Home > Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(3)

Sweet as Honey (Aster Valley #2)(3)
Author: Lucy Lennox

What the hell kind of place had Tiller and Mikey moved to?

Truman shifted in my arms. “Don’t tell them I was the one tending the flowers,” he said in a hazy slur. “Don’t want anyone to know it was me. That’s why I’m in disguise.”

Was this one of those Colorado hippie towns where everyone was smoking weed all the damned time?

I glanced back up at the young sheriff’s deputy, who seemed to be gathering his courage to try and take me down.

“Mr. Rigby, sir,” he said in a firm voice. “Put the chickadee down and step away from him. We have you surrounded. You’re under arrest for… for…” He tilted his head toward one of the other deputies, who stepped over to whisper in his ear. Then he cleared his throat. “You’re under arrest for the destruction of private property and the taking of a hostage while resisting arrest.”

I was in some kind of fairy tale, and they had it all wrong.

“First of all, I believe it’s a bumblebee, Deputy,” I corrected, stepping forward.

And that’s when they pulled out the Taser.









When Sam went down, I went down with him.

It was ironic, really, since I’d done my very best to avoid actually meeting the man in person up till now. But, because I had the worst luck in the world, here I was, lying flat on his chest with my nose pressed against his cheek.

When I’d first set eyes on Sam Rigby back in March, he hadn’t noticed me, but I’d definitely noticed him. It had been snowing heavily, and Sam had been up on a ladder helping fix the sign out front of the diner. After asking around, I’d learned Sam was friends with the couple who’d bought Rockley Lodge. He’d come up from Texas to do some repair work for them over a long weekend.

I hadn’t really decided how I felt about him at the time, which, of course, was a total lie. The truth was, I got all heart-fluttery around him. But I shouldn’t have. Sam’s shoulders were broad, and despite being devastatingly handsome, his face was set in a permanent scowl. He was big and mean-looking. In other words, he scared the bejeebers out of me. I was easily intimidated on my best day, but when I encountered a tall, strong guy with a stern face… let’s just say my fight-or-flight reaction only had one setting.

And it wasn’t fight.

But for some reason, I’d been drawn to him. I’d stared at him every time I’d seen him in town that weekend. I’d even kind of been introduced to him at the diner one day. He hadn’t paid any attention to me. And that had been fine. Good, even. I’d tried to forget about him, and for a while, I’d sort of succeeded. He’d only appeared as a kind of daydreamy representation of the kind of man I wish existed in real life but didn’t. And now here he was in Aster Valley again, trying to save me from an impossible situation.

Correction. Trying to visit his friends in peace. And I’d messed that up.

“Sam?” I asked, realizing he wasn’t moving. “Sir, are you okay?”

My heart thundered with nerves.

“Truman, back away from the perp slowly.” The sheriff’s deep voice boomed, and I tried my best not to start shaking. If only he hadn’t arrived on the scene, I might have stood a chance at de-escalating the tension.

“Sheriff Stanner, this man needs medical attention,” I said, feeling for a pulse in his neck. It was strong and steady under bristly warm skin. I swallowed thickly. “He’s not a perp.”

“Don’t make me repeat myself, son. Back away now.”

I dropped my voice to a whisper and shook Sam’s shoulders. “Please wake up. Please. You don’t want to go to jail over me. You have to get up and talk your way out of it.”

His eyes began to open. When they landed on me, for a split second they heated up and then softened into an affectionate warmth. He must have thought I was someone else. Sheriff Stanner’s barked commands continued.

“Now, Truman. Or I’m hauling your ass in, too.”

“It’s okay,” Sam mumbled. “I’ll be okay. Not the first time.”

I didn’t understand that last part, but I trusted he could handle himself as long as he was at least lucid now. I nodded and stood, keeping my eyes on him as I backed away. Rough hands grabbed me and pulled me farther away. I squeaked and whipped my head around and saw Barney’s round face full of concern.

“Why are you dressed like an insect?”

I blinked at him. “You know why. I told you yesterday it was time to put in the nasturtium seeds.”

He sighed. “Not this again. Truman, I told you to let someone else handle it. Your job isn’t to do free work for the town.”

Barney Balderson was the town librarian, who’d also spent a time trying to convince me to be his life partner, a role to which I’d turned out to be not only not well suited, but also not particularly interested in. There were things I’d liked about the older man’s offer. Stability, protection, companionship. But his idea of companionship had been slightly more paternal and controlling than I’d hoped for. Even though he wasn’t physically intimidating—a feature I was grateful for—he’d turned out to have very strong opinions about how I should manage myself and my business. It had made me nervous, defensive, and apologetic so often, I’d begun to feel like I was dating my own disappointed and angry father. Regardless of how much I longed for someone to be there for me, Barney wasn’t the one.

I’d tried making that clear to him, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer. Which only made me more nervous around him even though we’d started out good friends. I missed having him as a friend, and part of me was relieved he was here. He’d make sure nothing bad happened.

I turned back to see Sheriff Stanner and one of his deputies cuffing Sam on the ground like some kind of criminal.

“He didn’t do anything!” I cried, lunging forward to intervene. My forward motion stopped when someone grabbed my stinger. “He was the one helping me,” I finished pathetically.

Barney pulled me back against him, wrapping his arm around my front to keep me from interfering again. “Let them do their job, sweet pea. That man looks dangerous.”

I struggled against his hold to try and find my phone which was deep in my costume. “He’s not. He’s Tiller and Mikey’s friend. We need to call them.”

Sam turned and found me struggling against Barney’s hold. His eyebrows lowered in an angry frown. “You okay?”

I finally pushed out of Barney’s arms and rushed closer to Sam. “I’ll call your friends up at Rockley Lodge. They’ll come help, won’t they?”

Sam’s dark blond eyebrows dipped even lower. “You know Mikey and Tiller?”

I nodded and felt the antennae bouncing on top of my head. Now that I was in the middle of town with everyone staring, I felt like a fool. “Yes,” I whispered.

“How did you know they were my friends?” he asked. The younger deputy had a hand around Sam’s arm while Sheriff Stanner made notes on the computer in his vehicle.

I shrugged and bit my bottom lip. “I’ll call them for you, okay?”

Sam’s eyes flicked from me to Barney and back. “That your dad?”

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