Don't forget to make the Diamond Mine a stop in your day!!
~ Chapter Thirteen ~
Arianna was too tired to explore the cabin. She was still much too weak to walk on her own, anyway, so she took a nap.
When she awoke, it was late afternoon, judging by the sun streaming in the western window. Shadows played along the edges of the steady sun stream and she smiled. “Maybe that’s why they call it Shadow Lake.”
“Maybe it is.”
The voice startled her and she jumped before realizing it was Justin. She turned to him. “Hi.”
“Hey. I was beginning to think you would sleep through the night, too.”
“I’m sorry.” She looked around the room, searching for the nurse. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Justin, but it would take some time getting used to him being around. “Where is Mary Jo?”
“She was bored so I sent her down to the lake for a swim. Maybe you can handle one in a few days.”
Her hand went to her neck where the bandage was a tight reminder of her folly. Tears filled her eyes. “Not for a while.”
He nodded. “True. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to get that wet, especially in a lake.” He sent her a bright smile. “But when it’s healed you can swim all you want. You can swim, can’t you?”
She threw him a smile. “Like a fish.”
“Good, it’s a date then.”
The words fell between them creating an awkward silence. They were husband and wife, but pretty much strangers. The enormity of the situation Justin had taken on hit him. He was married to a woman he didn’t know. Protecting her from a criminal he didn’t understand, and planning a search and rescue mission for a child he had no idea where to look for. Dear Lord, give me strength and guidance. Your will be done.
Hesitant words broke into his thoughts. “Justin, do you think everything will be okay?”
He shrugged. “I hope so, Arianna. All we can do is ask God to guide and protect us. If it’s His will, it’ll happen.”
“I miss him so much.”
Cold slivers shot up his spine at her words. She missed the ‘Monster?’
His look must’ve conveyed his horror because she clarified, “I miss my son. Chance.”
Justin rushed over and fell to his knees beside the couch she laid on. “Oh honey, I know you do. If it’s at all possible I will find him and bring him home.”
A strand of red hair had wormed its way into the corner of her mouth and he gently removed it. His eyes caught hers. The electricity between them was a tangible thing and he had to take a deep breath to dispel the desire to pull her into his arms and show her how much he cared. Instead, he bent over and laid his lips upon hers in a gentle caress. He thought he heard her sigh, but couldn’t be sure.
He stood up and went to the kitchen area. He needed to cool down and keep things on a platonic basis. At least for now. Just because she was his wife didn’t mean he could man-handle her and scare her half to death. The attraction was there, but he had to court it gently, with love and care. Not demand it like a grizzly hungry for his next meal. He chuckled at his thoughts and opened a cupboard door to see what he could make for supper.
“What’s so funny?”
He spun around in surprise, but it was just Mary Jo.
He laughed, self-conscious. “I thought I was alone, sorry.”
“Not a big deal, but since I was here, I want to know.” She laughed and began rummaging around in the cupboards herself.
“I was laughing at something I was thinking about. Leave it at that.”
She studied him for a moment then let it drop. “Okay. Here’s the deal about the kitchen.”
When he looked over at her, she continued, “It’s mine.”
He couldn’t decide if she was serious or not, but figured he’d play it safe. “Okay…”
“I cook all the meals. I’m a pretty good cook if I do say so myself, and I do.” She threw a huge smile at him.
“Nice. I can’t cook at all. I burn water.”
She laughed. “I figured as much. Anyway, while I’m cooking you can take care of whatever it is guys take care of, or spend time with Arianna. She’s looking much healthier this evening, by the way.”
He nodded. “I noticed. The clean air out here will do her some good.”
Mary Jo agreed. “Once I get acclimated to the area, you need to get busy looking for that baby. I understand the police are on it, but forgive me if I’m not bowled over with confidence in their ability to find him. I mean come on, kids go missing all the time and nine times out of ten they never find them. I think it’s because they don’t really look.”
Justin nodded. “Yeah, that’s a sad thought. I’m going to check on Arianna and then I think I’ll go stack that wood I chopped earlier.”
“Okay, I’ll holler when it’s soup.”
Justin left the kitchen and returned to the living room. As he rounded the corner and got his first glimpse of the couch where he’d left Arianna, his blood ran cold. She was gone.