It took several long moments to get herself back under control, and the minute she opened her mouth she knew it was a wasted effort, for all she had to do was look at the dark haired woman in front of her and say the words, "You're the motorcycle," and she was falling down laughing again.
She huffed in a little air and managed to say, "Then tha... that means Cole is the pup tent." She took a few more breaths before she calmed and then she was at it again. "Oh my gods! That means J.D. is the lawn mower!" This time she lost it completely and could do nothing but slide helplessly down the wall, holding her stomach and laughing so hard, she was barely making a sound.
The Sheriff was torn between utter annoyance and abject embarrassment. It's a damn good thing I got over that problem I had or she'd be sitting on the sidewalk for a whole other reason. She was more than a little sensitive about anyone finding out the origin of her name. Hell, they had all been. There were a lot of adults, now living in Bramble, who had memories of black eyes and bruises as the result of picking on the Ravensdown kids and their names. The older she got, the more she was inclined to go along with the joke and forgive her parents for the absurd manner in which they were designated, but she had no business telling the whole story to her. Great Goddess, Mom just once, couldn't you have kept it to yourself?
Of course, she had to admit that she was really enjoying the look of almost painful pleasure on the blonde's face. The writer's face was bright red and small tears were being squeezed out of the corners of her eyes. She'd seem to get herself together and then, whoosh, it would hit her all over again and then she'd be gasping for air and trying to still her breathing.
She was now rolling over on to her side.
It was at that point the officer decided to act. Summoning up as much reserve as she could muster, she leaned down to the hysterical writer and said. "Okay, that's enough."
Emily stopped laughing in mid laughter and sucked in a breath of air for what seemed like the first time in an hour.
Long enough for Harley to help her up to her feet.
Long enough for her to follow the Sheriff across the street and to the door of the Sheriff's office.
And then the door opened and the pup-tent walked out.
Grabbing the once again hysterical woman, she slid past the open-mouthed Coleman and dragged her charge into her office, sitting her on the couch.
"I'll be right back. DO try to calm down."
She wasn't sure if she was heard until she saw the blonde nod her head up and down as she was leaving the room.
"Ahhhhhhh... That was great." She exclaimed aloud to the empty room. "I haven't laughed that hard in... ever!" she chuckled again, remembering the reason for it. Twyla had been so eloquent in her telling of it, she knew it must have been a story she repeated often, but her delivery was great. The deadpan way she just offered it up, kept Emily smiling all the way to the Sheriff's office.
"Our first one was born just before we moved up here and we weren't doing very well financially. Josh just got his real estate license and I started to work at a new little restaurant in Hollywood. You would have thought the 60's would have been a time of greater enlightenment, but most of the restaurants in L.A. were owned and run by the good old boys, so the 'peace and love generation' notwithstanding, not many people believed I was a five star chef, regardless of my diplomas and the letter from Maxim's. Anyway, I'd just started to work when I found out I was pregnant. About a month before the baby was due, Josh sold his first million dollar property and with the commission he went out and bought a plot of land he'd always wanted up in the mountains above Santa Barbara. He paid off the obstetrician's bill in advance, bought the first few pieces of stock in a little company called Reebok and with what was left, he went out and bought the first color T.V. he ever owned. You see his folks were really poor and until he joined the service and moved off the farm, he had never even seen a color TV before. It was for him, an exceptional treat and he went on and on about how wonderful it was for days.
Well a few weeks later, I
gave birth and according to our agreement, he named the child. His thinking
was that this baby was giving him so much joy he always wanted to remember it.
As a result, he named him Emerson, after the TV set in our living room.
By the time the next baby came, about a year later, we moved to Bramble and I was working at the diner in town. Josh was spending a good deal of time commuting between here and L.A. and doing fairly well. When he would get to spend a few days up here, he discovered the joy of camping, so when the next one was born he named it after the newest toy he acquired. A weather resistant tent that slept five people and had a sleeping area separated from the front of the tent.
Josh continued to do well and his unerring sense of what would sell, allowed him to make a veritable killing with the stocks he bought. By the third child the next year, he sunk a good deal of money into very shrewd real estate deals and started building our home on the land he bought that first year. Thinking ahead as he always does, he decided that the land around the house would have to be tamed to keep the kids safe and he ordered one of the very first ride-along lawn mowers they made. That became the name of the third child. I was not a bit happy with it, but a deal is a deal, sooooo...
The next child, the next year, was the first child born in our new home. By the time it arrived, Josh was doing well enough to have several people working for him. He also discovered the joy of networking and found that 'schmoozing' with the people he wanted to do business with, meant being where they are. Consequently, he learned the game of golf and found he was, in this, as in many other things, a natural at the game. By the time the fourth child was born, he had lowered his handicap to near professional standing and named his fourth child after his favorite set of clubs.
The next year and next child saw us living well and finally Josh could spend most of his time here and run his business through subordinates for the most part. With more leisure time on his hands, he found a new hobby and a new love. His newest acquisition was a beauty. A bright blue, fully chromed out hog. He took to riding it every chance he could and as a result, the fifth was named after the bike. Naturally!
The last one came as before, the following year, and Josh's business and investments were doing well enough that we took our first family vacation. We spent two weeks on the beautiful island of Maui and Josh fell in deep lust with the first Catamaran he ever saw up close. After that first ride, there was no stopping it. I went into labor a week after we got back home. The baby and the Catamaran he ordered, arrived the same day. I decided that six children were enough and told him so. He said whatever I wanted was fine with him, that I was the one in charge, as always, and so, like the others, he named the last after the boat he just bought."
I really must need a rest not to have made the connection. It was so obvious. All those dark-haired blue eyed people. I have no idea what has happened to that mind of mine. Where is the sharp kid who could think her way out of all of those plotlines I made up? She took a deep breath and realized that all that laughter left her feeling a little drained and, now that it stopped, she was aware of the increasing pain in her wrist. "Oh well, she said aloud," it was worth it. That was just so much fun." Remembering it again, she began to giggle just as the door opened.
"Oh, come on. I thought you would be over it by now." Harley's tone was only slightly serious and the tiny smile she wore, showed she bore her no ill will. She came over, sat on the couch next to the writer, and handed her a glass of water. "Here."
"I am over it. Mostly. Nearly." She sputtered out one last guffaw and said. "I'm really trying." She took the water and sipped as she calmed. "Thanks," she indicated the glass in her hand and sipped again.
"No problem. Now take
this with it. I imagine your arm is probably starting to throb a bit."
She handed her the pill and the blonde smiled at her with gratitude.
"Yeah. I only just now noticed it. Funny what you can forget when your lying on the sidewalk convulsing with laughter." She swallowed the pill while Harley continued.
"So it's about lunch time. How about I bring you the menu and you choose what you'll have. I'll call it in and Cole can go get it. You need to eat with those pills or you'll be asleep in no time."
"Sounds good to me."
After ruminating over the menu and keeping in mind how difficult it would be to eat some things with only her left hand, she decided on a bowl of chili with cheese and cornbread. The grin from the Sheriff told her she made a wise decision and the meal itself was wonderful.
Taking another bite of the fabulous chili and trying hard not to let the melted cheddar fall on to her chin, she felt the time was right for a distraction.
"So tell me. I think I have most of this figured out by now. The oldest is Emerson. He's the one named after the television." The two dark heads she was dining with nodded. "Then came Coleman here. The tent." The tent in question nodded and an embarrassed smile lit up his face, as well as a mild blush. "Number three child would be J.D., which if I'm figuring this right has the John Deere riding lawnmower to thank for his name." Once again, they both nodded but Harley added, "Which is why we never call him, John. J.D. is fine and even Johnny D. but not John. Of all of us, I think he's the most sensitive about his name. I mean, true it's a boy toy and all, but the whole idea of being named after lawn care equipment can make a guy kind of..."
"Sensitive." Cole finished for her.
"Yeah." She agreed.
"I'll keep that in mind. He's way too big for me to tick off by saying the wrong thing." She smiled a little and saw the same smile given back by the Sheriff and her deputy.
"Now, here is where I get a little lost. Having only played Golf once and that with another woman, the only golf clubs I really know have a name are the ones she used and rented for me. Is it Davis?"
"Nope." The sheriff finished her sandwich and wiping her hands with her napkin, offered coffee. When the writer nodded, she filled her cup and began. "Davis, just for your information makes women's clubs. Nope, Dad's favorite brand then and now, are... Wilson."
"So when do I get to meet this member of the Ravensdown clan?" she asked as she popped the last bite of the crumbly buttered cornbread in her mouth.
Harley looked to Cole and he sensed her question by answering, "Not today. He's with Dad and they won't be home till Friday night." He turned to the writer. "Sorry. We'll make sure you get to meet him and Dad this weekend." He caught a look from the Sheriff and quickly added, "That is, if you want to, I mean."
Emily's brow furrowed just a tad and Harley knew her scowl had been noticed. "I'd love to. I can't wait to meet him and the man responsible for all of you." Emily ended with a big smile and Harley took a relieved breath.
"Now, to resume. The next in line is our Sheriff here. Tell me you don't have Davidson as a middle name!"
"Sorry. Dad was most insistent. But even that's not as bad as poor Hobie." That remark got her a mild chuckle from the pup tent.
"Yeah, I mean I may be named for camping gear but at least he had the good sense to stop after Coleman. Try growing up as the youngest child with the handle Hobie Catamaran Ravensdown. That would put most people into several years of therapy, right there," he offered, and pushed the chair back to rest on it's back legs. "How that kid managed to retain enough good sense and empathy to become a doctor is beyond me. Treating the same people who laughed at him when he was a kid... I dunno. Some of those jerks still piss, uh, sorry, tick me off." He smiled a little shamefacedly and nodded to the writer.
"Don't worry about it." She said.
"Well, your problem isn't
that they pi, uh, ticked you off as a kid. You're problem is people in
general. You get along much better with your critters, and you always
The sheriff told him.
"Yeah. Cole here is the town Vet. He's not much of a people person. Thankfully he fell in love with a kindred spirit and has two sons who feel the same way." She took a breath and pushed her own chair back on its hind legs. "Having dinner at their house can leave you with bites, scratches and enough pet hair to weave an afghan." She smiled affectionately at her brother. "Not to mention the fact that I have now learned more than I ever wanted to know about how horses digest their food." She gave a little shudder.
The deputy leaned forward and punched her in the arm. "Like hearing you talk about 'writs of habeas corpus' and 'amicus curiae or res ipsa loqitur' is a joy and a pleasure. How all that ugly, dry Latin drivel can come out of that pretty mouth still surprises me.
The blonde raised both eyebrows and before she could form the words, the sheriff said, "Yes, I'm THAT H. Ravensdown." She sighed a little, "I told you we all had businesses here when we were elected." She waved at her brother, "Cole here is the best, if ONLY, veterinarian in town. I'm a lawyer. J.D. is the Editor in Chief of the Bramble Bulletin."
"The best, if ONLY, paper in town." Her brother interrupted.
"True," she agreed with a smile. "Hobie, as you know, is the town doctor."
This time the blonde interrupted. "The best if only?"
"Yep," she agreed, smiling. "Emerson is principal of the High School, and Wilson, whom you will be meeting this weekend, works for my father and helps him run his business."
"And let us not forget the ever fascinating and always beautiful, Twyla, who owns and operates the Ravens Nest. The best, even if it's not the only restaurant for fifty miles in any direction." Her son added, with obvious pride.
"Although that is true enough, we both know you would eat overdone oatmeal if someone else fixed it for you." Harley said.
"Ahhh." He pulled his hand over his heart and swayed on the chair. "I'm crushed. Revealed in all my weaknesses in front of an outsider. How could you do it? Mind you," he sat up straight and smiled, "I'm not denying it, I'm just appalled you shared it with Ms. Cutter. I was doing my very best to impress her." Then he grinned and bowed from the waist at the writer, who was snickering at this behavior.
Before she could reply, the door opened and two police officers walked in.
The first one, a huge man of well over six feet was blonde with a very military haircut and looked to be in his late forties. He had a series of fine laugh lines around his eyes and deeply indented near his mouth and the tan spoke of one who spent a lot of time out of doors. The thundering voice coming out of his barrel chest made Emily jump, but the serious demeanor stopped the minute he finished speaking, replaced by a huge grin, showing off gold capped front teeth.
"What kind of discipline is this? Get up off your hind end there recruits and show a little respect for your elders!"
Harley and her brother nearly flew from their seats and with a cry of "Gunny." Both officers threw themselves at him.
Harley was a tad quicker and ended up being hoisted into his arms and spun madly while Cole just looked on with a huge grin. The minute she was put back down he gave her a huge bear hug accompanied by a deep growl. "Hey there, tiger. How's my favorite girl?"
The Sheriff just slapped him on his stomach and said, "I dunno, just give me a minute and I'll give her a call."
Before he could respond, the deputy broke in. "Ah, Murphy probably left him. She always had good sense and I suspect marrying him was just a temporary lapse."
For that remark, he got his own bear hug from the huge officer. "Truer words were never spoken boy, and I'm really grateful she hasn't quite woken up to that idea yet."
The mood of familiarity and warmth surrounding these three warmed Emily even from a distance. She couldn't stop smiling at their banter and the obvious affection they held for each other.
He seemed to remember something then. "Ah my manners, my manners. If my lady saw me now she'd whack me up the side of the head." He turned to the man who came in with him. "Sheriff Ravensdown, let me introduce Lt. Brickman of the New Mexico state police. Lt. This is Sheriff Harley Ravensdown and her deputy, Coleman Ravensdown."
The younger man stepped forward and offered his hand to the woman. He was shorter than the huge bear of a man who stood next to him, but also blonde and very deeply tanned. He took off his hat the moment he entered and when the introductions were made offered his hand.
"It's a pleasure Sheriff."
"Lieutenant." She said as she shook his hand.
As he was greeting Cole, she continued. "I take it you're here to transport our prisoner?"
"Yes ma'am. Captain Johnson here has the paperwork so whenever you're ready, we'll take him off your hands."
"Fair enough. Step on into my office."
Turning around she saw the writer watching them avidly. "Well, my manners seem to be no better Gunny, and you don't want to know what my Momma would have to say about that. Gentlemen, please let me introduce Ms. Emily Cutter. Emily, this is Lt. Brickman of the New Mexico state police," she paused to allow the injured woman to acknowledge the man with a small left handed wave and a quiet "How do you do?" before she continued, "and this man- mountain is Captain Gregory "Gunny" Johnson of the California state police."
The huge man then squatted down until he was eye level with her and, extending his left hand to her said, " It's very nice to meet you Ms. Cutter. I'm just sorry it had to be this way. I wanted to tell you now that I have the opportunity, that I'm a big fan of your work. I have every one of your books and, from a law enforcement stand point I have to tell you they're right on."
The small blonde felt even smaller than normal but the deep voice and the warmth of his sincere compliment filled her and she liked him immediately. Shaking his huge hand as well as she could, she answered. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, Captain .."
"Gunny," he interrupted.
"Gunny," she corrected with a smile. Thank you so much for the kind words. If you leave me your name and address I'll be happy to send you a copy of my next book just as soon as it's finished, with a personal inscription if you like."
He just beamed. "I'd like that very much, Ms Cutter."
"All right, that's enough flirting with the pretty woman, you old jarhead. Get going in there and let's get this show on the road." Harley said as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him upright.
"Woman, you impugn my dignity!" He offered in overdone pique.
"Riiiight." She said pushing him through the door ahead of her and turning back. "Emily this will only take a few minutes. If you like, I can have Cole drive you home." She tried very hard to keep any emotion out of her offer, but she wasn't sure if she'd pulled it off.
The injured woman took less than a second to respond. "If you don't mind, and if I'm not in your way, I'd like to stay. There is nothing I can do back at Steph's place like this." She brought her sling up a little and paused just a moment before adding quietly. "And I'm really enjoying the company."
"No, that would be fine. No problem. Really. We'd love to have you." She realized she was kind of gushing and looked to her brother for help.
Cole caught on instantly and added. "Oh yeah, you're much better company than that one," pointing at his sister. "All I get from her is abuse, and I won't get to pay her back till May when I get to be Sheriff and she's my deputy."
"Great. Then it's all settled. You do what you need to do, and I'll be right here learning all about you from your deputy." She grinned at the dark haired woman and her eyes twinkled.
"Fine." She said as she closed the door behind her.
So, she wants to find out about me, huh? Well that's hopeful. She thought as she made her way to her desk.
So, she thinks I'm pretty,
huh. Well that's a good sign.
The blonde thought as she watched the Sheriff's door closing.
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