A Little Dare(7)

By: Brenda Jackson

“I’m Deputy Rick McKade, and the sheriff wants to see you now.”

Shelly stood. She wasn’t ready for another encounter with Dare, but evidently he was ready for another one with her.

“All right.”

This time when she entered Dare’s office he was sitting

behind his desk with his head lowered while writing

something. She hoped it was the paperwork she needed to get AJ and go home, but a part of her knew the moment

Dare lifted his head and looked up at her, that he would not make things easy on her. He was still angry and very much upset.


She blinked when she realized Dare had been talking. She also realized Deputy McKade had left and closed the door behind him. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

He gazed at her for a long moment. “I said you could have a seat.”

She shook her head. “I don’t want to sit down, Dare. All I want is to get AJ and take him home.”

“Not until we talk.”

She took a deep breath and felt a tightness in her throat. She also felt tired and emotionally drained. “Can we make arrangements to talk some other time, Dare?”

Shelly regretted making the request as soon as the words had left her mouth. They had pushed him, not over the edge but just about. He stood and covered the distance

separating them. The degree of anger on his face actually had her taking a step back. She didn’t ever recall seeing

him so furious.

“Talk some other time? You have some nerve even to

suggest something like that. I just found out that I have a

son, a ten-year-old son, and you think you can just waltz

back into town with my child and expect me to turn my head and look away and not claim what’s mine?”

Shelly released the breath she’d been holding, hearing the sound of hurt and pain in Dare’s voice. “No, I never thought any of those things, Dare,” she said softly. “In fact, I thought just the opposite, which is why I moved back. I knew once I told you about AJ that you would claim him as yours. And I also knew you would help me save him.”

Eyes narrowed and jaw tight, Dare stared at her. She watched as immediate concern—a father’s concern— appear in his gaze. “Save him from what?”


She paused, then answered the question she saw flaring in his eyes. “You’ve met him, and I’m sure you saw how angry he is. I can only imagine what sort of an impression he

made on you today, but deep down he’s really a good kid, Dare. I began putting in extra hours at the hospital, which

resulted in him spending more time with sitters and finding ways to get into trouble, especially at school when he got mixed up with the wrong crowd. That’s the reason I moved back here, to give him a fresh start—with your help.”

Anger, blatant and intense, flashed in Dare’s eyes. “Are you saying that the only reason you decided to tell me about

him and seek my help was because he’d started giving you trouble? What about those years when he was a good kid? Did you not think I had a right to know about his existence


Shelly held his gaze. “I thought I was doing the right thing by not telling you about him, Dare.”

A muscle worked in his jaw. “Well, you were wrong. You didn’t do the right thing. Nothing would have been more important to me than being a father to my son, Shelly.”

A twinge of regret, a fleeting moment of sadness for the ten years of fatherhood she had taken away from him touched Shelly. She had to make him understand why she had

made the decision she had that night. “That night you stood before me and said that becoming a FBI agent was all you had ever wanted, Dare, all you had ever dreamed about,

and that the reason we couldn’t be together any longer was because of the nature of the work. You felt it was best that as an agent, you shouldn’t have a wife or family.” She

blinked back tears when she added. “You even said you

were glad I hadn’t gotten pregnant any of those times we

had made love.”

She wiped at her eyes. “How do you think I felt hearing you say that, two months pregnant and knowing that our baby and I stood in the way of you having what you desired

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