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To Get Me To You

By:Kait Nolan

Chapter 1

There was no escaping now.

As the steady click of sensible heels on asphalt grew ever closer, Campbell Crawford shut his eyes and repressed a curse. Where the hell had she come from?

To give himself another few moments to arrange his face into something resembling polite civility, Cam ducked back into his truck.

“Mr. Crawford, I need a word.” Agnes Crockett used the same stern tone she used to call his name when she’d taught trigonometry back in high school.

Resisting the urge to hunch his shoulders, Cam tucked a cardboard tube of landscaping blueprints under his arm and turned to face her. “Yes, Mrs. Crockett. What can I do for you?”

Mrs. Crockett peered up at him from beneath her umbrella, a bright floral affair completely at odds with her no-nonsense demeanor. “I have a matter that needs to be brought up at the next City Council meeting. It’s about that stoplight at Market and Spring Street.”

Not again. If he had a nickel for every time somebody griped about that stoplight, he could buy a round of drinks for everybody waiting inside the Mudcat Tavern.

“The city needs to fix the sensor. Cross traffic from Market Street gets stuck entirely too long, when nobody’s even coming the other direction. Why, I sat there for a full five minutes today without a soul passing by on Spring Street, and I was late to Bitsy Elliott’s daughter’s baby shower. When is that sensor going to get fixed?”

Cam privately thought that, given the state of the city coffers, it would be more likely the stoplight would be entirely decommissioned and they’d go back to the four-way stop, but that wasn’t something he was about to share with this particular constituent. “I certainly understand your concern, Mrs. Crockett. Now we talked about this the last time—”

“You said I had to fill out this form.” She dug around in her purse and came up with a sheet of paper that she thrust at him. “I want that traffic light fixed.”

Cam took the paper. She’d filled in the blanks by hand, her slanted scrawl covering most of the page. He bit back a sigh and refrained from mentioning that it was a web form she was supposed to submit online. “Ah, yes, ma’am. I’ll see that it’s put on the agenda for our next City Council meeting.”

“See that you do. I’ve been put off for the last time, young man.”

Aware that his shoulders had hunched up by his ears, Cam forced them down. “Yes, ma’am. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go meet a client.” He tapped the blueprint tube and softened the diplomatic brushoff with a smile. “You have a good evenin’, now.”

He called the escape good when he made it to the door of the Mudcat without pursuit or an order to detention.

Somebody had Garth Brooks playing on the jukebox. The hot fiddle licks of “Callin’ Baton Rouge” were punctuated by the crack of billiard balls from the far side of the bar. Christmas lights still twinkled around the perimeter, as they probably would until Valentine’s Day or Easter. Cam felt some of the stress of the day leech out as he crossed to the high-top table in the corner, where his cousin, Miranda, was already taking a pull on a Sam Adams.

“You’re late.” She set down the bottle. “Had a real pisser of a day at the clinic, so I started without you. Two days after Christmas and there’s already an outbreak of flu. And not the strain they were predicting when they formulated the flu shot this year. You have a client meeting?”

Cam laid the blueprint tube in another chair. “No, this was just cover. Got ambushed by Mrs. Crockett in the parking lot.”

“The stoplight again?”

He cocked thumb and forefinger at her. “Got it in one. I’m late because I was working on mixing potting soil today, and I figured you’d appreciate me showering and changing first so as not to smell like manure.”

Miranda leaned over and gave an exaggerated sniff as he shrugged out of his wet coat. “Much obliged then, cuz.” She settled back in her chair. “Did you hear about Travis Hugget?”

“What about him?”

“Remember he’s been dating that girl from college—Gwen something or other—long distance for more than a year, since she took that job in New York? Apparently, right before Christmas, he went up there to her fancy Wall Street office and proposed, right as the entire company was coming out of a staff meeting.”

Poor bastard. He had plenty of reason to know that was a disaster waiting to happen.

“Not only did Gwen say yes, she quit her job right then and there, and they eloped.”

Cam swiped Miranda’s beer and tipped it back to wash the sour taste of envy from his mouth as he revised his opinion. Lucky bastard. “Good for them.”