Fighting for a Dream [Stockland Firefighters Book 2] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Tonya Ramagos
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Jordan Dias is the fire chief's daughter. He sternly forbade her to follow in his footsteps as he believes women have no business working in a "man's job." But Jordan has a dream.... In Book II of the Stockland Fire Department Series, Jordan's in for some fiery excitement. When her father retires, Jordan applies to the new chief, Bryce Tracy, for a job. If he hires her, he is sure to allienate his predecessor, who is still around acting as a volunteer. If he doesn't, Bryce will break her heart. Or maybe his own....
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net, Published: 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2005
This eBook is part of the following series:
19 Reader Ratings:
"Take time to sit back and enjoy this book. Four stars!"--Sharpwriter Reviews
"...will keep you engrossed until the very last page."--Barbara Woodward, author of The Heart Remembers
"You don't want to see the story end."--Lisa, Book Review Cafe
Bryce Tracy drummed his fingertips on the desk. A rid-a-tat-tat from his nails hitting the hard wooden surface ricocheted through the unnerving silence of the office. His gaze was fixed and locked with a pair of gray, cat-shaped eyes that stared back at him. Pleading yet determined eyes. Eyes that could make a man slither into a puddle of mush and, at the same time, put every nerve ending on alert. How could he say no to those eyes, to that beautiful face? How could he say no when her request had rolled from such alluring, shapely lips?
His attention focused on those lips, carnation pink, glistening from moisture and parted ever so slightly. They were set in the perfect formation for another pair of lips, his lips, to capture them in a heated kiss of passion. And if he were to ever kiss her that's exactly what it would be, passion--years of deep unrevealed passion battling for an escape. It made no difference that the striking woman in front of him was practically his sister. He wanted her and every time he looked at her he wanted her more and more.
It hadn't always been that way. Then again, she hadn't always been so beautiful. Growing up, she'd been a scrawny thing, tall with virtually no meat on her bones and a head far too large for her body. She had been easy to resist then. Oh, why couldn't she have remained that way? Saying no to that girl would have been much easier than saying no to the woman she had become. But how could he say yes and face the wrath of Cleveland Diaz? What she was asking was too much. For so many reasons, most of which Bryce knew he had to keep locked away inside.
Bringing his drumming fingers to a halt, he laid his hands flat on the desk and pushed a hard breath from his lungs. "Jordan, you realize you're putting me in a helluva spot here?" He pursed his lips together as he forced himself to gaze, once again, into her eyes and concentrate on the subject at hand rather than how badly he wanted her. "You know how I feel about your father. I have the greatest of admiration for him. I owe him so much. Hell, I practically owe him my life!"
Jordan returned his fixed and potent stare, seemingly attempting to keep her expression blank and emotionless. Still, the scowl that briefly overtook her luscious lips was hard to miss.
"You, of all people, should know I'm not making excuses." Bryce pushed himself to a standing position behind the desk. "It's the truth. Your father pulled me under his wing when I had nowhere else to go. He taught me everything I know. He's the reason I'm Chief of this department now." He indicated his surroundings with a flourish of his arm.
The office was small, not much larger than a walk-in closet found in a master bedroom. The walls were panted a soft shade of ivory trimmed in red tying in the décor with the walls of the station outside the office. The furnishings were spare; an executive style desk sat before the only window in the room, a five drawer metal filing cabinet occupied one corner while an American flag hung from a tall base in another. In front of the desk were two brown leather visitor chairs. Despite the usual cozy atmosphere of the office, Bryce felt as though the room was closing in around him as his attention remained planted on the occupant of one of those brown leather chairs.
Jordan remained seated. Although her perfect posture visibly stiffened, her glare on him didn't give an inch. "I know you feel you owe my father a lot--"
"Then you understand that undermining his decision isn't exactly how I planned to repay him for all of the years of kindness he's shown me," Bryce interrupted her a bit too coldly.
Undermining his decision? Hell, it would be more like spitting in the old man's face! Bryce had promised to continue running the Stockland Fire Department the way Cleveland and his predecessors had done for nearly a century. Bryce was the first Chief in the history of the department that was not of Diaz blood. Had Cleveland been blessed with a son, Bryce was certain he would have never seen the rank of Chief. But Cleveland didn't have a biological son. Therefore, he had entrusted the department to Bryce. Bryce knew if he gave into Jordan's request he wouldn't merely be changing what had become a department policy, he would be asking to become the worst enemy of Cleveland Diaz--something no man in their right mind would ever intentionally ask for.
"So you're saying you won't help me." Jordan folded her arms across her chest. The muscle in her jaw worked as she clenched her teeth together. Those tantalizing gray eyes smoldered with anger.
"I didn't say that."
"So you're saying you will?" The anger instantly swept away, her eyes lit up like a pair of stars in the blackest of night skies. They were eyes a man could drown in and damned if he didn't feel himself going down. No amount of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would be able to save him.
"I didn't say that either."
What had he said? Nothing. How could he when he had no idea what to say? The situation was precarious, his choices very slim. He could say yes, watch the happiness consume the woman he secretly loved and know that he was the one who brought her that happiness. Or he could say no, salvage his father/son relationship with her father and most likely lose Jordan forever.
Words Cleveland Diaz had spoken so many times echoed through his mind. Women have no place in the fire service. They're too dainty, too weak. There isn't a woman alive that can cut it in a man's world. The only thing they're good for is handing out water bottles on fire scenes.
The problem was, deep down Bryce didn't agree with Cleveland's words, especially when the woman in question was Jordan Diaz. She may be female but dainty and weak were definitely not words that could be used to describe her. The sudden interest in physical fitness she had developed at the age of fourteen had eliminated any of that. By the age of sixteen, the once scrawny disproportioned girl had transformed into a strong tough woman with a body and mind that proved it. If given a chance, Bryce predicted she could give nearly any man on the department a run for his money.
Yet that knowledge did nothing to change his current situation. It didn't multiply his options either. If only she would accept her father's decision and leave well enough alone. Life would be so much simpler. But one look into those unwavering eyes told him pigs would fly before that wish would be granted.
Shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans, he walked to the wall lined with pictures on the side of the office. "There's never been a woman on this department," he informed her unnecessarily, gesturing toward the many photos of firefighters.
"Like I don't know that," she said with a callous laugh. Then she rose from the chair and stepped closer to him. "That's because this department has also never had a Chief that wasn't a Diaz. Now it does.
"Times have changed since my great-great-grandfather founded this department, Bryce. The Diaz reign doesn't have to end just because there are no more men in the family to carry on tradition. My days of handing out water bottles are over," she announced with a stubborn lift of her chin. "I know this department backwards and forwards. I'm in great physical shape and perfectly capable of being a firefighter. Unfortunately, my father is so caught up in his old fashioned values that he can't see past my gender to figure that out."
Bryce raked a hand through his hair and turned his back to her. Like he could see past her gender. Hell, with the body that woman had it was hard to see anything else!
A tension-filled silence settled over the office as he paced the short distance from the desk to the wall, back and forth. "So now that your father is on vacation for who knows how long and isn't Chief anymore you see this as an opportunity to become more active in the department," he summarized, cutting her a quick glance as he continued to tread the tiled floor.
"Yep." She nodded sharply. "To my knowledge, my father no longer has any pull over the decisions made in this department. He can't keep me out now. It's all up to you."
"In other words, you're asking me to choose between you and your father." He stopped pacing then and turned to glare at her. A frown etched itself between his brows. He hadn't exactly meant to voice the ultimatum that had surfaced to his mind but it was precisely what he was thinking.
A look of baffled confusion overtook Jordan's stern expression. "I--I..." She faltered, angling her head as she mull over his words. Finally, she said, "I don't think it's going to come down to you losing the relationship you have with my father, if that's what you mean."
"I'm afraid it will," Bryce admitted dryly, heaving a sigh. He shifted his gaze to the photos on the wall--centering on a picture of Cleveland Diaz dressed in turnouts and a white helmet that symbolized his position as Chief. He was a stocky man in his early sixties with more hair above his lip than on his head. But it was his eyes, the same deep gray colored eyes that Jordan possessed, that most people in the town of Stockland found intimidating. Even in a photograph those eyes didn't lose their daunting appearance. Bryce shivered.
"Look, if I can't cut it I will be the first to say so," Jordan said. She moved to prop herself against a wall behind her, her hands balled in fists and planted on her slim hips. "I'll walk away and serve the best water you've ever tasted. All I'm asking is for you to do your job. Set your personal knowledge of my father and me aside and give me a chance. Treat me as you would any other candidate."
Bryce's gaze dropped to the toes of her aerobic tennis shoes and slowly scanned up the length of her captivating long legs to the lavender blouse that stretched just perfectly over her well-curved breasts. He felt himself begin to swell behind the zipper of his jeans and quickly looked away. He looked to the ceiling, to the floor, out the window, everywhere but at her. Although he would've preferred to allow his gaze to linger on her beautiful curves, now was not the time to get aroused. He had to think. He had to...
Treat her as I would any other candidate. Yeah, like I can really do that one.
"I can't give you an answer immediately, Jordan. I need some time to consider this and right now I'm due at Gabby McPherson's place." He stole a glance at the old-fashioned clock set in the tummy of a porcelain Dalmatian with a fire hose wound at his feet and a red helmet on his head. The clock had been a thank you gift from the owner of the Mini Mart after the department saved his store from burning to the ground years before. Since then, it had become a permanent fixture on the desk. "Actually, I was supposed to be there a half an hour ago. Her house caught fire last night and I have to meet with the fire marshal."
"Fine, then I'll go with you."
Bryce didn't appear too pleased that she would accompany him to Gabrielle's place. Still, he gave her no argument. He simply snatched his cap bearing the Stockland F.D. logo from the desktop, stomped past her and headed out the door. He was looking for a way out of the conversation. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But Jordan wasn't about to let him off that easy. Her days of playing around were over and, by the end of the day, one way or another she was going to be a volunteer member of the Stockland Fire Department.
With her determination growing even stronger by the minute, she followed Bryce out of the station to the Jeep Cherokee parked out front. She silently admired his taste in vehicles. The fire engine red Cherokee was by far a much classier choice for a Chief's vehicle than the older model lime green pickup truck her father had chosen when he was in charge. More appropriate too, given Bryce's height and muscular build. At six' two" and 200 and some odd pounds of pure muscle he would be cramped in any smaller vehicle.
Hopping in the passenger seat, Jordan fastened her seatbelt as Bryce slid in behind the wheel. The unnerving hush that had filled the air of the office had followed them out and now settled in the cab of the Cherokee. But, unlike the time they had spent in the office, the ice that formed between the two of them in the enclosed space of the Cherokee made her uneasy. She didn't know why. It wasn't like the two of them had never argued before. He had been hanging around her family for years, always acting as if he were her brother even though he wasn't. So, like any other siblings, or almost siblings, they'd had their share of fights and disagreements.
They'd had some doozies too. Most of which had occurred as she progressed into her teen years and began dating. No boy was ever good enough for her to date. No matter who she brought home for her parents to meet, Bryce always had something negative to say about him. He was to old, hung out with the wrong crowd at school, didn't have a very good reputation, his parents weren't pillars in the community ... The list went on and on. And, of course, they had argued about the stupid little things too--who would sit in the front seat when it was just the two of them and her father, who got to borrow the car when they were both old enough to drive. Hell, they had argued over everything including what color to paint her bedroom when she decided to redecorate!
But arguing with Bryce was different now. They were both adults. The arguments of today had more substance. They made more sense.
They also bothered her a helluva lot more.
Squirming in her seat, Jordan attempted to ignore the unnerving silence by staring out the window at the passing scenery as Bryce drove through the small town of Stockland to Gabrielle McPherson's place on Willow Crossing Way. Activity in the town was minimal for a Saturday morning and she couldn't help but wonder what had the town residents occupied inside their homes on the first beautiful winter day they'd seen in weeks.
When no answer came to mind, she shifted in her seat and began searching for a way to break the miserable silence. "How did Gabrielle's house catch fire?"
"Honestly, I'm not exactly sure," Bryce replied dryly. He ran his long slender fingers through his wavy sandy blond hair, his attention remaining focused on the road. "It was hard to tell last night. We were more concerned with extinguishing the fire than figuring out how it started. She's been doing some renovating. From what I could tell, it looked as if the fire started in the hall. Gabrielle had enough chemicals and papers stashed in that hallway to make a wonderful meal for a fire. It spread quickly and was a bitch to put out."
Jordan placed a hand on the armrest and pushed herself straighter in her seat. The extent of danger Gabrielle had experienced the previous evening sunk in causing her pulse to quicken in terror. Her own problems immediately became the least of her worries, replaced by concern for Gabrielle. She and Gabrielle weren't what one would call the closest of friends but they were friends nevertheless. The woman had been through so much over the years. Losing her parents to a car accident when she was a young child, suffering through a horrible marriage, then losing her grandparents only a year apart, and now this! The only thing she seemed to have going for her these days was the bookstore she had opened in town and, from the way Bryce was talking, the bookstore was all she had left.
"Gabby is okay, isn't she?" Jordan asked. The alarm she felt was evident in her tone.
"Yeah, she's fine." Bryce glanced away from the road long enough for her to see the assurance in his sea green eyes. "Bonnie-Jean was there. You know what a comfort she is to Gabrielle. I'm just thankful we got there when we did. It was a close call. Gabrielle was in the bathtub when the fire started. Lance had to go in through the fire to rescue her."
"Lance?" Jordan drew her eyebrows together in puzzlement, momentarily unable to place the name. Then recognition dawned. He was the new hire she had yet to meet.
The Stockland Fire Department was small--fitting for a town with a population of less than ten thousand. Fire calls were generally low, therefore eliminating the need for a full manned station twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Instead, the roster of the department was compiled by one Chief, two paid full-time firefighters who pulled eight to five shifts five days a week, and a number of volunteers who were on call twenty-four, seven.
For years, Bryce had been one of the two full-time firefighters partnered with Caleb Wilkes. When Jordan's father retired and promoted Bryce to Chief a replacement had been needed. That replacement was Lance Cavanaugh.
"He's the guy you hired from Memphis, right? How's he working out?"
"Fantastic! As much as I hate to admit it, there isn't a soul on the department who couldn't learn a few things from that man about fighting fire. Hell, if the truth were known he should have my job. He's far more experienced and better qualified to be Chief than I am. Too bad he turned down the position."
Bryce lapsed into silence again and Jordan didn't have to guess why. She could hear his underlying words as clearly as if he has spoken them. If Lance had taken the position of Chief, Bryce wouldn't be the one having to deal with her now.
Well, that was just too bad.
Bryce was pulling the Cherokee to a stop in the driveway of Gabrielle McPherson's house when Jordan broke the silence again. "So, have you made up your mind yet?"
"About what?" he asked, obviously distracted as he turned off the engine.
"Don't patronize me, Bryce. Are you going to let me on the department or not?"
He turned to face her then. A mixture of aggravation and confusion had settled in his tanned features. "I told you I was going to need some time to think about it," he said. His tone was calm, but resolute. Jordan knew it was taking a lot of his control to keep it that way.
Time for the trump card. She had hoped she wouldn't have to use it but she saw no other alternative.
"Fine, but just so you know, if you don't let me on the department I'll be forced to speak to Chief Henry," she informed him as she stepped out of the Cherokee.
Bryce jumped out of the vehicle, slammed the door behind him and came around the front of the hood so fast Jordan didn't have time to react. He planted a glare on her that made her squirm inside her skin but she managed to appear unfazed by his apparent anger. "You wouldn't," he challenged, his eyes narrowing.
"Oh, trust me, I would and I will," she said in a tone full of promise. She had given it a lot of thought and had come to the conclusion that if she couldn't get Bryce to give her what she wanted she would join another department. The Grover F.D. wouldn't have been her first choice but it was the only other department in reasonable responding distance from her apartment. "Chief Henry would do anything to have a Diaz on his department--male or female."
Jordan allowed herself the satisfaction of watching Bryce's jaw drop from the shock of her threat before spinning on her heels and walking toward the house. Despite her racing pulse, she was proud of herself for standing her ground. She was playing hardball and she knew it but what choice was he giving her? All she was asking was for a chance to prove herself and, one way or another, she intended to get that chance.
Bryce stood with his mouth hanging open in utter shock and watched as Jordan strolled across the yard to the sheriff and Caleb Wilkes who were talking near the front door of the house. A fierce wind whipped through the ebony hair that flowed down her back almost to the shapely derriere that strained the seams of her tight-fitting jeans.
She wasn't serious. Was she? The first ultimatum she'd dished out that morning had been bad but this one was far worse. Maybe joining the Grover F.D. was merely a threat--a ploy to force him to allow her on the Stockland F.D. But what if it wasn't? What if she was serious? He didn't want her under the supervision of Louis Henry. The man practically let his firefighters run wild on fire scenes! No way would she be safe there. Then again, he wouldn't be safe having her on the Stockland F.D.
Shaking his head, Bryce broke into a jog to catch up with Jordan. "Damn women," he muttered under his breath.
Jordan threw him a glance and a crooked smile over her shoulder. From her expression he gathered she had heard him. She knew what she was doing to him and dammit if she didn't appear to be loving every minute of it!
"Morning Chief," Sheriff Clyde Roscoe greeted as Bryce and Jordan approached the two men in front of the house. "Getting a late start this morning?"
"Yeah, you could say that," Bryce muttered. "I was supposed to meet the fire marshal here. I don't suppose you've seen him?"
"I'm afraid you just missed him," the tall, lanky sheriff said with a slight shake of his head. He pushed up the sleeve of his tan uniform shirt and glanced at his wristwatch. "I'd say he's been gone about five or ten minutes now."
"I figured as much." Bryce pushed a hard, exasperated breath through his lips. He darted an accusing glare at Jordan who stood beside him acting as if she had nothing to do with his late arrival at the fire scene. Diverting his attention to Caleb Wilkes, he asked, "Did you talk to him? Was he able to determine how the fire started?"
Caleb's concentration was set on Jordan and, from the expression on his face, a million questions were running through his mind--the first of which was most likely what was she doing there. The history between Caleb and Jordan was not pleasant and the fact that she was a female on a fire scene did nothing to calm the waters between them. Still, after a few seconds, he seemed to dismiss her presence as routine. Most of the town viewed Bryce and Jordan as siblings even though they weren't and it wasn't odd for brothers and sisters to be seen places together. Yet, Bryce could tell her presence made Caleb uncomfortable.
"Yeah, I talked to him. It seems the fire started in the hall just like we said last night," Caleb finally replied. His dry, harsh tone alerted Bryce that he hadn't dismissed anything so easily.
Bryce opened his mouth to inquire about the fire marshal's findings but snapped it closed when he heard a door slam behind him. Steeling a glance over his shoulder, he spotted Lance Cavanaugh striding toward them. The tall, dark haired firefighter tipped his cap in greeting as reached them.
"Mornin' Lance. I didn't expect to see you so early. You just missed the fire marshal," Bryce informed him. He couldn't prevent the irritation that was clenching his insides from spewing with his words. When he realized that Lance detected his anger and appeared to think it was aimed at him, he added, "Actually, we both missed him. The son of a bitch was supposed to wait until I got here before he left."
Lance shoved his hands in the pockets of his faded jeans and looked past him to the house. His dark eyes clouded over and Bryce guessed he was remembering how the place had looked hours before when it had been engulfed in flames. "So, what's the verdict?" he finally asked, rocking back on the heels of his leather boots? "Did the fire marshal determine how the fire started? Or did he leave before anyone could get here to find out?"
Sheriff Clyde Roscoe stepped forward. He hooked his thumbs through the belt loops of his tan pants. "Caleb and I were here. Looks like an exposed plug-in wire. Gabby has been doing some remodeling on the house. I know she was aware of the bare wires but she didn't think there was any power going to them. We should have checked it anyway," he sighed. A guilty expression rose to cloud his face.
"According to the fire marshal, she had a clothes basket in front of the wires in the hallway," he continued after a brief pause. "She must've tossed her clothes on the top on her way into the bathroom last night causing the wires to touch."
"And the wires sparked, igniting the clothes in the basket, then spreading to the floor and up the walls," Lance finished for the Sheriff.
"You guessed it man," Caleb said with a click of his tongue. "The hall was lined with newspaper. Not to mention the paint thinner and other stuff in there that fed the fire."
"She's lucky it wasn't worse than it was," Lance whispered.
"Yeah, real lucky," Jordan said softly, speaking for the first time. Her voice was soft, kind. She wore an expression of genuine concern and relief for Gabrielle. "Poor Gabrielle, I can just imagine how terrified she must have been."
"Lance, I don't believe the two of you have met," Bryce said with a slight nod toward the woman. "This is Jordan Diaz. She's the retired Chief's daughter and the newest member of our volunteer department."
And that was it. No hesitation, no moment to reconsider. Just like that the decision to allow Jordan on the department was made. The instant the words left his lips, Bryce knew it was a decision that would affect the rest of his life. All he could do from this point forward was live one day at a time and pray things worked out for the best. That, and take a mental picture of the sheer satisfaction and happiness that swept over Jordan's face to cherish forever in his memory.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Caleb's bright hazel eyes widen and his jaw clinch from the news. Oh yeah, there would definitely be hell to pay over this and it was starting already.
Reflexively, Bryce's insides tightened, preparing to add another to his list of arguments that were sure to happen in the near future, as his gaze moved to Lance. But instead of the obvious disgust or disapproval he expected to find in the man's expression, he found what could only be described as intrigue.
Lance angled his head slightly as his gaze swept back and forth between his partner and Jordan Diaz. "Lance Cavanaugh," he said, politely extending his hand.
Bryce watched attentively as Jordan shook hands with the firefighter. The whole time, she was glaring at him as if awaiting his outburst at having a female on the department. But instead, he slanted her a comforting, hospitable glance. "Glad to have you on the department," he said in the most sincere tone.
Jordan smiled. And not just any smile--a gleaming, wide smile that unfolded from ear-to-ear. The camera in Bryce's mind snapped another photo to remember forever. Damn, she's beautiful
Lance released Jordan's hand and turned his attention to the sheriff. "How's Gabrielle this morning?"
"Better than I expected," the sheriff replied with a slight nod. "She woke up early this morning, borrowed some of my wife's clothes, came over here to examine the damage and then went to the bookstore."
"She didn't try to go in the house, did she?" Bryce snapped his head around. Alarm rang from his voice.
"No, I told her she needed to wait until at least tomorrow and to be sure she wasn't alone when she did."
"Good, I know she wants to see what she can salvage but we're not sure how sturdy the rest of the place is. I would like to wait at least another day before going in there to check things out. Let the place air out and cool off a bit."
"If everything is okay I guess I'll be going then," Lance said suddenly, turning to leave. "It was nice meeting you." He flashed Jordan a quick smile.
"Nice to meet you, too." She returned his smile.
Bryce couldn't miss the way her gaze traveled the length of Lance's body. The tall, dark hair, muscle bound man attracted adoring looks from nearly every woman in town. Yet, in the short time he'd been on the Stockland F.D., the only woman he'd shown the slightest bit of interest toward was Gabrielle McPherson and Bryce couldn't be positive that even that detection wasn't a mere figment of his imagination.
"Thanks for stopping by to check things out. See you Monday," Bryce said with a wave.
Lance glanced over his shoulder as he made his way to his truck. "Yeah, if not before then."
The four remaining in front of the house fell silent as they watched Lance drive away. After a few moments, it was the sheriff who spoke first. "It was pretty amazing the way that man darted into that house last night and carried Gabby to safety."
"He's not afraid of anything, that's for sure," Bryce agreed, remembering the way Lance hadn't wasted a second the previous evening when they had arrived on the scene. In the blink of an eye, the man had dashed into the raging inferno to rescue Gabrielle. Not that there had been a second to waste. The fire had trapped Gabrielle in the tiny bathroom. The closed door had been her only protection. But it hadn't been much protection from the smoke that had begun to blanket the air inside the room. If Lance hadn't gotten to her when he had she would have surely suffered from smoke inhalation and who knew what else. Instead, the only injury she had sustained was a welt on the palm of her hand from trying to open the bathroom door.
"The guy is good," Caleb chimed in. "He's definitely an asset to the department. It was a smart move on your part to hire him. We needed someone with his experience on the department. Especially now that it seems you've opened a babysitting service without consulting anyone," he added cynically. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Bryce with obvious contention.
"Caleb." Bryce made his name a warning. Beside him, Jordan stiffened and took a step forward but before she had a chance to speak the sound of a woman scolding a child drifted through the air.
"Uh oh, sounds like my cue to head to the house," the Sheriff chuckled slightly. "Bonnie-Jean has her hands full with our three little rug rats these days and if I don't go see what's got her feathers in a ruffle this time I'll be sleeping in the dog house tonight."
"Go take care of your family Clyde," Bryce said on a laugh. "We're headed out too. Looks like our job is done here for now."
The four scrambled, Bryce, Jordan and Caleb to their vehicles and the sheriff to his house next door. Bryce was just about to slide behind the wheel of the Cherokee when Caleb grabbed his arm to stop him.
"I need to talk to you," the dark haired man in his early thirties informed him in an insistent, nasty tone.
Bryce's gaze shot to the man's hand on his arm, then to Caleb's face. Caleb loosened his grip and allowed his hand to fall to his side. "There's nothing to talk about," he said firmly, continuing to climb into the Cherokee. "The decision has been made. But if you still want me to listen to what you have to say we'll meet in my office at the station on Monday."