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The Sheriff's Wife

Written by Anna DeStefano

From Golden Heart and former Writing Round Robin winner, Anna DeStefano…

Amelia Reed loves being a mother to her young son, but she is also passionate about her career as a teacher. Her husband, Dillon, resists her decision to go back to work because of an agreement made years before, making Amelia feel that his faith in her is lost. Can’t he understand that she loves their son just as much as he does? Why can’t he see that, like him, she needs to do what makes her happy?

Sheriff Dillon Reed is in love with his wife, but is disappointed that she wants to go back to work after they had decided she would stay home with their son. Concerned for their child’s well-being, Dillon finds it difficult to understand why his wife can’t see things his way. All of the arguing with Amelia forces Dillon to leave their home, but he knows deep down that there still might be a chance for them to be a family once again. Will he be able to make Amelia see things his way? Or will one seed of doubt force their relationship to end?

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Chapter One

"Not now, Richardson." Sheriff Dillon Reed looked up from his paperwork and scowled at the deputy standing in his office doorway.

It was 7:30 a.m. on a picturesque October Monday in Pineview, Georgia, and Dillon had been at work for hours. The earlier he got to the office the better these days.

"But sir… " The deputy didn’t step into Dillon’s office. No one much did anymore without an outright invitation. The other man jingled the ever-present change in his pocket. He was searching for words, nervously shuffling standard issue, so ugly they could only be worn with the uniform shoes. "I thought you’d want to know…"

"I’m working on payroll, Richardson. Spit it out." Dillon returned to the timesheets he’d been signing. He wasn’t even supposed to be clocked in for another thirty minutes, and whatever administrative snafu needed his attention at the moment could wait. "Distract me now, and you might still be looking for your check next month this time."

"Yes, sir." The respectfully delivered sir sounded a bit like Richardson wished he could flip his boss the bird instead. Which was fine with Dillon, except the man still looked downright determined to deliver whatever message he was there to deliver. "I thought you’d like to know, dispatch just sent fire and paramedics out on call…"

Dillon checked the watch his wife had given him on their last anniversary. "It’s a bit early, but there’s nothing unusual about that. Where’s the fire?"

"Well, it’s your house, sir."

"What?" Dillon shot to his feet.

"A fire was called in from your house."

His house, where his wife and son would just now be getting up and ready for school.

Dillon’s brain reengaged with his body. He blew past Richardson at a dead sprint.

Ten minutes later, he skidded his cruiser to a halt beside the emergency vehicles parked in front of the house. Heavy duty hoses snaked across the driveway, where water was running down and puddling at the curb by the fire engine — confirmation of an active fire.

Dillon threw open the cruiser door.

"Amelia?" he yelled, dodging the rescue personnel and equipment blocking his path as he made his way to the house. "Tyler?"

"Sheriff!" Ralph Flanders, the Pineview Fire Chief, hustled over to him. "They’re okay."

"Where are they?" Dillon grabbed the man’s arm. "My wife and son, where are they?"

"They’re fine, Dillon. They’re over at the neighbors while we finish up here. There was a fire in the kitchen, it seemed to have spread there from the utility room off the garage—"

Dillon set off for the Jackson’s house next door without waiting for the rest. He didn’t give a damn if the whole house burned to the ground. He needed to see his family for himself.

"Daddy!" Tyler’s crooked grin widened as he caught sight of Dillon from the neighbor’s front porch. He jumped off the top step, flying into Dillon’s outstretched arms. "Daddy, you’re here!" Dillon curled his son’s body close, burying his head in the sun-bleached blond hair the child had inherited from his mother.

"Dillon, I’m surprised to see you," the mother in question said by way of a greeting.

Amelia sat in a wicker porch chair beside Mrs. Jackson. No smile, no excited hello.

She looked as elegant and refined as ever in the long, gauzy skirt and fluttery blouse she’d chosen for the school day. Her hair was pulled back in soft waves. Her porcelain complexion and moss-colored eyes were make-up free. She’d always been perfect just the way God made her.

The perfect wife and mother — or so he’d thought.

Dillon loosened his grip on Tyler as the boy squirmed to be put down. Amelia was clearly surprised to see him, surprised that he’d drop everything to be by her side during an emergency. And that’s when the reality of Dillon’s sorry life returned to him in a moment of painful clarity.

He couldn’t remember the last time he and his wife had spoken, except to discuss Tyler. The house smoldering behind him hadn’t been his home in months. In every way but legally, his marriage and the family life that he’d built his whole world around were over.

Well, a nagging voice chided from deep inside him, maybe it’s about time for that to change.

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About the author

My day revolves around the men in my life: my talented, techie husband...

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Anna DeStefano

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