Thread of Innocence (Joe Tyler Mystery #4)

Free Thread of Innocence (Joe Tyler Mystery #4) by Jeff Shelby

Book: Thread of Innocence (Joe Tyler Mystery #4) by Jeff Shelby Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeff Shelby
blossoming as I wondered if Elizabeth was still in her bed. In her room. In our house. I'd slid out from Lauren and padded soundlessly up the stairs. She was in bed, curled up on her side, the covers pulled to her chin. I could have gone to the guest room then. But I didn't. I made my way back down the stairs and crawled into bed and pulled Lauren toward my chest. She sighed and scooted against me and I drifted back to sleep.
    It wasn't awkward or uncomfortable, being in bed with her. The way I saw it, we were continuing our roller coaster ride of a relationship. We may have come to an agreement about the baby, but that didn't mean we'd figured out anything about ourselves.
    Elizabeth was up early, already in her running clothes, when I came out of Lauren's bedroom. If she wondered why I'd slept there instead of upstairs, she didn't ask, just mumbled a good morning and sipped her orange juice. I grabbed the keys and we were out the door after I downed my own small glass of juice.
    The morning fog was still clinging to the cool air, the sidewalks and street damp from the moisture. It was thick enough that it felt like dry ice was swirling around us as we stretched for a few minutes on the beach. I could hear the waves lapping against the shore, but we were far enough up the sand that I couldn't see it.
    “ You sleep okay?” I asked, twisting to loosen up my back.
    She leaned down and reached for her calf. “Yeah.”
    “Getting used to the bed?”
    She stood and adjusted the band around her ponytail. “It's fine.”
    “I talked to your mom about Minnesota,” I said.
    Her eyes narrowed and she continued fiddling with the band. “She told me.”
    “I may have changed her mind,” I said. “Sort of.”
    She toed the sand. “Sort of?”
    “She's willing to consider letting you go to Minnesota,” I said. “Provided she goes with you.”
    She rolled her eyes, shook her head and took the first few tentative steps into our run. “Great.”
    I didn't say anything and we took off. We ran easily at first, mainly because it was hard to see through the fog. But as it burned off, we picked up the pace, our feet pounding the sand. The sun eventually poked through the fog, sending beams of light across the sand and forty five minutes later, when we came to a halt back where we started, we were both sweating pretty good.
    We walked slowly, letting our breath come back and our legs recover.
    “I take it you aren't interested in a joint trip back to Minnesota then,” I said.
    “ I didn't say that.”
    “ Hey, Elizabeth?”
    “ What?”
    “ I get this is all tough for you. I really do and I'm trying to navigate all of this and help with what you're asking for. But I'm really done with the indifferent teenager act, so you might want to consider dropping that crap right about now.”
    The color in her cheeks deepened. “Sorry.”
    It was the first time I'd spoken to her like a real parent since she'd been home. It came out naturally, because I really was irritated with her demeanor. But I also had an immediate pang of guilt, as if my scolding her was going to make her hate me or run away.
    “ I understand why you'd want to go back to Minnesota,” I said. “But you also need to understand that your mom and I aren't comfortable sending you back alone. We spent a long time without you, we don't know the Corzines and we just don't want to be away from you. There's a lot of moving parts here. But I do get why you want to go back. And I think having her go with you might be a pretty good compromise. I think it's the best we can offer you right now.”
    She wiped at her forehead with the sleeve of her T-shirt. “Okay.”
    “Okay you want to go or okay you don't want to go?”
    She took a deep breath and put her hands on her hips. “I'd like to go.”
    I nodded and we started walking up the beach, back toward the house. “I'll talk with your mom some more today about it then.”
    “ Okay. Thanks.”
    We scrambled through the

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