacted her. He's in over his head and wants her to stop trying to find him and let him continue to play dead. But knowing Dougie is alive is going to put a wedge between what she wants to do and what she has to do, as far as Waylon is concerned.


I sit in my car until Preston's mom shows up to get him. Now, I have the long drive home to contemplate what I'm going to do about Waylon. There is no easy answer. Either I keep Waylon in the dark or I give him the information he so desperately wants to know. His dad is alive. Good news unless it puts Waylon or even me, in danger.

Dougie was only gone a few months when he returned hitting everybody up for money. I've never understood people who would sell their soul for money. It makes some do crazy things, like stripping for complete strangers, giving hard earned money just for the thrill of sticking it into some woman's g-string. There are worse things as well, scamming people, charging millions to people who need medicine to live a normal life. Money is the root of all evil and I'm not immune. When Mr. and Mrs. Toblerone gave me the two hundred grand reward for finding the remains, or at least part of the remains of their son, I could have turned it down. But I didn't. I thought about being able to provide for Waylon. I took the money.


Aaron waves as I drive past his trailer. He's changed since he went away. Hell, maybe it's me that's changed.

"You in a hurry?" he asks as I get out of my car. "Can I come over?"

"For a few. I'm gonna go take my stuff inside, I'll be out in a few."

I step inside and look around. Waylon might have exaggerated a bit on the housekeeping details but there weren't any dirty dishes in the sink, and the place had been picked up and straightened. "Good boy," I mutter.

Aaron hands me an ice cold beer as I join him on the porch.

"What's up?"

"Talked to my dad," Aaron says.

"And, how'd that go?"

He looks down but smiles sheepishly. "About as well as you'd expect. Said I wasted more money than a sailor on leave." He shrugs. "I guess that was an insult."

I've never met Aaron's father, but he sounds like a real gem. "It's your money, Aaron. Did you tell him that?"

"No. I was gonna tell him about the Tik Tok idea," he says, shaking his head, as dirty blonde bangs fall into his eyes. "Figure I'll hold off until I get a following."

I pop the top on the beer, trying to muster up a gentle reminder that it might take a while to get said followers. "Did you get your sermon written up for this weekend?"


"Yeah. You said we were going to film this weekend. Is that still on? Waylon is excited. Said it would be like the dream team reuniting, or something like that."

Aaron looks over. "We did make a good team."

"I guess we did. Those were different times, Aaron. Before Missy, Ed Preston being murdered, and Dougie taking off."

"What do you mean Dougie taking off? We don't know what happened to him. Miranda, why'd you say it like that?"

"Saying dead is too final," I say, the words barely coming out of my mouth. I can't look at him. If I do, he'll know something is up. I take a healthy swig from the beer.

"Waylon said he called. Is Dougie still alive?"

"I'm not even sure if it was him. Waylon didn't talk to him, I did, and I'm not sure if it was actually him." I look around, everywhere but at Aaron. "Waylon wants to think his daddy's still alive. End of story."

He doesn't push for more information and I'm thankful for that.

"So, things are getting pretty serious between you and that cop, huh?"

"The cop has a name, Aaron. And, yes. They are getting serious."

"Has he mentioned the M word yet?"

I turn to give him a questioning glance. "In English, Aaron."

"Has he asked you to marry him?"

"No. He has not. We are somewhere between butterflies in the stomach and doing each other's laundry on the scale of serious. Not at finishing each other's sentences, though, we are definitely close. Why? What have you heard?"

He settles back, eyes searching the starlit sky. "This is going to go over like a fart in church, but, here goes. I think I've fallen in love with you, Miranda."

I open my mouth to say something, anything really, but nothing comes out. What can I say that won't hurt him or incriminate me?

"Geez, Aaron, what brought this on?"

He frowns. "Shit. I knew I should have kept my mouth shut. But , I just thought you should know. It isn't sudden. I knew it a long time ago. But the timing was always off. First, Dougie left you, then you were dealing with Waylon. I couldn't think about anyone but you the whole time I was in seminary school. I didn't just wake up this morning and decide, hey, I'm gonna go tell Miranda I'm in love with her. I've felt this for a while."

There's no easy way to tell someone they stand no chance. And, it's not just because of Mitch. Aaron is like a little brother. He always has been.

"Aaron, as honored as I am, I'm not the one for you. I think deep down you know this."

He nods. "I'm gonna go now. If you don't mind, could you keep this between you and me?"

"I will. Goodnight, Aaron."

I look up at the sky. "God, are you testing me? Just asking."

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