Close To Home (Westen Series)(6)By: Suzanne Ferrell
But when she raised the deepest cornflower-blue eyes to him, Clint nearly moaned. If he let himself, he could get lost in that open, clear gaze forever.
“Can I help you?” The remnants of sleep in her voice brought on visions of hearing her voice after a night of endless passion.
“I’m Clint Preston,” he started to explain.
“He’s Doc Ray’s nephew. And he’s a doc, too,” interrupted Benjamin.
“And he put this on my arm,” Brian added, not to be outdone by his brother.
“What?” Emma looked at her sons, finally taking in their casts and looking a bit confused. “What happened?”
“Apparently they decided to play skydivers while you were sleeping,” Clint informed her. Some of his anger was dispelled by the obvious motherly concern on her face.
“Where?” she asked, looking first at one cast then the other.
“Thompson’s tree,” the boys answered at the same time.
Emma sat straight up at this information. Her face changed from one of concern to one of maternal outrage. “The tall oak in front of Old Man Thompson’s barn? What were the two of you doing there? You know he doesn’t allow anyone on his property. That boar hog of his is dangerous!”
“But it’s the biggest tree, mommy,” Benjamin said, his head drooped with guilt.
“That’s no excuse, Benjamin Joseph Lewis!” Their mother gave the boys such an I’m-very-disappointed-in-you look that Clint wanted to grab them and leave.
His anger snapped back to life. “If you had someone watching them, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said, coming to loom over the bed. “Setting limits, then yelling at them after they forget those limits is no replacement for actual adult supervision. Cases of neglect have been made on less, lady!”
Emma surged up in the bed, coming almost nose-to-nose with him. “How dare you suggest I neglect my sons. Not that it’s any of your business, Doctor, but for your information, I do have someone watching them.” Emma glared at him, her arms securely around her sons. “Mama watches them.”
“You can’t possibly believe they are safe running loose in this Podunk town while you sleep. You don’t deserve two great kids like these. Your lack of concern over their care is tantamount to neglect.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Doctor, but no one accuses me of neglecting my kids.” She crawled out of the bed, to stand inches from him, her face flushed with her temper.
Then he remembered Johnny Wilson.
“I’m giving you one week, lady. Either you find more responsible child care, or I’ll have the county Child Protection Services here so fast you won’t know what hit you.”
“Oh, dear. This is all my fault.” A soft voice sounded from behind him.
Clint turned to see a tiny, white-haired woman standing in the doorway, wringing her hands.
“It’s alright, Mama.” Emma stepped around the arrogant doctor standing in the middle of her bedroom. She’d deal with him later. First, she had to calm her mother down. “The boys are fine, really.”
“But Emma, their arms are broken.” Her mother looked beyond her to where the boys stood next to the doctor. “I never should’ve gone to pick the beans. What was I thinking?”
Emma took her mother’s hands in hers, making her focus on her. “Mama, the boys made the decision to go on their own. It’s not your fault. The doctor took good care of them and everything is fine now. Why don’t you go down and start cleaning the green beans. We’ll see if we can get them snapped before I leave for work.”
Her mother smiled. “I think I’ll do that. Maybe Rachel can help me can them when she comes this evening.”
Emma watched her mother turn and slowly make her way back down the stairs. Once the elderly woman had cleared the last step and moved toward the kitchen, Emma turned her attention to the doctor standing in the middle of her bedroom.
“That was Mama. So you see, I’m not as neglectful as you seem to think.”
His softened expression made her think for a moment he’d apologize. Then he looked at her sons, who’d to stand beside her, and his eyes narrowed once more.