In an effort to keep Dustin away from Jordan, Roy has invited him to stay with him. He's just being a good lawman, right? Find out more in this week's chapter of The Sheriff. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
The Sheriff #35 (9.4)
What impulse had made him say a few days? This would all be over after tomorrow night, surely. Roy waited in his truck, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel while he waited for Dustin to grab a few things. Better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes shit happened, and you had to be ready for it.
Dustin emerged from the apartment building a few minutes later, clutching a black duffel bag. He slung it behind the seat and climbed in.
“I really appreciate this, Roy,” he said. “You going to all this trouble.”
“That’s what friends are for,” Roy said. His admission took him by surprise, but he didn’t take them words back. He considered Dustin to be a friend, and he would protect him no matter what. He was startled to feel Dustin’s hand come to rest on top of his. He froze, trying not to focus on the unexpected warmth of the younger man’s skin. A second later, Dustin withdrew his hand, Roy threw the truck into gear and drove off.
So why was he so disappointed to lose that brief connection?
The drive back to Burnham was a quiet one. Roy turned on the radio, to cover any awkwardness, filling the silence with country music. By the time they reached the small town, he’d managed to convince himself he was making a mountain out of a mole hill.
“I’m going to do a quick drive around, see what’s up,” he told Dustin. “Then, if everything’s quiet, which I’m sure it is, we can go over to the diner and get some lunch. How does that sound?”
“You mean you’re going to let me go on patrol with you?” Dustin’s voice was filled with excitement and a little disbelief.
“Well, since you’re already here, it seems the most logical plan.” Roy chuckled, unable to keep a straight face. He turned toward Dustin and winked, to let him know he was just kidding. Dustin gave him a wide smile in return.
All was peaceful in Burnham, much as Roy had figured it would be. That’s the way he liked it. He had no regrets that he’d followed Lee here, once they’d found Marshall. He’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Speak of the devil. As he was pulling into the diner’s parking lot, he saw Lee’s pickup already there. Both men were just getting out. He glanced quickly at Dustin. Apparently he’d seen them too.
“Would you rather not…” Roy said, trying to be delicate.
“No, that’s cool,” Dustin said. “I mean, if they want to. That’s up to them.”
Roy nodded. “And what do we tell them if we ask why we’re here together?”
Dustin’s answer surprised him. “The truth. I don’t mind them knowing. I know you trust them, and I trust you.”
Roy felt a warmth steal through him at Dustin’s apparent confidence in him. He cleared his throat, trying to rid himself of the unexpected lump that had just lodged there. Dustin’s response was even more surprising since he hadn’t wanted his own cousin to know.
He pulled up beside Lee’s truck. Lee and Marshall had obviously seen them and were waiting for them. Roy and Dustin got out of the truck and quickly covered the distance between them.
“Hey Roy,” Lee said. “Dustin. Didn’t expect to see you two here.”
“Just thought we’d get a bite to eat,” Roy said.
“That’s why we’re here too. Why don’t you guys join us?”
“Sounds good to me. Okay with you, Dustin?”
Dustin nodded. “Sounds real good. I like the food here a lot. And pleasant company is always welcome.”
Lee arched a brow. Roy knew he had some explaining to do.
“Good to see you, Dustin,” Marshall said.
“You too,” Dustin responded.
The four men headed toward the door. Lee fell into step beside Roy, while Dustin and Marshall brought up the rear.
“Everything okay?” Lee had dropped his voice, glancing past Roy at the two young men.
“Yes and no,” Roy said. “I’ll give you the scoop over lunch.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Lee said.
to be continued
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