Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 49

“Uncle Earl told me I own the house and over a thousand acres.”

“This place is amazing, Rose.”

I couldn’t bring myself to agree out loud, but I was getting there. The back part of the house faced southeast and sunlight poured through the windows, giving the room a cheery feeling despite the grime clinging to everything. “Uncle Earl has the house cleaned a couple of times a year, but it looks like it’s due for another cleaning. I think I’ll start with this room. We’ll need to eat, after all.”

He grabbed his laptop out of his bag. “I need to get some work done and then I’ll help. But there’s something I’d rather do first.” He leaned down and kissed me until my knees were weak.

Deputy Miller walked in and cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mr. Deveraux.”

Mason looked up with a wicked grin, keeping his gaze on me. “Yes?”

“I think I’ll walk around the property to make sure everything looks all right.”

“Sounds great.”

I pushed on Mason’s chest and moved around the table to look in the boxes. “Did you bring a lunch, Deputy Miller? I’m going to make something after I clean up a bit. I’m not sure what’s in here, but I’ll come up with something when lunchtime rolls around.”

“That’s mighty kind of you, ma’am, but not necessary.” His eyes darted to the boxes on the table.

“How about you do whatever you need to do and I’ll save you something. And please call me Rose.”

A grin spread across his face. “That would be great…Rose.”

“Good. I’ll be in here cleaning when you get back.”

He disappeared through the door to the front of the house.

“Feeding the sheriff’s deputies isn’t part of your job,” Mason said with a chuckle. “Or perhaps you think you can sway them to like you if you feed them. I suspect it will take more than canned soup to do that.”

I swatted his arm. “I’m perfectly capable of cooking. I used to cook for Momma all the time, but after she died, I kind of rebelled against it because it had been expected of me for so long.”

“If you plan to feed the deputies too, I suspect we’ll need more food.”

I grabbed the kitchen rags and turned on the water, waiting for the stream to get hot. It didn’t. “We don’t have hot water.”

“It’s probably been turned off. No sense heating water that’s not getting used. I’ll see if the hot water heater is in the basement.” He left the kitchen and disappeared through the door under the staircase.

While I was surveying what needed to be done in the kitchen, I noticed a long bag on the table. I unzipped it, gasping when I saw the shotguns and handguns inside.

Mason came back up a few moments later, brushing dust off the shoulders of his light blue dress shirt. “Just as I suspected. The pilot light was out. I got it lit, so we should have hot water in about an hour. Also, there’s a washer and dryer down there. They both seem to work, so we’re set if we need to do laundry.”

I looked up at him. “Why is there a bag of full of guns on the table? Where did they come from?”

“They’re mine.” His faced tensed. “Just in case.”

Again with the just in case. Just in case made my stomach churn. “I thought Jeff asked you to leave our protection to his men.”

“If it comes to a gun fight, there’s no way in hell I’m willing to sit back defenseless. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you’re safe.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Does Jeff know?”

“Rose—” He hesitated and his voice softened. “Sheriff Foster is the one who suggested it.”

“Oh.” That piece of knowledge made this all the more real. We were in so much danger we needed multiple lines of defense.

He cupped my cheek and tilted my face up. “It’s just in case. Crocker won’t find us here.”


But he pulled a handgun out of the bag and put it on the table next to his laptop.

I spent the next two hours sneaking glances at his gun, trying to keep my mind off what would happen if Crocker did find us. I needed to stop borrowing trouble. It made me anxious and never came to any good. Instead, I focused on cleaning and unpacking the boxes the sheriff’s department had sent, which, I was grateful to discover, contained all the staples I’d need to make several meals. Mason sat at the table with his laptop and legal pads, lost in his work. I leaned against the counter to study him. It wasn’t the first time I’d watched him work, but I’d never seen him like this outside of the courtroom. The way his brow lowered when he was concentrating on something was incredibly sexy.

He glanced up from his computer, his gaze landing on me with a hungry look that made my knees weak.

Sitting back in his chair, he glanced around the room. “Rose, you don’t have to clean it all at once. You’re making me feel bad about not helping.”

“You’re working. And don’t worry. I want to do this,” I said, surprised by how true it was. Cleaning made the house seem more mine.

I found the ingredients to make three turkey sandwiches and put them on the paper plates from one of the boxes. I handed Mason his. “Would you prefer to work in the room that looks like an office? It’s pretty private.”

“I’d rather be in here with you.”

I grinned, lifting my eyebrows. “Now what kind of work are you talking about?”

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