Romance Fiction posted February 25, 2024 Chapters:  ...50 51 -52- 53... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Emma learns of another secret kept from her.

A chapter in the book Guided by Faith

Chapter 35 A

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 36 days ago.


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.


Early Saturday morning, Seth got ready, went downstairs, and saw Susan at the breakfast nook with a cup of coffee. She stood. "How'd Emma sleep last night? Coffee's ready."

"Don't get up. I'll get it." He poured himself a cup. "Restless, but she slept."

"Thank you for staying."

He sipped his coffee. "I hope you know..."

"I trust you with my daughter," interrupted Susan.

"Thank you for saying that. I wouldn't do anything to hurt her."

"Keith and I knew that." She walked toward the refrigerator. "Ready for breakfast?"

Seth set his cup down. "I don't expect you to wait on me. Sit down and rest. I'll fix breakfast. What do you feel like?"

"You cook?"

He grinned. "I enjoy eating too much not to." He paused a moment. "How about a ham and cheese omelet with onions and sweet peppers?"

"Sounds good."

"There's left over fresh fruit. I could make biscuits."

"Toast will be fine." Susan's eyes met Seth's. "Are you sure about this?"

"I am."

"Then I'll check on Emma."

"Good idea. She wasn't awake when I left."

When Susan returned, Seth set a plate in front of her. "I hope you like it." He hesitated. "How's Emma this morning?"

"Not sure. She's up and in the shower. She said she'll be down in a few minutes."

Seth studied the skillet. "I wonder if she'll feel like an omelet."

"I'd wait 'till she's here." Susan pointed to a chair. "Have a seat and enjoy this delicious looking breakfast."

Almost thirty minutes later, Susan and Seth turned when they heard Emma's footsteps.

Emma said, "Good morning. Sorry, I'm late."

Pointing at a chair, Susan said, "You're not late. Seth made ham and cheese omelets. I bet he'd make you one."

She shook her head and opened the refrigerator. "I don't think so."

Seth joined her. "I think all the mashed potatoes are gone, but I'll make some."

Her eyes met his. "Are you teasing me this early?"

"Not really." He grinned. "Maybe just a little. I'll fix whatever you want."

Scanning the kitchen, Emma said, "Maybe some toast." She reopened the refrigerator. "Is there any chicken broth left?"

Seth nodded. "Should be. I'll heat some."

Susan tilted her head. "Toast and chicken broth is a strange combination."

"Probably, but it's what sounds good."

Emma sat beside her mom. "Last night I was able to eat some chicken soup and mashed potatoes."

Her mom's eyebrows rose. "I don't remember you getting any mashed potatoes."

She avoided eye contact, as Seth answered, "She didn't. She helped herself to mine."

"I see."

Seth set a plate with toast and a cup of broth in front of Emma, and then asked, "Susan, can we borrow the canoe today? I think being outside would-be a good change."

"Of course. It's a great idea."

"Mom, I can't leave you alone."

"I won't be alone. Pastor Pat and Jake will be here later this morning. We've got some business to attend to."

"Shouldn't I be here?"

"There's nothing you can do."

Emma nibbled at her toast. "Mom, I'm an adult. I should be helping."

"Sweetheart, there's absolutely nothing to do. I just need to read over some things and initial or sign. You need to get out of the house and get some sun."

Seth watched the interaction while he sipped coffee. After a few moments, he stood. "I'll load the canoe."

When Seth returned, Emma had changed to blue jean shorts. He grinned. "I was thinking maybe packing a picnic lunch. Chicken noodle soup travels well. I'm sure there are plenty of leftovers. Want to help?"

Before they finished packing, Pastor Pat and Jake arrived. Jake kissed Emma's cheek. "Pumpkin, how you feel today?"

"The children are canoeing while the adults conduct business." Emma walked out the front door.

Jake faced Seth. "What's that about?"

He headed toward the door. "Not sure and I watched it develop. Susan will fill you in. While we're canoeing, I'll see if I can figure out Emma's thinking."

As Seth and Emma backed from the driveway, Seth asked, "Where's the best place to canoe and picnic?"

"Planning on fishing?"

"I wasn't, but if you want to?"

"Not really." Emma thought a few moments. "Go down FM 112 about ten miles. Off to the right, there's a gravel road. Down that road there's a good place to put the canoe in. A few miles down there's sort of a grassy beach for a picnic."

"Sounds good."

The rest of the trip was silent.

As they climbed inside the canoe, Emma took a paddle. "Are you going to be able to paddle with your shoulder wound?"

"It's almost healed. I'm fine. I have a feeling since you fainted yesterday; you're too weak to do much paddling."

"I'm all right."

Seth nodded but didn't comment.

They each used a paddle. Partway down the stream, Seth reached over for Emma's paddle. "Let me." As they continued downstream, he said, "It's only you and me. Anytime you want to talk, I'll listen."

"What makes you think there's anything going on?"

"Maybe reminding your mom that you're an adult, telling Jake the children are going canoeing, and you've been quiet. I'm not used to that. It's confusing me."

"I don't mean to."

"I'm sure you don't."

"I can't even put it into words."

"Why don't you try? Maybe it'll help."

"I'm struggling with Daddy's death. I've noticed other people are handling it better."

"Your relationship with your dad was different than anybody else's. Everybody handles grief differently."

"I feel like I'm being treated with kid-gloves, like I'm a child."

"I'm sure that's not their intent." Seth paused. "If you feel I've treated you like that, I'm sorry."

"Not really you. You've stood back and observed. I've wondered what you're thinking."

"Nothing more than wondering how to assist you through this."

Emma pointed. "The picnic area is around the next bend."

Seth steered the canoe toward the beach, stepped out, offered Emma a hand, and then pulled the canoe onto the shore. He handed Emma the blanket and grabbed the picnic basket. "Hungry? Or would you rather sit for a while?"

"Maybe sit a while."

They continued in silence before Seth's phone rang. He glanced at the number and stood. "Sorry, I need to get this." He stepped a few feet away.

The call took time, and when Seth returned, Emma had fallen asleep. I'm sure she needs it.

About an hour later, Emma woke up and noticed Seth had removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his pant legs, and stood in the stream. She walked to him. "Are you fishing?"

He turned and grinned. "Not really. I found a straight stick and a vine. I attempted to make a cane pole but couldn't figure out a hook." He pointed to some holes he'd dug. "I'm really attaching worms and feeding the fish. They seem to enjoy eating this way."

"I'm sorry I fell asleep and left you stranded."

His eyes met hers. "How do you feel?"

"Pretty good."

"Then it was worth it." He set down the makeshift pole. "If you'd have slept another thirty minutes, I might have figured out a hook."

Emma partially smiled. "And you think I'm a mess."

He put his hand in the small of her back. "I've never said that."

"Your shaking head has."

"My stomach says it's hungry. Ready to eat?"

"I noticed the shift in subject."

"I'm hungry."

"I'm sure you are."

As they sat and ate, Emma asked, "When your parents or grandparents died..."

"I've mentioned everybody grieves differently." Seth exhaled. "I struggled with their death. My struggles were different than yours. When Mom and Dad died, I was in high school." When Emma stared at him, he continued, "Losing both parents at once, hit me hard. I drank heavily to kill the pain."

"I see."

Seth chuckled. "It didn't last long. Abbey was still in elementary school. She needed me." He paused. "If you're worried about the drinking, it's over and done."

"I'm not." Emma avoided eye contact. "Do you think I'm acting like a baby?"

Seth took her hand in his. "I think you're acting like a young lady who suddenly lost one of the most important people in her life." He released a deep breath. "I want to remind you who you still have. Your mom, who loves you very much. Pastor Pat and Jake think of you as their own daughter. Ms. Sadie thinks you're her granddaughter. And me."

"What do you think of me as?"

"Let's pick up and go farther down the stream."

Emma studied Seth a few moments before she helped clean up from the picnic. The canoe trip down stream remained silent.

When they arrived home, Seth carried the canoe to the garage while Emma waited on the front porch.

As Emma rocked on the porch swing, Ronnie Calhoun parked and walked toward the house. She stood. "You can turn around and leave. I have nothing to say to you."

"What I have to say is important." Before Emma could get inside the house, his voice was loud, "You're an heiress to your grandparents' fortune. Why do you think Chief Carter hangs around? He's after your money. Not only that, but your dad also made a deathbed request that Carter marries you. He promised."

Seth rushed around the corner and headed toward Ronnie.

Ronnie jumped into his car and sped off.

Emma glared at Seth with tears streaming down her cheeks. "Leave!" She ran into the house and rushed up the stairs. Halfway up, she stumbled.

Seth caught up to her and sat on the step beside her. "Emma, I know you're upset but please listen." He reached to touch her arm.

She pulled it away.

Swallowing, he continued, "This is the first time I've heard anything about you inheriting money. I know nothing about it." Silence. "One day I went into the bakery for a cup of coffee and met a young waitress. She was exciting and lived every moment to the fullest. I fell in love with that penniless, young waitress."

With tear-stained cheeks, Emma glanced at him. "What did you say?"

"One day I went into the bakery..."

"No, the last part," interrupted Emma.

His eyes met hers. "I fell in love with her." He swallowed. "Earlier you asked what you were to me. I'm in love with you, Emma."


Seth leaned over and kissed her. "Yes." His next kiss lingered. When it ended, he said, "I hope it's all right?"

Emma gulped and then kissed him. "It is."

"Good." He took her hand. "Now, for the rest. Your dad did make a request of me, but it wasn't that I marry you." He paused as Emma stared at him. "Keith requested if it doesn't work between us that I promise to always keep an eye on you. I gladly promised I would." He paused. "He wanted to make sure you're always safe."

"Not that you'd marry me?"

"That's right. He did say if we get married, we have his blessing, but there was no promise about marriage. It's completely up to us." Seth stood and held out his hands. "Let me help you up."

After Emma stood, Seth took her in his arms and kissed her.

When the kiss ended, Emma walked down the stairs and stood in front of her mom. "Why am I the last person to find out about anything, example being adopted and now this heiress thing?"

"I understand why you're upset, but as per your grandparents' request you weren't supposed to find out about it until your twenty-fifth birthday. Nobody knew about it except, your dad and me. I have no idea how Ronnie Calhoun found out." Susan exhaled. "The lawyers. He works for the law firm. They would've viewed the wills because of Keith's death." She hugged her daughter. "I'm sorry. I can promise Seth knew nothing about it."

Emma faced Seth. "I believed him."

Susan turned toward the kitchen. "I think we all could use some fresh lemonade."

Emma followed.

Jake patted Seth on the back. "Good recovery."

"I guess, but Emma never said anything about her feelings for me."

"I think the kiss she gave you said it. Remember this is new to her. Give her time."

"Do you think it's too soon?"

"I've seen you two together. You have a special relationship. I think you'd better hurry up and marry her."

They followed the others into the kitchen.

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 West Texas stream.

Chapter 35 is divided into two parts. It's a very long chapter, around 4000 words. This is the first part of the chapter. It's a little over 2000 words. I'm starting to wrap up the loose ends. 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 17, 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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