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Authors: Diana Palmer

Before Sunrise (31 page)

BOOK: Before Sunrise
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“Where are you going to live?” he asked Cortez.

“Oh, dear,” Phoebe murmured, having grown attached to her little community over the years.

Cortez pursed his lips. “Well, I can live anywhere I like,” he told her. “As long as there's an airport nearby. And I'm rather fond of Chenocetah. These Cherokee people aren't bad.”

Her eyes lit up. “Really? You mean it?”

“It would be a good place to raise our kids,” he replied. “Joseph will have plenty of opportunities to learn how to speak the local language, too.”

“I can always come to visit in the summers,” Cortez's father added, smiling.

“I'm a good cook,” Phoebe said. “I'll feed you up.”

“I must look undernourished,” he told his son.

“You're a bit lean,” Cortez mused.

“That's a deal, then. What are you going to name my grandson?”

They both looked at him, stunned.

“Sorry,” he said with a sheepish grin. “I guess you didn't want to know what you were getting until the delivery, huh?”

Phoebe cleared her throat. “You saved my life. Twice. I guess that entitles you to say anything you like. And thank you!”

He chuckled. “Just a gift. I like to think I use it wisely. You're welcome.”

“What about that Bennett woman?” she asked Cortez suddenly.

“Suicide,” he said. “We'll talk about it later,” he added, not wanting to tell her where the woman had died. They still had to work the crime scene.

“We mustn't have secrets,” she pointed out.

“And we won't,” he assured her, smiling. “Just this one. And only for today.”

“Tina called,” his father said. “She wants to come and apologize to Phoebe. Is it okay?”

“Of course,” Phoebe said at once. “I don't hold grudges.”

“Good thing,” Cortez murmured. “Tina's worn herself out crying.”

“Jealousy is hell,” Phoebe murmured, searching his eyes quietly. And she should know, she thought. She'd hated Cortez's wife when she knew he had one.

His eyes darkened. “Yes,” he had to agree, because he'd had his own problems over Drake.

“They can both come to the wedding,” she told him complacently.

He just smiled.

 

T
HEY WERE MARRIED
the next week. Alice Jones and the rest of the unit had gone back to D.C. Cortez had checked with his old boss and made arrangements to live in Chenocetah and be on call whenever he was needed. Hs new assignment was to teach Sheriff Steele, Drake, and Officer Parker the basics of investigations on Indian Reservations, so that they could officially be part of the FBI's Indian Country Crime Unit.

Tina and Drake made up so publicly, at the hospital, that people gossiped about it for a week. Tina made up with Phoebe, as well, crying all over the older woman incoherently until she was certain she'd been forgiven. Phoebe grew closer to Joseph with every passing day, and also to her future father-in-law. His specialty was colonial American history, primarily the French and Indian War of the 1750s. Many sites around North Carolina were linked to this period. As Mr. Redhawk told Phoebe, he'd have plenty of places to explore when he came to visit them.

Bennett and Yardley and Cortland continued with their respective projects. Walks Far was on his way to a pardon. Bennett himself was cleared of the dumping charges.

Phoebe brought her chow, Jock, back home and Cortez and Joseph moved in with her. Christmas was a wonderful celebration, with the museum staff and their families turning out for the celebration, as well as Tina
and Drake and Sheriff Steele, a bachelor. They included several police officers in the festivities as well. Phoebe decorated a huge tree in the living room. The Native Americans only grinned at her enthusiasm for the custom, and helped wrap gifts.

On Christmas Eve, Cortez presented Phoebe with a diamond wedding band surrounded by rubies.

She touched the sparkling stones with wonder. “It's beautiful,” she whispered.

“It's the color of the sky, just before sunrise,” he told her gently, and he smiled as he bent to kiss her. “It's to remind you that even the most frightening nights do end in morning.”

“Hope never dies,” she agreed. She looked up at him with wonder. “It was all worth it, you know.”

“What was?”

“All the years of pain and grief,” she replied. “There really is a rainbow at the end of the storm. I'm living in it.”

He kissed her tenderly again. “Me, too.” He wrapped her up close and tucked her against his broad chest. His eyes closed. “Merry Christmas.”

She snuggled closer. “It's the merriest one I've ever had. Maybe we'll have dozens and dozens more.”

Joseph came wandering into the living room, grinning at the tree and at the two adults. “Santa Claus up the
chimney now?” he wondered, looking worriedly at the fire in the fireplace. “Santa Claus burn up?” he added, looking ready to cry. “Joseph won't have toys!” He wailed.

Cortez got up and went to the youngster, picking him up to hug him while Phoebe collapsed in laughter.

“Listen, young man,” he said to the child, “that red suit Santa wears is fireproof. I swear!”

Joseph blinked and then he smiled. “Okay, Daddy!”

“So you rush right back to bed, if you want presents! Santa won't come until you're asleep.”

“Going right now!” Joseph agreed. He looked at the corner where Jock was curled up asleep. “Jock not bite Santa?” he added worriedly.

“Jock loves Santa,” Cortez assured him.

“Jock not chase reindeer?” the child persisted.

“Jock loves reindeer,” Phoebe agreed. “A lot!”

“Okay.” Joseph kissed Cortez, and then Phoebe, and waddled back off to his room down the hall. The door closed behind him.

“Fireproof, are you?” Phoebe mused, giving him a speaking glance. “Come here and let's see!”

He went down into her arms on the sofa with a hungry groan, crushing her mouth under his.

It seemed he wasn't fireproof after all.

ISBN: 978-1-4268-3336-6

BEFORE SUNRISE

Copyright © 2005 by Diana Palmer

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3K9, Canada.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

® and TM are trademarks of the publisher. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Trade Marks Office and in other countries.

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BOOK: Before Sunrise
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