Chapter 14

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When Dyllie finished inspecting every blade of grass for the perfect spot to squat, we turned to head back to the limo.

In what couldn't have been more than sixty seconds, the limo had disappeared, leaving Phelps, Ferrero, and the driver standing next to the pile of luggage. One of the bags-mine, of course-had fallen open in a brisk wind, sending my weekend wardrobe flying across the heavily trafficked Cross Westchester Expressway. And a dozen police cars had the parking lot surrounded.

"What the hell happened?" I shouted, running as fast as my kitten heels could carry me, and tugging on Dyllie to keep up.

A stern voice on the megaphone stopped my return. "Don't move and raise your hands above your head."

I froze and tried to lift my hands, but Dyllie's leash kept my right hand from rising above shoulder height.

"Both hands above your head."

Stifling a growl of frustration, I shouted back, "I can't, my dog is attached to my-"

"Lydia Vanderwalk?" The voice asked.

"Y-yes," I ventured.

"Hey, it's me," the voice continued, as if that were an enlightening statement of identity, "Rick Pearson."

In the space of two words I was back in high school, crushing on the Bingley Academy quarterback. Rick of the surfer boy good looks, West Coast laid back attitude, and truly generous nature. Always in the nebulous zone between popular and not, I had flourished under the platonic friendship Rick offered when his family moved in next door.

I remembered Mom telling me he'd become a cop.

"Sir, take off the trench coat and lay it on the ground."

Seeing a swarm of cops with service revolvers aimed at her hire-a-date had a way of popping a girl out of the past.

"Rick, what the hell is going on?" I asked as he sidled up next to me.

"We got a-" He dropped the megaphone, probably realizing that if he could hear me I could hear him. "We got a report of a carjacking."

"That was us, you moron," Phelps shouted, trench coat in hand. "We were carjacked."

A ruby blush colored Rick's cheeks.

Turning his attention to the gathered police, he announced over the megaphone, "These aren't the perps. Spread out into a vehicular canvas of the area. Kirby, post an APB on a black Lincoln limousine."

In a flurry of activity, the cops rushed back into their patrol cars and roared out of the parking lot, sirens blaring.

"Sweet Saltwater Taffy, Rick," I gasped as we met in front of the sad pile of luggage. "What was that about?"

"A mistake," he admitted. He always had more integrity than any ten men. "I apologize. We've had a rash of carjackings lately, I guess we rode into the wave before we figured if it was rideable or not."

I took that as surfer-speak for leaping before they looked.

"Um, Lydia..."

"So you really became a cop." I smiled and gave him a hug. "You always said that's what you wanted to do."

"Yeah." He baby blue eyes sparkled with the excitement of someone who loves their work. "Became sheriff even."

"Um, Lydia..."

"Sheriff? Really? Aren't you a little young?"

I felt old. Very old.

"Nah. I worked hard to get this job."

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