“I did go in the office, but only you can know if something in there has been messed with.”
“Come on.” Ty grips my hand firmly in his own and leads me to the porch. “Let’s go check it out.”
The door to the office is closed now, thanks to Brad. When we walk inside, goose bumps break out on my skin.
“Is anything different in here?” Brad asks, and stands back as Ty and I walk in, looking around.
“It looks the same as it did this morning,” Ty murmurs.
“It does,” I confirm, but my voice is hesitant.
“But?” Ty asks.
“But I feel it. Someone has been in here.”
Both men look at me dubiously, and I’m mortified to feel tears form in my eyes. Am I going crazy? Has Jack finally pushed me over the edge?
“Hey, don’t cry.” Ty kisses my forehead before he turns to Brad. “What do we do now?”
“The same that you’ve already been doing, unfortunately.” Brad glances around the room, and his eyes stop on the large book covers hanging on the wall. “Hey, I recognize those.”
I stiffen, but before I can say anything, Ty responds, “Those are Lo’s favorite books, so I had them framed for her.”
“Cool.” Brad seems to accept the explanation and turns for the door. “I’m sorry I can’t be more help, Lo. There’s just no evidence. But if you do find that something is missing, let me know right away.”
I nod and try to offer Brad a smile as he turns and leaves out the front door.
“Someone was in my house,” I whisper, and sink down onto the chaise lounge.
“Why didn’t you lock the front door?”
“I did! I told you, I’m sure I did. I know that I was preoccupied with this deadline, and the commotion out there had me all distracted, but with all the Jack shit happening, I’m sure I locked it. And I know I shut this office door.”
“Okay, I believe you.”
“Of course. You’re not stupid, and you’re not a liar, Lo.”
I nod, relieved to know that he believes me, because I’m not so sure I believe myself anymore. It all seems so silly.
“Maybe it was one of the construction guys who came through the house on his way out for the day.” I shrug, then rub my hands briskly over my face.
“So you had coffee with Jill?”
“Yeah. She came in to Sips and sat with me for a bit.”
“What did you talk about?”
“Stuff.” I shrug like it’s no big deal.
Ty’s eyes narrow. “What kind of stuff?”
“I don’t believe you.”
I laugh and kiss Ty’s cheek. “That’s okay.”
“You’re not going to tell me?” His eyebrows are raised high on his brow.
He frowns, then smiles down at me. “Okay.”
“I got the work I wanted to finished, so I can frolic through the corn maze tonight with no worries.”
“Oh, great,” he replies sarcastically. “You’ll be frolicking without me.”
“Honey, I’m a guy. I don’t frolic.”
“You have a tattoo of a princess tiara on your arm, big guy.” I slap his shoulder and stalk past him to go change my clothes. “You’ll frolic.”
“I’ll run, not frolic.” His voice is right behind me on the stairs.
“You could romp through the corn,” I suggest with a laugh.
“Do you remember earlier when we were talking about spankings?” Ty asks with a smile in his voice.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I lie.
“You’re about to remember, sweetness.”
“I don’t want to take a dumb hayride,” Seth, Zack’s twelve-year-old son, murmurs as we all hop up onto the wagon, stacked with hay bales, being pulled by a big, green John Deere tractor. “Can Thor and I run alongside you, Dad?”
“That’s fine, but stay close,” Zack agrees, and sits next to his brother, Josh, who has Cara snuggled in his lap.
Jill climbs aboard and waits for us to sit, then sits on the other side of me, far from Zack. I glance over at him and notice his scowl before he schools his features and watches his son and the boy’s dog happily run alongside the wagon as we bounce over the field to the pumpkins and the corn maze.
“The haunted house is down tonight,” the driver calls back. “They’re fixing the wiring or something.”
“Well, crap,” Lo mutters beside me, disappointed. I wrap my arm around her and kiss her temple, breathing in the clean scent of her.
“Thank God,” Jillian exclaims at the same time, making the others laugh.
It’s close to seven in the evening, just approaching twilight, but the rows of pumpkins and the high stalks of corn are illuminated with tall stadium lights so bright it’s almost the same as being out here during the middle of the day.
“Why are we at the pumpkin patch again?” Zack asks.
“Because it’s tradition.” Cara elbows him and Jill smirks at him.
“What, are you afraid that you’ll get lost in the corn maze and you’ll need your twelve-year-old to help you find your way back out?” Jill taunts him.
“No, I’m afraid I’m going to have to find your ass in there when you lose your way.” He grins at her warmly. I glance down at Jill and see she’s grinning back.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
This farm opens to the public every year. Families and people of all ages come out to enjoy the maze, choose pumpkins, and buy fall produce offered here, but during one day of the season, all proceeds are given to an organization called Text No More, an organization that educates the community about the ramifications of texting while driving.
Mary and Eric Thomas own and run Wildfire Farms, and six years ago their four-year-old daughter was killed when struck by someone texting and driving.
Most of the community comes out to support this cause.
“Holy crap, Dad!” Seth points to the thousands of bright orange pumpkins on the ground ahead of us as we approach the patch. “That’s a ton of pumpkins!”
“Why do we need pumpkins?” Josh asks Cara. “No one is going to come trick-or-treating way out at our place.”
“Because they’re fun.” Cara grins at him. “Get in the spirit of it.”