As he headed for the docks, Richard struggled to focus on the case and not get distracted by the beautiful woman sitting beside him. When he first heard the 9-1-1 call, panic ripped through him at the thought she’d been hurt, or worse.
He thought he’d done a pretty good job of blocking the memory of Ellie from his mind and his heart. He was wrong. The moment he saw her it all came rushing back: memories of watching the sunrise with her at Hopper’s Cove Marina, sharing chocolate chip pancakes at Egg Harbor Café, and enjoying a romantic evening cruise around the harbor.
The sweet, floral scent of her hair drifted across the front seat, reminding him of a calmer time in his life, before he left to pursue more dangerous cases in the city. And now, being with her again, he found himself questioning that decision.
“Over there!” She pointed.
The cherry red Caddy was parked diagonally across two spaces in the marina lot, the driver’s door ajar, but no sign of Mrs. Candy. He placed his hand on Ellie’s shoulder and looked into her worried, green eyes.
“Stay here. Call 9-1-1.”
“No, you should wait for back-up."
“No time.” He reached for the door handle and she grabbed his arm. He turned to her and was captivated by that familiar expression, the way her nose crinkled when she worried about him.
“Be careful,” she said.
He couldn’t believe the concern he read in her eyes, even after what he’d done, abandoning her without a word of explanation. Regret tore through him and he lost all common sense, leaning forward to brush his lips against hers.
But there was no time for that, no time to rekindle the magic they’d shared.
He broke the kiss and flung open his door, racing to Mrs. Candy’s Caddy. A quick scan of the car’s interior revealed nothing.
The sound of a motor echoed from the dock. He glanced up and noticed a man tying off a boat, and a woman seated in back. Mrs. Candy? Richard rushed to investigate.
The perp hopped into the boat.
“Richard!” Ellie called.
He glanced over his shoulder and saw Ellie racing towards him. He’d told her to stay in the car. Why hadn’t she listened?
A shot rang out. Richard dove behind a metal storage container, gripping his gun, ready to return fire.
Then he glanced at the parking lot and spotted Ellie on the ground.