Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 30

I was more than relieved. “Yes. Much. And the fact that Chief Deputy Dimler doesn’t hate me is reassuring.”

“Rose, I was serious about moving out of the city limits. The sheriff’s deputies would be much more responsive when you need help. I know I’d feel better if I knew law enforcement was going to respond to your calls more quickly.”

I scowled. “Why do you keep suggesting there will be a next time?” His eyebrows rose as he smirked. “I’ve been considering the idea since you mentioned it to me. But financially, it’s just not an option right now. Not unless I sell the farm and who knows how long it will take for that to happen.”

“We can talk about it later. And if you’re serious about moving, we can figure out a way to make it happen.” He pushed the front door open. “Now let’s head home.”

I grinned up at him. “What was Jeff talking about you making a three-point shot?”

He shrugged. “Fenton County has a men’s rec basketball league. A lot of the businesses have teams, the sheriff’s department included. Deputy Gonzales dislocated his shoulder several weeks ago and when Jeff and I met for lunch a couple of days later, he asked me to help out. I’ve filled in three games.”

“Sounds like you impressed them. I didn’t know you played basketball.”

He shook his head. “I haven’t in years. But it’s been fun and I’ve started hanging out with some of the guys after the games.”

Mason opened the car door for me to get in when Chief Deputy Dimler stood in the doorway and called out to us. “Hey, Mason. I think you’re gonna to want to hear this. The FBI just phoned and said they have Crocker cornered in a warehouse in Shreveport.”

Mason released a long breath. “That’s great news.”

“They’re in the middle of a stand-off, but they should have him apprehended within several hours.”

“Thanks for the information. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know when he’s back in custody.”

“Sure thing.”

We got in the car and I called David, warning him that a sheriff’s deputy would be dropping by to ask questions about Bruce Wayne. I knew he’d freak out if law enforcement officers just showed up on his doorstep.

When I hung up, Mason seemed unusually quiet and tense for several minutes. “Do you want to talk about anything that happened earlier this afternoon?”

Part of me wanted to forget the afternoon altogether, but I knew Jonah would call that unhealthy. Plus I didn’t want to keep secrets from Mason. “Joe thought I was sleeping with Jonah.”

The expression left his face. “Excuse me?”

“His father had someone take photos of me with Jonah a couple of weeks after Joe broke up with me. He said they showed us hugging and sitting close to each other.”

“How did he jump to that conclusion?”

“Because the Joe and Hilary engagement isn’t so fake. Joe’s sleeping with Hilary.”

He cringed. “Rose. I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about. I just don’t understand. He says he can’t stand her, but he keeps going back to her time and time again.”

“Some habits are hard to break. Even when they’re bad for us.”

We drove in silence for several minutes until Mason pulled into my driveway and turned off the engine.

I stared out the windshield at my front porch. “He told me he can’t live without me,” I blurted out.

“And how do you feel about that?”

I turned to Mason, searching his eyes. I hated that he looked worried. “I told him that I can’t forgive him for running to Hilary so soon after we broke up. Even if we got back together, I wouldn’t be able to trust him not to go back to her.”

His expression was still guarded. “Is that how you really feel or what you thought you should say?”

If anyone other than Mason had asked me that question, I’d be angry. But there was no malice in his voice, and he of all people deserved an answer. “I have to be able to trust the man in my life, Mason. I’ve been hurt by too many people. If I give my heart to someone, I want him to be truthful with me. The fact is, Joe hid so many things from me. He wasn’t truthful with me over the majority of our relationship.”

He didn’t answer.

“He said he wanted to protect me from Daniel Crocker, but I told him that I didn’t need him. I told him I had you. Just like I’ve had you for months. I just didn’t realize it.”

“Rose.” His hand slid up my arm.

“I’m glad I saw that side of him today. It freed me to move on and not feel guilty for wanting to be happy with someone else.”

His gaze fell to my mouth. “Someone else?”

“You, Mason,” I whispered. “I want it to be with you.”

His mouth lowered and my breath stuck in my chest as his lips lightly brushed against mine, like he was worried he’d scare me away.

I rested my hands on his shoulders and parted my mouth as his tongue explored mine. A fire erupted in my chest and I wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him closer. My reaction removed his hesitancy and he wrapped one arm around my back, moving the other behind my head.

Desire flowed through my veins and I turned awkwardly in the passenger seat to press myself against more of him.

His head lifted, leaving us both panting. “I suspect your neighbor is watching us.”

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