Romance Fiction posted February 18, 2024 Chapters:  ...49 50 -51- 52... 

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Keith's services.

A chapter in the book Guided by Faith

Chapter 34

by barbara.wilkey

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?
Seth and Emma met 35 days ago.


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."


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."


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?"


"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."


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?"


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



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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