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Snowfall on Haven Point: A Haven Point Novel

SHE REALLY NEEDED to learn how to say no once in a while.

Andrea Montgomery stood on the doorstep of the small, charming stone house just down the street from hers on Riverbend Road, her arms loaded with a tray of food that was cooling by the minute in the icy December wind blowing off the Hell’s Fury River.

Her hands on the tray felt clammy and the flock of butterflies that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in her stomach jumped around maniacally. She didn’t want to be here. Marshall Bailey, the man on the other side of that door, made her nervous under the best of circumstances.

This moment definitely did not fall into that category.

How could she turn down any request from Wynona Bailey, though? She owed Wynona whatever she wanted. The woman had taken a bullet for her, after all. If Wyn wanted her to march up and down the main drag in Haven Point wearing a tutu and combat boots, she would rush right out and try to find the perfect ensemble.

She would almost prefer that to Wyn’s actual request, but her friend had sounded desperate when she called earlier that day from Boise, where she was in graduate school to become a social worker.

“It’s only for a week or so, until I can wrap things up here with my practicum and Mom and Uncle Mike make it back from their honeymoon,” Wyn had said.

“It’s not a problem at all,” she had assured her. Apparently she was better at telling fibs than she thought because Wynona didn’t even question her.

“Trust my brother to break his leg the one week that his mother and both of his sisters are completely unavailable to help him. I think he did it on purpose.”

“Didn’t you tell me he was struck by a hit-and-run driver?”

“Yes, but the timing couldn’t be worse, with Katrina out of the country and Mom and Uncle Mike on their cruise until the end of the week. Marshall assures me he doesn’t need help, but the man has a compound fracture, for crying out loud. He’s not supposed to be weight-bearing at all. I would feel better the first few days he’s home from the hospital if I knew that someone who lived close by could keep an eye on him.”

Andie didn’t want to be that someone. But how could she say no to Wynona?

It was a good thing her friend had been a police officer until recently. If Wynona had wanted a partner in crime, Thelma & Louise style, Andie wasn’t sure she could have said no.

“Aren’t you going to ring the doorbell, Mama?” Chloe asked, eyes apprehensive and her voice wavering a little. Her daughter was picking up her own nerves, Andie knew, with that weird radar kids had, but she had also become much more timid and anxious since the terrifying incident that summer when Wyn and Cade Emmett had rescued them all.

“I can do it,” her four-year-old son, Will, offered. “My feet are freezing out here.”

Her heart filled with love for both of her funny, sweet, wonderful children. Will was the spitting image of Jason, while Chloe had his mouth and his eyes.

This would be their third Christmas without him and she had to hope she could make it much better than the previous two.

She repositioned the tray and forced herself to focus on the matter at hand. “Sorry, I was thinking of something else.”

She couldn’t very well tell her children that she hadn’t knocked yet because she was too busy thinking about how much she didn’t want to be here.

“I told you that Sheriff Bailey has a broken leg and can’t get around very well. He probably can’t make it to the door easily and I don’t want to make him get up. He should be expecting us. Wynona said she was calling him.”

She transferred the tray to one arm just long enough to knock a couple of times loudly and twist the doorknob, which gave way easily. The door was blessedly unlocked.

“Sheriff Bailey? Hello? It’s Andrea Montgomery.”

“And Will and Chloe Montgomery,” her son called helpfully, and Andie had to smile, despite the nerves jangling through her.

An instant later, she heard a crash, a thud and a muffled groan.

“Sheriff Bailey?”

“Not really...a good time.”

She couldn’t miss the pain in the voice of Wynona’s older brother. It made her realize how ridiculous she was being. The man had been through a terrible ordeal in the last twenty-four hours and all she could think about was how much he intimidated her.

Nice, Andie. Feeling small and ashamed, she set the tray down on the nearest flat service, a small table in the foyer still decorated in Wyn’s quirky fun style even though her brother had been living in the home since late August.

“Kids, wait right here for a moment,” she said.

Chloe immediately planted herself on the floor by the door, her features taking on the fearful look she had worn too frequently since Rob Warren burst back into their lives so violently. Will, on the other hand, looked bored already. How had her children’s roles reversed so abruptly? Chloe used to be the brave one, charging enthusiastically past any challenge, while Will had been the more tentative child.

“Do you need help?” Chloe asked tentatively.

“No. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

She was sure the sound had come from the room where Wyn had spent most of her time when she lived here, a space that served as den, family room and TV viewing room in one. Her gaze immediately went to Marshall Bailey, trying to heft himself back up to the sofa from the floor.

“Oh no!” she exclaimed. “What happened?”

“What do you think happened?” he growled. “You knocked on the door so I tried to get up to answer and the damn crutches slipped out from under me.”

“I’m so sorry. I only knocked to give you a little warning before we barged in. I didn’t mean for you to get up.”

He glowered. “Then you shouldn’t have come over and knocked on the door.”

She hated any conversation that came across as a confrontation. They always made her want to hide away in her room like she was a teenager again in her grandfather’s house. It was completely immature of her, she knew. Grown-ups couldn’t always walk away.

“Wyn asked me to check on you. Didn’t she tell you?”

“I haven’t talked to her since yesterday. My phone ran out of juice and I haven’t had a chance to charge it.”

By now, the county sheriff had pulled himself back onto the sofa and was trying to position pillows for his leg that sported a black orthopedic boot from his toes to just below his knee. His features contorted as he tried to reach the pillows, but he quickly smoothed them out again. The man was obviously in pain and doing his best to conceal it.

She couldn’t leave him to suffer, no matter how nervous his gruff demeanor made her.

She hurried forward and pulled the second pillow into place. “Is that how you wanted it?” she asked.

“For now.”

She had a sudden memory of seeing the sheriff the night Rob Warren had broken into her home, assaulted her, held her at gunpoint and ended up in a shoot-out with the Haven Point police chief, Cade Emmett. He had burst into her home after the situation had been largely defused, to find Cade on the ground trying to revive a bleeding Wynona.

The stark fear on Marshall’s face had haunted her, knowing that she might have unwittingly contributed to him losing another sibling after he had already lost his father and a younger brother in the line of duty.

Now Marshall’s features were a shade or two paler and his eyes had the glassy, distant look of someone in a great deal of pain.

“How long have you been out of the hospital?”

He shrugged. “A couple hours. Give or take.”

“And you’re here by yourself?” she exclaimed. “I thought you were supposed to be home earlier this morning and someone was going to stay with you for the first few hours. Wynona told me that was the plan.”

“One of my deputies drove me home from the hospital, but I told him Chief Emmett would probably keep an eye on me.”

The police chief lived across the street from Andie and just down the street from Marshall, which boded well for crime prevention in the neighborhood. Having the sheriff and the police chief on the same street should be any sane burglar’s worst nightmare—especially this particular sheriff and police chief.

“And has he been by?”

“Uh, no. I didn’t ask him to.” Marshall’s eyes looked unnaturally blue in his pain-tight features. “Did my sister send you to babysit me?”

“Babysit, no. She only asked me to periodically check on you. I also brought dinner for the next few nights.”

“Also unnecessary. If I get hungry, I’ll call Serrano’s for a pizza later.”

She gave him a bland look. “Would a pizza delivery driver know to come pick you up off the floor?”

“You didn’t pick me up,” he muttered. “You just moved a pillow around.”

He must find this completely intolerable, being dependent on others for the smallest thing. In her limited experience, most men made difficult patients. Tough, take-charge guys like Marshall Bailey probably hated every minute of it.

Sympathy and compassion had begun to replace some of her nervousness. She would probably never truly like the man—he was so big, so masculine, a cop through and through—but she could certainly empathize with what he was going through. For now, he was a victim and she certainly knew what that felt like.

“I brought dinner, so you might as well eat it,” she said. “You can order pizza tomorrow if you want. It’s not much, just beef stew and homemade rolls, with caramel apple pie for dessert.”

“Not much?” he said, eyebrow raised. A low rumble sounded in the room just then and it took her a moment to realize it was coming from his stomach.

“You don’t have to eat it, but if you’d like some, I can bring it in here.”

He opened his mouth, but before he could answer, she heard a voice from the doorway.

“What happened to you?” Will asked, gazing at Marshall’s assorted scrapes, bruises and bandages with wide-eyed fascination.

“Will, I thought I told you to wait for me by the door.”

“I know, but you were taking forever.” He walked into the room a little farther, not at all intimidated by the battered, dangerous-looking man it contained. “Hi. My name is Will. What’s yours?”

The sheriff gazed at her son. If anything, his features became even more remote, but he might have simply been in pain.

“This is Sheriff Bailey,” Andie said, when Marshall didn’t answer for a beat too long. “He’s Wynona’s brother.”

Will beamed at him as if Marshall was his new best friend. “Wynona is nice and she has a nice dog whose name is Young Pete. Only, Wynona said he’s not young anymore.”

“Yeah, I know Young Pete,” Marshall said after another pause. “He’s been in our family for a long time. He was our dad’s dog first.”

Andie gave him a careful look. From Wyn, she knew their father had been shot in the line of duty several years earlier and had suffered a severe brain injury that left him physically and cognitively impaired. John Bailey had died the previous winter from pneumonia, after spending his last years at a Shelter Springs care center.

Though she had never met the man, her heart ached to think of all the Baileys had suffered.

“Why is his name Young Pete?” Will asked. “I think that’s silly. He should be just Pete.”

“Couldn’t agree more, but you’ll have to take that up with my sister.”

Will accepted that with equanimity. He took another step closer and scrutinized the sheriff. “How did you get so hurt? Were you in a fight with some bad guys? Did you shoot them? A bad guy came to our house once and Chief Emmett shot him.”

Andie stepped in quickly. She was never sure how much Will understood about what happened that summer. “Will, I need your help fixing a tray with dinner for the sheriff.”

“I want to hear about the bad guys, though.”

“There were no bad guys. I was hit by a car,” Marshall said abruptly.

“You’re big! Don’t you know you’re supposed to look both ways and hold someone’s hand?”

Marshall Bailey’s expression barely twitched. “I guess nobody happened to be around at the time.”

Torn between amusement and mortification, Andie grabbed her son’s hand. “Come on, Will,” she said, her tone insistent. “I need your help.”

Her put-upon son sighed. “Okay.”

He let her hold his hand as they went back to the entry, where Chloe still sat on the floor, watching the hallway with anxious eyes.

“I told Will not to go in when you told us to wait here, but he wouldn’t listen to me,” Chloe said fretfully.

“You should see the police guy,” Will said with relish. “He has blood on him and everything.”

Andie hadn’t seen any blood, but maybe Will was more observant than she. Or maybe he had just become good at trying to get a rise out of his sister.

“Ew. Gross,” Chloe exclaimed, looking at the doorway with an expression that contained equal parts revulsion and fascination.

“He is Wyn’s brother and knows Young Pete, too,” Will informed her.

Easily distracted, as most six-year-old girls could be, Chloe sighed. “I miss Young Pete. I wonder if he and Sadie will be friends?”

“Why wouldn’t they be?” Will asked.

“Okay, kids, we can talk about Sadie and Young Pete another time. Right now, we need to get dinner for Wynona’s brother.”

“I need to use the bathroom,” Will informed her. He had that urgent look he sometimes wore when he had pushed things past the limit.

“There’s a bathroom just down the hall, second door down. See?”


He raced for it—she hoped in time.

“We’ll be in the kitchen,” she told him, then carried the food to the bright and spacious room with its stainless appliances and white cabinets.

“See if you can find a small plate for the pie while I dish up the stew,” she instructed Chloe.

“Okay,” her daughter said.

The nervous note in her voice broke Andie’s heart, especially when she thought of the bold child who used to run out to confront the world.

“Do I have to carry it out there?” Chloe asked.

“Not if you don’t want to, honey. You can wait right here in the kitchen or in the entryway, if you want.”

While Chloe perched on one of the kitchen stools and watched, Andie prepared a tray for Marshall, trying to make it as tempting as possible. She had a feeling his appetite wouldn’t be back to normal for a few days because of the pain and the aftereffects of anesthesia, but at least the fault wouldn’t lie in her presentation.

It didn’t take long, but it still gave her time to make note of the few changes in the kitchen. In the few months Wynona had been gone, Marshall Bailey had left his mark. The kitchen was clean but not sparkling, and where Wyn had kept a cheery bowl of fruit on the counter, a pair of handcuffs and a stack of mail cluttered the space. Young Pete’s food and water bowls were presumably in Boise with Young Pete.

As she looked at the space on the floor where they usually rested, she suddenly remembered dogs weren’t the only creatures who needed beverages.

“I forgot to fill Sheriff Bailey’s water bottle,” she said to Chloe. “Could you do that for me?”

Chloe hopped down from her stool and picked up the water bottle. With her bottom lip pressed firmly between her teeth, she filled the water bottle with ice and water from the refrigerator before screwing the lid back on and held it out for Andie.

“Thanks, honey. Oh, the tray’s pretty full and I don’t have a free hand. I guess I’ll have to make another trip for it.”

As she had hoped, Chloe glanced at the tray and then at the doorway with trepidation on her features that eventually shifted to resolve.

“I guess I can maybe carry it for you,” she whispered.

Andie smiled and rubbed a hand over Chloe’s hair, heart bursting with pride at this brave little girl. “Thank you, Chloe. You’re always such a big help to me.”

Chloe mustered a smile, though it didn’t stick. “You’ll be right there?”

“The whole time. Where do you suppose that brother of yours is?”

She suspected the answer, even before she and Chloe walked back to the den and she heard Will chattering.

“And I want a new Lego set and a sled and some real walkie-talkies like my friend Ty has. He has his own pony and I want one of those, too. Only, my mama says I can’t have one because we don’t have a place for him to run. Ty lives on a ranch and we only have a little backyard and we don’t have a barn or any hay for a pony to eat. That’s what horses eat—did you know that?”

Rats. Had she actually been stupid enough to fall for that “I have to go to the bathroom” gag? She should have known better. Will probably raced right back in here the moment her back was turned.

“I did know that. And oats and barley, too,” Sheriff Bailey said. His voice, several octaves below Will’s, rippled down her spine. Did he sound annoyed? She couldn’t tell. Mostly, his voice sounded remote.

“We have oatmeal at our house and my mom puts barley in soup sometimes, so why couldn’t we have a pony?”

She should probably rescue the man. He just had one leg broken by a hit-and-run driver. He didn’t need the other one talked off by an almost-five-year-old. She moved into the room just in time to catch the tail end of the discussion.

“A pony is a pretty big responsibility,” Marshall said.

“So is a dog and a cat and we have one of each, a dog named Sadie and a cat named Mrs. Finnegan,” Will pointed out.

“But a pony is a lot more work than a dog or a cat. Anyway, how would one fit on Santa’s sleigh?”

Judging by his peal of laughter, Will apparently thought that was hilarious.

“He couldn’t! You’re silly.”

She had to wonder if anyone had ever called the serious sheriff silly before. She winced and carried the tray inside the room, judging it was past time to step in.

“Here you go. Dinner. Again, don’t get your hopes up. I’m an adequate cook, but that’s about it.”

She set the food down on the end table next to the sofa and found a folded wooden TV tray she didn’t remember from her frequent visits to the house when Wynona lived here. She set up the TV tray and transferred the food to it, then gestured for Chloe to bring the water bottle. Her daughter hurried over without meeting his gaze, set the bottle on the tray, then rushed back to the safety of the kitchen as soon as she could.

Marshall looked at the tray, then at her, leaving her feeling as if she were the silly one.

“Thanks. It looks good. I appreciate your kindness,” he said stiffly, as if the words were dragged out of him.

He had to know any kindness on her part was out of obligation toward Wynona. The thought made her feel rather guilty. He was her neighbor and she should be more enthusiastic about helping him, whether he made her nervous or not.

“Where is your cell phone?” she asked. “You need some way to contact the outside world.”


She frowned. “Because people are concerned about you! You just got out of the hospital a few hours ago. You need pain medicine at regular intervals and you’re probably supposed to have ice on that leg or something.”

“I’m fine, as long as I can get to the bathroom and the kitchen and I have the remote close at hand.”

Such a typical man. She huffed out a breath. “At least think of the people who care about you. Wyn is out of her head with worry, especially since your mother and Katrina aren’t in town.”

“Why do you think I didn’t charge my phone?” he muttered.

She crossed her arms across her chest. She didn’t like confrontation or big, dangerous men any more than her daughter did, but Wynona had asked her to watch out for him and she took the charge seriously.

“You’re being obstinate. What if you trip over your crutches and hit your head, only this time somebody isn’t at the door to make sure you can get up again?”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“You don’t know that. Where is your phone, Sheriff?”

He glowered at her but seemed to accept the inevitable. “Fine,” he said with a sigh. “It should be in the pocket of my jacket, which is in the bag they sent home with me from the hospital. I think my deputy said he left it in the bedroom. First door on the left.”

The deputy should have made sure his boss had some way to contact the outside world, but she had a feeling it was probably a big enough chore getting Sheriff Bailey home from the hospital without him trying to drive himself and she decided to give the poor guy some slack.

“I’m going to assume the charger is in there, too.”

“Yeah. By the bed.”

She walked down the hall to the room that had once been Wyn’s bedroom. The bedroom still held traces of Wynona in the solid Mission furniture set, but Sheriff Bailey had stamped his own personality on it in the last three months. A Stetson hung on one of the bedposts and instead of mounds of pillows and the beautiful log cabin quilt Wyn’s aunts had made her, a no-frills but soft-looking navy duvet covered the bed, made neatly as he had probably left it the morning before. A pile of books waited on the bedside table and a pair of battered cowboy boots stood toe-out next to the closet.

The room smelled masculine and entirely too sexy for her peace of mind, of sage-covered mountains with an undertone of leather and spice.

Except for that brief moment when she had helped him reposition the pillow, she had never been close enough to Marshall to see if that scent clung to his skin. The idea made her shiver a little before she managed to rein in the wholly inappropriate reaction.

She found the plastic hospital bag on the wide armchair near the windows overlooking the snow-covered pines along the river. Feeling strangely guilty at invading the man’s privacy, she opened it. At the top of the pile that appeared to contain mostly clothing, she found another large clear bag with a pair of ripped jeans inside covered in a dried dark substance she realized was blood.

Marshall Bailey’s blood.

The stark reminder of his close call sent a tremor through her. He could have been killed if that hit-and-run driver had struck him at a slightly higher rate of speed.


Copyright © 2016 by RaeAnne Thayne

Snowfall on Haven Point: A Haven Point Novel
by by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Genres: Fiction, Holiday, Romance
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books
  • ISBN-10: 0373789890
  • ISBN-13: 9780373789894