No Place to Run(3)

By: Marion Faith Laird



“Are you sure? Because after the men you probably dated in California, the fellows here are gonna be a whole lot more real.”

That’s right, Vangie. Diss the place where I’d still be living if my world hadn’t collapsed.

Beeping noises issued from the receiver.

“I have more calls coming in. One of our more eligible deputies should be there within an hour, unless there’s an emergency. I surely am glad to talk to you again, Loretta. We’ll have to get together real soon, okay? Bye now!”

Vangie disconnected. Lorie stared at the receiver for a moment before replacing it on the cradle.

“So?” Jen sounded like an overeager reporter.

“Vangie Rae.” Lorie rolled her eyes. “Why didn’t you warn me?”

Jen straightened the free bookmark dump. “I didn’t know you knew the Sutherlands.”

“I’ve only met the sheriff in passing, but I had several classes with Vangie. Now she’s threatening to set me up with one of the deputies. The last thing I have time for is a romance.” With a lawman, especially.

Jen clucked her tongue. “Honey, everybody needs love in their life.” Jen started straightening the brochures in the Summer Reading Program display.

Could her day get any worse? “I didn’t say I didn’t need love. I just don’t need romance.”

Jen shrugged. “Keep on believing that if you want to. Time to open the doors.” She took the library keys from her pocket and ambled toward the entrance.

As Lorie got to work, hushed voices discussing the latest offerings on the new-books shelf trickled through the inside return slot. The coiled spring wound around her insides relaxed. At least she was doing one thing right.

After checking in the returned books and arranging them on their respective shelves, Lorie returned to the office. The impulse to check the door to make certain it was locked almost overwhelmed her, but she squashed it, hoping she and Jen hadn’t already destroyed fingerprint evidence on the handle.

“Ms. Narramore?”

Lorie started, turned and collided with a solid mass of muscle in a tan uniform. A crackle of electricity jolted her. Was it that dry in here?

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Dispatch sent me. Threatening note?” The voice issuing from the strong face was a warm baritone.

Lorie met his incredibly blue eyes, shaded by a fawn Stetson. Whew. Okay. Calm down. This is the investigating officer. Without meaning to, she checked his left ring finger. Bare. It’s none of your business. He’s the law.

Lorie cleared her throat. “Yes. It’s right here, Deputy—” she glanced at his name tag “—MacGregor.” Oh, my. Was this the MacGregor boy who’d been the top defensive linebacker for the Daingerville Diamondbacks when she was a lowly freshman? Glancing again at his face confirmed her suspicion. This had to be either Matt or one of his equally handsome brothers.

As Lorie started to insert the key into the lock, the door swung open of its own accord.

“What—”

“Don’t touch it.” Deputy MacGregor drew his sidearm and clicked off the safety as he motioned her away.

Lorie’s heart threatened to stop. They had locked the door...hadn’t they?

“Hands up in there. Sheriff’s department.” Deputy MacGregor kicked open the office door and scanned the room for intruders.

It was empty.

He glanced over his shoulder at Lorie. “Is there another exit?”

“Just the window in the bathroom, but it’s a little small.... Although they assured me it does meet fire safety standards—”

Deputy MacGregor had already moved to the door leading to the minuscule restroom. He nudged it with the toe of his shiny black work boot.

A breeze fluttered through the open casement and into the office, riffling through the papers on the desk.

“Was the window open when you arrived?”

Lorie shook her head. “I don’t think so—but I didn’t really think to look.”

He took a step into the tiny space, enough to bring him close to the frame inset with frosted glass. Examining it, the deputy frowned.

“Screen’s been sliced open.” The deputy poked at it and then peered at the area around the lock. “Window’s been jimmied.”

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