Dinner was a delicious affair as they teased and cajoled each other the entire way through. Then they settled in front of the fire to enjoy an evening of song as they drank wine and tried to remember the words to dozens of Christmas songs. What one may have forgotten, the other one chimed in and vice versa.
The hilarity continued on their walk as they sang at the top of their lungs, in tune, out of tune, it didn’t matter, it was a free for all.
Jim watched from the sidelines, not far away. He’d never seen Nathan this happy, this lost in the moment. It was good for him. Emma was good for him. Nathan had worked his fingers to the bone for years, week in and week out. It touched his heart to see a carefree Nathan at last.
He signalled to his men and he watched them move through the underbrush alongside the property. Suddenly he was on alert and moving. Nathan’s sixth sense kicked in and he manoeuvred Emma back to the house and inside.
“What’s going on?” Emma asked in shocked surprise.
“Not sure but Jim’s on it.”
“Stay put Emma. I’ll be right back.”
Emma felt antsy. Someone or something unexpected showed up on Nathan’s property. It could be important, it could be nothing, but if Jim acted on it, and then Nathan, she was pretty sure it was the former not the latter.
She waited as a mixture of impatience and anxiety rolled through her making sitting an impossibility. Determined to keep herself busy, she entered the kitchen and was about to clear up their meal when the Chef showed up. “Hey there, missy, what you think you’re doing? Trying to send me to the unemployment line? Nathan’ll figure I’m slipping I let you do that. Here, here! Stop that business, settle your wee butt onto a chair and tell me what gives.”
Emma didn’t know why she felt like she could and should trust this delightful man she knew little to nothing about, but she did, and it spilt out. Her concern for Nathan and the fact someone was on the property.
“Here, drink this.” He handed her a brandy snifter with a shot of top notch brandy in it and wouldn’t let up until she took a sip.
“Wow, that’s surprisingly good.”
“It seemed like you could use a good shot of something to calm your nerves.”
“Now, about Nathan, Jim and the others. We are pretty much fortified here, Emma. No one can get into this house and if they did, they’d have me and a few others to contend with.”
“I’m not concerned about myself, Chef, I’m concerned about Nathan! I brought this to his doorstep, I’m sure of it.”
“That’s guilt talking and there’s no place for it here. Get that right out of your head, now! Nathan’s been involved in good work on behalf on hundreds. This isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. He’s dedicated to protecting those who can’t protect themselves. Don’t go thinking more of yourself than is necessary.”
Emma looked at him, stunned at first, then she laughed. “You could be right about that.” She finished the brandy and was sitting in contemplation mode when Nathan returned.
Hopping up from the chair she hurried to him. “What happened?”
“A slight skirmish outside my property, but close enough to cause concern.”
“Did it have anything to do with our case?”
“Jim’s on it now. I’ll know soon enough.”