Cherry Hill 2-Finding Happiness(3)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer






“I know you’re scared, and that you’re still in pain. You were in an abusive relationship for over a year, and now that things have changed and you finally got out from under Connor’s strong hold, you’re on the defensive. The thing is, that’s okay, and it’s you that needs to get through this and get over him and what he did. You don’t need to do that alone. We aren’t the bad guys. Shay, my men, the sheriff, are not bad men like Connor was. You’ll learn to see that and know it’s the truth. You need a safe place to recover, to start a new life and to feel safe, to maybe even be happy. Cherry Hill is that place. With my men and I to help you means you aren’t alone in that fight for a new life, a new start, and that happiness a young, beautiful woman like you deserves to have. You can do this, and if you aren’t ready to talk to the sheriff, then Shay can do it for you, or I can, or we can just wait, but he runs a clean safe town and he will question who you are and what your story is because everyone’s got one. Me included, which I’ll share some day real soon with you.” She stepped closer and pulled her into an embrace. “You don’t need to run anymore, Autumn. Safety is here. A new start is here. Give it a chance, and it will work out, I promise.”





Deputy Aldreck Forester was wrapping things up after a minor fender bender on Main Street when he caught sight of that beat-up Toyota with the out-of-state license plate. She had nearly run him over last week coming through town. When he didn’t see the kid again he figured she was just passing through on her way to Central Valley.





He watched her turn the corner and then pull into the main parking lot by the café. What he hadn’t expected was Bridget Hayes to get out of the passenger seat, and then for the driver to get out. Aldreck had great vision, and it served him well as a ranger in the military, too. So when she got out, he gazed over her body. She was petite, had thin legs, wore heeled boots that accentuated them in the knee-length jean skirt she wore, and from here it appeared she wore a pale pink tank top with a floral see-through blouse over it. She pushed her long, platinum-blonde hair behind her ear, and before she took two steps some men tipped their hats and nearly tripped looking at her. She seemed oblivious to that, but not Bridget as she took the woman’s arm and led her toward the café. The platinum blonde looked around the place with sunglasses on.





They headed inside, and he wondered who in the world she was. Only one way to find out and that was going into the café. The sheriff was in there with his brothers and Athena. He could go say hello, see how Athena was feeling, and find out who the platinum blonde was.





“Meet Sheriff Kane McCabe.” Bridget introduced Autumn to the sheriff, his girlfriend, and Culter, Chase, and Fox, his brothers. All very large man. In fact, Autumn gulped because she was so much shorter than them.





“Pleasure to meet you, Autumn. You here visiting or sticking around a while?” the sheriff asked her, and he looked her over, squinted, and then glanced at Bridget.





Bridget placed her hand on Autumn’s shoulder. “She’s considering moving here. She’ll be staying in the apartment at our place.”





“I see. Well, welcome, and please, you need anything at all, you come see me at the department, or have one of Bridget’s men get in contact with me. I’m sure Bridget explained how things work around here, so we’ll catch up sooner or later,” he told her.





“Understood, sir, so nice meeting you all,” she replied, but that uneasy feeling filled her gut. This place wasn’t normal. At least not anything like where she lived in Connecticut. They turned around and headed to the counter, and an older woman greeted them.





“Bridget, this must be your cousin,” the woman said and came right over, wiping her hands on her apron. She looked Autumn over.





“My oh my, aren’t you stunning, and a petite little thing, too. You done this kind of work before?” the woman asked.





“Yes, ma’am, mostly short-order cook for a time, but I waitress just fine,” Autumn told her and she smiled.





“Well, if you’ll learn anything real quick around here, it’s that Cherry Hill is a family. We all pitch in when anyone is in need or looking for a job, or whatever. You, my dear, will be drawing in a crowd. You sure you want to be waitressing?”





“I’m sure, ma’am, and of course if you have the room for me. Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”





“Not at all. I lost two waitresses recently. One too far along in her pregnancy to continue, and one who came into town looking to pick up men and have a good time. Knew she wouldn’t last. I can give you some hours on Monday and Wednesday to start. See how you do and see if you like it. The menu’s pretty simple, and most people tend to stick to the same things and of course some of the specials.”





“Well, I appreciate the opportunity, Mrs. Forester.”





“Oh please, call me Molly.” She looked past Autumn with a big smile on her face. “What are you doing here?” she asked, and Autumn turned around and looked way up at the tall, blond deputy with gorgeous blue eyes. He was built, and she actually took a step back. She remembered him. She almost ran him over when she first got into town. Oh God, he was good-looking.

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