Authors: L.N. Cronk
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
Published by Kindle Press, Seattle, 2016
Amazon, the Amazon logo, Kindle Scout, and Kindle Press are trademarks of
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This book is dedicated to God—the One I trust—with great thanks. I pray that this book, and the series that follows, will serve to glorify Him and draw others closer to Him.
Readers of the
will surely recognize a few familiar faces in the upcoming pages of
The One I Trust
. If you haven’t yet read the series, you can read the award-winning, first novel of the top-rated, best-selling series by
The One I Trust,
is contemporary Christian fiction that stands alone.
I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
“WHY DID YOU have to act like such a jerk?” Anneka cried.
“She said I was a jerk?” I asked, suddenly curious. I muted the television.
“No,” she replied. “Emily’s too nice to say something like that.”
“Clearly not something
have a problem with,” I muttered, quickly losing interest again and turning the sound to the game back on.
“You know what, Reid?” Anneka asked. “I’m gonna take that remote control and shove it up your—”
“Now, now, children,” my best friend Hale interrupted his wife. “Play nice.” He looked pointedly at their daughter Molly and then back to me and Anneka.
“Play nice,” Molly repeated solemnly, shaking a reprimanding finger at me and Anneka.
I winked at Molly and then smirked at Anneka. “Yeah, Mommy,” I said. “Play nice.”
Anneka glared at me before scooping Molly from the sofa and stalking out of the room.
“You know,” said Hale, looking after them. “If I depended on Anneka for all of my meals, I think I’d be a little nicer to her.”
depend on her for all your meals,” I pointed out.
“Well, yeah,” he admitted. “But I don’t have to worry about it because she thinks I’m hot.”
“She doesn’t think I’m hot?”
“I don’t think so—especially not right now.”
I pretended to concentrate on the game again.
“You know,” Hale said again. “Anneka went out of her way to fix you and Emily up—”
“Which I specifically asked her
to do . . .”
“So you had to take it out on Emily?”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” I said.
He looked at me skeptically.
“I didn’t,” I insisted. “I just didn’t feel like talking.”
“So instead of answering her questions you told her to look you up online?”
“Well it’s not like the Internet can’t tell her everything she needs to know,” I reminded him.
I imagined Emily going home after our first date, typing my name into a search engine, and reading the headlines that insinuated many things. Monstrous things . . . unspeakable things . . . things that I didn’t do.
Raleigh Police Detective on Administrative Leave Pending Investigation . . . Detective Brafford Odell Reid Formally Charged on Multiple Counts of Lewd and Indecent Acts with a Minor . . . Former Police Detective Reid Named “Person of Interest” in Recent Disappearance of Ex-Wife and Child . . .
“I think some of it might have sounded a bit better coming from you,” Hale said.
“Oh, really? Which parts?”
Hale didn’t answer. I sat quietly for a moment staring at the TV before turning to face him.
“Look,” I began. “I tried—”
“No, you didn’t,” he cut me off. “You intentionally sabotaged that date and you know it.”
I sighed. I’d only sabotaged it because I wasn’t ready to start dating again—something I’d told both Hale and Anneka a million times. But Anneka was like a dog with a bone once she got her mind fixed on something, and she wouldn’t let up. She was probably thinking if I fell madly in love with Emily that I’d get remarried and move out of her basement, and someone else could be in charge of feeding me for a while. I’d resisted going out with Emily for a long time, but once Hale had joined Anneka’s efforts and started hounding me about how great Emily was, I finally gave in—hoping that both of them would shut up if I just went out with her.
“I told you that I’m not ready to start dating.”
“It’s been two years,” he said quietly.
Two years since my wife and I had split up, but only one year since she and our little boy had died.
I shook my head, sighed, and slumped back into my chair.
“You’ve got to do something to get your life back on track,” Hale ventured gently.
“My life is never going to be back on track.”
Now it was Hale’s turn to sigh. He looked depressed.
“Look,” I said. “I’m sorry. I’ll admit I didn’t give her a fair chance and I might have been a bit of a jerk, but it’s over with now and there’s nothing we can do about it, so can we please just stop talking about it?”
Hale reluctantly nodded and sighed again. That’s when Anneka popped back into the living room and looked right at me.
“Guess who I just got off the phone with?”
I didn’t figure she really wanted me to guess.
“Emily,” she said when I didn’t answer. She sounded proud of herself.
“And how did that go?” I asked dryly.
“She wants to go out with you again.”
“Yeah. She wants to hear your side of things.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“You’re telling me that she looked me up online and she knows about everything?”
“And she still wants to go out?”
She nodded again.
“Even after the way our first date went?”
She smiled triumphantly and gave me a final nod.
“There’s no way I’m going out with her again,” I said, shaking my head.
“Why not?” Anneka cried in dismay.
“Because anybody who wants to go out with me after all that obviously has something seriously wrong with them.”
For our second date, Emily and I met at Mahaley’s, a little Irish pub not far from the old apartment I had shared with Hale for our last three years of college. After we placed our orders and were staring at least ten minutes of awkward silence in the face, I said, “So. What do you want to know?”
She looked me in the eye and reached for her water before answering.
“Are your social skills always this impeccable,” she asked, putting the straw between her lips and taking a small sip, “or are you being so charming just for me?”
I studied her carefully for a moment, thinking again about everything she had undoubtedly read about me online.
Why is she here? Why in the
did she want to go out on a second date?
I could only come up with two possible reasons, and honestly neither of them were too appealing. Either she was a gossip who wanted the inside scoop on last year’s hottest story, or she was a complete loser who couldn’t do any better than an unemployed, former police detective who lived in his best friend’s basement. So far she hadn’t come across as a loser, so I was betting on gossip.
I shrugged. “Anneka said you wanted to hear my side of things. I’m just wondering what you want to know.”
“I didn’t tell her I wanted to hear your side of things,” Emily corrected. “I told her I wanted to hear what you had to say.”
Now it was her turn to shrug.
We stared at each other a little longer and I remembered how I had promised Hale that I would try to do better on this date. I sighed inwardly.
“Is there anything in particular you’d like to know?” I made an extremely concerted effort to sound nice, kind, and socially skilled.
“Yes, actually. There is.”
Here we go. What part of the scandal is she most interested in?
Emily leaned forward slightly. “I want you to tell me about Noah,” she said.
Ahhh. The sex charges . . .
“I never laid a hand on my son,” I told her.
“No,” she said, immediately shaking her head. “I mean tell me about him. What was he like?”
I stared at her.
“You know,” she prodded. “What did he like to do? What kind of a person was he?”
I continued to stare, puzzled. No one had ever asked me that question before.
“He . . .” I hesitated. “He was the greatest kid ever,” I finally said.
She smiled at me, a warm, understanding smile.
“What was his favorite thing to do?”
“Cops and robbers,” I answered immediately. “We had a fort in the backyard and we’d pretend he was the cop and I was a robber and he’d climb up there so he’d have a good vantage point, you know? And I’d try to sneak around the yard without getting spotted.”
I had let him catch me every time. Noah would stealthily raise his plastic shotgun, take careful aim, and fire at me—watching in delight as I stumbled from my hiding place, collapsed dramatically to the ground, and died a slow, painful death on the grass. Once I was down, he would scramble from his fort, run to me, and tickle my ribs until I opened my eyes and pinned him to the ground, tickling him right back as he squealed in delight and begged me to play again just one more time.
I suddenly realized that Emily was still looking at me. She was also still smiling.
“Do you have any pictures?” she asked.
I pulled out my phone (an old one of Anneka’s with a cracked screen . . . one that Hale was paying for on his family plan because I couldn’t afford one of my own since I’d been fired).
By the time our food came, I had been through nearly every picture on my phone: Noah fishing at Harris Lake, Noah playing in a mud puddle at the end of our driveway, Noah hunting for Easter eggs in the park, Noah on his first day of kindergarten.
There was a close up of him holding a baby chick at a petting farm. “He had your eyes,” Emily noted, and I could do nothing but nod.
“He was absolutely beautiful,” she said gently. She rested her hand on my arm.
It had been so long since anyone had touched me (kisses from Molly and bear hugs from Hale didn’t count—well, they counted, but they weren’t the same).
It felt . . . nice. Really nice to have her hand touching my arm. It also felt really good to talk about Noah the way any parent would talk about their child—sharing everything they loved about them and not having to justify their actions or defend themselves against a bunch of lies.