- Chapter 33by barbara.wilkey
This work has reached the exceptional level
Seth continues to lend support.
Guided by Faith
: Chapter 33 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 34 days ago.


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?"


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.


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