We’re going to backtrack in time a little bit this week. Last week we ended with Suzie and Drew coming home from the Cardinal. This week we are starting while they are still there.
Vin jerked awake at the sound of the burglar alarm going off. He found himself still sitting in the living room with the remote in his hand, but the TV was off along with all the lights. He almost called out to Miranda or Suzie that they should check the alarm when it dawned on him whoever tripped it could be here to kill him.
He swore, one harsh word, as he tossed off the comforter someone had draped over him. In a low rumble he added, “better not be a redhead.”
He pulled out the drawer in the side table where he’d stashed his gun a day or two before. Having stood up too quickly made him a little light headed, but it cleared up quickly when he blinked a few times. The gun in his hand felt heavy and awkward. He’d have to make an effort to get down to the shooting range as soon.
Before stepping into the hall, he stuck his head around the corner. A dark shape by the front door stabbed at the panel on the alarm and swore and a rough but feminine voice. Miranda. Vin set the gun on the bookcase in the hall nestled by the door and swept into the hall.
Miranda must not have heard him coming. She nearly jumped out of her skin when he said, “Problem?”
“Oh! It’s you. Do you remember the code for this stupid thing?”
“Sure.” He leaned around her and keyed it in. “So…. Where you been?”
“You aren’t my keeper,” she growled.
“I never said I was.”
“And we aren’t really engaged, no matter what people might say to you.” Her eyes shifted earnestly around his face as if begging him to believe it.
“If you say so.” Vin grinned. He liked the way her mind was working.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”
“I think I’ve napped enough.” He stretched carefully, lifting his right arm much higher than the one in the sling. “I’ll go join Suzie and Drew in the kitchen.” He’d noticed the kitchen light was on when he went into the hall.
“They aren’t here.”
They weren’t? “Neither of them?” If neither of them were home, and Miranda was just getting back, that meant his entire support team had abandoned him. Admittedly, he’d been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks now. He wasn’t a little boy. He could take care of himself.
“What were you all doing?”
“We went out.” Miranda stuck her chin out – always a bad sign. When she got her back up, she could be hard to live with.
He sniffled a couple of times, and stuck out his lip, watching closely to see how she’d react. “You all left me here? All alone?”
“We went to the Cardinal, all right? But Sean and Joseph weren’t there so…”
“You tried to crack the case without me?!” Anger blazed through him hot and immediate. “After forcing me to agree let both of you join me when I investigate them you went ahead and did it without me?”
“You were asleep.” Miranda wiggled her head apologetically. “I tried to sneak out, but Suzie caught me. And then Drew caught the two of us. And…. And… I’m sorry. I should have insisted you come too. But you didn’t miss anything. They weren’t in either place.”
“The Caribou. Drew and Suzie were dancing and I got bored, and we thought Sean and Joseph would be at the Caribou all along and… Look, it’s a long story and you look tired.”
“I don’t feel tired.”
She put her arm around him like a nurse, or maybe more like a wife. Clearly, she intended to take care of him. He liked that idea, liked it a lot. He didn’t put up a lot of resistance when she started up the stairs still bracing him. Last time she tucked him in had worked out just the way he liked.
“I worry about you, Vin.”
“Yeah? How much?” He gave her a grin.
“More than you deserved.”
She got him as far as his bed, then stood over him, wringing her hands.
“Aren’t you going to undress me? I’d do it myself, but I have so much trouble with buttons and sleeves.”
“You got yourself dressed well enough this morning.”
“And now I’m hurting because of it. Come one, Miranda. Help me out here.” He meant with more than the clothes. He could tell by the twist in her smile she took both meanings.
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