Chad frowned in consternation. “You did what?”
Mercy blinked up at him, her big green eyes swimming in tears. “I told Mrs. Caldora that she smelled like horse butt.”
He clamped his jaw shut in an effort to choke down the laughter, but he knew he had to be turning red. “And why did you tell her that?”
Mercy looked down at her twisted fingers in her lap. “She does. She tried to make me say something and I wouldn’t tell her.”
Chad frowned as her sweet little voice trailed away. Checking the rearview mirror he pulled into a bank lot and parked. This was going to take his total concentration. Turning off the ignition he twisted toward her. “What’s going on, little miss?
Mercy glanced out the window, then back down at her whitening fingers. Chad reached out and rested his hand on hers, stilling their movement. He gave her a squeeze of encouragement. “You know you can tell me anything.”
One tear dripped down onto their clasped hands and Chad felt his heart clench. He was three seconds away from snatching the little girl out of the seat and crushing her in his arms. But she needed to talk obviously, or she wouldn’t have brought it up.
“She asked me where my father was and I wouldn’t tell her.”
Chad frowned at the way she phrased the sentence. “Okay. That’s completely your business.”
She looked up at him as if waiting for him to say more. When he didn’t she pulled her hands from under his and crossed her arms, glaring.
“What?” he asked.
She shook her head and turned to look out over the snowy landscape. Chad could tell by the mutinous set of her chin that she would not say any more. She was so much like her mother like that.
“You only have one more day before Christmas vacation. Do you think you can tolerate her that long or do I need to come in and talk to her?”
Mercy set her blond ponytail to swinging as she shook her head, still staring outside.
Chad ran his hand through his hair, trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong. They’d been together for just a few months, so he was still wading through female sensibilities and trying to make a spot for himself in their little family. It had been a work in progress.
Reaching into his pocket he offered her a package of Smarties, but she turned away without taking it.
Frustrated, he shoved the truck into drive and pulled out of the lot. He’d have to ask Lora what was going on.
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Christmas at the Lost and Found Investigative Service is anything but merry this season.
John Palmer dreads the holiday. For the past year he and Shannon have been getting along like gangbusters, but as the holiday creeps closer tension invades their relationship. He’s at a loss as to how to fix it. Until he makes a risky gamble.
Chad doesn’t know why Mercy is having problems at school. Maybe with a little intervention from Santa they can get to the bottom of her situation.
Duncan Wilde runs herd on his group, putting out fires as they come along. But maybe a special Christmas present from the group will make him look at life with fresh eyes.
Connected Books: Lost and Found Series
The books below are connected to the Lost and Found series but can be read out of order.