Romance Fiction posted March 19, 2023 Chapters: 1 2 -3- 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Seth learns more about Emma.

A chapter in the book Guided by Faith

Faith Chapter 4

by barbara.wilkey

Depend on God in every part of your life, and He will guide, protect, and comfort you. Will God guide Emma's life? If He does, will she listen?
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Emma opened the freezer. "Wait. You can take it home."

"Leave it here." At the front door, Seth said, "Goodnight, I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow."

Standing in her doorway, Emma said, "Goodnight."

As Seth walked home, he noticed the headlights of the car. I wonder if that's the same Crown Vic. He called his office, but before a patrol car could drive by the car had left.


Chapter 4

As Seth stood at the bakery counter early Tuesday morning, Keith walked from his office and checked the time. "Good morning, Seth. Right on time for your morning coffee." He grinned, watching Seth scan the area. "In case you're wondering, Emma's not here. She went fishing. She'll be back for the lunch rush and then close tonight."

Seth, with a sheepish grin, accepted the offered coffee. "Thank you. I'll be back for lunch."

A few minutes before noon, Seth stood at a tall table in the bakery/bookstore and glanced around. When he didn't see Emma, he walked to the counter. "Keith, hasn't Emma returned?"

"No. I'm starting to worry." He glanced at his watch. "She should've been back over an hour ago. It's not like her to be late."

"Have you called?"

Keith pointed to a cell phone setting next to the cash register. "When we switched vehicles this morning, she left it here. She took my pickup and the canoe. I've been too busy to drive out and check."

Seth picked up the abandoned phone. "I have time, I'll check. Where'd she go?"

"Johnson Creek. It's a good-sized fast-moving creek. It's her favorite fishing area." When Seth's eyebrows rose, Keith got a map and located it.

Heading toward the door, Seth said, "I'll call when I find her. I'm sure she lost track of time."

About twenty minutes later, Seth drove down the dirt road and saw Keith's pickup.

As he parked by it, Emma opened the door and stepped out. "I'm glad you're here. I bet Dad sent you." She glanced at the pickup. "It's not my fault."

As Seth and Ace stepped from the cruiser, he said, "He did. What happened?"

She pointed at the vehicle. "It's out of gas." When Seth's eyes widened, she added, "It had three quarters of a tank when I left town."

"That's impossible." He used his phone and called Keith. After he relayed what happened, Keith verified there was plenty of gas. Then he called Carl to bring Keith and gas. Once he hung up, he faced Emma. "Your dad agrees there was plenty of gas."

He walked around and saw tire tracks and footprints. "Did you notice anybody here?"

She turned and pointed. "No. I took the canoe down the creek around that bend. I wouldn't have seen anything. Why?"

Seth knelt, studied the tracks and footprints, before he used his phone to take some photographs. "It looks like somebody siphoned your gas."

"Impossible. The only people who knew I was here were my parents."

"You could've been followed from town." He glanced at the pickup. "You were inside."

Emma opened the door and pointed at a shotgun. "Just in case a wild animal showed up."

"Good." He paused a moment and then grinned. "Did you catch anything?"

At the creek's edge, she held up a stringer holding five pan-sized bass. "I caught the limit."

"I'm impressed. Help should be here shortly."

She smiled. "While we wait, want to fish?"

"I don't have my pole."

She held up hers. "I'll share."

"What'd you use for bait?"

Her eyes twinkled. "My favorite little spinner." She showed him.

"It's hot pink!"

"If you're not man enough to use it, there are others in the tackle box."

He studied her. "Guaranteed to catch fish?" After she nodded, he said, "Let's do this."

Seth helped her remove the canoe from the pickup bed.

After Seth removed his boots and rolled up his pant legs, he watched Emma push the boat into knee-deep water. She's pretty amazing. Those cut-off jeans are almost as good as her nightshirt.

"You coming or you standing there all day?"

After petting Ace, he said, "You need to stay with the vehicles." He walked to the creek bank. "If I use your pole, what are you using?"

"I can't fish. I caught my limit. I wouldn't want to be arrested."

Chuckling, Seth waded to the canoe and climbed in. "Where to?"

"My favorite fishing hole. If you can't catch anything there, you're not a fisherman. You have the right pole and the right spinner."

Shaking his head, Seth said, "My reputation's on the line. Absolutely no pressure at all."

She passed him a paddle. "I guess since you put it that way, if you don't catch anything I'll give you one more chance."

Seth accepted the paddle. "Thank you. Guide the way."

Soon after putting his line in, Seth caught a fish. "Is my reputation safe?"

"I guess." She glanced at her watch. "Let's see if you catch another one."

Moments later, they heard Ace bark. Seth started to reel in the line. "Helps here. We need to head back." Just as he finished, another fish attacked the spinner. "I got another one."

When they reached shore, the two fish were added to the others. Keith walked up. "I thought there was a five bass limit."

Emma smiled. "There is. I caught five and Chief Carter caught two."

Keith patted Seth's back. "Tomorrow night come for dinner. We'll have a fish fry."

Nodding, Seth said, "Thank you."

Carl walked up to Seth. "Any idea what happened?"

Seth nodded toward Emma, but quietly addressed Carl, "We'll talk with Keith later. I'm pretty sure this was intentional. Either Keith or Emma's the target. Before you leave get imprints of the tire tracks and the shoes. You stay with Keith, and I'll take Emma home. I'm sure she's needed at the bakery."

After Seth parked the cruiser at Emma's house, he said, "Just a minute." He took her phone from his pocket. "You left it by the cash register."

"Thank you. I wasn't sure where it was."

Seth held out his hand. "Give it back. I'll put in my personal number and my work number."

"Do you think it's necessary?"

"I do." He opened the cruiser door. "While you get ready, I'll go to my place. Call when you're finished." He glanced at Ace. I'll leave him so the fur ball can go out."

"Thank you." She tilted her head. "Do you want my number?"

"Good idea. I didn't want to appear forward."

She tilted her head. "I can't imagine you being forward, extremely bossy yes, forward no."

"I'm not sure if that's a complement or an insult."

Emma only smiled as Seth added her number to his phone.

At his place, Seth made a pot of coffee and watched her cabin from a window while he drank. I wonder what she's gotten herself into. I doubt Keith's the target. That car's stalking her. He called his buddy Jake, and they discussed possible scenarios.

About thirty minutes later, Emma called. He dropped her off at the bakery/bookstore and went to the police station.

That evening as Emma locked the bakery's front door, Seth knocked, and she let him in. "Chief Carter, we're closed, but I'll scrounge up something. A long day?"

"I need to ask some questions. I'd rather do it here than at your place. I promised your dad I'd make sure you make it home. Can Ace come in, and can we sit?"

She pointed at a table and then roughed up Ace's ears. "Sure. What kind of questions?"

"I just spoke with your dad. I'm trying to figure out who siphoned your gas and why."

"I doubt I can be of any help, but I'll try."

Seth nodded. "Are there any scorned boyfriends in Beaverton who might still hold a grudge?"

"I didn't really date much." Emma paused. "In March of my senior year, Ronnie Calhoun and I started dating. We only went to school events and maybe two movies. The weekend before graduation we went to a party." She stood. "Want a bottle of water?"

"Thank you. Did you break up when you went to college?"

She handled him a bottle, opened hers, and took a drink. "No, we broke up during the party."

"Who broke up and why? I guess it didn't go well."

"The party was at one of Ronnie's friend's house. There was a lot of drinking and maybe drugs. I'm not sure. Ronnie was drinking and wanted me to. I declined. After a few beers, he wanted to..." She fingered the label on her water bottle.

"I get the picture. What happened next?"

"I called Dad, and he picked me up." After a long silence, Emma continued, "The following week there were all sorts of rumors about me. I also heard something about Ronnie losing a ten-dollar bet because he couldn't get me in bed. Don't know if that was true or not."

"Could he still be holding a grudge? Is he in town? Where did he go to school?"

"I haven't seen him since. I don't think he's in town, but I'm not sure. I think he went to UT."

Ray came from the back. "Emma, I'm finished. Are you about ready?"

She turned. "Ray, this is Chief Carter." He nodded. "Chief Carter, this is Ray Hudson. He closes for us. When I'm here late, he walks me to my car."

"I want to make sure she's safe. I've known Emma since I started working here." Ray used his hand and put it to his thigh. "She was this tall and what, five or six years old?"

Seth grinned. "I'll make sure she gets home. I have few more questions. You can leave." After hearing the back door close, he continued, "So there's a good chance Calhoun's nowhere around."

She nodded. "Probably."

"What about college? Did you have a steady boyfriend or a bad breakup?"

"No. I was too busy to date. There were six of us who hung around together. We never paired off or dated. We just went places together. Patricia, Erin, and I were the girls. Jeremy, Glen, and Peter were the guys. We met as part of the Christian campus youth group. We were always together, more like brothers and sisters."

"Did you notice anybody on the fringe who never made it into the group?"

A few moments passed as she thought. "No." Her eyes widened. "Wait. The last few months I noticed an older guy, maybe early thirties. He stood off to the side and watched. I noticed him a few times outside our apartment. Our junior and senior years the girls and I lived together off campus. I told Pastor Mike about him because he made my skin crawl. I know Pastor Mike approached him a few times."

"Do you have any way to contact Pastor Mike?"

"I don't, but Pastor Pat might. They went to seminary together. I think they've stayed in touch."

"Drop by the police station tomorrow afternoon and give us a description."

She took a drink of water. "Sure."

Seth stood. "I'm finished for now. I might have more questions later."

"Okay. As soon as I check the back door, I'm ready."

He glanced at his watch. "It's late. You like Italian? I'll order and pick it up. It's just around the corner."

"You don't need to."

"Do you like Italian?"

Emma exhaled and nodded.

He put his phone away. "It's done."

After Emma locked the front door, Seth said, "Walk with me. I told Ray and your dad I'd make sure you safely make it home."

With the order in hand, Seth walked Emma to her car. "I'll follow and come to your place to eat."

Seth called Pastor Pat on the way.

While Ace took Molly outside, Seth studied the back door and porch. "I wanted to discuss the dog porch, but it's late. Think we'll have time tomorrow after the fish fry?"

"I think so."

Someone told me that Emma was too perfect, that graduating with honors, singing in church when asked, helping kids with kites, starting a summer reading program, and dancing with customers because they like to dance was making her unrelatable to readers because she was a saint. I struggle with that because I graduated with honors and did it in three and a half years with two majors' elementary education and early childhood education with a minor in microbiology, volunteered with HeadStart because I liked children, went to nursing homes and did the Charleston with some elderly ladies, well, their form of it, and did the children's sermon during church, and volunteered to help the elderly walk their dogs. My dad coached baseball and his assistant coach had two small preschool age boys, during practices I would plan activities to keep these young boys entertained, I didn't during games because I was the official scorekeeper. I also fish, but not my favorite pastime. I am 150% positive many of you amazing women on FanStory have also done amazing things. Please add that to your reviews. I want to hear about it.

Character List:

Police Chief Seth Carter - hero and Beaverton's Police Chief

Emma Winters - heroine and waitress at her parents' bakery and bookstore, but just graduated college with a teaching degree.

Carl Jones - Seth's good friend and right-hand man

Susan and Keith Winters - Emma's parents and owners of Winters' Family Bakery and Bookstore

Molly - Emma's almost four-pound Pomeranian

Ace - Seth's German shepherd, a trained K-9

Pastor Pat - Pastor of the Church and Emma's Godfather

Jake Baker - Seth's mentor and Winters' family friend

Ray Hudson - Works at the bakery



Thank you Google Images for the image of what the pink spinner may look like.

This post is a little over 1900 words long and as usual I made changes as I posted. I will post high to reward you for reading this long post. I reviewed this post two days less than I normally do. I was traveling to the Gulf to celebrate my youngest son's birthday. We'll see how it does. I promise. I'm slowly unraveling Seth. Again, thank you for all your help and suggestions. I appreciate all your kind reviews and support of my writing.
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