Finding Us (Pine Valley Book 5)By: Heather B. Moore
Felicity slipped the book into a paper sack. “Is he talking yet?”
“My mom said he spoke a few words last night,” he said, “but he didn’t say anything to me this morning.”
His tone sounded dejected, something she couldn’t remember hearing from him before. She tilted her head, studying him. “Are you okay, Leo?”
“Yep,” he said.
“Something’s bothering you.”
Leo held her gaze, his eyes like deep pools. “Nothing aside from my dad’s stroke and the fact that you don’t want to date me anymore.” His tone was light, but Felicity wasn’t fooled.
She wished the timing hadn’t been so bad, with his dad’s stroke and her meltdown. “That’s all?”
Leo shrugged. “There might be some work stuff too.”
Felicity walked to his side of the counter and leaned against it so they were only a few inches apart. “I’m a good listener.”
He rubbed the back of his neck, then looked over at her. “You don’t want to hear about it, believe me. I don’t usually talk about the bad stuff I see on duty. It makes it easier to separate it from my personal life.”
He wanted to drop his guard, she could tell. Wanted to get it out. “Leo.” She turned toward him and grasped his hand.
For a moment, she wondered if he’d pull away, but then he linked their fingers together.
Felicity ignored how her pulse jumped. “Last night I spilled my guts to you,” she said, “and it was ugly. But you can’t tell me about one morning of police work? Aren’t we friends?”
“We are friends,” he said in a low voice.
“Then tell me what’s bothering you.”
Leo leaned in a little and seemed to breathe her in. She didn’t move, because it would be too easy to step into his arms.
“I’ve had you on my mind this morning, thinking about how your grandparents stepped in and raised you as their own kid,” he said. “It might not have been ideal, but it likely saved your life.”
Felicity stared at him.
“This morning a neighbor reported a domestic violence incident at a house where the father has been abusing his pregnant wife and two little kids.” Leo looked down at their linked fingers and rubbed his thumb along her knuckles. “The wife pressed charges, thankfully, but the road to recovery will still be long and painful. Those kids have a tough life ahead of them.” He shook his head, as if he was trying to dispel images.
Her heart stilled. “What are they going to do?”
Leo exhaled. “They went to the women’s shelter, and hopefully they’ll find a new place to live soon and be able to start over.”
“I’m glad you were able to stop it from getting worse or continuing,” she said in a quiet voice.
“I guess that’s one way to look at it.” He raised his other hand and brushed a bit of hair from her face. All too soon, he’d dropped his hand. “Those kinds of situations rip me apart. I don’t understand how someone could abuse anyone, let alone a little kid. And all I can do is take down the report and encourage the wife to press charges. Due process of the law takes care of the rest.”
“It makes me wonder what the police officer who found me went through,” Felicity said. “I don’t think I could do what you do.”
“Sometimes I don’t think so either,” Leo said in a quiet voice. “But then a new day starts, and I find myself driving to the station.”
Felicity felt the burn in her eyes. “You’re an amazing man, Leo Russo.”
He gave her a faint smile, a sad smile. She closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around his waist. After a second’s pause, he pulled her close; and although she had meant to comfort him, it turned into him comforting her. Being in Leo’s arms felt like such a safe place, a place where she didn’t have to worry about anything else, or what may or may not have happened in her past.
“Felicity,” he whispered.
She nodded against his chest but didn’t release him. Several more moments passed, and his cell phone rang.
“It’s probably Beck looking for me.”