Chapter 1

There was no breeze, wind or even the slightest rustling of the leaves on the trees that were lined up and down the street in front of the Fulton County Sheriff's Office in Trinity, South Carolina. The only thing that could be felt was the searing heat that had, once again, invaded the Carolina's during the month of August. Yet, despite the heat and the stillness that it brought, standing in front of the large picture window in the outer office of the building was Sheriff Lucas Buck, seeming completely unaffected by the heat. As usual he was clad from head to toe in black, including long sleeves, however, he seemed totally unaffected, especially given the fact that he didn't even seem to be breaking a sweat, despite the searing temperature.

Ben Healy, Lucas' deputy, sat behind his desk trying every method imaginable to find some small amount of coolness in the air. Glancing at his boss, Ben began shaking his head in disbelief as he fanned himself with the folder full of recently completed reports as he demanded;

"Lucas, I don't see how you can stand there wearing long sleeves without even breaking a sweat, it's not but 10:00 am and it's already ninety five degrees. I'm sitting here in short sleeves with the air conditioning and fans going full blast and I'm STILL burning up."

Lucas turned from the window with a devil may care grin on his handsome face;

"Why Ben, I'd of thought you'd have figured out by now that heat doesn't bother me at all."

With that Lucas emitted a short laugh before turning his attention back to whatever he was so focused on outside of the window. Ben shuddered inwardly, he had worked for Lucas Buck for, what seemed to him, an eternity, even back to the days when Lucas was a deputy himself. Although Lucas said things that were supposed to be in jest, they still never ceased to chill him; it wasn't so much WHAT Lucas said as much as HOW he said it that Ben seemed to find so disturbing.

After about ten or so minutes of silence, Lucas turned to Ben and ordered in a quiet voice;

"Ben, come here a second, I want you to see something."

Vacating his chair, Ben crossed the space between his desk and the window as he wondered what on earth Lucas was up to now. That was another aspect of his association with Lucas that disturbed Ben, the fact that occurrences just always seemed to 'happen' and Lucas just always seemed to be at the center. Stepping up to the window, Ben demanded;

"What did you want me to see, Lucas? WHOA, is she for real?!"

Ben was following Lucas' gaze to a vehicle parked across the street in front of a vacant office where a rather young looking woman was struggling to remove a box, which looked a lot heavier then she had any right to be lifting. Lucas chuckled;

"Oh, just wait, you ain't seen nothing yet, Ben."

Sure enough Lucas was right, the woman turned in their direction and Ben could only stare at the glimpse he caught of her face. Even from a distance, Ben could see how beautiful the girl was, she had her hair in a pony tail and was wearing a ball cap, but even under the cap he could see how angelic her face looked. He couldn't help himself from absently wondering about the color of her hair and eyes as he realized that she was evenly built, not voluptuous like Selena Coombs, or even with an air of self assuredness that Gail Emory had always emanated. THIS girl, to put it quite simply reminded Ben of what an angel would look like. She wasn't by any means what could be considered as tall, but her legs were nicely shaped, a fact made obvious by the shorts that she was wearing. Through the t-shirt she was wearing he could see that she had a nice figure without being overly endowed, like Selena. After having made his assessment of the girl who seemed to have captured Lucas' full attention, Ben turned towards his boss in suspicion as he thought carefully of the best way to ask what was on his mind.

"Lucas, I can see where you would think that she's attractive, but I have to ask you, why? I mean she doesn't seem your usual type, she isn't anything like Selena, Gail or Sabbath."

Ben found himself sorry the minute that he mentioned Gail's name. The fact was that Gail Emory had been a very taboo subject with Lucas ever since her suicide. Ben was certain that their had been something between Lucas and Gail that only they knew that had finally pushed Gail over the edge, but what that something was he had no idea. Hell, Lucas had intended to marry Sabbath, but

talking about her had never seemed to bother him, not like just the mention of Gail's name did.

Lucas turned an icy glare on Ben as he asked menacingly;

"Is there anything else that you'd like to ask me about, Ben?"

Ben, seeing the underlying rage on Lucas' face, took a step backwards as he held his hands up in a pleading manner;

"No Lucas, I was just curious that's all. I didn't mean any offense. Hell, it ain't hard to see why you'd be interested in her. I'd try if I even thought that I stood half a chance."

Satisfied with Ben's answer, Lucas' anger was replaced by mirth as he chuckled at the thought before shaking his head;

"Well, you don't Ben, so you just keep focusing your attention on Nurse Rita. I think I'll go on over and offer to help the little lady, it looks like she needs a hand. Besides, I have to do my duty as sheriff and introduce myself to the newest resident of Trinity."

With that, he opened the door and made his way across the street, leaving Ben to wonder just what Lucas had in store for the girl. He knew that, when it came to women, Lucas always seemed to get his way, but Ben suspected that, somehow, this lady was about to give Lucas a run for his money.

After several frustrating attempts to remove the large box from the trunk of her car, Dara Chambers had finally reached her patience end. Snatching the ball cap from her head she threw it to the ground as she swore;

"Damn it to Hell, I was able to get it in there so I should be able to get it out."

"Oh, I wouldn't send it to Hell if I were you ma'am."

Shocked, Dara turned in the direction of the deep, seductive, masculine voice. She had been so preoccupied with trying to remove the box from the trunk of her car that she had failed to notice the man's approach, if she had, she never would have threw the ball cap on the ground. She had chosen to wear the cap because she had too much work to do to worry about fixing her hair, not to mention the realization that, with the heat and humidity, she knew that the ball cap was the only way to keep her hair out of her way as well as preventing it from curling in every direction.

Lucas, having retrieved the cap from the ground, held it out to her as he found himself staring at her in disbelief. He knew that she would be attractive as he had watched her from the window, but when she turned to face him and without the cap covering her hair he found himself dumbfounded and shocked, having been unprepared for what he now saw up close. He knew that her hair was a dark auburn color from the glimpses he caught of the hair falling down her back from her pony tail, but without the cap he could now see that it could only be described as the color of dark, burnt rubies, with the sun behind her he realized that there were traces of reddish gold shining through the curling strands. Her eyes were another shock; he knew that she would have pretty eyes but this was something else; they shone a deep green color. As he now found himself staring into them, he couldn't help but compare their color to that of the green that could be found in the deepest and clearest oceans.

Lucas found himself needing to take a moment to gather his bearings; he had seen a lot of beautiful women in his day, hell, he'd had most of them. But this woman was definitely different from all of the other's not even Gail had possessed the qualities that this woman did, she exuded a sense of purpose which seemed to give her a strong air of self confidence. Yet, at the same time, Lucas could sense a vulnerability about the girl, with that added trait she seemed more of a girl than a woman, but the two combined made for a most beguiling effect. He could only imagine how she would strike the rest of the male population in Trinity, if she struck him THIS strongly, especially considering the defenses that he possessed as a result of his breeding thanks to centuries of Buck men developing resistance to the effect a beautiful woman might have over an ordinary male.

Lucas fell back on the formality of his position as he extended his hand;

"Sorry to startle you ma'am, I'm Sheriff Lucas Buck, that's Buck with a B."

Dara found herself trying desperately hard to recover from her own shock of Lucas' sudden appearance. When she had heard the strong, seductively masculine voice, she knew that she would turn to find a handsome man, but Sheriff Buck was more that what her expectations were able to consider. The first thing that struck her was his height; he was tall, much taller than she was, she had to look up just to meet his eyes, which were seductively dark and penetrating. He had a handsome face that was framed by dark, wavy hair which was not out of place by even one tiny strand. Despite the extreme heat of the day she couldn't help but be amazed by the fact that he was clad from head to foot in black, including a long sleeved shirt. She found herself almost sighing at the sight of the man but recovered herself quickly as she silently questioned; 'what on earth is the matter with me? I've never behaved this way about ANY man.'

Bringing her thoughts and feelings into full rein, she offered a slight smile before offering her own introduction;

"Hi, I'm Dara Chambers. This is just a friendly and social visit, right? I mean, I haven't really been here long enough to even think about breaking any laws so I'm not in any trouble, am I?"

Lucas couldn't help but grin at her statement as he quickly realized that she definitely had a good sense of humor as well as grit and determination. However, he couldn't deny the relief he felt as she extended her hand although he couldn't help but find himself amazed as he took her small hand in his much larger one by the fact that, as with the rest of her, just how petite she truly was. Aside from her stature, Lucas also realized as he held her hand that there was something truly compelling about her, especially given the energy that he could feel flowing between them as they made contact. 'My God,' he thought; 'I never felt this much energy with any of the others.' After a few moments Lucas shook her hand before releasing it.

To Dara, it felt like an eternity before he released her hand. Like Lucas, Dara too had felt the flow of energy between them, however, unlike Lucas, she quickly dismissed the feeling.

Noticing the underlying current of discomfort in the girl, Lucas quickly assumed his 'good ole boy' demeanor as he offered;

"No ma'am, I'm just here to welcome you to town and to offer you my help. I happen to notice that you seemed to be struggling to get things moved in and with nothing much happening at the office I thought that I'd come and offer you my services," pausing for a moment his voice took on a tone of silky seduction as he ventured; "that is if you feel that you could use them."

Dara couldn't quite understand exactly why, but the last of his statement sounded to her like some sort of an invitation. However, to what, she wasn't quite sure and she wasn't exactly sure that she wanted to find out either. There was no doubt that the man was charming as well as gorgeous, but she wasn't in the habit of falling into bed with every attractive man that she met. Something told her that she would definitely have to be very careful where this man was concerned; although he seemed kind enough she could still sense something very dark and foreboding lying just under the surface, she considered that might be a contributing factor in his charm. She couldn't deny that he was most definitely handsome and charming as well as, despite her own inexperience, she couldn't help but realize his interest in her, however, she had much more important things taking place in her life at the moment and the more focused she stayed in the here and now the better it would be, at least until she could see her way clear to consider planning for her tomorrows and her future.

Lucas could sense that he had ventured one step too far with his last comment. The last thing that he wanted to do was to scare her away, although he couldn't understand why he was concerned about it. Ben had definitely been right about the fact that she wasn't the usual type of woman for him. However, something deep inside kept insisting that, somewhere down the road, this woman was going to play a very important part in his life. He wasn't sure how or why, but he definitely couldn't seem to shake that feeling. Finally, deciding to take on the role of the good Samaritan, Lucas motioned to the box;

"Here, let me get that for you, it won't take me but a minute."

Before she could protest, Lucas had effortlessly done what she herself has struggled with earlier as he lifted the box from the trunk and, seeing no other boxes, used his bent elbow to close the trunk lid as he asked;

"Where would you like me to put this?"

Leading the way inside the office, Dara motioned to an empty space on the desk. Once Lucas had set the box down he turned and surveyed the space, trying to glean any signs of what her profession was. Not finding anything that offered any clues, Lucas finally asked;

"If you don't mind my asking you ma'am, what are you planning on opening here? I mean I know it's got to be an office of some sort, but I have to be honest with you, we have more lawyers and accountants in Trinity then even Hell would be willing to put up with."

Dara couldn't help but give him a strange look as she wondered; 'now why on earth would he put it like THAT?'Deciding to just chalk it up to his sense of humor she explained;

"Well, since you seem to have two of the leading causes of it, how about an office for a grief counselor?"

Lucas turned and found himself studying her eyes again, those eyes, if he weren't careful he realized that he could easily find himself lost in their depths, but what was the point of that? Considering her revelation, he found himself nodding;

"Now you know, that is original and come to think about it, you know we could use a grief counselor here, as a matter of fact, I may have your first patient."

Dara cast him a look of apprehension;

"I appreciate the kindness that you intend Sheriff, but I am not in need of either your charity or your pity."

Lucas wasn't certain what nerve he had hit with his statement, but he knew that he had most definitely hit one. Not only had her tone of voice gone from a friendly to decidedly clipped but her eyes had also gone from a warm and inviting sea of green to a ice chilled ocean of gray. Trying to put her at ease once more he held up his hands in an apologetic manner as he rushed to assure her;

"I meant no offense, it's just that my son, Caleb, has suffered quite a bit in the last year or two. He's lost his mother, stepfather, sister and cousin. I just thought that you might be just the person to help him work his way through it, that's all."

Feeling deeply ashamed of herself for suspecting his motives, Dara sighed in self recrimination as she lifted her eyes up to his before offering;

"I apologize, Sheriff, it's just that, I suppose, I've been taken for a fool for so long that I'm overly suspicious. But yes, I will be very glad to try to help, Caleb, is it?" at his nod of agreement, Dara continued; "You've been very kind to me and I do thank you." Her face brightening a bit she suggested; "I tell you what, how about this? Let Caleb come over next week to help me unpack and I'll see him for free, that way we get to know each other in a relaxed setting and he might be more inclined to open up to me. Is that okay?"

Lucas couldn't help but study her more closely for a moment as he realized that there was most definitely something different about her from the other women he had known. She possessed compassion and wasn't afraid to let that side of herself show, and while he tended to scoff at the trait in others he couldn't help but find it to be an endearing and attractive quality in this woman. Seeking to divert his thoughts, Lucas glanced at his watch and realized that it was lunch time, turning to Dara he ventured;

"Tell you what; it's lunch time, how about letting me take you to get a bite to eat. I saw this office before you started and I can tell that you've really worked at it this morning. You deserve a break, come on."

Lucas held out his hand in expectation but she simply shook her head;

"I'm sorry, but now that these things are out of the way, I really want to finish up with the unpacking at my house so that I can be ready to start working here on Monday. But thank you for the offer anyway, Sheriff, I truly do appreciate it."

He couldn't help but look slightly taken aback, even Gail had finally given in to him and she had been utterly resistant. This ball game was definitely a new one for him, he was the one accustomed to doing the denying and disappointing, not being the one denied and dissapointed. Deciding to play it off, Lucas offered her a charming smile;

"No problem, Ms. Chambers, but we aren't much for formality around here so please, call me Lucas. Besides, we're just across the street from each other so I'm sure that we'll have a chance some other time to have lunch together in the future. I'll send Caleb over here, say, Monday afternoon."

Dara nodded her agreement as she offered him her own charming smile;

"That will be fine. Since we're avoiding formality, please, call me Dara. I do need to get going now, but thank you again for your help, Sheriff.. I mean, Lucas."

With that she grabbed her keys from her desk and waited for him to precede her out the door so that she could make sure it was locked and secured. Lucas escorted her to her vehicle and covertly studied it, realizing, once more, that there was truly something definitely different about this lady, even to her taste in cars. Gail, Selena and even Sabbath all tended to gravitate to vehicles that were fast and sassy left no assumptions to the contrary. However, just as with the woman herself, Dara's Grand Prix delivered a very different message. Although he knew it definitely had the speed part covered, much like its owner, it seemed pretty tame and ordinary until you really got up close and took a more careful look.

Shaking his head in thinly veiled amusement as he opened the driver's side door for her, Lucas extended his hand, however, this time when she offered her own, he bent over it to place a light kiss upon the back of her hand. 'Well, well,' he thought; 'even though she's been working in this heat she still smells like fresh rain and roses.'

Dara pulled her hand from Lucas' grasp as she got into her car and allowed him to push her door closed.

"Thank you for your help again, I do appreciate it. And yes, go ahead and send Caleb over here Monday afternoon. I plan on having my house completed this weekend so that way I will be able to focus here, but prepare him for emptying boxes, okay?"

Lucas couldn't help but smile down into her upturned face, he couldn't help but compare her to some type of nymph or fairy as the smile on her face was touching her eyes. Nodding he agreed;

"You bet, you drive carefully and if there's anything at all that you need or that I can do for you, you feel free to call me. Even if I'm out of the office my deputy, Ben, will know how to get a hold of me."

Fastening her safety belt before turning the key in the ignition, Dara gave a small wave as she pulled away from the curb and headed away from town. Lucas watched after her for a moment before speculating aloud;

"River direction, huh? Guess I'm going to have to get Ben to check that out for me. I definitely need to know more about that young lady."

Lucas turned and began whistling a tune as he headed back in the direction of his office. As he walked through the doorway, Ben couldn't help but look up in amazement, having rarely seen this happy side of his boss he had to ask;

"Guess you hit the jackpot with her, huh, Lucas?"

Ben thought that he had lost his mind when Lucas responded with a genuinely happy grin;

"Nope, she shot me down at every turn, Ben."

Staring at him with his mouth opened wide in shock, Ben demanded;

"Well what the hell are you looking so happy about it then for, Lucas?"

Considering for a moment, Lucas turned to him with the most thoughtful expression that Ben could ever recall seeing on his boss's face as he offered;

"Because, Ben, I do believe that girl is the most unique creature that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. And something tells me that she is about to rip through here like a tornado, without even so much as raising her voice."

With that, Lucas turned and walked out the office door to get into his car. Ben considered the man's statement for a moment before a wide grin broke on his face as he speculated aloud;

"Looks like Lucas may have just gotten himself caught up in a whirlwind that he's not going to be able to get out of so easily."

Driving down Route 10 just a little outside of Trinity's city limits, Dara found herself contemplating her earlier meeting with Lucas as she paid attention to the road in front of her. Thinking aloud she speculated;

"I don't know what, but there is definitely something more to that man than what he has on the surface."

Bringing her car to a halt in front of her house, she killed the ignition as she glanced at her wrist watch before sighing with relief;

"Good, I'm earlier then what I told Mrs. Adams I would be."

It had been difficult enough to find someone who, was not only reliable, but also would satisfy her personal requirements when it came to caring for her mother. After her mother's last hospital stay, she quickly realized that working from her home was no longer a viable option. However, given how quickly the medical bills were piling up, taking any type of hiatus from her work was also out of the question. Aside from the financial aspect of the situation there was also the continuous interference from her brother, Seth, that she was forced to consider. Given all of the factors involved and after several in depth conversations with her mother, Gwenna, and the physicians overseeing her mother's care, as well as doing some thorough investigating in the areas of economy and real estate, Dara had chosen Trinity, South Carolina.

Having learned that Fulton County General offered excellent medical care for her mother's condition as well as the extremely reasonable cost of living that Trinity offered, not to mention the hospital's interest in offering her a contract as a grief counselor, Dara eagerly seized the opportunity and made the necessary arrangements. Selling their old house, her mother insisted that she use the proceeds to fund the move as well as placing the decision regarding buying a new home in Dara's more than capable hands. She could remember the stern admonishment that she had received from her mother just before her weekend trip to scout the houses for sale in the area;

"I want you to do me a favor, Little One, I want you to pick a house that YOU like and would be happy living in. Not only that, but I want you to put the house in YOUR name."

Dara shook her head as she recalled just how blessed she had been on her initial trip to Trinity. Not only had she found a house that she fell in love with, but she had also found Mrs. Ellen Adams, a reliable caregiver to see to her mother's care, allowing Dara the opportunity to, not only work at the hospital, but to also open an office for private practice. Thankfully the sale of the old house had seen more than enough profit to pay for the move, purchase the new house and even see to the improvements that she had deemed necessary as well as paying for the first six month's rent on her private office, with enough left to bolster the balance of her saving's account to ensure that her mother would lack for nothing.

Shaking herself from her reveries she grabbed her purse before opening the driver's side door as she exited the vehicle. Climbing the front steps to the porch she glanced in the direction of the kitchen door and noticed the small patio table set as Mrs. Adams opened the kitchen door and stepped onto the porch, carrying a plate and glass of iced tea. Studying the woman, she couldn't help but compare her, once more, to an older version of her mother. The only differences between the two women, in Dara's opinion, was the fact that Mrs. Adam's hair was a silvery gray color while Gwenna's own hair was a faded shade of her daughter's own dark auburn locks. This, along with the difference between the sky blue shade of Ellen Adam's eyes as compared to the emerald green hue of Gwenna's, were the only differences between the two women that Dara really seemed to notice. Offering the elder woman a sincere smile, Dara motioned to the plate;

"Hi, Mrs. Adams, what's with the change of venue?"

Setting the plate and glass on the small table as she took one of the two chairs, Ellen Adams turned to the young woman that she had quickly developed a fondness for before considering. Although she had never particularly cared for the company of the younger generation, having found many to be flighty and irresponsible, she couldn't help but find herself liking Dara Chambers from the moment she first spoke with her. That fondness had grown even more when she had learned of the heavy weight that Dara shouldered when it came to the responsibility she gladly bore for her mother's care and welfare. Motioning to the opposite chair she issued;

"Well with the boxes and so forth inside, I thought that you might like a change of scenery, at least while you enjoyed your lunch. Now, you sit down and eat every bite of what's on that plate, young lady."

Laughing, Dara agreed;

"Alright, Mrs. Adams, I promise."

Sensing that there was something more than just consideration of her comfort as the source for the woman's motivation, Dara tilted her head slightly as she speculated;

"There's something else to this, isn't there, Mrs. Adams? This isn't just because you wanted to give me a change of scenery."

Interpreting the look of concern the woman wore, Dara suddenly understood the motivation;

"Something happened while I was gone, didn't it?"

Sighing in resignation as she realized that hiding anything from this particular young woman, especially where her mother was concerned, was futile, Mrs. Adams finally nodded;

"Yes, dear, I'm afraid that your mother had a rather bad morning."

Seeing the panic rising in the girl's eyes, she sought to alleviate her concern as she spread her hands in a placating manner, trying to stall Dara's fear;

"It's alright, I promise. I got her settled back down and called the doctor, he said that she was having a reaction to one of her medications and he got it straightened out. Once I gave her the new medication that he had sent out, she calmed right down and she's napping now."

Throwing her napkin down in frustration, Dara demanded;

"Damned, Mrs. Adams, why didn't you call me? Maybe there was something that I could have..."

Finding herself becoming frustrated with the younger woman, she chastised sharply;

"What? Could have done for her?"

Feeling regret at the look of hurt in the girls eyes, Mrs. Adams relented somewhat;

"I'm sorry, dear, but you and I both know that there isn't really anything at this point that you can really do for your mother, aside from what you are already doing; making her as comfortable as possible."

Shaking her head she continued;

"Dara, I've heard you on the phone with some of the people you've counseled and you are wonderful with those people. I know that you have given hope to many who had no hope, but you can't seem to take your own advice and learn acceptance. Dear, I know this is difficult for you to hear, but you have got to realize, she will not get better, she will not recover. I'm sorry, but you will lose her to this horrible illness she has."

Mrs. Adams found her own heart breaking for the girl as she rose from her chair, grabbed her purse and made her way to the front door. Just as she reached it she turned, a sad smile of acceptance on her features as she explained;

"I think that there's something you don't seem to realize, Mrs. Adams. You see, everything that you've just said, I already know. I know that Mama won't be here with me much longer and I know that, really, there isn't anything that I can really do to help her when she has a bad time like she did today. But you see, the thing is that I don't want HER to know that I know that. Because, even if it's beyond her control, if she thought for one moment that she was responsible for causing me any pain, it would hurt her worse then what the cancer already does and I don't want to be the source of any more pain for her. That's why I have to let her think that I think she's going to get better."

With that she entered the house, leaving a bewildered Mrs. Adams to marvel at just how truly strong Dara Chambers must be to willingly keep her pain contained inside of herself, rather than seeing her mother suffer any more than what she already was.

Dara entered the coolness of the house and exhaled a sigh of relief as she enjoyed the cool touch of the air as it came into contact with her skin. She knew that the utility bills were going to be high during the summer, but it was vital to ensure her mother's comfort, especially as her disease continued to progress. Making her way to the bedroom at the back of the house, she quietly opened the door to check on her mother for herself. She had assumed that she would find Gwenna sleeping but quickly realized that was not the case.

Hearing the door open quietly and seeing her youngest child standing there, Gwenna offered her a loving smile as she greeted;

"Hello, Little One."

Dara couldn't help but shake her head at the pet name her mother had used for her for as long as she could remember. Crossing the space she sat on the side of the bed as she clutched her mother's frail hand in her own before asking

"How are you feeling, Mama?"

Shrugging nonchalantly, Gwenna considered;

"A little better then what I did this morning. By the way, did you get everything situated at your new office?"

Nodding, eager to give her mother some positive news, Dara shared the events of her day;

"Yes, ma'am. As a matter of fact, I also happen to have my first private patient."

Her eyes widening in shocked pleasure, Gwenna encouraged;

"Really? That's wonderful, sweetie. How did you do that before you even opened your office? Is it a referral from the hospital?"

Shaking her head, Dara explained;

"No, actually it's the Sheriff's son. He noticed me having some problems getting a box from the trunk of the car and came over to help me. When he found out that I'm a grief counselor, he asked me would I consider counseling his son."

Gwenna couldn't help but shake her head in amazement at her daughter's explanation. One constant throughout the girl's life had always seemed to be how those in need just seemed to manage to find their way to Dara, just as it seemed that she possessed a unique gift of being able to bring out the best in people, especially those that were lucky enough to find themselves recipients of her affection. Patting her daughter's hand weakly, she queried;

"That's wonderful, Little One. So you got to meet the Sheriff, huh? So what was he like?"

Gwenna could tell by the look in her daughter's eyes that whoever this man was, there must be something about him that struck a chord of interest in Dara. Something that she found intriguing especially since her daughter had never been one to chase or encourage being chased by the opposite sex. The fact of the matter was that Dara had never taken her looks into consideration. Although she would own up to possessing many faults, vanity and hubris would never be counted among them. Finally, Dara shrugged;

"He's okay I guess, Mama. I mean he's definitely younger than you would think a Sheriff would be, but he seems competent, at least as far as I could tell."

Casting her daughter a knowing look she demanded;

"Was he handsome?"

Dara couldn't help but blush as she shrugged;

"I guess so, I mean he's definitely attractive and very charming, but that's probably just part of the territory of his job, Mama."

Unable to contain her chuckle of amusement at her daughter, Gwenna tilted her head to the side in contemplation as she speculated;

"I'm almost willing to bet that he noticed you first, didn't he?"

Shaking her head, Dara demanded;

"Now why would you just assume that, Mama?"

Seeing 'the look' that her mother had managed to perfect over her lifetime, Dara sighed as she confessed;

"Okay, yes ma'am, he told me that he noticed me trying to get the box out of my car and decided to introduce himself and see if he could help me. Mama, how did you know that he had noticed me first?"

Gwenna took a deep breath as she spoke slowly;

"Dara my heart, whether you care to admit to it or not you are and always have been a very beautiful girl, even when you were a baby you were as pretty as a doll, your personality makes you even more so. That being the case, it's not hard to see how a man could find you so attractive and notice you the way this man did, you simply never noticed before, that's all."

Rising from the bed Dara offered her mother a slight laugh as she hugged the woman before considering;

"Mama, I think that you're just really biased when it comes to me. Besides, I have too much to do to notice whether or not a man notices me."

With that she turned and left the room, leaving her mother to chuckle with humor as she speculated aloud;

"Oh, but my Little One, whether you realize it or not, you already have noticed, especially considering how many heads you've turned in the past and failed to notice, until this one."

Finding Mrs. Adams in the kitchen, Dara couldn't help but sniff appreciatively as she questioned;

"I think that I smell your delicious pot roast."

Emitting a slight laugh of bemusement, Mrs. Adams nodded;

"Yes, I know that with trying to finish your unpacking finding time to prepare a proper meal might be somewhat daunting for you. By the way, I also took the liberty of preparing some chicken and dumplings for you also, you just need to heat them up in the microwave."

Approaching the older woman, Dara offered her a slight hug as she offered profusely;

"Thank you, you have no idea just how much I truly appreciate everything you do to make things as easy on me as you do."

Glancing around the area, she considered;

"I won't need you until Monday that is of course unless you'd like to help me with the unpacking."

Shaking her head as she chuckled;

"No, dear, I think that I'll leave that joy to you."

Gathering her purse and bag together, Mrs. Adams bid;

"I'll see you first thing Monday morning; you try to get some rest this weekend."

Seeing the woman to the door, Dara watched as she drove away and then, closing the front door, glanced about the house as she sighed;

"Time to get to work if I want to have this all done by Monday."

With that, she began sorting through boxes, glad for something to occupy her hands, even if she found the subject of Lucas Buck occupying her thoughts.