Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 45

“So what happens now?” I asked Jeff. “You’re telling me you’ll put me under your protection, but what does that mean?”

“We’ll find our own safe house, but for now you and Mason will come to the sheriff’s office. Even Crocker wouldn’t try to get you there.”

I looked up at Mason, who nodded his agreement.

“Well, that’s settled,” Jeff said. “We’ll take her to the sheriff’s office and met you there.”

Mason’s arm tightened around my waist. “I’ll take her.”

“Mason.” Jeff shook his head. “She’ll ride to the office in a sheriff’s patrol car. You can meet her there.”

He started to protest, but I put my hand on his arm. “It’s fine.” I turned to the deputy. “Can we go soon? I don’t want to stay here any longer than I have to.”

“We can go now.”

I grabbed Mason’s hand and followed Jeff around the building to the parking lot full of Henryetta Police cars and Fenton County Sheriff cruisers.

Jeff stopped next to a marked sheriff’s car and talked to the deputy standing next to it before turning to me. “Rose, you’ll ride in this patrol car and we’ll have another car follow.” He paused. “Just in case.”

I didn’t want to think about what “just in case” entailed.

Chapter Twelve

Mason got to the sheriff’s station moments after I did and disappeared into Jeff’s office with him. Someone ordered sandwiches, and I ate two of them while delivering my statement. Afterwards, I sat at an empty desk and waited for Mason. Someone gave me a Sudoku book, but I couldn’t concentrate. I kept eyeing the phone. Jeff had told me he hadn’t heard anything about Bruce Wayne, but I also knew the department was more concerned with finding Crocker. Jonah was still looking, though, and might have a lead.

Still, it was close to midnight and too late to call him. Jonah was an early-to-bed kind of guy and although he wouldn’t mind me waking him up, I couldn’t do it. I also considered calling Violet. I wanted to hear how Muffy was doing. I hadn’t seen my little dog in a day and a half and missed her more than I would have thought possible.

Just when I’d started to think they’d be in there forever, Jeff’s door flew open and Mason and Jeff hurried out of the office. Mason stopped at my desk and sat on the edge, his no-nonsense expression on his face. “I have to go out for a little while. Jeff had a couple of cots set up in the back. If you’re tired, you can lie down and get some sleep.”

“So I’m going to spend the night here?” I wasn’t about to complain. I felt safer here than I did hiding at the motel.

“Yeah, it looks like it.”

I could tell he was distracted. “Mason, is everything okay?”

He leaned over and kissed me lightly. “Yeah, get some rest, okay.”

He was lying. Something was wrong, but I decided to let it go. I had to trust that he had a good reason for not telling me. If they’d found Crocker I’d be told soon enough. Unless…

My eyes flew open. “Is Violet okay?”

“What?” He blinked. “Yes. She’s fine. But I’ll have Jeff send someone to check on her to ease your mind, okay?”

“Okay. And could they check on Muffy?” My mouth twisted into a grimace. “I know she’s just a dog…”

He took my hand. “Rose, she’s not just a dog. She’s important to you.” He gave me another kiss and then stood. “I should have checked on her for you. I’m sorry. But Neely Kate and Jonah were okay when I talked to them this afternoon. I’ll have the deputy make sure she’s okay when they check on Violet. Now I have to go.”

“Okay.” I couldn’t help but worry as I watched him and Jeff head for the exit. Something was really wrong.

He still hadn’t returned a couple of hours later, but when I asked the other deputies about it, they only gave me vague answers. I tried waiting up for him, but I kept dozing off and writing nonsense numbers on the Sudoku puzzle I was trying to solve, so I finally gave up and went to the back storage room to rest on one of the cots.

When I awoke, Mason was sleeping in the cot next to mine. I watched him for several minutes, wanting to reach across the three feet between us and smooth the worry lines from his face. I hated to think that I was the one who put them there.

As though he sensed me watching him, his eyes opened and a lazy grin spread across his face. “All the times I’ve imagined sleeping with you, this was not what I pictured.”

A shiver ran down my spine and my mind turned to dangerous thoughts. “You’ve imagined sleeping with me?”

He didn’t answer, but his grin grew wider.

“Where’d you go last night?”

I’d asked the wrong thing. His expression turned serious as he angled his body toward me, still lying on his side. “My office.”

“Why the big secret?”

“It was broken into.”

“Why would someone break into your office?”

He hesitated. “They were looking for files. On you.”

I sucked in my breath. “And did they get them?”

He rubbed his face. “Yes.”

“I don’t understand. Why would someone want my files?”

“Not someone. Crocker. Or more likely, his men.”

I sat bolt upright, and he did too. “Why would he want my files?”

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