Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 99

“Mason! What are you doing home?”

He reached for me, pulling me against his chest, his mouth finding mine. He kissed me for a good minute before he lifted his head. “This is why I’m home. I’ve missed your lips.”

“My lips visited you for lunch.”

He laughed. “That was hours ago.” Then he kissed me again to show me how much he missed me.

Muffy came running around the corner, jumping up on my legs. I squatted to pet her. “I missed you too, girl.” She had stuck close to me ever since Deputy Miller had returned her.

While Bruce Wayne had performed his undercover mission without supervision, Deputy Miller had been undercover in a more official capacity. Crocker’s men had approached him about joining the group a couple of months earlier ago. He had immediately notified the state police and, at their request, joined the group as an informant. But since he was low level, with little information, he hadn’t known about Chief Deputy Dimler’s connection. That morning at the farm when he’d acted so strangely, Deputy Miller had been trying to warn us that Crocker was coming. He was worried the house was bugged, which was why he hadn’t been more direct.

I stood after giving Muffy one last rub behind the ears. “You don’t have to pack up my things, Mason. And you shouldn’t be on your feet.”

“I’ve had my foot propped up all day, which you saw when we had lunch in my office earlier. And as far as helping you pack, the sooner it’s done, the sooner you can get out there. I know how excited you are about the move.”

I placed a gentle kiss on his mouth. “Thank you.” I put my hands on my hips and looked around the room. “I’m almost done, and then we can make another run out to the farm.”

“Have you decided what to do with the furniture?”

“Not yet. Since there’s already furniture out at the farm, I don’t need everything, but I like my living room furniture, so I want to take it. I may see if Bruce Wayne and David want some of it. Theirs is pretty worn. In any case, I need to move it somewhere. Violet has her own stuff.”

“Then I guess you have a week or so to figure it out. She’s still moving in next week, right?”

“Yeah.”

Mason hobbled into the kitchen and looked out the window over the sink. “Heidi Joy and Andy got moved out okay yesterday?”

“Andy had to finish up after she had the baby. Miss Mildred says the new renter is moving in tomorrow.”

“Any word on who it is?”

“None.”

Mason laughed. “How is that possible? That woman knows everything.”

“I know, and I can tell that the not knowing is eating her alive.”

I lifted the box and headed for the side door. “I’m going to start loading the truck.”

“Rose, I wish you would have let me hire someone to move you. I hate that you’re doing all this work and I can’t help carry things.”

I leaned over to kiss him. “No. It’s my stuff, so you’re not paying for it. And I need every spare penny I have to fix up the farm house. Now push the door open for me.”

He opened it and shook his head. “You’re bossy.”

My eyebrows rose and I lowered my voice. “And you know you like me that way.”

A wicked grin lit up his face. “Yeah, especially late last night.”

I bumped his hip, gasping in mock surprise. “Mr. Deveraux. You have a reputation to maintain.”

“Then it’s a good thing Mildred wasn’t looking through the window with her binoculars.”

“I wouldn’t put it past her.” Laughing, I took the box out to the truck and slid it into the truck bed. I was heading back into the house when a familiar car pulled into the driveway next to mine. My breath caught in my throat.

Joe got out of his car and circled toward me, grinning ear to ear. “Hi, Rose. How are you recovering?”

I absently touched the faded bruises on my face. I was wearing makeup and they weren’t visible, but I knew they were there. “I’m fine. How about you? You were injured worse than I was.”

He kicked a patch of gravel. “You can’t keep me down.”

The way he said it made me wonder if there was some hidden meaning behind his words. “I was sorry to hear you lost the election.”

Determination filled his eyes. “I wasn’t. I told you I was going to quit the race, but I was so far behind in the polls, I figured I’d just let it run its course. My father hates losing, so it was a bonus.”

“What are you doing here? You could have called me on the phone to catch up.”

He rested his butt against the hood of his car. “I heard Heidi Joy moved out. Have any idea who’s moving in?”

“Unbelievably, not even Miss Mildred knows.”

Grinning, he jingled his keys. “Hi, neighbor.”

My mouth dropped open. “You? You’re the one who rented this house?”

“I couldn’t believe my good luck when I heard it was available. I figured it was serendipity. I guess we’ll be next-door neighbors again.”

I shook my head. “But…how? I don’t understand.”

“After the chief deputy sheriff got arrested and the sheriff lost several other men in the Crocker mess, he offered me a job. You’re looking at the new Chief Deputy Sheriff of Fenton County.”

My heart sank, although I didn’t know why. Joe and I were broken up, so what did I care? Maybe because the fact that he was going to take a sheriff’s position before he broke up with me was bittersweet. “That’s great, Joe. Congratulations.”

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