“Hey, Cam,” she greeted as she pulled from the lot. “What’s up?”
“Just wanted to follow up with the break-in. Are you busy?”
“Actually, I just left.” She maneuvered her Jeep through the snow-lined streets. “Did you come up with anything?”
“I wanted to let you know that I have another case I’m working on and I’m pretty sure the two are tied together. I can’t tell you more, but you are safe and I seriously doubt they’ll be back.”
Worry for her friend slid through her. “You okay, Cam? You sound… I don’t know. Tired.”
“That’s exactly what Megan just told me,” he said of his best friend. His humorless laugh filled the line. “I’m fine, Nora. I just wanted to give you peace of mind. I’m trying to close this case as soon as possible, but it’s taking longer than I thought.”
“That’s what makes you an awesome chief. You take your time and cover all your bases.”
“More like other people’s bases,” he muttered.
Nora knew he protected people for a living, but she’d also heard he sometimes protected those he believed in, helping them get back on the right track. Cam wasn’t just a cop; he was a man of dignity and one who genuinely cared about people.
“You headed home?” he asked.
“Yeah. Almost there.”
“Tell Eli I won’t be around for a few days.”
Her worry deepened as she turned onto her street. “Want me to tell him more?”
“No. Work-related and I can’t discuss it. I already talked to Mom and Dad, but I didn’t want him to worry. I’ll be out of commission with my cell for a while.”
“Just stay safe,” she told him as she pulled into her drive, smiling at the sight of Eli on a ladder stringing lights above her porch. “Call me when you can and let me know you’re okay.”
“I will. Love you, Nora.”
“Love you, too, Cam.”
She disconnected the call, but couldn’t help the fear she had for her friend. Even in this small town there was crime and he carried the entire weight of each incident on his shoulders. Nora knew his friend Megan worried just like they all did. But Nora had a hunch Megan’s feelings for Cameron extended beyond friendship.
Nora stepped from her car and walked toward the porch. “You cook, you decorate… Tell me again why you’re still single?”
Eli laughed, looking down from the ladder. “Because there’s only one woman I would let catch me.”
Okay, well, that wasn’t subtle.
“What made you decide to put up lights?” she asked as she pulled her coat over her ever-growing belly.
Eli slid another bracket onto her gutter and hung another strand. “I know how much you love Christmas and your house is the only naked one on the block. Besides, I think I was driving dad crazy.”
Nora laughed. “Maybe because you two are so much alike. What did you do now?”
Eli climbed down the ladder and moved it a few feet over. “He keeps quizzing me on his patients and I don’t know how many times I’ve assured him I have not driven any of them away.”
“He’s worried. He can’t help it.”
Eli threw her a look over his shoulder. “He threatened to have Mom bring him so he could sit and monitor.”
Holding back her smile, Nora shrugged. “He’s bored, Eli. He’s in the house all day, and he’s still in pain from the surgery. Maybe he should come and sit for an hour or so. Patients would love to see him and he’d feel better.”
“I’m not a damn kid,” he all but growled. “I know what I’m doing.”
Nora refused to answer his mumbling, defensive tone. Those two St. John men couldn’t be more alike…no wonder they butted heads more often than not.
“Go on in,” he called down as he hung up another clip. “I’m almost done and there’s chili on the stove. Corn bread is wrapped up in a pan.”
Nora went inside, taking in the spicy aroma of the chili. She turned her tree lights on in the living room and smiled. Next year she’d have an extra stocking hanging by the fire place, cute little “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments on the tree and a reason to “believe” in Santa again.