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New in Town

Amanda Wilhelm


Copyright 2018


No part of this eBook may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, except for brief quotations in reviews, without written permission of the author.


This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Nine Months Later

Author’s Note

Follow Amanda to be notified of New Releases

Preview of the Ty and Sara Trilogy

So Unexpected Chapter 1

So Unexpected Chapter 2

Other books by Amanda Wilhelm

CHAPTER 1


"Oh," Becky said, "Hi there."

The dog, the very large Bernese Mountain dog, that was sitting in front of the front door to her apartment building, opened its eyes and raised up its head, giving her the once over.

"You okay?" Becky asked.

The dog put its head back down.

"Where..." Becky let her voice trail off, as she scanned up and down the street.

There didn't appear to be an owner anywhere, not obviously, anyway. She put her hand out and the dog sniffed it once, with obvious disinterest. She held onto the sandwich she had bought for dinner, and stuck her hand into the dog's thick fur, feeling around the neck for a collar.

"Okay," she said, finding one, and sliding her fingers down it, until she had a hold of the tag, "Good, really good."

She had to push away a ton of fur, but finally she could read the tag. Relieved that there was a phone number, she ignored it and focused instead on the name.

"Ed?" she said.

That perked the dog up.

"Okay, Ed," she said, "Come inside, I'll get you some water, you must be hot, poor thing."

It had been a hot day, for Portland anyway, low nineties. Given that the days were at their longest right now, the dog had been sitting in almost full sun. Becky opened the door and Ed got up and went inside. He sat down in front of the inner, locked, door and looked at Becky.

"Okay, I'll just get my mail," Becky said, and opened the box.

There were only two pieces, a mailer from Bed Bath and Beyond, which Becky celebrated for a second, before flipping to the other piece, a post card. It said, "Save the Date," on it and though, when she saw the pictures, she didn't want to read it, she did anyway. Engagement party. She felt the familiar mix of anger, and sadness, fill her and she forced it down, knowing she was in for another rough night. Rough weekend, probably, as it was Friday, no work to distract her tomorrow.

What did distract her was Ed's nose, poking at her other hand, the one that happened to be holding the sandwich.

"Oh no you don't," she said, yanking her hand up. She half expected him to jump on her, but he didn't. Well trained apparently. "Good boy," she said, then thought about it. Ed must be a boy, right? "Come on," she said, as she opened the door.

Ed took off as soon as Becky had the door open. Becky grabbed her keys out of the lock and followed. She could hear Ed bounding up the stairs. Aside from wondering what the neighbors would think, she thought she might have to use her dinner to coax the dog back down the stairs, to her apartment. Which was probably okay, because dinner was probably going to turn into chocolate, ice cream, and possibly vodka. As soon as she went out and got ice cream, and vodka, that is.

She was stunned when she got to her floor and the dog was not only waiting for her, on the right floor, he was actually sitting outside her door. She had figured, as she chased Ed up the stairs, that he had gone all the way to the top.

"What the?" she asked Ed, as she walked down the hall towards him.

Ed responded by getting up, immediately lowering the front half of his body to the ground and waving his tail frantically.

"That was an easy one," Becky thought. That meant, "Let's play."

Sugar used to do that all the time, when Becky got home from work. The sadness and anger came back again, more sadness than anger this time. At the same time Becky almost had to smile, Ed was ten times the size of Sugar, at least, but there Ed was, doing the exact same thing.

Becky opened the door and again Ed pushed the door open, and made his way into the apartment. He didn't waste any time, he just ran right over to the couch, hopped up and made himself very comfortable.

"Also just like Sugar," Becky thought, glancing over at the refrigerator. Then she remembered she had taken the picture down, a day after she put it up. She stuck it in her underwear drawer so she could look at it if she wanted to, but didn't have to.

She put the bag from the deli, and the mail, down on the counter, taking a second to turn the postcard over, wincing when she saw the familiar handwriting on the back. She refused to read it, and turned her attention back to Ed.

"Water?" she said, scrounging through the cupboards for a bowl.

The apartment was furnished and equipped with the barest possible amount of plates and silverware. She turned on the faucet. At the sound of the water running, Ed came running over. Becky set the bowl down and he lapped it up, making a pretty nice mess.

"Dish towels," she thought.

That was something else she needed, but didn't have. She didn't even glance at the boxes piled up against the wall, under the windows. No kitchen stuff in there.

"Definitely Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend," she thought.

She looked at Ed's tag again, then grabbed a piece of paper, and a pen, off the counter, frowning as she copied the phone number down. A quick Google told her it was a Los Angeles number. That was a little worrisome, but she sent the text anyway. There was nothing to do now but wait.

"Well maybe not nothing," she thought, as she took a second to stash the meatball sub in the fridge.

It might make a good breakfast, tomorrow. Right now, Becky just wanted chocolate.

CHAPTER 2


"Hey Ed, I got you..." Drew left the rest of the sentence unfinished, as he realized the door to the trailer was open. He hopped up the two steps and went inside. "Ed," he called, "Weenie? I got you dinner."

He set the plate with the two plain burger patties down on the tiny table. He took a second to check the small bathroom, but he knew it was hopeless. The only noise in the trailer was the air conditioner, which Drew had left blasting on the highest setting. Ed was a lot of things, but quiet wasn't one of them.

Drew had a moment of panic, but remembered the microchip. It would be okay. Whoever found her would turn her into a shelter and the shelter would read the chip and call...

"Oh fuck," Drew said.

The breeder, that's who, because Drew had never bothered to update the chip information on the website. It was one of those things that would take all of five minutes and he had just never done it. Even though he had had over five years to get it done. The vet reminded him at Ed's annual appointment every year. God, he was an idiot.

"Focus," he told himself, and grabbed his phone off the table.

Maybe he could find Ed at the shelter, before they got ahold of the breeder. That would be optimal. How many animal shelters were there in Portland anyway? He swiped at his phone, prepared to find out, but the text alert stopped him. He didn't recognize the number but he opened it anyway.



I think I have your dog. Call me ASAP.

Drew's finger reached for the call button, but he stopped it at the last second. He didn't think someone had kidnapped, er, dognapped, his dog, but engaging in a conversation with someone, who could be anyone, was probably going to lead to no good. Some fans would go to any lengths to get him alone, and there was a reason he had once needed to get a new cell phone number, several times a year.

He texted back instead.



What do you mean you have my dog? Prove it.

He knew he was taking the risk of pissing the, hopefully harmless, and truly good, Samaritan off, but he had to get back to the set, and he'd rather spend the time reaching out to the animal shelters.

The text came in almost immediately. Drew scanned the picture carefully. There was something familiar about it, somehow, but it definitely wasn't one of the pictures of Ed Drew had posted on social media, finally caving to his manager's constant badgering to beef up his internet presence. Drew glanced at the clock again and hit the call button.

"Hello," she said.

"Hi," he said, "This is...Ed's owner."

"Prove it," she said, and he laughed.

"Look, I'm sorry about that, I was a little freaked out, I took her to work today because it was going to be hot, and the AC in my apartment conked out."

"What?"

Drew glanced at his phone and saw a full five bars.

"Must be a problem on her end," he thought.

"I took her-," he started again, louder and slower but she interrupted him.

"Who's her?"

"Ed."

"Ed's a her?"

"Umm, yeah," Drew said, "I mean, you can check if you don't believe me."

"Um, no, that's okay, I didn't notice, there's lot of fur, I could barely find the dog tag."

"Understood," Drew said, glancing at the clock again. "Look, where are you?"

"Where are you?" she replied.

"Uh, look, I'm sorry, I know I'm being rude, and thank you for finding her, and calling me, really, I just have to get back to work." He thought quickly. "Could I come get her after work?"

"What time do you get out of work? I mean, it's already after six."

"Oh jeez," Drew said, realizing he didn't know, "It will be late, probably, eleven, or later."

"Eleven!"

"How 'bout if I send an Uber, I got a couple of drivers I use, they don't mind the dog, they could pick her up, I'm over at Laurelhurst Park, would that work?"

"You're at the Park?" she said slowly, "I could walk him, her I mean, over, it's not that far."

"Are you sure?" Drew said.

"Yeah, why not, it's starting to cool off a little, I think."

"Okay, I'm at the east end of the lake. Can you give me your name, I need to give it to security."

"Security?" she said, and Drew prayed he wouldn't have to explain it, cause he really had to go, NOW. "Becky, Rebecca that is, Downey."

"Okay, got it, thanks, see you, soon," Drew said.

"Wait," Becky said, "How will I find you? Should I just text you when I get there?"

"No," Drew said, "Just look for the TV crew, I gotta go, thanks again, bye."

He hung up, plugged his phone back in, then raced out of the trailer and back to the set.

CHAPTER 3


"Wait," Becky said, but she was pretty sure he was gone.

A quick glance at the phone confirmed it. She looked at Ed, who was back on the couch, looking very much like she owned the place.

"What do you say Ed?" Becky asked, shaking her head a little, at the fact that such a beautiful FEMALE dog had such a gruff name. "Do you want to go to see...your owner? Lousy name dude?"

No response, not that Becky had really expected one. She brought up a map, on her phone, and looked it over. She had been by the Park, once, since she had moved in. Directions weren't exactly a strength of hers, but she figured, if she needed to, she could always turn the GPS on, as a last resort.

"Let's-," Becky stopped as she realized that she didn't have a leash. And they needed one.

She walked down the length of the apartment, squinting at the boxes lined up, trying to remember what was in them, which was pretty pointless. There had been no rhyme or reason to her packing, just frantic grabbing, then stuffing and finally taping the lids shut.

The apartment was just one long room, kitchen on one end, bed on the other. The bathroom was decent and the one closet was pretty large, which was a nice bonus, but it hadn't really mattered. Becky had taken it, since it was available, and furnished and, unbeknownst to the realtor showing it to her, everything she owned, or owned now anyway, was in her car, parked right downstairs. Becky had no intention of going back to Seattle any time soon.

Her hiking pack was on top of a box and its fluorescent orange color caught her attention.

"Maybe," she thought, fingering the stretchy cord on the outside of it.

She took a second to open the main section of the pack, grimaced when she saw, and remembered, she had stuffed all her lingerie in there. She turned her attention back to the possible leash.

It took a couple minutes to unwind the strap from the pack. Several times Becky glanced at Ed, but the dog seemed perfectly content. She took a carabiner off the pack as well. She tried hooking it to the dog tag ring but it was too big, so she set it on the coffee table. Instead she laced the cord through the ring on Ed’s collar, and gave it an experimental tug.

It was way too thin, and Becky doubted she'd be able to hold onto Ed, if the dog decided to chase a squirrel or something, but it would have to do.

"Let's go," she said, "Walk."

At the last word Ed hopped off the couch and headed to the door. Becky decided to take her purse, she could pick up some ice cream on the way home and headed to the door, stopping at the last second.

"Wait," Becky said, grabbing a plastic bag, in case Ed decided to do her business on the way to the Park. "Wait until we see your dad to poop okay?"

Ed gave Becky a look that obviously meant, "Yeah right lady," and sure enough, halfway to the Park, she stopped and did what she needed to do. Right next to a garbage can, thoughtfully enough.

Becky cleaned it up with more sadness than disgust. At home, which wasn't home anymore, she just let Sugar out into the fenced back yard of their townhouse. She missed Sugar. She missed her house, and her stuff, and even, hating herself for it, him.

"Cool dog," a guy said to her, as they entered the Park but he gave the makeshift leash a good, hard look.

"Thanks," she said, and asked him directions to the lake.

"That way," he said, pointing, "But I wouldn't go over there, they are filming a movie or something, it's all barricaded."

She thanked him and kept walking. Ed trotted alongside her, stopping to sniff here and there, but listening when Becky told her to come on.

She came to the barricade, and the police officer guarding it. A quick conversation and he pointed her in the direction of the one entrance to the fenced-in area.

"You must be Becky," the guard said, when she got to the table.

"Huh?" she said, surprised.

"The dog, they told me, but I still need to see your ID, sorry."

She pulled her license out and handed it to him.

"Washington huh?" he said.

"I just moved here, two weeks ago."

"Work?"

"Yeah," Becky said, "Work."

Which was entirely true, and entirely not, at the same time. The Portland territory had been a mess, for years. Gary, her supervisor, and his supervisor, had wanted her to take over the Oregon office. They had been after her to do it for a couple of years. Becky had never even considered it, but the Monday morning after...everything happened, she had marched into Gary's office and told him she wanted the position in Portland. He had started to ask her why, why now, why anything, but she had cut him off and he had shut up fast. The company had set her up with a realtor to find a place to live.

Gary had been somewhat shocked to find she had moved to Portland, since it was just supposed to be an apartment hunting expedition. She had told him she couldn't wait to get started and she convinced him it would be fine. She worked from home plenty in Seattle, what was the difference, working from thirty minutes, or 3 hours, away. She still had to pitch in and help with the occasional question from Seattle, while she got settled in Portland, but she figured it didn't make a difference. She knew no one here and had nothing to do but think or, more accurately, mope, anyway.

Becky thanked the guard and headed in the direction he told her. They walked a couple of minutes, and then Ed barked. Becky tightened her grip on the "leash" but it was no use. Ed took off, pulling the cord out of Becky's hand and she followed the dog.

"Ed," a man cried, and he came towards them

Ed was wagging her tail so furiously, and jumping with such unbridled joy, Becky had no doubt that they had found Ed's owner.

"You must be Becky," he said, and Becky winced.

She had decided, for about the tenth time in her life, nursing school, high school, middle school, to name a few, to start using Rebecca as her name.

"Fresh city, fresh start," she had told herself, driving down Route 5.

No more boring Becky. Rebecca. Rebecca is sophisticated and chic and classy and...

"You are Becky, right?" he said, coming closer and Becky sighed.

"I guess I am," she said, and held out her hand.

She looked up at him and thought it couldn't be, but then he was shaking her hand and confirming it.

"Drew Carson." he said, "Nice to meet you, and thanks. Thank you so much."

CHAPTER 4


The woman took his hand, but the instant she recognized him, and realized, it was obvious. She froze and stared at him.

"Come on," Drew said, "this way," as nicely as he could.

He was both pleased and annoyed by her reaction. She was around his age, which was the right age to have grown up watching him, on his first TV series. He had played the best friend of the show's star, and had been in all but a handful of episodes, over the six year series. Much depended on what she said next. Most likely she was a fan of Derek Sampson, one of the show's two stars. But if she was one of the ones who had preferred his character, Scotty, he could probably have her in his bed that night, if he felt like it.

"I got to get Ed back in my trailer," Drew said, looking Becky over quickly and deciding it was definitely a maybe.

She shook her head quickly, shaking off the star struckness, and followed him.

"Sorry," she said, "I used to watch your show all the time. What are you doing here?"

"Filming a movie slash pilot," Drew said.

"Huh?"

"It's a stand-alone movie, but the producers have a whole series ready to go, if the network likes it."

"And they are going to make it in Portland?"

"Probably," Drew said. They were in front of his trailer and he opened the door. Ed sat down between them, thumping her tail on the ground. "I did a series here last year, it's a great city to film in, lots of interesting locations and the mountains and beach aren't too far."

"Sorry," she said, looking around, "I just thought I found someone's dog, I didn't realize it was Drew Carson's dog."

"Bingo," Drew thought, but quickly decided, since he already had her number, thanks to Ed, playing disinterested would probably be in his best interest.

"I still can't believe she got out," he said, swinging the door open and closed. I mean, it's a cheap lock, but still, I guess I should padlock her in, if she comes to work with me again."

"Carabiner would work," Becky said, flipping the latch on the outside of the door back and forth, "and shoot, I had one, too, when I was getting the leash, but I left it home."

She bent over and starting pulling the bungee cord out of the dog collar. Drew watched, enjoying the view of her legs, as her skirt rose up in the back.

"So you still make TV shows?" she said, wrapping the cord around her hand and stashing it in her purse.

"Yeah," Drew said, "it's fun, and the money's good."

It never hurt to mention the money. Most of what he had made filming the show was gone, but part of the reason he had agreed to do this project was that it would hopefully drum up interest in his original series. If that happened, thanks to the new SAG deal with the streaming services, the residuals would be very nice.

"I'll let you know when the movie's on, if you want," he said, "I have your number."

"Okay," Becky said.

Drew needed to get back to the set but Becky didn't seem inclined to leave.

"Do you want to stay and watch us film for a little bit?" Drew asked. "You could, you just have to be really quiet and turn your phone off, completely off, not even on vibrate, you could."

"No," Becky said, "It's just..."

Drew really wanted to hear what she had to say. Yes he would meet her for drinks later. Yes he would hang out with her on his next day off, he just had no idea when that was. The only thing he wouldn't say yes to was a quickie in his trailer, right now, and that wasn't only because he couldn't. But he would, in a heartbeat. But probably she just wanted a selfie, which he would do, but it had to be now.

He was trying to figure out how to phrase it, nicely, so they could just get it over with, when she blurted it out.

"Why," she said, "did you name your dog Ed?"

"Oh," he said, laughing, "It's officially Edwina Gabriella Sinclair, the breeder, she was kind of a stickler for the rules, it's supposed to have the sire's name and the bit...mom's. Her dad's name was Eduard, so that's what I came up with, but she doesn't know it. Hey Edwina," Drew said, to prove his point, and the dog ignored him.

"Oh," Becky said, "That's weird, I mean it's your dog."

"Well, it seemed important to her, the breeder that is, and she was nice so," Drew didn't finish.

Ed was an awesome dog and the discussion about the name had ended in an extra long weekend, where there had been very little talking, which he was fine with. The breeder had seemed to expect there was more to it than just the sex, which had turned out not so fine. But Drew wasn't about to explain all that right now, or ever. He opened the door to the trailer, and clicked the cheap lock button on the knob.

"Go," he said, "And stay this time."

Ed hopped into the trailed and Drew watched her make a beeline for the burgers on the table. They were gone in a flash.

Drew shut the door and turned back to Becky,

"So you want to watch a little bit?" he asked her.

"Okay," she said.

She followed him to the set, turned her phone off, showing it to him with a smile.

"Not a maybe," Drew thought, "Definitely a definitely."

But when he took his next break he noticed she was gone. He wasn't exactly worried. She might take a little more work, a nice dinner might be required. But he had a feeling she would be worth it.

CHAPTER 5


Becky turned right out of the Park. When her stomach had rumbled, for the third time, she decided it was time to get going. She was a little bummed she hadn't thought to get a selfie, with DREW CARSON, but the person she would have been most excited to tell about meeting him was Nicolette. They had both been nuts for the show, but Nicolette had been more into the actor who played Derek, the main character. They had killed many hours discussing many imaginary double dates and even a double wedding together. But Becky wasn't about to text Nicolette a selfie, or anything else for that matter.

Instead she thought about Ed, which made her think about Sugar, so she turned her thoughts back to Ed again. How had Drew come up with Edwina? Was that even a real name? She stopped in her tracks, remembering from the map that, for some reason, the Park extended another block on this end, and she could cut through it to get back to Southeast Stark Street, which she planned to take home.

She turned her phone back on, noting the text from her mom, and choosing not to open it. Then she googled Edwina and learned that it meant rich friend, that is a friend who made you rich with their friendship, or a friend who was actually wealthy. She stashed her phone back in her purse and started through the Park.

There was a bunch of families by a ball field and she watched the little kids play as she went by. One of the kids, Becky estimated they were five or six years old, hit the ball. The girl ran to first and stopped, which Becky didn't understand, as two kids on the opposing team, who tried to field the ball, promptly got into a tussle over it. Becky smiled as she watched the coach attempt to separate them.

"I guess the real lesson is learning how to run in the right direction, to first instead of third," she thought.

She remembered the time, at the minor league park, where they used to go on vacation sometimes, the kids were allowed to run the bases, after the Friday night games. She and Nicolette had lined up and taken their turns but, when they got to home plate, Nicolette just went around again. Their mom had tried to go out onto the field to grab her, but had gotten yelled at by security immediately. So they had waited. Nicolette, who was probably barely four at the time, had no idea that she was doing anything wrong, and kept going around, until the last of the kids finished and she figured time was up.

It was one of the stories they liked to hear their mom tell them, when they were still little.

"We want a Becky and Nicky story," they would say, Becky remembered, noting sourly, that when Nicky had decided to become Nicolette, in high school, the change had been instantaneous, and permanent.

"Hey!" someone yelled at Becky.

She was startled, almost enough to forget the knot in her chest. She looked up. She was passing by a playground, tucked way into the trees. It was a nice playground, though no kids seemed to be playing in it right now.

"Probably because it was too late," she thought. Family dinner time.

She looked at the kid who had yelled at her. He was sitting on top of the slide, on top of the cover over the slide, that was specifically there to prevent kids from falling out, over the side of it. She figured he was probably sixteen-ish, as were the five or six boys hanging out on the structure, behind him.

"Hey," he said again, "I'm talking to you."

She rolled her eyes. Really? She was at least ten years older than him and the fake confidence/swagger/tough guy thing had never made a good impression on her, even when she had been at a far more impressionable age.

"Southeast Stark is that way, right?" she said, pointing in the direction she knew it was.

"What's your rush? You got a Tinder date to meet or something?"

"No," Becky said instantly, then regretted it. But there really was no good way to answer that question.

"Want one?"

"No," she said firmly, and turned to leave.

She walked briskly, but when he called after her again and the words hit her brain, it changed to a run.

"You gotta sister?"

She could hear them laughing, all of them, but then, more worrisome, she heard footsteps, and she chanced a glance behind her. They were chasing her. She ran as hard as she could. They were still laughing, but the voices got quieter and she figured they had given up. She kept running anyway, until she burst out of the trees and onto the sidewalk.

She slowed to a walk then, noting that, although she hadn't worked out, at all, since coming to Portland, she didn't seem to have lost that much, in terms of cardio capacity, anyway. She walked down the street, taking a mental inventory of the few shops, one of which looked like a really cool clothing boutique, and hoping for a supermarket. There wasn't one so she continued down almost to the highway, to where she knew there was a supermarket and she could get what she wanted. Well at least the ice cream anyway.

When she got home she took a couple of minutes to dig through the stacks of boxes, and pulled out her weights and exercise mat. She put them under the coffee table. It took some additional work, but on the fourth box she got lucky and found her exercise dvds. She put those on her lap top.

Then she grabbed the pint of ice cream she had left out to soften a little, on the counter, and one of her two spoons.

This weekend, she decided. Shopping, unpacking, organizing.

But she'd start with a workout when she got up. Since she was having a pint of ice cream for dinner, apparently.

CHAPTER 6


Drew opened the door to his hotel apartment and Ed charged in. She hopped right up on the couch. The couch sat three, at least it was divided into three sections, and Ed had her favorite two, on the right, her head up on the armrest.

"Be right there," he told the dog.

He went into the bedroom and quickly changed into shorts and a muscle shirt. Then he went back to the kitchette and grabbed a beer out of the fridge.

There wasn't much in the fridge, two six packs, some milk for his coffee, the coffee itself and some bottled water. Drew grabbed a water too, at the last second. It had been pretty hot today, although he realized, with some relief, that the hotel staff must have fixed the air conditioner. It was cool in the unit and he walked over to the vent and stood over it a second, enjoying the feeling of the cooler air. Then he went to join Ed on the sofa and grabbed the remote.

He turned the TV on, then moaned a little as he realized he hadn't opened the beer yet. He got up to grab the bottle opener and the TV came on.

"Police are asking for your help in identifying what they are calling a person of interest, in what may be a potential abduction, in the Laurelhurst Park area."

The mention of the park caught Drew's attention. He quickly grabbed the bottle opener and ran back to the TV. He stood next to the coffee table and watched. The picture switched, from the newsroom, to an on-the-street interview.

"I had walked my daughter over there to play, and I had the baby, my husband was coaching, and I saw these boys yelling at this woman, and then they chased her out of the Park. I videoed it with my phone. I was really worried when they started chasing her, so I went back to the ball field and got a couple of the other parents and we tried to find them, but we couldn't so we called the police."

The shot switched back to the newsroom. It showed both of the anchors, a man and a woman, with serious looks on their faces.

"Please take a good look at the video," the woman pleaded, "and if you recognize anyone, please contact the police department."

They ran the video. It started out far away, but then zoomed in. Drew realized instantaneously, it was Becky. He recognized the print on her skirt, and the white sleeveless top, and the pony tail. He could even see her face, a little bit, and he watched as she turned and ran out of the park and the punks, god there were a lot of them, chased her. Jesus.

The video ended and the screen, though not really, Drew knew it was just a green screen, behind the anchors, filled with a still shot of Becky, spinning around, her skirt swirling up around her legs, pony tail flying up.

"Please if you know anything, please call the police immediately. Police are searching the park, expanding beyond the area bordering Southeast Stark and Southeast Cesar Estrada Chavez Boulevard, but so far have no additional information," the male anchor added.

The video switched to a shot of a police dog, straining at a leash.

"When we come back," his partner started, but Drew didn't hear the rest, he was lunging for his phone. He pulled up the text from her and hit the call button. She didn't answer and Drew felt sick. He decided to text her.

"Please answer," he said out loud, as he sent the text.

"Are you okay?" he typed, "Please respond ASAP."

Her reply came back almost immediately and he allowed himself to feel relief, for a second. But he needed to read what she said.

"Yes, fine, why?" it said.

"You're on TV," he sent back.

"What?" she replied.

"I'm going to call you, just pick up," he sent, and then called her.

She answered immediately.

"Hi," she said.

"You're okay?" he asked, or demanded, to be more accurate.

"Yes, I'm fine, what are you talking about?"

"You're on TV."

"You said that, what are you talking about?"

"Just um, Google, Laurelhurst Park abduction."

"What!"

"Just do it, you're okay right?"

"Yes."

"Well I think the police want to know that."

"What!" she said again.

"Becky," he said again, she was obviously okay, and he was so relieved, he could afford her a little patience, "Did something happen at the park?"

"What? No, not really, sort of."

"What happened? Just tell me."

"I was cutting through and there were some teenage boys at the playground and they..."

"What?"

"You know, they thought they were so tough and cool."

"What happened?" Drew pressed her.

"They just said some dumb stuff, like did I want a date."

"And you ran away and they chased you?"

"Yes, how do you know that, but they didn't chase me for long, they gave up, lazy as well as stupid I guess, and I kept running, never saw them again, but HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS?"

"Somebody videoed it and they were looking for you and the police think you might have been abducted, or...something."

"Oh my god," Becky said.

"You have to call them, they are searching the Park for you, or evidence, or something, the whole park."

Becky didn't say anything.

"Becky," Drew said, as kindly as he could, "Are you sure you are okay?"

"I am," she said, "I promise, I just..."

"What?"

"I was ready to go to bed, you know, and I just moved here, and I really don't want to deal with this, right now."

It was Drew's turn not to say anything.

"But I should, right?" she asked, "I mean, if they are looking for me."

"Yes," Drew said, "Probably."

"Should I call them?"

"I don't know."

"Should I just go to the police station? I don't even know where that is. Crap."

She sounded like she was going to cry.

"I'll come get you," he said, before he knew he was saying it, "We'll go together."

"You don't have to do that."

"Well it's my fault you were in the park anyway," he said.

"Ed's fault. How is Ed?"

"Fast asleep," Drew said, glancing at the dog.

"Like I wish I was."

"Look I'll get an Uber and come get you, okay, we'll just take care of it, I don't even have to be on set until noon tomorrow, they're going to have the police searching the park for you all night."

"Okay," Becky said.

"Can you give me your address?" he asked, and she gave it to him.

"Oh," he said, "That's...unbelievable. Apartment 2D?"

"How did you know that?"

"I'll explain when I get there, see you soon, okay?"

"Okay, I'll wait outside."

"No, wait inside, we don't need you abducted for real now. I'll text you when I get there, okay?"

"Okay."

"See you soon."

They hung up. Drew pulled up the Uber app, inputted the info and chugged his beer while he waited. Then he took his bottle of water and went out to wait for his ride. Becky said she was fine, and that nothing had happened, but something must have really rattled her to make her run away like that. He had a feeling she wasn't going to be telling him what that was though.

CHAPTER 7


Becky sat on the couch staring at her phone, waiting. After she had hung up with Drew she had Googled, like he had suggested, and found the news clip. She felt dumb for running away from the boys and terrible that the police were wasting their time, looking for her, when she was fine. And she felt guilty too because, for all the concern about her, public and official, she was really horrified at how lousy she looked on TV.

She was too short and hippy to wear a flared skirt. That was a style you needed to be long, lean, and willowy to wear. The skirt had never been a favorite of Becky's, but Nicolette had loved borrowing it. Which is exactly why Becky had taken it when she had frantically packed up her stuff. She hadn't even known where she was going but, having no other options, she had gone to her parents' house.

Becky's phone buzzed in her hand. She checked the text and saw it was from Drew. She thought she should add him in as a contact, but then realized that, after tonight, there would probably be no reason for that. She stood up, grabbing the carabiner off the coffee table as she did.

When she got downstairs Drew was standing outside the car, waiting for her, and she glanced down at her clothes.

"From bad to worse," she thought.

She had been ready to go to bed when he called and, too tired to bother with another outfit, she had just grabbed the shorts and oversized tank top she had put out, to put on, once she got up the next day. She had hoped that would motivate her to actually work out. When she realized she had to get dressed to go to the police station NOW, she had been too flustered to think about clothes. Now she wished she had. Instead of looking somewhat dumpy, in the ill-fitting skirt she had worn all day, she looked like an absolute slob.

"Becky," Drew said, as she came towards him. He grabbed her arm and slid his hand up it, stopping on her shoulder, "Are you sure you're okay?"

She looked right at him. As a teenager she had hunted for a poster of him, but he wasn't a big enough star to warrant one. Instead she had found one of the whole cast, of his TV show, and cut him out, carefully. Then she mounted his picture on a background she had spent several hours decorating. And that was just the start of her, total cliché and over the top, obsession. Among other things, when she had practiced kissing on her pillow she had thought of him.

All that was when he was a slightly awkward teenager. Now, he was a full-grown man, and better looking in person than she could have ever imagined. He had definitely put on weight since the TV show ended. But from the looks of his arms and shoulders, most of it was solid muscle.

"I'm fine," she said, and pressed the carabiner into his free hand, the one that wasn't holding onto her.

"What's this?" he said, and let go of her to open the car door.

"For Ed," she answered, and got in the car.

He got in behind her and shut the door, then inspected what she had given him. When he figured out what it was he gave her a big smile. And, as gorgeous as he was when he was serious, that was nothing compared to how he looked when he smiled.

"Buckle up," the driver said, and when they did, he took off.

"Oh, I figured something out," Drew said.

"What?"

"Ed, the apartment, your apartment, that was my apartment, when I was in Portland last time."

"You're kidding," Becky said.

"No, I did another series, we filmed a whole season, twelve episodes, but the network canned it after the first two aired and got nothing. I recognized the address, I guess Ed did too."

"Wow, that's so weird," Becky said

"I know."

"So why didn't you stay there this time?"

"Oh, they got us a block at the Residence Inn," Drew said, "Since this is only for like, six weeks, more than that and you're on your own, usually."

"So how much longer are you going to be here?" Becky said.

"Well we should be wrapping up in two weeks, maybe a little more," he said, "but not here, we have to go up north. Then I'll go back to LA, I guess. I have to be in Australia for August fifth, I think."

"Australia!" Becky said.

"Yeah, I'm making a movie down there."

"This is it," the driver said, "I'll go park...somewhere, just text me when you're ready to leave. Uh, good luck."

The last part sounded almost like a question and Becky figured the guy was just trying to be nice, without being nosy. There couldn't be too many good reasons to go to the police station at almost midnight.

She got out of the car and looked at the building. It looked more like a strip mall than a police station, the kind that would have a haircut place and a frozen yogurt shop. But it said "Precinct," on the awning over the door.

"It's okay," Drew said.

He grabbed her hand and pulled gently. She let him lead her in the building. When they got inside he did all the talking. She was very tired but at the same time her adrenaline was pumping. Bouncing between the two extremes was making her feel kind of sick.

The guy at the desk picked up the phone and called someone. A minute later another officer came hurrying down the hall, towards them. He introduced himself, "Officer O'Connor." He indicated Becky should follow him down the hall, and she did. She glanced back at Drew as she left and he gave her a big smile, and a little wave, before settling down onto a bench.

Becky followed the officer down the hall, past a room she figured was probably used for interrogating criminals. Mr, er, Officer O'Connor led her to a small conference room, calling out to another cop on the way.

"Hey, Hoyt, will you join us in here?"

Becky sat down, in the chair he pointed at, and he sat on the other side of the table. Officer Hoyt came in and sat at the end, in between the two of them.

They got through the preliminaries. Becky showed them her license, and promised to get an Oregon one ASAP.

He smiled and said not to worry about it.

"So, just tell me what happened," he said, "in the park."

"I was just walking by and the kid, he called out to me," Becky said.

"What did he say?"

"Something about wanting a date," Becky said, "I said no thanks."

"And then?"

"It was just some dumb kids," Becky insisted, "I'm fine."

"So why did you run?" Officer Hoyt asked, "If it was just some dumb kids?"

It was said as kindly as possible, but it irritated the hell out of Becky anyway. She did not want to explain THAT, but they were both looking at her, and they probably thought she was hiding something terrible. There was no way they would let her leave without an answer, Becky realized.

"It's stupid," she mumbled.

"What?" Hoyt asked.

Of course, to get through this she was going to have to tell them, and explain it and, apparently, enunciate.

"It's stupid," she said again, loudly and clearly, "He said, if I didn't want to date him did I have a sister and well..."

"Well?"

O'Connor this time.

"Well I do have a sister and we're not exactly speaking right now, so I guess he...struck a nerve or something," Becky blurted out, but she made sure to speak very clearly so she would hopefully not have to repeat it.

"Why aren't you speaking?" Officer Hoyt asked.

"Does it matter?" Becky said, and her tone said that she, personally, did not think so.

It wasn't the cops' fault, but Becky wasn't entirely there, in the office with them, at the moment. She was back in time, a month ago, when she had come home from work, surprised to see Nicolette's car in her driveway. Surprised, but happy. She hadn't bothered to wonder why her sister wasn't in the house, Becky had just headed upstairs to change. It would have been just like her sister to go for a walk while she waited, being that it had turned into an absolutely gorgeous day. Which was exactly why Becky had blown off the errands she had planned to do after work.

But Nicolette wasn't out for a walk. She was in bed. Becky's bed, Becky's and Jim's bed, and she wasn't alone. They weren't...doing it, thank god, they were just cuddled up under the covers.

As soon as Becky had realized what she was looking at, she marched across the room and yanked the covers off them in one swift motion, confirming what she already knew. They were both naked.

"I guess it doesn't matter," O'Connor said.

"I'm just really tired," Becky said, "Those boys were jerks, but I'm sure they're harmless. Thank you for looking for me, really, but I just want to go home," she waited, but when neither of them said anything, she asked, "Can I?"

"Yes, I think so," O'Conner said, and stood up, reaching across the desk to shake her hand, which Becky did. "We have enough for a report, thank you so much for coming in."

Hoyt said, "Really, clearing this up for us, it's huge, I'm sure you'd rather be home in bed. I'll walk you out."

Becky followed Officer Hoyt back down the hall to the entrance. When he saw them coming, Drew stood up and walked quickly towards them.

The officer was nothing but professional. She thanked Becky, and shook her hand, and Drew's for good measure.

Becky was sure the cop was checking Drew out, at least a little bit. When Drew put his arm around Becky's shoulder to walk outside she figured it must look like he was her boyfriend. And, as stupid as it was, and it was very stupid, Becky was really, really, happy about that.

CHAPTER 8


Drew stood outside his old building, Becky's building. It was Monday afternoon. They had wrapped up the shoot at Laurelhurst Park around three. Drew had been exhausted when they finished, as they had worked late into the night Saturday, and Sunday they started early, working almost eighteen straight hours. So as soon as they were done today he had gone back to his room, and taken a nap, until Ed had insisted she needed to go out, now. Drew had thrown on a baseball cap and let the dog lead the way. Now he stood, looking at the front door, wondering what he should do. Ed didn't wonder though, she was straining at the leash.

"She might not even be home," Drew said, as he thought it over.

After their midnight trip to the police station they had joked and laughed, on the ride back to Becky's apartment, but Drew had felt like making a move was semi-inappropriate. He was dialed in to pick up any sign from her that it would be welcome, but he didn't get anything. The next morning he had sent her a text after he had gotten up, just to make sure she was okay, and so he could continue to assess the situation. She had replied back, over an hour later, when he was already at work. She thanked him for his concern and said he really didn't have to worry about her. He had felt like an idiot, she obviously wasn't interested.

"Ed? Drew?"

Of course, there she was. And he hadn't even bothered to brush his hair before heading out to walk the dog. He probably looked like as big of an idiot as he felt like. He turned and looked at her. She had a skirt on again, a straight one this time, which was too bad, because the other one had been really pretty on her, and also a little shorter.

"Hi. Becky," he said.

"How are you?" she said, and he started to answer, but when she started ruffling the fur on either side of Ed's face, with both hands, he realized she wasn't even talking to him.

She put her hand down and Ed licked it, thoroughly. Becky laughed and looked right at Drew.

"Hi," she said.

"Hi," he said back. He felt like he had to say something else. "I realized I needed to return your carabiner," he said, and then he realized that HE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE IT. In fact, he had completely forgotten it and left it on the trailer. "Actually," he said, "I meant to, but I can't, I mean, I was really stupid and I left it on the trailer and we finished today...I'm sorry."

"It's not a big deal," she said, "I just had it on my pack to hook stuff on, sometimes, I don't rock climb, just hike, don't worry about it, really."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I didn't even buy it, it was given to me by...somebody."

A strange look crossed her face, but Drew had no idea what it meant.

"But thank you," she said, "I mean, you didn't have to come all the way over here to tell me that."

"No," Drew said.

"Do you..."

"What?"

"Um, do you want to come upstairs, for a minute? I mean, I just got off work, I was going to change and go out for dinner."

"Okay," Drew said.

As soon as Becky reached for the door Ed was ready to go.

"Easy girl," Drew said, as he followed Becky into the building. "Where are you going for dinner?" he asked her, as they headed up the stairs.

"That's just the thing, I have NO idea," she said. "I'm getting kind of sick of sandwiches from the deli and I don't have enough pots and stuff to really cook. Can you..."

"What?"

"Recommend something?"

They were at the door to the apartment and she was looking down at the lock. Drew couldn't tell if she was asking him out, or if she really just wanted to know where to get the best pizza in town. He decided it was worth the risk. If he asked her straight out and she shot him down, he'd move on. Being in limbo was frustrating as hell.

"Do you like tapas?" he said, "I know a fantastic place for that. There's a bunch actually, we could wander around, see what you like."

"Oh, I do," she said, opening the door and turning back to give him a big smile.

Ed yanked hard on the leash and Drew let go of it. Ed raced into Becky's apartment and hopped up on the couch. Becky laughed.

"She did the same thing the day I found her," she said, "Come in."

Drew followed her in. It looked like it had been painted since he stayed there, but otherwise the room was exactly the same, except for the big pile of empty boxes under the windows. Drew like to travel light, although invariably he never brought enough clothes and ended up buying more, wherever he was staying.

"Do you want some...water?" she said, "Sorry, I've been lousy about buying groceries, I spent the weekend unpacking.

Drew shook his head.

"Don't worry about it," he said, "Are you okay with Ed hanging here while we go out? She'll be good, I promise. We can go now, get a drink first, if you aren't hungry yet."

"Sounds good," Becky said, "Just let me...change."

There was no place for her to change, except the bathroom or maybe the closet. It could have been an invitation but it was obvious, from the way Becky said it, it was anything but. Still Drew saw a way to use it to his advantage.

"I don't think you need to change," he said, reaching out and grabbing her fingertips, but quickly letting go. "You look great."

She blushed and smiled. Drew was relieved. He had almost gone with beautiful, or fantastic, but had dialed it back, just enough hopefully, at the last second.

"Me on the other hand," he said, talking off his hat and turning towards the mirror next to the door.

Fuck! Way worse than he had even imagined. He glanced down at his clothes and was relieved that they were okay.

"Yikes," Becky said, and reached up.

She was too short and had to step in, as close as possible, to reach the top of his head. She looked up at his hair while she fussed with it, attempting to repair the damage the cap had done with her fingertips. Drew knew it was useless but he didn't try to stop her. Slowly he raised one hand up, towards her waist, but before he could make contact, and god he wanted contact, she stepped back away from him.

"It's no use," she said, "Brush, bathroom, go."

She turned to let him pass and he walked towards the bathroom, deliberately brushing his upper arm, just barely, against her chest. He didn't chance a look back but he hoped she noticed, and that it thrilled her as much as it did him.

"You sure I can use your brush," he said, as he got to the bathroom, "You don't mind?"

He looked back down the length of the room at her, trying to judge if she had, in fact, noticed what he had done, and how she felt about it.

"I insist," she said, and he headed into the bathroom.

He splashed a little water on his face, and sprinkled some into the hairbrush he found on the vanity. He still had a ton of hair spray in his hair, from work. He quickly fixed his hair and was satisfied with the result.

"Well?" he said, as he left the bathroom and walked towards her.

"Much better," she said, and handed him his hat.

"I better not," he said, putting it on the counter, "Can I just leave it? I have to come back, to get Ed, I mean."

"Sure," she said, and he opened the door for her.

They both looked back at the dog, but she was fast asleep on the couch.

"She'll be fine," they both said, at the same time, and laughed.

Drew grabbed the door and opened it.

"Shall we?" he said, and he got another big smile.

"Yes," she said, "Definitely."

CHAPTER 9


"How should we do it?" Drew asked.

"Huh?" Becky said.

She had been sneaking glances at him over the menu. Since it was a Monday night they had no trouble getting seated right away. Since it was the summer, and the place had outdoor seating, it wasn't totally dead either.

"The food, what do you like?" Drew said.

"Oh," Becky said, "When you said do it, I-didn't know what you were talking about."

"We could each pick two," Drew suggested, "And share. I mean, if that's okay with you, that is."

The server came over but they had to tell him they weren't ready. Since they already had drinks, from the bar, Drew beer, Becky lite, the guy said he'd come back, or to wave him over, when they were ready.


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