Coming Home:Baytown Boys Series(3)By: Maryann Jordan
“You know what I mean,” she said.
The silence fell between them once more, this time less comfortable. Leaning back in the chair, she pinned him with her stare. “Got all night, Mitchy boy.”
Laughing, he teased, “Jillian, you were a pain in my ass as a tomboy kid always trying to do what us boys were doing. Stayed a pain in my ass when you had those same boys chasing you in high school. And you’re still a pain in my ass!”
Meeting his grin, she retorted, “That’s what cousins are for!”
Nodding, he finally answered her concern. “I’m really good. Honestly.” Seeing her raised eyebrow, he continued, “Yes, I wanted out of this town when I was a teen. Joining the military with the guys was the right thing to do. But it didn’t take long to figure out that watching some of your friends die or get blown apart in battle wasn’t what I wanted to keep doing.”
Jillian’s face immediately softened, her blue eyes warm with concern. “I’m sorry, Mitch. I shouldn’t have been so cavalier with my words.”
“It’s okay,” he said, his voice gentle. “Back stateside, being in the military police seemed safer, but the Army wasn’t ever going to be my career.”
She leaned back in her chair, eager to listen to him. Tucking a few wayward strands of long hair behind her ear, she smiled her encouragement.
“Couldn’t figure out anything other than police science as a major and then, hell, the FBI was exactly what I wanted to do.”
“Grandpa and your dad were thrilled for you to become an agent,” she reminded. “The town’s past Police Chiefs loved the idea of the their golden boy working for the FBI. You know they’d never want you to give up your dreams…not for them…not even for this town.”
Pinning her with his intelligent blue-eyed gaze, he said, “Dreams change, Jillian. What was once important sometimes becomes less important.”
“Did your dreams change or did you just adapt?” she prodded.
Chuckling, he said, “If this had all happened two years ago I woulda given you a different answer. But yeah, my dreams changed. The FBI bureaucracy became ponderous. I was no longer able to be as effective as I wanted to be. Honest to God, if it hadn’t been for a private investigation firm I partnered with, I woulda lost my mind at times.”
“I thought last Christmas, when you visited, you were thinking about joining them.”
“Yeah, I was. But…well, the call came in about dad’s heart attack…” he said shrugging. “And then the call came in from the mayor. So, becoming the Police Chief of my hometown seemed like something I would like to do.” Hesitating for a moment, he looked down at his hands, deep in thought, before speaking again. “I know I made a difference as an FBI agent but the Bureau was so large that I rarely got to see the good I was doing. I didn’t get a chance to really connect with the victims of the crimes I investigated some times. But here,” he looked back up at her, “I can get to know the townspeople again. I can make a difference in their lives.” Chuckling, he added, “Maybe I’ll still a small-town boy at heart.”
Sighing, she evaluated his words, finding only truth behind his explanations. “Well, gotta say, Baytown is lucky to have you, but I think you’ll find being the Police Chief here a lot more boring than chasing down terrorists and major criminals with the FBI!”
“No problem with a slower, simpler life, cuz,” he agreed. “That’s all part of the dream that changes with age. I’m ready to get back to the life I was so ready to run away from when I got out of high school.”
The silence once more settled comfortably between the two as each slipped into their own thoughts. After a moment, Jillian asked, “Remember the great tailgate parties we would have on old man Tollin’s farm? Or the bonfires on the beaches?”
“Yeah,” Mitch admitted. “Drinking way before we were supposed to. Me trying to keep some vacationing kid from getting too fresh with you. Hell, that alone, kept me busy!”
“Me? I seem to remember you trying to get it on with a few of the vacationing girls!”