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Her Brother's Keeper
By Valerie Hansen
Steeple HillCopyright © 2005 Valerie Hansen
All right reserved.
"She's what? Oh, dear. Hold on."
Becky covered the telephone receiver with her free hand and swiveled the desk chair to face her boss. "It's Aunt Effie, again. She's dragging a ladder out of the garage and the neighbors are worried."
Brother Fleming arched his bushy gray eyebrows and rolled his eyes. "Knowing Effie, I can certainly understand why."
"So can I. I'm sorry. I know you wanted me here to meet your friend this afternoon but I'd better run home. I'll get Effie calmed down and hurry back as soon as I can, I promise."
The portly preacher nodded. "Don't worry about it. Brother Malloy will understand. There'll be plenty of time for you two to get acquainted before I actually retire."
Grabbing her purse, Becky gave him a parting smile. "I'm going to miss you, you old softy. Who else would put up with a secretary who's always taking time off in the middle of the day?"
"Logan Malloy will," Fleming said. "I've already told him a little about your home situation. He's a good man. He'll support you — at least for the short time he's going to be here helping us out."
She'd reached the office door. "You really don't think he'll want to stay permanently? I don't see why he wouldn't."
Fred Fleming shrugged. "Brother Logan is more suited to city life. After Chicago, Serenity's bound to be too dull for him."
"Dull? This place? Not with Aunt Effie around." She patted her ample shoulder bag. "If you need me for anything, call me on my cell phone. I've got it right here."
"Better leave me the number then."
"It's on the Rolodex on your desk. Remember?" No wonder she was so good at coping with her forgetful aunt, Becky mused. In the last couple of years she'd gotten plenty of practice by looking after her absentminded boss.
He nodded sagely. "Of course, of course. Well, get going young lady. Don't worry. I'll find it."
Becky wasn't so sure. She delayed just long enough to flip through the file and tag her number with a sticky note, then hurried to the door and flung it open.
It didn't swing smoothly. There was a thud and a hesitation, followed by "Ow!"
She would have lost her balance if she hadn't had a hold on the doorknob. She saw a man's fingers curl around the outer edge of the solid oak door. Moments later, half his face peered past it, revealing one deep brown eye.
She gasped. "Oh, I'm so sorry."
The man stepped fully into the doorway and blocked her path. He was covering his nose with his hand but even so, she could tell this was one goodlooking accident victim.
She tried to dodge past him and failed. "Please excuse me. I'm really in a hurry."
"Obviously. I'd hate to think it's always this dangerous to visit Fred."
Behind her, Becky heard her boss's exclamation of joy. "Logan! Welcome. Come in, come in. You're early, my boy."
Boy? Where? Becky's gaze traveled swiftly across the man's broad chest, checked out the shoulders of his sport coat, and sped back to his face. So, this was the Logan Malloy she'd heard so much about. Well, well! The singles classes at Serenity Chapel were sure going to fill up when the women in town got an eyeful of him.
"I'm Rebecca Tate," she said, grabbing Logan's hand and shaking it very briefly. "Pleased to meet you. I really do have to hurry. Family emergency. Fred will explain everything. Excuse me?"
Wondering how the doorway had shrunk since the last time she'd passed through, she sidled by him and hurried down the hallway.
Logan chuckled as he watched her disappear around a corner, then sobered and turned to Fred. "Was that the one? She has the right reddish hair and blue eyes."
"Yes, that's her," the older man said. "She and her aunt are the only ones I know who fit the profile you gave me."
"Does she know what we suspect?"
Brother Fleming crossed the room and quietly closed the door before he answered. "No. And I want you to promise me you'll keep it that way until you're absolutely positive. I wouldn't have gotten involved if I didn't care what happens to her."
"I told you I'd do my best."
"Do better than your best," Fred said. "She's a very special person. I don't want to see her hurt."
Logan's voice was firm. "Neither do I."
Excerpted from Her Brother's Keeper by Valerie Hansen Copyright © 2005 by Valerie Hansen. Excerpted by permission.
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