Home > Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(4)

Reunited on Sugar Maple Road(4)
Author: Debbie Mason

“I’m fine, Granny MacLeod. I pulled my hand away before you said anything.” Em stepped back. “I’m just worried about Gus. Something upset him.”

“Was it the dog’s future I read then?”

At any other time, Em might’ve laughed. She supposed if she did, it would explain the tears welling in her eyes at the memory of Brad’s smile minutes before he’d rushed to the woman’s rescue.

Em tipped back her head, blinking up at the fairy lights to keep the tears and memories at bay, focusing instead on the fact that Granny MacLeod didn’t remember what she’d said to her. “No. It wasn’t you. Something must’ve scared Gus. Probably all the noise.” She looped her fingers through Gus’s collar, looking around as if searching for the culprit. As she did she noted the way Bri’s troubled gaze moved over her face. Her best friend knew her too well. Em had told her things she’d never told anyone. But she hadn’t told her about the baby she’d lost. She hadn’t told anyone.

Em curled her fingernails into her palm, struggling to contain the memory of that rainy night when she’d miscarried, a week after Brad’s funeral.

“What’s going on? Em, are you okay?” her brother asked, coming to join them with a box of drinks, corn dogs, and candy apples in his arms.

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” she asked, her tone more defensive than she’d intended. “It’s Gus. I’ve gotta go.”

Her brother frowned. “What about him? He looks fine to me, and you’re on duty, aren’t you?”

Her heart started racing at the thought of staying. She couldn’t do it. The memory of the day her life had changed forever had begun clawing its way to the surface.

Bri placed a firm hand on Em’s shoulder, grounding her. “It’s okay. Gabe just got here. I’ll let him know you had to take Gus home.” She held Em’s gaze. “I can come with you so you can hold him.”

She knew. Bri knew this had nothing to do with Gus. “Thanks, but it’s fine. He’ll be okay.”

“I’m sure he will. But you’ll call me anyway. After you get him settled,” Bri said, the tone in her voice brooking no argument. Her best friend wasn’t about to let this slide.

Em nodded, ignoring the way her brother’s narrowed gaze moved from her to his wife. Walking away with Gus at her side, Em focused on her feet, silently counting her steps. When she reached the shadows of the trees, she sprinted for her car. The moment she slid behind the wheel and Gus settled in the passenger seat beside her, the memories slammed into her.

Em fingered the lace on the cocktail-length pale pink dress, feeling a little foolish and a lot uncomfortable. She rarely wore dresses, especially a dress as outrageously feminine and as outrageously expensive as this one.

Brad glanced at her from behind the wheel of the SUV and reached for her hand. “You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”

“About marrying you? Not a chance. About this dress? I’m beyond second thoughts.” She smoothed the fabric over the slight pooch in her stomach. “I don’t know what I was thinking. It cost more than our rent.”

He smiled and brought her hand to his mouth, pressing his lips to her palm. “It was worth every penny. You look amazing.”

“You look pretty amazing yourself, and you didn’t have to spend a small fortune.”

It was true. Brad, with his olive skin, dark hair, and hazel eyes, was stop-and-stare gorgeous. She’d certainly stopped and stared when they’d been assigned to the same case three years earlier. But it wasn’t his good looks that she fell in love with. It was his dry sense of humor, his confidence and compassion, his drive and street smarts. The way he listened to her, looked at her, and loved her.

“And unlike me, you’ll actually get to wear your wedding attire again. Today, in fact.” They’d gotten a break on a big case late last night, and they’d decided to go into work after their wedding at the courthouse. She had her own black suit waiting for her in the backseat.

“You’re sure you don’t want to take the day off? The case will be waiting for us tomorrow morning.”

“But we might get lucky today, and the judge will sign off on the search warrant.”

Brad waggled his eyebrows behind his aviators. “As long as I get lucky tonight.”

“No doubt about that, Slick.” She smiled, and he smiled back.

“You still want to wait until next weekend to tell Cal?”

She laughed. Brad wanted to share the news over the phone in case her overprotective big brother took his unhappiness out on him. Cal had been thrilled when Em had agreed to get married in their hometown. Eventually. She wasn’t a fan of big weddings but her brother had been looking forward to it. “Please, Cal loves you as much as he loves me. He won’t care as long as we’re happy. And if he’s ticked, we have our secret weapon. He’ll be over the moon when we tell him he’s going to be an uncle.”

“Yeah, he…” Brad trailed off as he leaned forward.

Em was about to ask him what was going on when she saw what he did. There was a carjacking underway at the gas station on their left. A man was attempting to pull a screaming woman from her car, waving a gun in her face.

As Brad turned the steering wheel sharply to the left, Em unlocked the glove box, removing his Glock and hers. By the time he brought the SUV to a screeching halt half-on, half-off the sidewalk, she’d inserted a full magazine and chambered a round.

“Call it in, and stay in the vehicle,” Brad ordered, holding her gaze as she handed him his gun. He slid it into his jacket pocket and got out of the SUV.

He’d become annoyingly overprotective since learning they were expecting three weeks before. In any other situation, she would’ve shared how she felt about him ordering her to stay put. But they didn’t have time to argue about it now. The last thing she wanted was him distracted.

Still, she had to be prepared in case he needed her and loaded her own gun while calling it in. She disconnected from dispatch and scanned the parking lot as Brad slowly approached the vehicle.

“Just relax, man,” Brad said, his stance and voice nonthreatening as he tried to de-escalate the situation. “Let the woman and her little boy go. Then you can take the car and drive away. I won’t try and stop you.”

“You a cop? You look like a cop.” The man waved his gun, his free hand fisting in the woman’s hair as he dragged her away from the car. She was crying and so was her little boy.

“Just a concerned citizen. If you let her and the boy go now, you might get away before the cops arrive. You’re drawing attention. Someone will have called it in.”

The guy was jittery, looking from left to right. Brad eased closer, sliding his hand into his pocket. He was going for his gun. He needed backup. He needed her. Staying low, she eased her door open and kicked off her heels. She was about to run to the right side of the vehicle and come up behind the gunman when she noticed a white sedan inching froward from the far side of the building. The carjacker wasn’t working alone.

Brad must’ve noticed the white sedan at the same time she did. “NPD. Drop your weapon,” he ordered as sirens wailed in the distance.

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