Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 46

“I don’t know. To find out what you’ve said about him? To get more information on you? Because he’s obsessed with you? I’m not sure, but one thing is certain: files are gone.”

I tried to absorb the information. “Why were you away for so long?”

“Because my office was trashed… And because Crocker left a note.”

I gasped. “What did it say?”

“‘Smart men don’t take what is mine.’”

I felt like I was going to be sick. “He threatened you because he knows we’re together…”

He stood and pulled me off my cot, taking me into his arms. “It’s going to be okay.”

“But they still don’t know where he is.”

His tightened his embrace. “No.”

“He’s going to hurt you, Mason. Because of me.”

“No, Rose. Jeff’s worried enough that he wants me to go into protection with you.”

I buried my face in the nape of his neck. Was it wrong that I was relieved that he was going with me? Even if his life was in danger? I pulled back to look at him. “Where will they take us?”

A hesitant smile lifted his lips. “Your farm.”

Not my farm. My mother’s farm. Fear washed through me, not of Daniel Crocker but of the unknown from my past that awaited me there.

“I told Jeff about the farm and he had two deputies he trusts check it out yesterday afternoon. It’s perfect because so few people know it exists. But we’re only telling a few key people. We think there might be a leak in the department.”


“Jeff and I have suspected as much for a couple of months. Our lunch date the other day was just one of many meetings we’ve had to try and piece it together. Even though the Henryetta safe house wasn’t so secret, the sheriff thinks Crocker’s men might have gotten a tip from someone inside the Henryetta or Fenton County law enforcement departments.”

“Then how can we trust them to protect us?”

“Because Jeff has handpicked a handful of men whom he’s positive he can trust.”

I struggled to breathe.

“By going to your farm, we’ve added an extra layer of protection. It’s not one of their usual safe houses and no one knows anything about it. We’ll hide there with the detail and wait for them to catch Crocker.” He cupped my cheek and leaned down to kiss me. “I know you’re scared, but trust me.”

“Always.” I grabbed his face and kissed him to show him not only how much I needed him, but how much I wanted him.

He wrapped his arms around my back and pulled me to him, kissing me until I was breathless.

He groaned and pulled back, staring at me with eyes full of longing. “As much as I want this to go further, a cot in the back room of the sheriff’s department doesn’t seem like the best place.”

I rested my cheek on his chest. “Is it wrong that I want you on the farm with me?”

His hand stroked my arm. “No. It would be wrong if you didn’t.”

The door opened and Jeff appeared in the doorway. “Oh, good. You’re awake. It’s early, so half the county’s still asleep. Now would be a good time for us to head to the safe house.”

“Yes, we’re eager to get settled,” Mason said.

“Then let’s get going.”

After ordering his men to pull two unmarked cars behind the building, Jeff led us to the back door, stopping with his hand on the door handle. “I’ll be in contact a couple of times a day. You’ll have one guard during the day and two at night. Here’s the list of guys who will be watching you.” He handed Mason a folded sheet of paper. “Hopefully, we’ll catch the bastard soon and you won’t have to be out there for very long.”

Mason shook Jeff’s hand and pulled him into a guy hug, thumping him on the back. “Thanks. You have no idea how much I appreciate all your help.”

“Don’t mention it.”

We followed Jeff into the parking lot. “You’re going to take separate cars just to be on the safe side.” He opened the back door of the first car and I slid onto the seat, then looked back to watch as Mason climbed into the other car.

Mason’s car pulled away from the curb immediately, but Jeff still hadn’t closed my door. He squatted down in the opening. “Rose, I’d like to apologize for yesterday. I think we got off on the wrong foot. When we were in Mason’s office last night, he confessed that he’s had feelings for you for months and that you two have been friends for even longer.” He took a deep breath. “I was just being an overprotective friend and I jumped to the wrong conclusion. No hard feelings I hope?”

“No. Of course not.”

“I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention yesterday’s talk to Mason.” His face reddened. “It’ll make him angry and he has enough to deal with right now. Maybe we can all sit around and laugh about it someday.”

“I don’t see any reason to tell him. And I appreciate that you’re such a good friend to him.”

“Thanks. And don’t worry. We’ll catch this guy.” He stood and shut my back door, thumping the roof with his hand.

Chapter Thirteen

I watched out the back windows, the rising sun casting a warm glow over the pine trees lining the county road. Of all the times I’d thought about visiting my birth mother’s farm, I had never once considered going there in the back of an unmarked sheriff’s car.

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