Authors: R Gendreau-Webb
DARE TO TRUST
Dare to Trust
This is purely fiction. Names, places, characters and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual persons, living or dead, events, are purely coincidental. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or otherwise, constitutes a copyright violation.
Boston Homicide Detective Jason Howard thought he had finally found peace, putting behind his miserable upbringing by his aristocratic family. His birthright was one of money and prestige which he chose to leave behind. Jason chose his own path to happiness. He had Mia, the love of his life; he didn't need marriage or kids. Life was perfect with his career and sexy soul-mate---until Mia became pregnant and miscarried. Jason can't help but wonder if the pregnancy was an accident or an attempt to trap him into marriage and fatherhood. Jason’s question of deceit coupled with the loss of the baby sends Mia packing. She moves away from her life in Boston and her relationship with Jason. He soon follows her to the rural town she had sought out to 'start over' to convince her to return home. Jason realizes his perfect life demands Mia be a part of it. Soon after arriving in the sleepy Maine village, the homicide detective finds himself the main suspect in multiple poisonings and murder. At first, Jason had set-out to win back Mia’s love. Quickly, he becomes entangled in a plot for revenge and struggles to clear his name and save the woman he loves.
“We’ve decided to let you go. Things haven’t exactly worked out.” Dr. Daniels stood, leaning against the desk in his office. His face easily gave away his great displeasure with his employee. Dr. Mia Hitchcock sat in the uncomfortable chair in front of the desk, trying to digest what she had just heard. After all that had transpired the past few days, this was the last thing she would have predicted. She’d only been working at the hospital for a few months, off orientation for just a few weeks.
“What are you talking about?” Mia glared at her boss, the Chief of the Emergency Department. Her mind quickly reviewed the intense cases the small ER had seen over the past few days. The acuity and circumstances of the illnesses had been very unusual for such a modest, rural facility. She had treated the patients with expertise and efficiency, as her training in one of Boston’s busiest ERs had taught her. Where was the cause for termination?
“You’re fired. It’s that simple.” Daniels crossed his arms. “The Board approved my decision yesterday. Pack your things, Mia.” A small smirk formed on his lips and his voice lowered. “Maybe you should have had dinner with me after all.” She ignored the comment, ignored the urge to slap his gloating face and grabbed her purse. Without a word, she headed towards the door. Since she had been employed for such a short time, she had no personal belongings to take with her. “Bye,” Daniels called after her in a sweet voice. Mia slammed the door.
TWO MONTHS EARLIER
She had rented a small cottage that was both near the water and the hospital. The key had been taped to the front door, just as the landlord had promised. After seeing it online, Mia had fallen for its charm and thought it would be the perfect refuge to start over. She easily saw herself living there. It had been built in the 1920’s and had originally been a guest cottage of one of the sea-side mansions that had since been torn down. The harbor was a short walk away. A fire a half-century earlier had claimed many of the early residences in the village. She had been drawn to its historic architectural details; wide, detailed moldings, crown molding, an ornate fireplace that had originally come from Europe, glass floor tiles and a claw-foot tub. The space was small; there was only one bedroom and one bath, but charming. Mia could easily see herself curling up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book. Outside, rose bushes accented the door way, a white picket fence graced the perimeter of the front yard. The salty ocean mist hung in the air around the cottage with a sliver of water viewable. Off to the side was a gravel driveway and one car, detached garage. It seemed like the perfect place to be anonymous and start over.
Unpacking hadn’t taken long. She hadn’t brought much from Boston. She had packed clothes, a few personal items but no furniture. The cottage had come complete with period furnishings. Mia had hung up her clothes in the tight closet in the bedroom and placed a few framed photos of her with Jason on the mantel of the fireplace. She knew the separation was for the best. Mia had needed to leave the big city. She needed to get away from the heart breaking trauma cases, shootings and tragedies she had been forced to deal with on a daily basis in the Boston emergency room. She knew that Jason thrived on the action Boston offered him in his role as a detective. Mia could not ask him to give up his job for her. She kept reminding herself that they were in different places in their careers and their lives. She was no longer the woman he had fallen in love with and she knew it wasn’t fair to hold on to him. Her leaving was the right thing for them both.
By the end of her first full day in town, Mia had settled in and stocked her fridge and cupboards. Several times she found her mind wandering back to Jason. A few times, Mia could feel the sting of tears. Ignoring the memories, she had concentrated on cleaning. She scrubbed the kitchen and bath tile floors and mopped the dark, wood floors of the living room and bedroom. Her new home was in order even though her emotions were not.
The new job didn’t start for a few weeks. Mia sat outside on the restaurant patio overlooking the harbor, sipping a glass of wine. The fresh, salty ocean air meshed with the sweet fruitiness of the wine. For most in-town today, enjoying a vacation, it would have just enhanced the beautiful surroundings. But Mia didn’t even notice. She sat alone, waiting for the lunch she had ordered. Her mind kept replaying her last day in Boston, just as it had last night. Mia had gotten no sleep and the half-crescent dark circles under her eyes attested to it. As her eyes scanned the water, Mia wondered about Jason. She tried to derail her mind from going there with no success. Was he working? Alone? Upset?
Did he still love her?
All morning, she had tried to occupy her mind with exploring her new home. It was a short walk, just a few blocks, from her cottage to the center of town. A vast village green was the focal point. A large, white gazebo was prominently placed in the middle of the grassy area, wooden benches and flower beds lined the perimeter. At each end of the public space sat ornate fountains. At the turn of the century, the town folk would meet in this space for various events; band concerts, political gatherings, theatre shows. Streets perpendicular to the village green were lined with shops.
She had darted in and out of several of the shops, some carrying lines of homemade wares and others offering up the same tourist t-shirts and accessories. She bought nothing and had ended up stopping for lunch.
As the waitress approached the table, she ignored the sorrow that seemed to radiate off Mia. Most patrons were happy, taking a break from sight-seeing and shopping. Mia sat, slowly swirling the stem of her wine glass in her palms, lost in thought with a somber glower on her face. “Need anything else?” the waitress asked Mia before tending to her next table.
“I’m good, thanks.” Mia managed a small smile. As she ate, she was questioning her decision, re-hashing her thought process that brought her to pack her things and leave Boston and leave Jason. She was still deeply in love with him. She just didn’t know if that was enough.
In the beginning of their relationship, Mia couldn’t have been any happier. Jason had been her knight in shining armor; he treated her like a queen. She had never doubted they would eventually marry and start a family. They were so much in love. She never saw any alternative future until she had woken in the hospital. Once that nightmare had started, everything instantly changed. Mia had felt like she needed to run from everything and everyone she had known in Boston.
They had met a little over two years earlier. Jason had responded to the convenience store shooting within minutes of it occurring. He had been around the corner grabbing coffee. The coffee quickly grew cold, untouched, as it sat in his car.
There had been one fatality from the shooting and two victims that needed stabilization and transport to the hospital. Jason had been crouched over one of the victims, trying to put pressure on the bullet wound to the man’s abdomen. He had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the paramedics to relieve him. Although he was a homicide detective, blood was not one of his favorite things. When they had arrived on scene, he recognized Estes, one of the paramedics Jason knew from many scenes, but not the female that accompanied Estes.
Without a word, the female all but pushed Jason out of the way, cutting away the shirt the patient had been wearing with trauma shears and assessing the bullet wound with her gloved hands. The goriness of the scene didn’t seem to faze her in the least. She spoke quietly and calmly to the patient, who was drifting in and out of consciousness. She prepped and started an intravenous line in his arm.
Jason had been watching intently. At first, he had glared at her, annoyed that she had pushed him out of the way. Then he had taken a closer look and had found himself almost captivated by her wide, exotic dark eyes and dark hair. She was petite and her movements were purposeful and graceful. She was making a pair of blue scrubs look very sexy. For a brief moment, Jason imagined her naked legs wrapped around his waist. He shook his head, wondering where that thought had come from. Estes must have recognized the initial look of exasperation on Jason’s face and decided introductions were in order.
“Detective Howard, this is Dr. Hitchcock.” Estes glanced at Mia. “She’s riding the unit with me for a few weeks.”
As the patient was stabilized and loaded into the ambulance, Mia stopped as she passed by Jason. “He didn’t bleed out because you applied pressure. He just might make it.” Her voice was cool and controlled. She didn’t wait for a reply, but climbed up into the cab of the ambulance. It roared away towards the hospital with lights flashing.
He saw her again in the emergency department of the Boston Medical Center. She was assisting with the patient who had been shot in the abdomen. Jason had been starting an interview with the other victim, who had been luckier, and shot in arm. “Dr. Hitchcock, good to see you again so soon.” Jason flashed a wide smile.
“Detective.” Her tone was all business. She barely acknowledged him as she stripped off her sterile gloves and threw them in the waste can. Mia moved to the sink to wash her hands.
“Nice work out there,” Jason commented. He liked the confident way she carried herself. It had been a grisly scene with copious amounts of blood. The gunshot victim who had died had been hit in the face; pieces of tissue and brain had been sprayed onto the wall he had collapsed against. At the scene, Jason had been impressed by the doctor’s cool and methodical response, but then again, she had probably seen worse in the emergency room.
She looked up and found herself staring at his solid chest. He was over six feet; she had to crane her neck up to look him into the eyes. Crystal blue eyes with long, dark lashes. She was barely a few inches over five feet. “Did you get the shooter?”
He shook his head, and Jason couldn’t help but notice her checking him out. “We have a nickname he goes by and a description. I’m sure we’ll nab him soon. People talk. Someone will come forward.”
“I hope you get the bastard.” Mia usually wasn’t upset by the violence, but when she was tending to the abdominal wound, she couldn’t help but notice two small children that had been quietly crying and clinging to a woman and then quickly escorted from the scene. She had later learned that the children had witnessed the entire shooting. The dead victim had been their father. The children had been taken to a foster home.
“I intend to,” Jason answered. He was damn good at his job. He sighed and took another look at the doctor. A smile broke out on his face. “Would you like to grab a cup of coffee? Dr. Hitchcock?”
Normally, she would have refused immediately, even though her shift had ended. This afternoon’s shooting had upset her and she felt that she could use some company instead of retreating home to her small, empty apartment. “Okay.” She smiled at him. “And it’s Mia.”
The walked a few blocks to a nearby coffee shop. It was one Mia was very familiar with; she bought coffee before and after many shifts from it. She was tired after the day’s events but was grateful for this invitation. Once they had sat down at a table and were sipping their beverages, she found herself enjoying the easy conversation.