Sirens blared in the distance. Caden was restrained and arrested and the injured officer was taken by an aid car to a local hospital. I was in the middle of being interviewed when Drew came out. I’d never been so grateful to see anyone.

He ran across the yard and grabbed hold of me in a fierce hug. “What happened? Dear God, are you all right?”

“I’m fine. It was Caden.”

“Sir,” the female officer intervened, “if you could wait a few minutes, we need to finish our interview?”

Drew didn’t release me but held me close to his side. I noticed he was trembling. I knew that seeing the police and the aid car had given him a fright. He must have assumed the worst.

To the best of my ability, I answered the officer’s questions. Before they finished, I had a few questions of my own. “What will the charges be?”

“He’s under arrest.”

That much I knew, seeing that he’d been hauled away in handcuffs.

“He’ll be charged with assaulting an officer, public drunkenness, and resisting arrest.”

This wasn’t sounding good.

“He’s looking at some serious jail time,” she told me.

I closed my eyes, wishing things had turned out differently. Reading between the lines of what Caden had said, Drew and Kevin had found him and offered him help. It was clear Caden wasn’t interested. That being the case, there wasn’t anything I could do for him. I certainly wasn’t giving him money. He assumed I was an easy touch. I had been at one time, but no more.

After the police left and the medical people had driven away, my pulse gradually returned to normal. Drew’s arms were around me as he whispered, “Let me make you a cup of coffee so we can talk this out.”

Sleeping now would be impossible, and it wasn’t that long before I was due at the café. “Okay.”

Drew waited while I changed into my work uniform, and then, taking me by the hand, he walked me back to his house. The children had managed to sleep through the commotion, which was a blessing. Drew pulled out a stool at the kitchen counter, then drew me into his arms, sighed, and kissed the top of my head.

“You can’t imagine what went through my head when I heard those sirens and saw that police car pull up. I think I died a thousand deaths until I realized that it wasn’t there for you.”

My arms circled his middle and I hugged him close. “My brother was half out of his mind.”

“He was drunk, Shay, and probably high, too.”

After what had transpired in the last hour, there could be no doubt Drew was right. “He said something about you and a man I can only assume was Kevin coming to talk to him. That wasn’t you, was it?”

Drew went still and a look of regret came over him.

“It was you?”

He nodded.

“And Kevin?”

Again he nodded.

“When did this happen?”

“I’m sorry, Shay. I would have mentioned it, but—”

“When?” I asked again, needing answers. I’d already guessed his reasons, but I wished he’d discussed his plans with me first and given me a warning. I knew Richard had made it his mission to find and help Caden. My homeless friend seemed to think he was doing me a favor. I’d tried to explain that it was best if Caden stayed out of my life. Richard accepted that but still thought he might be able to help my brother. I’d reluctantly agreed, with the promise that Richard not tell Caden where I lived.

“Kevin spoke with him this afternoon, but your brother remembered me from before and knew we were connected.”

“Richard found him and told you?” I asked, wondering why my friend would mention it to Drew.

Drew looked uneasy. “I helped Richard. After what happened with Shooter, I wanted to do everything I could to protect you. I thought if Richard found Caden that Kevin could talk him into getting into a rehab program.”

Drew’s intentions were good, I realized. He’d never meant to lead Caden to my doorstep. The entire situation had blown up in his face, and unfortunately, mine.

“Lilly found a photo of you and Caden when she moved you to the apartment,” Drew confessed. “She showed it to me and I made a copy and took it to Kevin. Once we had the photograph, it didn’t take long for one of his contacts to locate him. Caden is going by the name Shane now.”

“I wish you’d discussed all of this with me first.” I gestured with my hands, letting him know this all might have been avoided if I’d known what Drew had done. His intentions were well-meaning, but it would have helped had I been aware that Caden was living in the Seattle area. The last I’d heard he was in California. From the first I’d hoped to avoid a confrontation with Caden, although one was probably inevitable at some point.

Drew held my eyes, his own wide and pleading for understanding. “I wanted to tell you about Caden before Kevin and I went to see him, but there wasn’t time; this could well have been our only opportunity.”

“I wish I’d known…I would have been better prepared.”

“I know…the situation got out of hand. I don’t know how he found you.”

“He followed you and he saw the two of us together.”

Drew paled and he briefly closed his eyes. “In looking to protect you I led him to your front door. Shay, I am so sorry.” He wrapped me in his arms and held me tight against his torso. “I feel dreadful that this happened to you. It’s all my fault.”

“Stop,” I whispered, unwilling to let Drew shoulder the blame. Knowing my brother, eventually he would have found me. He wouldn’t have easily given up. I noticed that Caden hadn’t asked about me or what had happened after he disappeared when he got the five thousand dollars. All Caden was concerned with was his next high, whether from drugs or alcohol.

“Kevin offered to help him, get him into rehab, but Caden didn’t want anything to do with that.”

That came as no surprise. It would take more than a few words to reach my brother. He was lost, trapped in a web that held him in a tight grip. He was at a point where he couldn’t see a way out of the black hole into which he’d fallen. He was lost and hopeless, angry and defiant. I couldn’t take on his problems, but at the same time I couldn’t stop caring what happened to him.

“I know you don’t want to hear this, but I believe jail might be the best thing for him now. It will sober him up. Once his head is clear he might be willing to listen to reason.”

I lowered my head to our folded hands. “I hope you’re right.”

Leaning forward, Drew kissed my cheek. “I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you, Shay. I love you.”

My head came up. I knew how I felt about Drew but had never told him. I held his look, uncertain I’d heard him correctly. His smile was gentle, and he seemed to be awaiting a reaction. “Did you just say you love me?”

“So much it frightens me.”

A smile broke out across my face and I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his, savoring the sweetness of the moment. “I love you, too, Drew Douglas, so much. Let’s be frightened together.”

Following the events of the early-morning hours, I wasn’t prepared for the media ruckus they caused. By morning all the local television news channels and a couple of the national news networks had picked up the story of the police stabbing. I switched channels several times and each station used the incident to headline the newscast. Like a deer trapped in headlights, I stood in front of the television, riveted to the scene. The church and yard played prominently in the telecast and I groaned inwardly as one report followed another.

When I looked out the window, I saw two news trucks parked outside the church with reporters standing in front of cameramen as they gave their live report.

By the time I got to the office, the phone was ringing off the hook. Mary Lou had been so busy answering calls that she hadn’t had time to remove her coat. Feeling bad for her, I brewed her coffee and took a cup to set on her desk. She sighed and thanked me with a small smile.

Before she could ask, I told her, “I won’t be accepting any interviews.”

“Got it,” she said and sounded relieved.

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