8 Sandpiper Way Page 2

“Of course I am.” His reply was immediate and impassioned.

“Then I am, too.” Rather than join him at the table she started to load the dishwasher.

“Sit down,” he said. “Please.”

Reluctantly she did.

“You haven’t been sleeping well.”

So he’d noticed. She fell asleep easily enough, but an hour or two later she’d be wide awake. Then for the rest of the night she’d toss and turn, sleeping fitfully if at all. The scenarios that played out in her mind wouldn’t allow her to rest. Her husband might be in love with someone else. He might even be cheating on her.

Emily considered herself an emotionally strong woman, one who remained calm in a crisis. A woman others counted on for guidance and support. Yet when it came to confronting her husband with her suspicions, she was a coward.

“If there’s something bothering you, maybe I can help,” he said. She recognized his tone, that caring, concerned voice he so often used with others. Only she wasn’t just one of his parishioners, she was his wife!

“What could possibly be bothering me?” she asked airily. She didn’t expect him to answer.

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking. Are the ladies from the missionary society making too many demands?”

“No.” The cookbook committee had wanted her to organize the entire project and she’d told them she simply didn’t have the time, which was true. Apparently there’d been more than a few ruffled feathers. The church family seemed to think that because Emily didn’t work outside the home, she should be at their beck and call, just like Dave. Emily had no intention of becoming an unpaid employee of the church and had made that clear when they accepted the assignment in Cedar Cove. Her role was to support Dave and mother their young sons.

“You’d tell me if you were upset, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course,” she said, hoping the act of sipping coffee would hide her lie.

Mark stuck his head inside the kitchen. “Are you finished talking to Mom yet?” he asked his father. “I need help with my math.”

Dave looked at her.

“I’m fine,” she said emphatically.

He seemed to doubt her. She wasn’t expert at lying and hated the fact that she was afraid to voice her concerns. Dave took a sip of his coffee and stood. “All right, Mark, show me what’s giving you trouble.”

Emily watched her husband and son walk out of the kitchen and swallowed painfully. She’d been waiting for him to ask her a question like that. Are you happy? It was the perfect opportunity to address her suspicions—but she’d been too frightened to say anything.

The problem, she told herself, was that she wasn’t prepared. For her own protection, she needed facts and details before she confronted him. He needed to realize she wasn’t as naive as he obviously thought.

By nine that evening both boys were in bed and asleep. When Dave was home, getting her sons ready for the night was invariably a smooth, easy process. But anytime she was alone with them—which was most nights lately—they came up with a multitude of excuses to delay going to bed.

Half an hour later, she was in her sewing room, working on a quilt for Matthew. She ironed the fabric squares, pleased with her bargain. Always conscious of cost, she’d bought the material, a bright cotton print, on sale at The Quilted Giraffe. As she turned off the iron she heard Dave come in. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. “Alone at last,” he whispered, kissing the side of her neck, his lips lingering there.

Emily smiled; she couldn’t resist. This was how they used to be, spontaneously affectionate and teasing, until…She wasn’t sure when things had begun to change. Earlier this year? “Oh, Dave, honestly.” She gave a small laugh.

“I love my wife,” he murmured.

She placed her hands on his, her fingers squeezing hard. “Do you, Dave?” She winced at the pleading quality that crept into her voice.

“With all my heart.” He dropped one final kiss on her neck, then walked to the door.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“I thought I’d work on Sunday’s sermon.”

“Oh.” He used to write his sermons at the church office. Emily waited until he’d left the sewing room before she turned from the ironing board and stood in the doorway. She watched Dave go down the hallway to his small den; without looking in her direction, he closed the door.

Until recently his door had always remained open. To the best of her knowledge he’d never done this before. Slowly, she returned to her quilting, but she could no longer concentrate. She wanted to know why her husband suddenly found it necessary to shut the door.

He must have a reason. Of course—he was probably making a phone call. One he didn’t want her to overhear. She waited an hour to be sure he was off the phone, then made an excuse to step into his office by bringing him a fresh cup of coffee.

She knocked on the door and walked inside before he could respond. As she’d expected, he sat at his desk with his Bible open and a yellow legal pad in front of him, making notes.

“I brought you coffee,” she said.

“How thoughtful. Thank you, sweetheart.”

“You’re welcome.” Setting it on the coaster, a ceramic tile Matthew had painted in first grade, Emily slipped out of the room. She closed the door quietly behind her.

Inhaling a deep breath, she went to the kitchen phone and hit the redial button. It rang three times before a woman with a soft, husky, thoroughly sexy voice answered.

“Is that you again, Davey?”


“Oops, sorry,” Emily said gruffly and replaced the receiver.

So she’d had him pegged, after all. Dave had placed a phone call to another woman. In their own home! He’d boldly contacted the woman who threatened to tear Emily’s marriage apart. Her trembling hand still clutched the receiver. Knowing she was right didn’t bring her any satisfaction—not that she’d thought it would.


“Hi, Daddy.” A smiling Megan opened the front door and kissed Sheriff Troy Davis on the cheek.

“Hi, baby, how’re you feeling?” Troy followed his daughter into the kitchen, hoping his question didn’t sound too anxious. He couldn’t help it, though. Megan had recently been tested for multiple sclerosis, the same disease that had claimed his wife, Sandy, several months before. Their small family was close, and the mere thought that his daughter, Troy’s only child, would suffer the same debilitating disease as her mother terrified him. Megan had miscarried her first pregnancy a few months ago, and that loss, on top of her mother’s death, had devastated her. And now this constant threat…

“Would you stop,” Megan chided as she walked over to the stove and turned down the burner. Something smelled good—the aroma of a home-cooked meal tantalized him and he wondered what he’d make for his own dinner. Chili out of a can, probably. If he still had any. “The tests showed nothing conclusive,” she was saying, “so there’s no reason to worry.”

Yet, Troy added to himself.

He didn’t want to smother her with unwanted concern and unwarranted fears, but he needed to know that she was successfully dealing with the possibility of MS, that she could cope with everything it meant. The medical world was divided as to whether or not multiple sclerosis was hereditary. So far, there was evidence supporting both beliefs.

To complicate matters, an absolute diagnosis was often difficult. In Megan’s case the results had been inconclusive just as she’d said. In one sense that felt like a reprieve; in another, it seemed as if they were still waiting for what appeared to be inevitable. He reminded himself not to borrow trouble. That expression echoed with a hint of foreboding, since it had been a favorite of Sandy’s.

Troy was proud of Megan’s newfound serenity, the way she calmly accepted the uncertainty of her situation. That was a hard-won acceptance, he knew, and he attributed a lot of it to her husband.

Thankfully, she’d chosen her life partner well. Craig was a quiet, good-humored man who loved Troy’s daughter and was completely devoted to her, the same way Troy had been to Sandy.

“I came over to ask what I can bring for Thanksgiving dinner,” Troy said. That was a convenient excuse to stop by without being too obvious about checking up on Megan—although Craig and Megan no doubt saw through him quickly enough.

“Hey, Troy.” Craig stepped into the kitchen, holding The Cedar Cove Chronicle in one hand. “Hard to believe Thanksgiving’s this week, isn’t it?” He shook his head. “Look at this—more ads than news.”

Megan chuckled and waved them both out of the kitchen. “Quit whining, you two! Next thing I know, you’ll be complaining about how commercial Christmas is.”

“Christmas!” Craig groaned and winked at Troy.

Like her mother, Megan loved everything about Christmas. The leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner would hardly be put away before Megan would start decorating for the holidays. That involved Craig and Troy hanging strands of Christmas bulbs around the outside of the house and arranging the lighted deer in the front yard.

“Let me set a place for you,” Megan said, moving toward the cupboard. “We’re having porcupine meatballs and a green salad.”

Troy was tempted. The recipe—meatballs filled with rice and then cooked in tomato soup and served over mashed potatoes—was a family favorite from the time Megan had been a little girl. The salad he could take or leave.

“Thanks but no thanks, honey.” Despite the enticing smells, Troy had no intention of intruding on his daughter and her husband. “Like I said, I just came by to ask what I can contribute to Thursday’s dinner.”

Megan paused as though mentally reviewing the menu. “I think I’ve got everything under control,” she told him. “We’re having turkey, of course, and I’m using Mom’s rice-and-sausage recipe for the stuffing. Then I’m making a couple of salads and that sweet potato-and-dried-apricot recipe I tried last year that everyone liked so well.”

Last year.

Just twelve months earlier Sandy had been alive; she’d spent Thanksgiving with them. It seemed impossible that she was really gone. They’d brought her from the chronic care facility, setting her wheelchair at the table, helping her eat.

One year, and so much had changed. Troy had buried Sandy and then, a short while later, reconnected with Faith Beckwith. The thought of his high school girlfriend brought with it a rush of sadness. They’d become a couple again earlier that summer, he and Faith, and everything had looked promising—until Megan’s miscarriage.

When his daughter had learned Troy was dating someone, she’d been shocked. More than shocked. Hurt and angry. She knew nothing about Faith, not even her name, but in her emotionally volatile state, she couldn’t tolerate the idea of her father seeing another woman. Troy loved his daughter and couldn’t risk alienating her. The night she’d lost the baby, he’d been with Faith. Not wanting a call from Megan to interfere with his evening, he’d turned off his cell phone, an act he’d lived to regret again and again.

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