July 2022 Newsletter
MY KIND OF TOWN
The last spoonful of imported Belgian chocolate pudding hovered near her mouth, her eyes glued to the getting-odder-by-the-minute deputy. “What?”
“I asked how many brothers and sisters you have.”
“Why would you ask that?”
He blinked, staring at her like he didn’t quite understand her. “Because that’s polite conversation.”
Maybe in the South, but where she came from it simply meant you were being nosy—and up to something.
“Are you going to answer me?”
Emma’s eyes narrowed. “I have a few.”
The deputy blinked again and then he sort of smiled. But it was definitely a “this girl is weirding me out” smile. “You have a few brothers and sisters? Your parents didn’t give you a specific number?”
“They did. I’m simply not inclined to give it to you.”
“Are you always this difficult to talk to?”
“Fine.” He threw his hands up in frustration. “No more personal questions.”
She glanced at the Belgian pudding waiting to be eaten and realized she no longer wanted it. Carefully, Emma placed the spoon back on the tray and the deputy stared at it.
“You gonna eat that?”
Emma scratched her head, avoiding any bumps or sore spots from the accident. “Uh…no.”
Kyle grabbed the spoon covered in chocolate pudding, plopped it into his mouth and, leaning back in his chair, casually sucked it clean. He did it so casually, she felt like they’d known each other for years. This should be where she went running for the hills. This should be where she contacted the state police to come rescue her from Insaneville, North Carolina.
Instead, for the first time in her life, all Emma wanted to do was jump into the man’s lap, toss that spoon, and replace it with her tongue. She wanted him. She wanted a man who continually referred to her as “Yankee” or “darlin’.”
No. No. It was time to go. Now. Before she made a complete and utter fool of herself in front of a bunch of beautiful people.
“I think in the morning I’ll get another rental car and head to the airport in Wilmington. Head on home.” That would give her the night to find her little “friend,” kill it, and get that off her conscious before bailing this little freak town.
The deputy slowly pulled that spoon from his mouth, gave it a few extra swipes with his rather abnormally long tongue, smacked his lips and said, “No.”
Emma waited for more but it didn’t come. “What do you mean…what do you mean no?”
He shrugged. Slowly, casually…annoyingly. “I mean no. You ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
“You can’t keep me here against my will.”
“Why not?” He knew it was wrong, but he sure did enjoy watching her get all wound up and cranky when she didn’t get what she wanted.
“What do you mean why not? It’s against the law.”
“I am the law, little gal,” Kyle stated calmly, wishing she’d left him a little more of that pudding. For a hospital, they had the best food. But his kind, especially the snobby Prides, expected only the best. Including imported chocolate pudding for their rare and usually brief hospital stays. “At least around here I am.”
She stared at him for a moment, then she blinked and quickly looked away, doing anything and everything to avoid looking at him directly.
“I’m relatively certain,” she ground out, her eyes focused across the room, “that’s kidnapping.”
“Not really.” Kyle couldn’t figure her out. She didn’t seem scared of him but she definitely didn’t seem comfortable either. “It’s for your own good. The doc said he didn’t want you going anywhere until he was sure you were okay.”
“For how long?”
Until I’m ready to let you go. “A few days.”
Her eyes grew huge behind all that hair, and Kyle wanted nothing more than to comb that mess out of her face. By the time they moved her from emergency to her own room, she’d finger-combed all that hair in such a way he could barely see her gorgeous eyes. He hated it.
“A few days? I can’t stay here a few days.”
“Why? You told the doc you were on vacation. Just following where the sun leads, were your words, I believe. So what do you care if you stay here a few days or not?”
That seemed to stump her. “Uh…”
“Is that how you ended up in our little town, Emma? Following where the sun leads?”
She pushed her near-empty food tray away. “Yeah. Sure.”
“Don’t lie to me, Emma.”
She glared at him through all that hair. “I’m not.”
Kyle sighed. “Fine.”
“I need to call my friends,” she stated flatly. “I can’t get a connection on my cell phone.”
Her friends? Why not her family? Now that he thought about it, she hadn’t said one word about her family. Most people, human or otherwise, always wanted to see their family after an accident. Of course, she hadn’t mentioned a boyfriend or husband either, which he found very comforting.
“Sure. I’ll let you call your friends. As soon as you tell me why you’re here.”
“I’m on vacation.”
“It’s never a good idea to lie to the law, Miss Emma.”
“It’s never a good idea to hold someone against their will, Deputy. And, yet you don’t seem to have a problem with that.”
For someone who didn’t give him much eye contact, she sure didn’t back down easy. Standing, Kyle leaned over the metal rails of her hospital bed. “Let’s try this again. Tell me why you’re here.”
She stared up at him, her eyes locked with his as she slowly crossed her arms under her chest. “I’m. On. Vacation.”
Kyle nodded and stepped back. “All right then. Hope you like this room. You’ll be seeing it for quite awhile.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means until I get a straight answer from you, you’re not going anywhere. So get comfortable.”