Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 28

“Do you still want to go to Magnolia?”

I grabbed his hand and twined his fingers with mine. Part of me wanted to go home and cry, but most of me was done mourning the life I’d never have with Joe. I’d squandered twenty-four years before Joe, and there was no reason to squander another day now that I had a chance at a life with the man next to me. “You have no idea how much I want to go to Magnolia with you.”

He shot me a surprised look before returning his attention to the street. “Is there any particular movie you want to see?”

I stared at him, amazed that I was here with him now. Part of me screamed that this was too much, too soon, but the rest of me was tired of waiting.

Mason swung another glance at me, waiting for my answer.

“I don’t even know what’s playing.”

He rattled off several movies and I picked a romantic comedy. He kept shooting me curious glances, probably expecting me to fall to pieces after my encounter with Joe. But instead I felt more empowered. Joe was supposed to be the strong one, but he was the one who’d fallen apart. Maybe I was stronger than I thought I was.

I turned in my seat to face him. “How did you get the afternoon off?”

“I already told you.”

“Mason, you’re the assistant DA and you canceled court to take me to Magnolia for the afternoon. Given the fact I’m not one of Judge McClary’s favorite people, I doubt he’d give you permission for that. What’s really going on?”

His free hand tightened on the steering wheel. “I didn’t want to worry you, especially since you had enough to worry about with seeing Joe.”

“I’m not some fragile flower, so don’t treat me like one.”

He nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you.”

“You are the very last person I would ever accuse of insulting me. Just tell me the truth.”

He took a breath. “The police and the FBI think they have Crocker cornered in a four-block area in Shreveport.”

“But?”

He shot a grim smile at me. “But I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think he’s still around. I have no evidence to back it up, just a gut feeling.”

“So why are we going to Magnolia?”

“Because if Crocker’s still around Henryetta, I doubt he’d look for you in Magnolia.”

“So that’s why Judge McClary agreed.”

“Reluctantly, but yes.”

I didn’t want to think about the possibility of Daniel Crocker lurking in Henryetta.

“Don’t worry, Rose. They’ll find him.”

I nodded. They had a better chance because the state police were involved.

“Did I tell you that my mother is coming to visit in a couple of weeks?” Mason asked.

“No.” I’d met his mother after Sunday service at Jonah’s church over a month ago and I’d loved her from the moment she uttered her first sweet word.

“She asked if she could collect on that rain check for Sunday lunch.”

I smiled, happiness filling my heart. “I’d love that.”

We spent the rest of the forty-five-minute drive talking about Mason’s childhood and antics he and Savannah had gotten into as kids.

“My dad was an attorney. He practiced estate law, but he encouraged Savannah and me to practice the art of persuasive arguing. I think he secretly wished he’d become a defense attorney.” He laughed. “My father would secretly give us a topic at breakfast, and we’d spend the day coming up with our arguments. Then we’d argue our points at dinner. We drove my mother insane. No one was surprised that we both went to law school.”

“I can tell that you love what you do.”

His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Really, how can you?”

“Because your eyes light up when you talk about it. Do you ever worry that you’re prosecuting an innocent person?”

“Honestly, I never thought about it very much until Bruce Wayne’s trial. A lot of things changed for me after that case.”

The smile he flashed me said his attitude wasn’t the only thing that had changed.

We went to see the movie, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was safe and cozy in a movie theater in Magnolia while Bruce Wayne was God only knew where. He could be in serious trouble. Jonah was right. It was time to tell Mason.

After the movie, we went to dinner at a local restaurant. To calm my nerves, I kept telling myself that our meal was just like our lunches at Merilee’s, but it wasn’t. At least not for me. The air was charged with anticipation, although I wasn’t sure of what. Mason had made little physical contact with me other than holding my hand. It was just as well since I was distracted enough just sitting next to him. I couldn’t imagine being able to concentrate if he had made any other kind of move, and I really needed to concentrate on something important. I took a deep breath after we ordered. “Mason, I have something to tell you.”

The smile fell from his face. “Okay.”

“It’s about Bruce Wayne.”

His shoulders relaxed. “Okay.”

“Wait. What did you think I was going to say?”

“Never mind. Tell me about Bruce Wayne.”

“He’s missing.”

His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, missing?”

“You know that he’s been calling in sick, but after I ate lunch with Neely Kate yesterday I took Bruce Wayne some chicken noodle soup and he wasn’t there. Not only that, but half his clothes were gone.”

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