Geraldine was happily humming to herself. It was not a specific song and she couldn't remember how she knew that tune. Nevertheless, it was a constant fixture to any labor. She was preparing her husband's favorite meal. My husband. Even after all this time, she adored the sound of that.
There was no special occasion she was preparing this for, Geraldine simply wanted to treat him, because to her, every day spent with him was special. He made her so happy, showed her how much she was loved every day. So, she wanted to do something nice for him in return. If you ever asked him, he would claim that every meal prepared by her hands was his favorite. Geraldine knew better. It took some true detective skills for her to obtain such information. Luckily, Geraldine was excellent at that.
“Honey, I'm home,” a familiar voice announced, making her stop singing. She turned just in time to see the Sheriff's smiling face. He approached her to kiss her on the forehead. Geraldine gave him the look, and he chuckled.
“Sorry, I always wanted to say that. My Aunt Mildred always declared her presence in such a fashion.”
Geraldine pressed her lips together so she wouldn't laugh. She had the opportunity to meet his aunt and she was a wonderful woman, if a bit too theatrical. Not to mention a true attention seeker. Geraldine could picture her doing this and it almost caused her to break her resolve to stay serious. “And?” She prompted. “How do feel now after you did it?”
He wrinkled his nose. “Not my cup of tea.”
“My usual way is preferable,” he added, hugging her to kiss her more properly. “Good day, my dear wife, I missed you,” he breathed against her lips.
“I believe you should leave now so you could come back instantly, to do that again,” Geraldine murmured when they parted. He still had his arms wrapped around her.
Chuckling, he replied. “That is why we are so perfect for one another, we agree on all the important things,” doing her bidding once more.
“Indeed,” Geraldine replied a bit flushed, marveling at the feel of him.
At times, Geraldine had trouble believing this was actually happening, that this was actually her life. After everything she went through, all the suffering, pain and struggle, she had the opportunity to meet this man. Not only that, she had his love. She had him to have and to hold for the rest of her days. It went without saying she was still very much in love with her husband. Now more than ever really, especially once they started a family. Geraldine had everything she could ever wish for, and for that, she thanked the Good Lord for his mercy and his blessings every single day.
“Where are the little devils?” Her husband asked, looking over her shoulder at the pots and pans, clearly trying to see what was prepared for supper.
She moved him away from the stove, trying to keep this surprise a little bit longer. “If you are referring to your sons, they are playing in the yard with Meggie.”
She and her husband were twice blessed with twins. Luke and Mark were three years old and Geraldine loved them more than she believed was possible. Meggie was their dog that Robert gifted them for their birthday.
Geraldine adored her little family. They lived in a house that Robert built for them, with his own hands, on the bank of Colorado River. She had a small flower garden in the front and not much of anything else. Robert didn't want her to strain herself too much, preferring to provide on his own everything she or the twins needed. Geraldine very much liked her life in Fort Mohave. She had no trouble moving here, and once she did, she never looked back. Geraldine didn't have much of a life back in Oatman that she could possibly miss. Although, there were a few people she was saddened to leave behind.
“Good,” he replied, finally releasing her. “I wanted to share some news with you,” he said, sitting down at the kitchen table, beckoning her to do the same.
“Do tell.” Her husband looked rather excited all of a sudden, and Geraldine had a feeling where this conversation could take them. She saw that look before on his face. Apart from them, his family, there was only one thing he loved. His job.
“I received words from Chloride. They asked for my assistance.”
“What happened?” Geraldine inquired.
“A double murder,” he announced in an ominous tone. “So, I need to go there first thing in the morning.”
Geraldine’s whole face fell, she couldn't help herself. “You are leaving? For how long?”
Geraldine knew from the moment she said yes to his proposal, how their life together was going to look like. His job was very important, not to mention highly dangerous, and at times he had to be away for long periods of time. That was the manner they met after all. Geraldine learned to live with that because she loved him, plain and simple. That didn't mean it wasn't difficult. It was simply a sacrifice she was willing to make. That was the difference.
Her husband's eyes sparkled while he replied to her. “Actually, I was thinking that we should leave together.” Geraldine wasn't following his logic. Luckily, he continued with his explanation, guessing her next question. “Your school year is over which means you are on a break from teaching and free to come with me, assist me on this case,” he said all in one breath.
It was true that she was free at the moment. That other part stunned her a little. “Assist you?”
“You cannot really say you don't miss helping me with the cases,” he challenged.
It was true that once they wed, Geraldine helped him on rare occasions with some cases while she prepared to become a teacher. That stopped once they had the twins, and she finally got a job at a local school.
If she had to be honest, despite the fact she adored her teaching job, assisting the Sheriff was always beyond thrilling. “You are right, I do like solving the cases for you,” she jibed but he ignored it.
“Is that a yes?” He wanted to make sure.
I must be out of my mind. Geraldine nodded. “It is. I will start packing as soon as possible.”
“Excellent,” he was pleased.
“What about the twins?” Geraldine wanted to know, “I suppose I could call Jeremy to come and look after them...”
She mused, mostly to herself. Jeremy was one of the people Geraldine was saddened about leaving behind in Oatman. Luckily they remained friends, and he visited them as often as possible. The twins adored their uncle Jeremy. They could play with him for hours. Probably because they were around the same age, she joked.
“I was thinking they should come with us as well,” her husband countered. Geraldine narrowed her eyes at him.
“Is this all just a ploy where you are trying to convince me of something?” She accused, yet her tone was light.
“I do not know what you are speaking about,” he faked ignorance, so Geraldine knew she was on the right track. “I am speaking about the family business. A detective's agency - Bradway and Sons,” Geraldine said with a certain flair. He chuckled. “It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?”
She jabbed him in the ribs and his smile only grew bigger. “Oh, stop grinning and tell me about the case.”
“Yes, Mrs. Bradway,” he replied with a salute as his whole face lit up. It must be something good, she thought to herself, getting excited as well. “Two people, a man, and a woman, with no apparent relationship between them, were found murdered a couple of days ago in a house in Chloride.”
“With no apparent relationship?” Geraldine repeated. “So, they weren't married?”
“And they were not related?”
“No, they were not.”
“And the house that they were found in?”
“Wasn't theirs either.”
“That is interesting,” Geraldine murmured as her mind started to work on this problem.
“That is not all, do you wish to hear in whose house they were found?”
“I am on pins and needles,” Geraldine replied in the same manner, matching his level of excitement.
“It belongs to Nigel Phillips.”
Geraldine gasped, recognizing the name. “That former lord who had to flee for his motherland?”
“The very same.”
Scandalous. On the other hand, everything about that man was scandalous. “And where was he at the time?” Geraldine inquired, recovering from the initial shock.
“Nobody knows, he is presumed missing.” Or dead, Geraldine added to herself, and by the looks of it, her husband was thinking the very same thing.
“That is all rather intriguing,” Geraldine allowed.
“My point exactly. But there's something else.”
“What, there is more? Be still, my beating heart,” she joked.
Robert took her hand and kissed it. “I love you,” he proclaimed.
No matter how many times he told her that, it always left her a bit breathless. “And I love you,” she replied.
“Is that what you wanted to say?”
“No. As I was saying. Nobody knows what the pair was doing inside the former royalty’s home. However, the person who discovered them...” As he continued to talk to her about the case, Geraldine had to smile. She was very fortunate to have a husband who wanted to share his passions with her. And she knew she could do that with him as well. He loved listening to her while she gushed about some new book she read. Their marriage was certainly one of a kind.
Despite what happened to her mother and father, Geraldine did not carry that burden with herself into this marriage. She knew her husband loved her and the twins with all his might. It was clear to see in everything he did or said.
It was in the way he kissed her goodbye every time he left for work, or how he greeted her upon returning. In a way he looked at her while she did pretty much anything. He was looking at her in that special way right now. “Are you listening to me, my dear wife?” He asked, slightly amused. “Or are you thanking God you have such a perfect husband and father to your children?”
She adored when he was this playful with her. And that was why she replied in this manner. “I am listening to you. If I was thanking the Lord, it wouldn't be for that,” Geraldine said nonchalantly.
“What would you thank him for, then?”
“I would thank him for allowing you to have such an accomplished and loving wife by your side,” she delivered as a small smile danced around his lips. “Indeed,” he replied simply, kissing both her hands. “I am the luckiest man on the planet.”
“Yes, you are.”
“But tell me, wife, do you know why the old man Hunter came to my Sheriff’s office today, raging about how I needed to have a better handle on my wife?” He changed the subject, taking her by surprise. Geraldine barely managed to keep a straight face.
“I do not have the faintest idea,” she faked ignorance.
“And what did you say to him?”
“I agreed with him,” he delivered straight-faced, and Geraldine gasped in outrage.
“Of course not. I told him I like my wife as is, unhandled and all, so he left in a huff.”
Geraldine chuckled. “Was he really that mad?”
“Yes, he really was, so what happened?” He wanted to know.
“Just a small accident,” she replied with a shrug, and he raised an eyebrow, fully knowing she was omitting a great deal.
Geraldine frowned remembering the small incident. “I was at the market, buying some eggs.” A concept that felt a bit odd to her. She sometimes really missed having her chickens around. “And I accidentally tripped and, well, you can guess the rest.”
“More like I could smell the rest,” he joked.
“Accidents happen, you know.”
“I am a rather clumsy person.”
He contemplated her words for a moment. “Maybe I should build you a small hen house if you plan on doing this on a more frequent basis.”
“You never know,” Geraldine played along.
“And why did you have a sudden urge to accidentally trip next to Mr. Hunter?”
“He was complaining rather loudly how the new teacher,” meaning her, “puts silly notions into the heads of the youth, taking them away from their farms and jobs that they have to perform to spend time on completely unnecessary things like books.”
“So, you egged him?” Even though it was phrased like a question it really wasn't. Geraldine knew her husband well enough to know he approved.
“It was the quickest way to shut him up,” Geraldine replied honestly, and her husband started laughing wholeheartedly.
“You really are something special,” he commented between the chuckles.
“You should have seen his face when he barged into the office, all red-faced, spitting mad.”
“You should have seen his face when he got the second round of eggs.”
Robert started laughing even more. “I wish I was there to see it.”
Geraldine wished that as well.
Once he settled, he kissed her hand again. “I am so very proud of you for standing up for yourself, and what you believe in,” he complimented and her heart swelled with so much love for this man, fully knowing he was the reason she had the confidence to do that in the first place. He always supported her and that gave her wings.
“Thank you,” she replied simply.
“I love you, Geraldine.”
“And I, you, Robert.”
Readers who read this book also liked...