The Sergeant's Unexpected Family(5)

By: Carrie Nichols

* * *

Brody paused for a second outside the curtained area. Mary was calling her baby his nephew, so did that mean she was his sister-in-law? If so, where was Roger? At their father’s funeral, Roger had introduced Mary, who had seemed reserved, but shyness wasn’t a crime. After the brief service he’d hoped to have a word with her, but she’d disappeared, and he hadn’t hung around either. What would he have said if he’d found her? Warn her against getting involved with his half brother and that nest of vipers Brody called relatives? That sort of discussion would’ve been in poor taste. But wasn’t that an apt description for his family?

Inhaling, he pushed aside the curtain. “Mary?”

She glanced up, and her mouth dropped open.

What the...? For someone who’d insisted on contacting him, she didn’t look happy to see him. “I...uh...” He waved his hand in the direction he’d come. “They said...the nurse...she said it was okay to come back here.”

“Yes. I’m dressed and decent. In a broad sense of the word, anyway.” She ended on a breathless laugh and tugged on the hem of a huge shirt that threatened to swallow her whole.

“I got here as soon as I could.” He put her initial reaction down to embarrassment and approached the gurney where she sat, her bare, slender legs dangling off the side, her hands resting between her knees. Even in ill-fitting clothing, she made his breath hitch in his chest and had him thinking thoughts that were anything but brotherly.

She blushed, drawing his attention to a gash above her eye. Even the injury didn’t detract from her beauty.

“You probably don’t remember me. I didn’t realize they were going to call you to pick me up. When they brought us in, I was frightened and...” She trailed off, shrugged, then winced as if the movement or the thought was painful. “I don’t know anyone else here, and I panicked for my son.”

“I’m glad they did. Where’s...?” He glanced around but saw no evidence of a baby, and his stomach somersaulted. Jan had told him they were releasing both, hadn’t she?

His apprehension must’ve shown, because she reached out and brushed his arm with her fingertips. It was a simple gesture of reassurance, but her touch spread warmth across his chest.

“They’ve assured me Elliott is fine. Not even a bruise. But I haven’t been able to get anyone to bring him to me. I just keep remembering him crying—” She sniffled, squeezing her eyes shut.

Oh, God, not that. Anything but a woman turning on the waterworks. You’d think, having witnessed his mother’s histrionics during his childhood, he’d be immune. He clenched his jaw at the unwanted memory of his mother’s many tearful rants designed to get everyone around her to cave in to her demands. For all the good it had done, since nothing seemed to please her.

He set his memories aside because Mary’s tears were genuine, not manufactured for effect.

“Want me to go and see if I can get someone to bring him to you?” He was ready to march out there and demand—heck, he’d beg if he had to—and not stop until they brought Mary her son.

She drew in a shaky breath. “The nurse said—”

“If my patient gets any more popular, I may start handing out numbers like the deli on Saturday mornings.” Nurse Jan stepped into the treatment area, a pair of blue scrub pants folded over her arm and a uniformed deputy at her heels. “Of course, if all her visitors are this good-looking, who am I to complain?”

“Glad to see you’re okay, ma’am.” The deputy sidestepped Jan, nodded to Mary then turned to Brody and stuck out his hand. “Wilson.”

“Cooper.” Brody shook hands with his friend’s husband. He’d met Meg McBride, now Meg Cooper, when she’d come to the farm, asking if he had any extra eggs she could buy. When he learned she wanted them for the weekly community luncheon at the church, he’d donated them. And continued to. How many eggs could he eat, anyway?

Deputy Riley Cooper didn’t act surprised to see him. Even for Loon Lake, the information about Mary and Elliott had spread quickly, unless... “Are you here to investigate the accident?”

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