Home > Sea Glass Hearts (Baytown Boys, #15)

Sea Glass Hearts (Baytown Boys, #15)
Author: Maryann Jordan

 

 

1

 

 

It was a dark and stormy night. The famous, or rather, infamous, first words from Edward Bulward-Lytton’s 1830 novel ran through his mind. Sheriff Liam Sullivan’s high school English teacher had used it as an example of a melodramatic style of fiction writing. And yet, as the windshield wipers on his Acawmacke Sheriff’s SUV flew back and forth, slinging water to the side as fast as they could and still not making visibility any better, he thought the phrase to be the perfect example of truth.

If he remembered correctly, the rest of the line was just as descriptive of his situation. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind…

As though on cue, his SUV was rocked sideways by just such a violent gust of wind. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, he drove slowly south on the main road that bisected the Eastern Shore of Virginia, heading toward his home from the station. The Eastern Shore was unusual in that it was not connected by land to the rest of Virginia. It was a peninsula that was landlocked by Maryland to the north, only consisted of two counties, and connected by a seventeen-mile bridge-tunnel over the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia Beach. While they could count on the Virginia State Police, the North Heron and Acawmacke Counties’ law enforcement relied heavily on their shared cooperation.

Tapping his radio before gripping the wheel again, he called in to the dispatcher. “Highway Thirteen clear from Mile Marker Nineteen to Mile Marker Six.”

“10-4. All others reporting same.”

“Any updates?”

“They’re saying the storm turned fast, but you know that. Still claiming Cat 5.”

He stifled the curse threatening to erupt at the thought of the damage a Category 5 hurricane could do to the Eastern Shore—roofs gone, buildings demolished, power and phone lines down, homes lost. And all to one of the poorest areas of Virginia. But please, God, no loss of life.

“You headin’ home for the night to ride out the storm, Sheriff Sullivan?”

“Yes. Should be there in about ten minutes if I can keep the vehicle from blowing off the road.”

“Be safe.”

“10-17.” Signing off, he was glad that from all reports the roads were clear as the residents had heeded the emergency warnings and fled to the inside of their homes, and the visitors had found lodging with the few hotels in the area or left the day before to go back to their homes.

Another gust of wind slammed into the side of his vehicle, and he jerked on the steering wheel to hold it onto the road as he slowed, tapping the brake lightly. At this rate, he wouldn’t make it home in ten minutes, and that was saying a lot considering he wasn’t far away.

A strange flash of light through the water hitting the windshield caught his eye, and he squinted, leaning forward to discern what he was looking at. Visibility was limited to the second after the wiper had swiped, instantly dimmed by the pounding water. Slowing even more, the sight of a trailer on the side of the road became barely discernible, and a small SUV was attached to the front. It was parked on the side of the road with the emergency flashers on. He noted the Ohio license tags. Rental vehicle. Christ Almighty, who the hell is driving tonight, pulling that load in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane? He backed up slightly and pulled to the side. “Possible 10-46, Mile Marker Seven.”

Calling the tags into dispatch, he waited the moment it took to run them. They were indeed to a rental. Swallowing the growl that erupted, he ignored his hat, knowing the wind would send it sailing. Instead of throwing open the door in irritation, he opened it with caution, holding it tightly so the raging wind didn’t pull it off the hinges. Climbing down, assaulted immediately by the pelting rain, he turned his back toward its force and shut the door carefully. With his high-beam flashlight raised, he stalked past the trailer toward the SUV, taking care to remain upright.

Shining his light inside, he called out, “Acawmacke Sheriff’s Department. Is there an emergency?” He bent slightly to peer inside, the illumination of the light shining onto the driver twisted in the seat as she shifted her ass over to the passenger side. A pair of wide, sky-blue eyes stared back at him. His gaze dropped to the rest of her as the sound of screeching hit his ears. Fucking hell! His hand shot out to the door, throwing it open.

 

 

2

 

 

Two Days Earlier

 

 

Liam Sullivan sat in his office, attempting to work on the monthly report while keeping an eye on the computer screen that had been on one of the national weather stations for the past day. Hurricane Helen had finally moved off their radar, having hit the Gulf states and leaving flooding and destruction along a path from Alabama, through Georgia, and into the Carolinas. The Eastern Shore of Virginia had received no more than a heavy spring rain.

But now, on Helen’s heels, was Hurricane Ivy. This storm was just as large, having skimmed the east coast of Florida, moving partially out to the Atlantic only to veer back toward the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He hated for that area to take another direct hit but inwardly rejoiced that while the coast of Virginia would get the aftereffects, it wouldn’t slam into them with quite such voracity.

“Sheriff?”

He looked up at one of the newer deputies, Ron Taylor, standing in his doorway, his uniform neatly pressed, his hair regulation cut, and—God bless him—his baby face red with embarrassment. What now?

“Yes?” He tried to keep the irritation from his voice but heard it leak through. Clearing his throat, he repeated in a calmer tone. “Yes, Ron? What do you need?”

“Um… Margaret’s gone to lunch and there are a couple of women with pies for you up at reception. I tried to put them off, but… they kind of insisted…”

Liam thought if Ron’s ears turned any redder, he’d look like he had two ripe tomatoes stuck to the side of his head. He scrubbed his hand over his face and shook his head. Margaret Hoover was the long-time receptionist for the Acawmacke Sheriff’s Department, hired out of high school more years ago than anyone could remember. She joked that she was at the department from the time the county was established in 1663. The way she ran things, she might have been right.

She’d worked for numerous sheriffs, watched over the construction of their new facility, and knew the ins and outs of the whole county as well as the neighboring county of North Heron. She was indispensable to their staff and to him as Sheriff.

And when she was on duty, she kept the casserole and pie committee well away from him.

Liam sighed heavily, turning his gaze up to the hound dog expression on Ron’s face. “Deputy Taylor. You want to stay with this department and prove to your superiors that you can handle the job, and yet, you stand before me admitting you can’t handle a couple of overzealous, matchmaking women?”

Ron’s face scrunched as though in pain. “Sheriff, those women won’t take no for an answer. They insist it’s their God-given right to make sure the Sheriff is properly and rightly taken care of.”

Standing, he stalked toward the door so quickly Ron had to scoot back, almost tripping over his feet in his haste to get out of the way. He made his way down the hall, ignoring the grinning faces coming from the open office doors of his Chief of Deputies, Lieutenant of Investigations, Lieutenant of Patrol, Lieutenant of Corrections, and lastly, Captain.

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