Shelter for Adeline

By: Susan Stoker

Badge of Honor, Book 7

Saddled with a job she hates and a detestable boss she likes even less, Adeline Reynolds could use a break. It doesn’t look like she’ll get one today. Her service dog, Coco, is alerting her she’s about to have an epileptic seizure—and her frustrated blind date has left her to deal on her own. Enter firefighter Dean Christopherson, who escorts her to the nearby fire station, where she can suffer through her ordeal safe from injury and prying eyes.

Dean—known as “Crash” to his friends—didn’t expect to find The One in a diner during his lunch break, but he’s blindsided by the beautiful, brave Adeline. She brings out his every protective instinct—along with the carnal ones. As they get to know each other, Dean’s feelings for Adeline grow fast, as does his irritation with her boss, whose behavior is suspicious at best.

As much as he wants to protect Adeline from the world, Crash has to tread carefully. His overprotectiveness could push her away…and leave her vulnerable to a man whose obsession has reached the boiling point.

***Shelter for Adeline is the 7th book in the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes Series. Each book is a stand-alone, with no cliffhanger endings.

Chapter 1

Adeline Reynolds took a deep breath and crossed her fingers before walking through the door of the small diner. She didn’t mind online dating, but the last few men she’d met had been so far from what she was looking for it wasn’t funny. Dirk was twenty-two, way too young; John was forty-eight, too old; Roman was about a hundred and fifty pounds heavier than depicted in the picture he’d posted in his profile; and Mark was just plain weird.

She had high hopes for Bud, despite his name.

Her younger sister, Alicia, thought she was insane for looking online for someone to spend the rest of her life with, but then again, Alicia had met the love of her life in high school and hadn’t had to worry about finding good men to date as an adult.

Adeline was careful. She never gave out her address or phone number to any of the men she met online. She chatted with them on the Internet for at least three weeks before agreeing to meet them in person. When she did meet with someone, she made sure it was for a quick lunch date in a public place first. And she stalked the man online, trying to find out everything she could about him before deciding to take the next step and meet in person.

Bud was around her age, thirty-four, had a full-time job, he’d never been married and had no children, and looked normal. Looking normal was important, because she herself was nothing special. She had about twenty…or thirty…extra pounds on her shorter frame, her black hair was medium length, and she had a perfectly boring job, which she hated.

She also had a dog. And that’s where being normal ended for her.

Adeline had epilepsy and would most likely always have it. And really, epilepsy wasn’t actually that rare, three million people, or one out of every twenty-six, had some form of the disorder. As best the doctors could tell, it was caused by her very long delivery at birth. Her mom had a hard time and Adeline’s brain was starved of oxygen. Other than the seizures, Adeline was as healthy as a horse.

“Seriously? You want to leave now? We just ordered,” her date exclaimed in disbelief.

“I don’t want to, but Coco is alerting. I’m going to have a seizure, and I don’t know if it’s going to be a big one or not. I need to get somewhere safe before it happens.”

Bud looked at her in horror. “You’re gonna start spazzing now? Here? In front of everyone?”

“Not if you help me find somewhere private I can go to,” Adeline said dryly, ignoring the offensive “spaz” remark.

“I can take you home.”

Adeline shook her head. “I won’t make it. I only have about ten minutes. It would take me around twenty-five to get home.” Not to mention she didn’t want him knowing where she lived. It was a rule she had with the men she met online. No allowing them to know where she lived until after at least the third date.

She preferred not to beg, but didn’t have a choice at the moment. She gave him one more chance to be a good guy. “Please, Bud. I know you weren’t expecting this, and honestly, neither was I, but I can’t control when they happen. Will you please help me?”