Tis The Season_.For Romance(3)

By: Brenda Jackson

“Please send him in, Lila,” she said, standing on her feet to move around her desk while gaining her composure. Although at the time Ron’s well being had been her major concern, she couldn’t help but recall just how good looking Detective Blair was. She swallowed tightly when her office door opened and Detective Rick Blair filled her doorway; all six-foot-two inches of him, with dark blackberry eyes, black hair cut low on his head with light brushes of grey at the temple; and a physically fit body. She would put his age at about fifty-five or fifty-six. Barbara automatically returned his smile while at the same time she fought against the racing of her heart.

“Detective Blair, this is a surprise. What brings you here?” she asked, moving to meet him in the middle of the room and extending her hand and tilting her head up to look at him.

The moment their hands touched she fought against the way her pulse took a gigantic leap. His handshake was firm, strong and gave her the sense that he was a man who was assured, confident yet not cocky or conceited. A surge of awareness trickled through her veins and her inner mind told her she should not be reacting to him this way after all she was . . .

She pulled in a deep breath upon remembering that she was no longer married. She had stopped being Ronald Andrews’ wife when their divorce had become final six months ago. In truth, she had stopped being his wife when she’d found out he had taken another woman – his lover – on vacation with them to Hawaii and had been sleeping with the both of them. It was a trip to rebuild their marriage but instead Ron’s actions had destroyed it.

“I’m no longer a detective, Ms. Andrews. I retired again a few months ago.”

She lifted her brow. “Again? You had retired before?” she asked offering him the chair in front of her desk.

She noted that he waited until she returned to the swivel chair behind her desk and sat down before taking a seat. His actions were that of a true gentleman, she thought.

“Yes, I retired after twenty-five years with the FBI. My wife and I escaped the harsh winters of Denver to move here to sunny Florida around ten years ago.”

Wife? She didn’t know why she hadn’t ever thought in terms of him being married. There was really no reason why he wouldn’t be. “I’m sure you and your wife have enjoyed our weather.”

“My wife was killed in a car-jacking within months of us moving here.”

His words sent feelings of sorrow and regret racing through her. “I’m sorry,” she said in all sincerity. She couldn’t imagine something so tragic. And for some reason, without even really knowing the depth of his character, she believed he had been a good husband, a man who had loved his wife and had appreciated her place in his life. He would have respected and cherished her.

“Thanks. It took me a while but I finally moved on with my life the way Gail would have wanted me to do. But not before I found the people responsible for her death,” he said. “I joined the Orlando Police Department for that purpose. Once I accomplished that, I was talked into remaining with the force.”

Her mind took mental note of what he’d said. “You became a detective here in Orlando just to capture the people responsible for your wife’s death?”

“Yes. The police were coming up with loose ends, and I knew my background could help them bring the men to justice. It took less than a month and they were behind bars.”

She nodded. He had loved his wife so much that he hadn’t been able to find peace until those responsible for taking her from him were brought to justice. For him to go that far was simply remarkable. “You’ve been a widower for ten years. You never considered remarrying?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“No. I threw myself in my work and became involved in solving other cases. I met families along the way who’d lost their loved ones in one criminal act or another. My goal was to make sure whoever disrupted their lives in such tragic manners were put behind bars.”

“Did you and your wife have any children?”

He nodded. “Yes, we have a thirty-year-old son who’s a private investigator living in Atlanta. He’s single so there aren’t any grandkids. I’m hoping that one day he’ll settle down and find a good woman to marry.”

He paused thoughtfully before asking. “Your daughter Courtney. She was engaged. I recall meeting her fiancé at the hospital. Did they ever marry?”

Barbara shook her head. “No, not yet, although the wedding is set for Christmas Day. She wanted to wait until her father recuperated sufficiently so he could walk her down the aisle. The shooting left him with a permanent limp and there’s still a bullet inside of him that the doctors couldn’t remove. Other than that, he’s okay.”

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