The Family Man - By Trish Millburn
Sara Greene showed the snapshot to the landscaper preparing to mow the strip of grass between the back of the Sea Breeze Hotel and the beach. He examined the image of fourteen-year-old David Taylor then shook his head.
“Sorry, haven’t seen him.”
The same words she’d heard all morning—which meant she repeated herself as well when she handed the guy a business card.
“If you do see him, please give me a call.”
Sara took a few steps down the wooden walkway over the sand before stopping, closing her eyes and lifting her face toward the bright Florida sky. It was as if the kid had gone poof and disappeared. She chose to think he was just really good at hiding because she didn’t want to consider that he might have gotten himself into a dangerous or deadly situation.
One more long, deep breath of sea air was all she allowed herself before she opened her eyes and stared at the thatch-roofed beach bar beyond the ridge of dunes. She doubted David Taylor had been hanging out at the Beach Bum, but she was determined to check every possibility. Maybe one of the staff had spotted him elsewhere.
Only an older couple sat at the front edge of the open-sided bar, sipping what looked like lemonade as they watched the waves. After all, it was too early in the day to bring out the hard stuff. But from the sound of rattling bottles from behind the long wooden bar, someone was already at work.
The hidden person clanked bottles a couple more times before he popped up from behind the bar like a jack-in-the-box clown. She recognized the tanned, lightly stubbled, handsome face of Adam Canfield, but she was used to it being on the customer side of the bar.
The bright smile, the one he used in his endless flirting with anyone with boobs, dimmed somewhat when he noticed it was her facing him.
“Hello, Detective.” Adam shoved his hands in the back pockets of his khaki shorts. “Little early for a drink, isn’t it?”
For the briefest moment, she missed him not flirting with her like he had the first time they’d met. He was the kind of man who could make a thrill zing along a woman’s skin with a sexy look in those green eyes and thinly veiled suggestions. But he’d made it clear that her being a cop was a buzz-kill for him. That was fine with her since she wasn’t the least bit interested in a guy who went through life one or two steps above being a bum.
She pushed aside the temptation to fantasize and took a couple steps closer. “I’m still on duty.”
“Zac’s not here.” He tossed an empty cardboard case in the trash can. “Please tell me someone hasn’t cooked up some more bogus crap about him.”
“This isn’t about Mr. Parker, but nice conclusion-jumping.” Zac Parker, owner of the Beach Bum, had been a potential suspect in a recent arson until the state arson investigator determined he was being set up. Then she ended up marrying him.
Adam raised a dark eyebrow at her snarky comment. She didn’t acknowledge it, instead handed him the photo of David Taylor. “Have you seen this boy?”
While he looked at the snapshot of David in a school hallway, Suz Thackery came out of the storeroom behind him, her red hair piled atop her head in a loose twist, and glanced at the photo around his shoulder. To keep from looking at Adam, Sara focused on Suz.
Par for the course, they both shook their heads.
“He in some kind of trouble?” Suz asked.
“Ran away from home. Considering he’s only fourteen, we’re doing all we can to find him.”
Adam looked at the photo again. “What’s he running away from?”
Sara stared at him, at his sexy stubble and sandy brown, slightly messy hair—and wished she could look at him without noticing those attributes. Despite their mutual, if unvoiced, agreement that dating each other was not on the agenda, she couldn’t help the way her pulse picked up every time she saw him around town.
She jerked herself back to the real world. “You’re the first person to ask me that. Most people just assume since he’s a runaway he must be a punk.”
He shrugged. “And sometimes it’s not the kid who needs a good kick in the ass.”
Sara agreed, knowing runaway cases weren’t always as simple as a kid acting out against parents. Still, she hadn’t found any evidence contrary to David’s father’s assertion that that’s exactly what his son was