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November Book of the Month
TEN YEARS AGO
Daniel Garrett’s eyes flew open to darkness and an unholy sensation of dread slithering in the pit of his stomach. He’d like to think it was due to the greasy plate of ribs he’d eaten with his dad last night at the Patriots game, but he knew better.
Something was off. His universe just wasn’t right. The feeling had plagued him for the better part of a week.
So what was it? What had yanked him out of a sound sleep at—he glanced at the bedside clock—4:57 in the morning, a full hour before the alarm was due to go off?
He took stock of his surroundings. Beside him, his wife lay sleeping peacefully, smelling of the rose- scented lotion she’d lathered on after her shower, the blocks of ice that doubled as her feet burrowed beneath his legs. Lifting his head from his pillow, he turned his ear toward the doorway and listened intently for any sound coming from the bedroom down the hall.
No. Nothing from Justin. Nothing from the puppy who slept in his son’s room. No creaks from the staircase or chime from the clock downstairs in the living room. No howl of wind or ping of sleet outside. The winter storm that had chewed its way across the Eastern seaboard last night as they went to bed had moved on as evidenced by the stars visible through the sliver of space between the white eyelet window curtains of the master bedroom.
No, nothing external had disturbed his sleep. The trouble was in his mind . . . his intuition . . . his gut. He’d seen something. Sensed something. But what?
He lifted his arms, laced his fingers behind his head, and stared up toward the ceiling. Maybe it was work. Maybe he was about to be laid off. Rumors of budget cuts abounded, and he was the youngest detective with the fewest years on the force. Last in, first out would get him. Or at least get him bumped back to patrol.
He hadn’t helped himself by failing to hide his disdain for department politics, either. Daniel didn’t play games. He didn’t like people who did. As a result, he didn’t get along with his boss or his boss’s boss. They put up with him because he was good at his job, which made them look better at theirs.
But if heads had to roll . . .
Wonder where his old uniforms were stored? Guest room closet, maybe? He hoped his wife hadn’t gotten rid of them. He tried to recall the last time Gail had gone into one of her closet- cleaning frenzies. If she’d done it since his promotion, the everyday uniforms were likely history.
I don’t want to go back to patrol.
He loved the job. Maybe he could get on as a detective somewhere else. They didn’t have to live near Boston. Gail’s family was spread all over creation. His parents would miss their regular Wednesday- night dinner with their only grandson, but they’d come to visit. They could fly free— one of the advantages of his mom having worked for an airline all these years. And his brothers . . .well . . . it might be good to put some distance between himself and those know-it-alls. Maybe he should put out some job feelers just in case.
Maybe the job wasn’t the problem. Maybe this bad juju he was feeling had something to do with one of his family members. His dad had mentioned his angina last night. Daniel hadn’t liked hearing that. I’ll call him later and make sure Mom knows he’s having chest pain. She’ll make sure he sees the doctor like he promised me.
Restless, Daniel rolled onto his side and pulled Gail over to spoon against him. She mumbled something about Soupy Lou and vegetables and managed to distract him from his dark thoughts. Daniel grinned into the darkness. He figured she was reliving last summer’s garden disaster.
Gail had gone totally ballistic after their puppy had made the serious mistake of plucking green fruit off her plants and gnawing them just enough to ruin them. In her angry outburst upon discovering the crime, she’d threatened to give the dog away, which sent their four-year-old son into a panic.
Daniel had known it to be an idle threat because Gail loved the six-month-old boxer as much as Justin did. Nevertheless, it had taken him half an hour and the promise to build a fence for their backyard garden to calm down both mother and son.
So the following day when Soupy made a chew toy out of his favorite pair of sneakers, he’d chosen his own idle threats more carefully.
Remembering how Gail’s eyes had sparkled as she and Justin stood united in defense of Soupy had Daniel giving the clock a second glance. He’d burned almost forty minutes with all his worrying. Still left twenty minutes before the alarm. A good husband woke his wife from her nightmares, didn’t he?
He shifted his arm and slipped his hand beneath the clingy knit of her pajama top. Cupping her breast, he trailed his thumb back and forth across her nipple until she stirred and sighed his name. He nipped the soft, sensitive skin of her neck, and when she shivered in response, murmured, “I love you, Gail Garrett.”
“Love you, too,” she sleepily replied.
Daniel made love to his wife, and the heat they created together chased the cold from his soul.
Sex as a distraction worked only until the worries came rolling back as he stood beneath a pelting hot shower at quarter after seven. Dammit, maybe he should come right out and ask Captain Hill about the downsizing rumor. Not that his boss would give him a straight answer, but his body language would betray him. In the first few seconds after posing a question to the man, Daniel could read him like a book.
However, if layoffs weren’t on the horizon, Daniel didn’t want to give his captain any ideas.
Another solution might be to fess up to his partner that he had the heebie- jeebies. James Reichs had twenty-seven-years under his belt; he would respect hunches. Wouldn’t he?
HEARTSONG COTTAGE, Emily March's tenth gorgeous novel in the Eternity Springs series, is out on 3rd November!
Look out for the eleventh stunning novel in the series, REUNION PASS, publishing in April 2016!