Finding Us

By: Heather B. Moore

Then he noticed the slight tremor of her hands. Nerves or medication? He catalogued that detail in his mind, and before he could ask Ms. Miner where the camera footage could be obtained, another voice interrupted.

“Leo, it’s great to see you.”

He turned to see Dawson Harris’s mom coming out of one of the bookshelf aisles. Leo and Dawson had crossed paths many times, due to their professions, which meant Leo also knew the whole Harris family. Small towns, and all.

“Mrs. Harris,” he said. “Were you a witness?”

“Oh, no, not me.” She put a hand on Ms. Miner’s shoulder. “I came right as the guy got away. Scared poor Felicity half to death. In fact, now that you’re here, I’m going to get us all coffee.” She flashed a lipsticked smile. “Be right back.”

“I—um—” Ms. Miner said. “I don’t drink coffee.”

But Mrs. Harris had already bustled out of the store, intent on her errand.

“She’s sort of a fireball,” Leo said, looking back to Ms. Miner.

Ms. Miner exhaled, and a small smile dimpled her cheek. “I noticed.”

For some reason Leo was relieved to see her relax a little. “So, you don’t drink coffee? Ever?” Why he was asking her this instead of looking at security footage, he didn’t know.

“Caffeine makes me jumpy.” She lifted a shoulder and tilted her head. “About all I can handle is mass amounts of chocolate.”

Leo laughed. “Mass amounts, huh?”

Ms. Miner smiled then, really smiled. She’d either had braces as a kid or was one of the few people on earth gifted with perfectly straight teeth.

“I’m guessing you have an emergency stash of chocolate at home?” He was veering way off course here.

“Definitely.” She lifted her brows. “I even have a backup stash to my emergency stash, in case, you know, I blow through the emergency stash before the grocery store opens again.”

Leo cleared his throat. “Uh, ma’am, I think we’re dealing with an addiction here. As a member of the Pine Valley police force, I might have to take you in for questioning.”

She smirked. “Even for a small-town cop, I’d think you’d have bigger things to worry about. I’ll show you the security footage if you want to get some real work done today.”


“Follow me.” Ms. Miner turned and walked toward the register.

Even though he shouldn’t be watching her, he was, and it gave him the opportunity to notice several things about her. First, her nervousness was gone. Second, she had a really nice walk. And third, she had a small rose tattoo on the back of her neck. Surely there was a story there. Leo couldn’t deny he was intrigued, but he hadn’t come here to be intrigued. He’d come here to track down a shoplifter.

Ms. Miner reached the desk and turned around before Leo had taken even one step in her direction.

“Coming?” she asked, taking her glasses off, then tapping the keyboard of the laptop.

“Yep,” he said. “Just checking out the layout of the shop.” He wasn’t fooling her, but she didn’t call him on it, which was a good thing.

He joined her at the desk, and at this close of a distance, he caught her scent. Something sweet—vanilla, maybe. He should know since his mother obsessively burned vanilla candles around the house.

When Ms. Miner pulled up the footage of a young man standing in an aisle, Leo froze. He knew the kid. Well, he wasn’t a kid any longer. Leo watched the theft unfold as his cousin Angelo shoved a book down his pants, then hurried out of the store. The camera also caught Ms. Miner’s pursuit.

Leo’s mind spun with questions. What was Angelo doing back in Pine Valley? Where was he staying? And what was up with the shoplifting? It had been a couple of years since Leo had heard anything about his cousin—the last he knew was Angelo was working construction in LA. The kid had had run-ins with the law before, but Leo had thought Angelo had turned around. Unless Leo’s family had kept things from him—because he was a cop.

“What do you think?” Ms. Miner asked. “Is the footage good enough to ID the guy?”

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