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The Midwife And The Lawman
By Marisa Carroll
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHe wondered if Devon would ever come to him again.
Enchantment's Chief of Police Miguel Eiden put the decidedly nonregulation thought out of his head as his radio crackled to life. It was the day dispatcher, Doris Fernandez, checking in.
"Chief Eiden, did you copy the transmission from The Birth Place?"
He hit the toggle that opened the receiver affixed to his shoulder, frowning a little at the use of his title. Until a few weeks ago Doris would have called him Miguel. Then he'd still been one of the guys. Now he was the boss, and things had changed. "Roger that, Doris." He'd picked up Devon Grant's conversation with her grandmother, Lydia Kane, on the scanner speaker. He hadn't responded, though. That was the last thing Devon would want.
"Shall I send out a ten-fourteen?" Ten-fourteen was code for a police escort.
The only other officer on duty this shift was Hank Jensen. Hank was six months out of the New Mexico Police Academy. It would be lights and siren all the way back to The Birth Place. Devon would be furious. Madder than she'd be if he showed up. "Negative, Doris. I'm heading back into town. I'll meet her at the Silver Creek Road intersection."
"Affirmative. I'll notify the clinic that you're available."
"I'll give you an ETA after I connect with Ms. Grant. Eiden out." He stood up but didn't leave the shade of the brush arbor where he'd been sitting with his grandfather, Daniel Elkhorn. "Gotta go, Granddad. Devon Grant doesn't want to be delivering a baby in the back of her Blazer any more than I do. I'd better see she's got a clear run the rest of the way into town."
His grandfather stood, too, unfolding his barrelchested, six-foot frame from his lawn chair, and took a limping step forward. "This'll be the second baby in two weeks that she's talked the mother out of delivering at home. Not the best endorsement for her grandmother's clinic."
"How'd you know that?" Miguel looked at his grandfather over the top of his sunglasses.
"Heard it down at the Legion." Daniel stared back at him from eyes that had faded from black to brown with the passing of years, but still seemed able to see right through him. His skin was bronzed and creased as an old leather jacket. His hair was more gray than black now. His nose jutted out from his face like a hawk's beak. Miguel had inherited that nose.
"'Course you already know that. You helped her get Ophelia Pedroza to The Birth Place, too, didn't you?"
"It was a breech birth. I don't blame Devon for not wanting to deliver Ophelia way the hell out on the reservation with only an assistant midwife for help. And now Lacy Belton's running a fever. Sounds like it could be serious."
"Or she could've caught a cold from one of her kids. Makes no difference. Lydia Kane will be fit to be tied that Devon's done it again."
Miguel didn't have an answer for that. He opened the door of the Dodge Durango the town fathers had seen fit to buy for the chief who'd preceded him and swung inside. The air conditioner wasn't working again. The vehicle had been sitting in the sun and the interior was like an oven. It was nearing ninety this July afternoon, a higher than normal temperature for the altitude. He rolled down the window and made a mental note to have the SUV serviced, which ensured another hour of doing paperwork.
"I'll check back in tomorrow if I can, Granddad. And if you see anyone else prowling around the barn, you stay put inside, you hear? You're not the only one who's had things come up missing. It could be just kids from town or the reservation raising hell, or it could be illegals making their way north to Colorado. Either way, you don't need to do my job for me. Give the station a call. I'll get someone out here, pronto."
Daniel lifted a hand in acknowledgment - or dismissal, more likely. Sixty years ago he'd islandhopped his way across the Pacific, one of the famous Marine Navajo Code Talkers. Before that he'd grown up on the Navajo reservation when living off the land was the only option for most Native Americans. Even crippled by arthritis and nearing eighty, he was fearless and a crack shot. He wouldn't stay locked inside his trailer waiting for his grandson to come to his rescue. He'd confront the person stealing the eggs from his chicken coop and carting off things from the pile of darn-near junk behind his barn.
Miguel made up his mind to increase the patrols in this part of the township, and the old ghost town of Silverton, a mile farther into the hills. It would mean overtime for his small force, and more than likely another go-around with the town council over the cost. He must have been crazy to take over the job when Chief Hadley up and retired after his wife hit a million-dollar jackpot on an anniversary trip to Reno.
He checked the dashboard clock as he headed back out the dusty track that connected his granddad's place with the main road. It would take him fifteen minutes to reach the rendezvous, but once he crossed the creek he'd have a good overview of Desert Valley Road - the route Devon would have to take to bring Lacy Belton off the mountain.
By the time he got there, he wouldn't have to worry about air-conditioning. He had no doubt Devon's frosty welcome would cool him off just fine.
* * *
Devon scowled in annoyance. Even with half of Arroyo County to patrol, it would have to be Miguel who showed up to accompany her back into town. Not that she needed an escort. Lacy was doing just fine in the back of her Blazer, and her husband, Tom, was right behind them in his pickup with their two kids, Luke and Angie. But once she'd radioed that she was bringing her patient into the birthing center to deliver, the outcome had been inevitable.
Devon eased over to the side of the road. Miguel was standing, arms folded, beside the big brown Durango emblazoned with the Enchantment Police Department logo. His gray Stetson shading his face, he straightened as she rolled to a halt and lowered her window.
"Everything okay, Devon? Where's your backup?" Miguel knew The Birth Place midwives usually worked in pairs for a home birth.
"No one was available." Lacy was one of Lydia's most loyal patients, and she'd insisted her baby be born at home. So Devon had agreed to attend the delivery alone. Reluctantly. She was a registered nurse and a certified nurse-midwife. She couldn't quite meet Miguel's gaze. She'd choked again and he knew it. "Lacy's running a fever. I felt it would be better if she delivered at The Birthing Place." She was taking the safest course for her patient. She didn't need to feel defensive, but she did.
Excerpted from The Midwife And The Lawman by Marisa Carroll Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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