Jedidiah watched as his new charge began to stir. An IV dripped at her side, the clear tubing running up to her good arm. She’d been asleep for about twelve hours or so and he was glad. She would have a lot to process when she woke up.
Throughout the long night Jedidiah had gone out several times to help with rescue efforts, and then returned to check on her. They’d given her a sedative so she’d been resting peacefully each time. He’d returned the last time about an hour ago, ready to catch forty winks, but couldn’t sleep because his mind was racing.
A noise at the door caught his attention. He looked up just in time to see a police officer walk into the room. “Can I help you?”
She strode over and extended her hand. “I’m officer Englewood.”
Jedidiah took her hand and gave one firm shake before dropping it as if it were a hot potato. He knew whatever reason she had for being here wasn’t good. “Jedidiah Jones.”
“Pleased to meet you, are you related?” She gave a nod toward the two patients behind them.
“No, I’m just a friend. Can I help you with something?”
“I just came from Tilly O’Malley’s house.” She hesitated for a second and then said, “We found her, but she’s…she’s passed.” Tears welled in the officer’s eyes.
Jedidiah thought he understood. This was a small town. “You knew her?”
She shook her head, her dark pony-tail bobbing in time. “We went to school together.” She bowed her head.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you.” She sniffed and wiped at her nose with a tissue she pulled from her jacket pocket. “She worked down at Janna’s Café.”
His head rose up in surprise. “The red-head?”
“Yes, why?” The officer’s dark features were scrunched in confusion.
“She served me earlier today.” Real remorse welled-up inside him. “That’s…that’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?” He closed his eyes and rested his head against the cool concrete wall for a moment.
He heard the scraping of the officer’s feet. “That isn’t everything.”
His head popped up. “What else?” He glanced past Janna’s sleeping form to the child lying in the metal, cage-like baby bed, his left leg sporting a cast, an IV trailing from his left hand.
“We searched Andy O’Malley’s house as well.”
Jedidiah went blank. He didn’t know who that was.
She must’ve realized it because she said, “How well do you know Janna?”
He gave a sheepish look. “I just met her yesterday.”
She shook her head. “That explains it then.”
“What were you saying?”
“I really can’t say if you aren’t at least close to the family.”
“I’m going to be around for a while.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just moved to town. I know you don’t know me from Adam, but I already feel an affinity for Miss James.” I can’t believe I just told her that.
The officer smiled. “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Well, yes, but that isn’t why I’m interested. There are millions of beautiful women in the world.”
She gave him a skeptical look. “What is it then?”
“She’s…quirky.” He smiled, happy he’d found the right word. “I like a woman with spunk.”
“Yeah, she is spunky.” She smiled.
Jed was used to the interest he saw flare in her eyes. He wasn’t egotistical, women found him attractive and he knew it. “So what were you about to tell me?”
“The boy’s father was found in the debris of his home, along with his girlfriend and a cat.”
Jedidiah sat up straight, the smile leaving his face. What was the little boy going to do now? He was an orphan. “I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t know why God lets things like this happen.”
“Me either, but I don’t question it.” She looked toward Janna’s sleeping form. “I’ve seen her move but I can’t tell if she’s going to wake-up or not.”
“The doctor said she would wake soon. She’ll be upset. She already lost her best friend.”
“I know. Listen, I have to get back outside,” She pulled out a card and handed it to him. “Could you give me a call when she wakes up?”
He took the card and pocketed it. “Yep, I sure will. There’s a German shepherd outside the front door. Do you think you could make sure he has water?”
“Oh I saw him, is he yours?”
“Yep, brought him back with me.”
“Is he a bomb dog?” The officer asked as she held on to the door frame, ready to leave.
“He can do lots of stuff. We also used him for a search and rescue.”
“Is he still working?”
“Nah, he’s retired, but I’ll take him out if they need him, but he won’t listen to anyone but me.”
She shook her head. “I’ll make sure he has water. What’s his name?”
“Hairy? That’s cute. I’ll let Brad know. He might just need another dog. I know this is a small town but it’s pretty heavily populated.”
“Yeah I noticed that. It seems like a nice place to live.” He looked up and she was frowning. “Well, it was until today anyway.”
She thumped the door jamb. “Yep, I’ll check on the dog.” She turned and left, leaving a loud silence behind.
Janna was rustling the sheet and he looked toward her. His eyes met Amber ones.
“Yeah.” She coughed. “Could I get some water?”
“Yep. He got up and handed her the water cup.
She took a small sip and handed it back, scrunching her nose.”
“It’s bottled. They have several water leaks and aren’t letting anyone drink the water.”
“That explains it.” Her voice cracked and she grimaced. “My arm hurts.”
“It’s broken in three places.”
“Yep, that’s what the doctor said.”
“How long was I asleep?” She twisted her head around the room, her gaze stopping at the small boy sleeping beside her. A small smile graced her lips.
“He’s a cutie. The doctor said his was a clean break. They casted him and gave him something to make him sleep for a few hours. He didn’t want him to wake up during the worst of the pain.”
“That’s good.” She looked at him, her amber eyes questioning.
“I didn’t want to leave you alone.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“That doesn’t matter. I feel bad because Hairy accosted you yesterday.” He gave her a reassuring smile. Should he tell her about knowing her brother, or continue the ‘fake’ meeting?
The silence in the room was broken by her words, “I know, you know.”
“I know my brother sent you.”
He was so surprised he gaped. “How?”
“He has the picture you took together in his photo album.”
“Oh, that explains it.”
“What I don’t know is why.” She gave him a stern look.
His heart melted. She was trying to be brave and strong, but she looked lost and lonely and in need of a knight in shining armor with her casted arm and disheveled chestnut hair.
Should he tell her? He thought about it, rubbing his chin in a slow movement of thought. Yes, he should. It would make it easier under the circumstances. “Your attacker is getting out today and your brother hired me to protect you.”
She gasped, her mouth dropped open, and then she did the unexpected. She laughed.