Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 36

“When a commotion broke out downstairs, I bit his lip and he stumbled backward, then I pulled out my gun and shot him in the leg. But Joe heard the gunshot and ran upstairs with Muffy. She attacked Crocker and he started hitting her. I had to make him stop, so I picked up a geode off his desk and threw it at his head, knocking him out. Joe tied him up with a light cord, and then the state police took him away.”

Mason was silent for several seconds. “Do you know what his unfinished business is?”

I swallowed the bile rising in my throat. “I have a good idea.”

Chapter Ten

“They’re going to catch him,” he said, his eyes focused on the gun on the counter. “The sheriff’s office and the state police are canvassing the county right now. Maybe he’ll realize that stalking you isn’t worth getting caught, but that’s what a sane person would do. Crocker is a psycho. You can’t go home.”

“What am I supposed to do? I don’t want to stay with Violet.”

He shook his head. “No. You’d only put her in danger, anyway. The sheriff’s office wants to put you into witness protection.”

“But what about my landscaping job? How long will I be gone?”

“As long as it takes. I suspect they’ll try to flush him out, but Crocker is smart, so he might realize that you’re not really at your house.”

“Where will I stay if I can’t go home and I can’t go to Violet’s?”

“You can stay with me until they find a safe place for you. We’re outside Henryetta city limits, which is why the undercover sheriff’s deputy who followed us is watching my condo.”

“So why can’t I just stay with you until it’s over?”

“Because I have to go to work, and even though the deputy can stay with you while I’m gone, it would be too obvious. Crocker and his men would find you in no time. We need to keep you hidden.”

“But how long will it take to catch him?”

“Hopefully they’ll be able to flush him out in a day or two. But I don’t want to take any chances. It needs to be somewhere outside of Henryetta city limits but still in Fenton County.”

Suddenly the answer came to me, so obvious that I felt blind for not seeing it before. “My birth mother’s farm.”

His mouth parted. “Where is it?”

“About thirty minutes out of town. My Uncle Earl has kept it up. When I asked him about it a week ago, he told me he’s been paying the electric and gas bills with my trust. He said the water comes from a well.”

“Who else knows about it?”

“Uh…” I wrinkled my brow as I counted. “Violet, of course. And her husband, Mike. Joe. Jonah. Neely Kate and my aunt and uncle. But only my aunt and uncle know where it is. Like I told you yesterday, I haven’t been out there yet.”

“And who knows about the existence of your birth mother?”

“The same people. No one else. Well, except for you, of course.”

“This could be good. It’s a secret and it’s remote. Give me the address and I’ll have the deputies check it out.”

“So I’ll just hide out at the farm?”

“If the sheriff thinks it’s a good idea, then, yeah. With sheriff’s deputies there to guard you.”

Even though I’d been the one to suggest the farm, I was having second thoughts. What if I was stuck there for days or even weeks? “I suppose I was going on Sunday anyway,” I said.

“We were going on Sunday.”

I smiled at him. “We.” We’d only made those plans two days ago, but it seemed like weeks. A new worry hit me. “Unless you changed your mind.”

He looked incredulous. “Why would I have changed my mind?”

I looked down at the table. “I don’t know…last night you couldn’t keep your hands off me and now you’re acting like Mr. Assistant DA. Maybe you decided I’m too much drama. Joe considered breaking up with me last July after the whole Bruce Wayne and Jimmy DeWade mess. Maybe you’ve decided to escape while you still can.”

“Is that what you think?” he asked in disbelief. “You think this has become too intense and I’ve changed my mind?”

I looked up into his face. “I wouldn’t blame you.”

He shook his head. “Come here.” He reached over and grabbed my wrist, pulling me around the side of the table and into his lap, wrapping an arm around the small of my back. He looked up at me with a soft smile. “Are you forgetting how we met? You were like this tornado that swept into the courthouse with the sole intent of throwing my entire life off its axis. I knew you were a pack of trouble the moment I laid eyes on you. And when you stood in front of me, completely lopsided because of your broken heel, and verbally berated my lack of manners, threatening to hunt down my mother and tattle on me, I knew I could search to the ends of the earth and never find another woman like you.”

I cringed. “I was horrid.”

“I deserved every word you unleashed.”

“Mason, I’m like a magnet for trouble. Joe hated it.”

“Joe’s an imbecile. And lucky for me that he is.” He kissed me softly and I sighed into his lips. Even in this situation, with Daniel Crocker after me, I felt safe with Mason. Cherished.

I turned to face him better, grabbing the sides of his head and holding him in place in case he changed his mind.

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