No Escape Page 54

’’How\'s Rachel?’’

She hadn\'t moved. Dale had freed her, but she still sat there, staring into space. ’’She\'s not hurt. How are you?’’ asked Grant.

’’I\'m fine. Just scared,’’ said Isabelle. ’’I\'d really like to be out of these handcuffs, though. Think you can find a key?’’

’’Anything for you, honey.’’ Grant went to Keith and found his keys in his pants pocket. A handcuff key dangled there next to his car keys.

Grant unlocked them, but one of her arms didn\'t move.

She sucked in a sharp breath. ’’I think I dislocated my shoulder or something.’’

That hurt like hell, he knew for a fact. ’’Just sit tight and the ambulance will be here in a minute.’’

’’I\'m really sick of ambulances,’’ she said.

’’This is the very last one. Promise.’’

’’God willing.’’ She sounded so tired. That wasn\'t good.

’’I\'m going to make sure of it,’’ he said. ’’I\'m sticking around, Isabelle.’’

’’I admit I could probably use the help for a few days. Besides, you broke that fish tank. The least you can do is clean it up.’’ She gave him a weak smile.

Grant kissed her head, being careful not to hurt her. ’’I mean I\'m staying. For good. I want a chance to make things work between us. I love you too much to walk away.’’

She looked up at him. Her eyes were red and puffy and the most beautiful green he\'d ever seen. He\'d never get tired of looking at her. ’’You love me?’’

’’I do.’’

’’I love you, too,’’ she said.

Grant\'s soul sang out the Hallelujah Chorus. A sappy smile filled his face, and all his strength came flooding back. He felt invincible. ’’Enough to take a risk I might screw things up?’’

’’At least that much.’’

’’I want to do this right. Give you what you want. Be a good husband. A good father. I don\'t know if I\'ll be good enough, but I want to try.’’

Isabelle gave him a disbelieving stare. ’’The police are on their way. Again. You were nearly killed today. Twice. We have a catatonic child and a mourning teen to deal with, not to mention an unconscious woman with a bullet wound. Oh, and let\'s not forget the raving, murderous lunatic who wanted to help us all by killing us. You\'re sitting in a room full of dead fish and vomit and you haven\'t run away yet. I\'d say you pass.’’

’’But I did leave,’’ he reminded her.

’’Only because I asked you to. I shouldn\'t have done that. I\'m sorry.’’

Grant shook his head. ’’I\'m glad you did. It helped me realize I wasn\'t like my dad. I don\'t run away when things get tough.’’

Isabelle looked around the destroyed room. ’’No. You don\'t. Hopefully in the future, we won\'t ever have to deal with anything so exciting.’’

’’Boring would be nice, wouldn\'t it?’’

’’Heaven,’’ sighed Isabelle.


Grant shoveled the last of the snow from the sidewalk and stretched his back. The last ten months had been good. Not easy, but good.

The only shadow that had passed over their lives was Keith\'s suicide shortly after his arrest. Grant hadn\'t realized just how insane he\'d become over the years. At least he was no longer suffering.

’’Watch, Uncle Grant,’’ yelled Rachel.

’’I\'m watching.’’

She slid down the gently sloping lawn on her sled, squealing as she zoomed past him. Grant smiled and wished he\'d remembered the camera this time. That was one of those dad things he hadn\'t quite gotten the hang of knowing which moments were going to be the kind he wanted to preserve.

Maybe he should just keep one with him all the time. Seemed like lately, every moment was a good one, worthy of saving.

The home of bad memories had earned a new name. Now it was just home.

’’Cocoa\'s done,’’ called Isabelle from the kitchen.

Rachel brushed off the snow and ran inside.

Dale and Angela were holding hands, cute as ever. He\'d been accepted at Texas A&M, thanks to his hard work and kick-ass SAT scores. He was leaving next fall, and apparently, he and Angela were getting in all the time together they could before he went off to become a marine biologist.

Amanda was in school, too, working on her nursing degree, which was great for Grant and Isabelle, because they got to see Rachel more often than ever.

Grant had never thought babysitting could be so much fun.

Isabelle set steaming mugs of cocoa in front of them. Her wedding ring sparkled, filling Grant with a sense of pride. She was his wife. His family. He could hardly believe how lucky he was to have her in his life permanently.

’’You got more marshmallows,’’ said Rachel.

He gave her an indulgent grin and switched the cups. ’’Better?’’


Isabelle sat down beside him, close enough to touch. So he did. How could he possibly resist touching a woman as warm and beautiful and se*y as Isabelle? He didn\'t waste effort trying anymore.

’’We got a letter today,’’ she said.

Grant slid his hand along her thigh. He wouldn\'t have a chance to be alone with her until after Amanda came to pick up Rachel, but that just gave him more time to plan what he wanted to do to her tonight. Something special.

The idea made his blood heat.

’’Oh, yeah?’’ he asked, a little distracted by thoughts of getting her naked.

Isabelle gave him a knowing grin. ’’Katy will be coming to live with us next week.’’

Grant\'s heart stopped for a second. This was it. His first foster child with Isabelle. Part of him wasn\'t sure it would ever really happen.

He should have been scared, but he wasn\'t. He was excited. Thrilled.

He was a father. David had given him a great job designing security plans that let him work from home a lot. He had Isabelle and Dale. He had Rachel a lot of the time. Now he was going to have another little girl to love, too. He was the luckiest man alive.

’’Really?’’ asked Rachel, her face glowing with anticipation. ’’Is she the girl you told me about? The one who\'s my age?’’

’’She sure is,’’ said Isabelle.

’’We\'ll get to play together all the time, won\'t we?’’

’’All the time,’’ said Grant. ’’When she gets here, maybe you can help us paint her room.’’

’’Purple,’’ declared Rachel.

’’We\'ll let Katy pick the color, okay?’’

’’But I get to help?’’

’’You do.’’

’’Because I\'m part of the family?’’ asked Rachel.

’’That\'s right,’’ said Grant, but he was looking at Isabelle. ’’We\'re all family now.’’

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