"I love you, doll face," he murmured, turning her back onto her belly, lifted her to her knees and pushed into her with a gentleness that startled her. His loving was demanding and dominant... it was tender... it was a promise he meant to keep.
"You're a nutso cop," she muttered softly and then the sensations took over and she soared...
When sanity prevailed... when pulses slowed and breathing calmed, euphoric bliss kept them quietly entwined in each other's embrace. Joe Taggert was in love and at peace with his dream doll in his arms. Louise Rogers was floating on the crest of a wave she never expected to ride and it was carrying her higher and higher and higher...
The wave finally crashed three days later when she missed her monthly cycle. "No!" she screamed at breakfast when she realized the date, one hand paused in mid-air as she snagged a cream filled doughnut, the other on the mug Joe was filling with fresh coffee.
"No, what?" he asked as he grabbed her wrist and took a bite of her doughnut.
"I'm late," she said, her appetite suddenly disappearing.
"Late for what? You gonna finish that?" he added just to be polite, inhaling the rest of her doughnut.
"I'm doomed," she said softly and sat back in her chair as if awaiting Judgement Day to swoop down and smother her. "Ut oh," she sighed, finally realizing that Chicken Little had been right all along and the sky was actually falling.
"You don't look doomed to me," Joe chuckled and hauled her onto his lap. "Tell me what's wrong, Louie. I'll fix it."
"You can't help," she whispered, on the verge of tears. "It's all your fault I'm in this mess to begin with. If you hadn't taken me home and..."
"What mess?" the oblivious male asked and reached for another doughnut. "Here... you want a bite?"
"I'm pregnant!" she shouted, "and all you can do is eat? Damn you, Joe Taggert! This is all *your* fault!"
"Pregnant?" he repeated, a slow smile curving his lips up... a wicked smile... and such a happy one that she punched him in the gut again and again and yet, again.
"Louie, Louie, Louie," he chortled. "I'll call the church and get a minister. We're gonna be married as soon as we get the license. Doll face! I couldn't be happier," he laughed, hugging her tight and then demanded that she forsake caffeine until the babe was born and that they should think about names and maybe a bigger place to live and life insurance policies and prenatal vitamins and was there anyone they should call?
"Yeah, the little men in white coats 'cause if you think I'm marrying a nutso cop like you, they oughta lock you up."
In true male fashion he attributed her ire to female hormones and set about making arrangements for them to be married. And then he called his partner to stand up for them, his buddies in the precinct to witness the momentous event and wrote an announcement for the newspaper.
Louise watched him, his actions confirming her opinion that one Joe Taggert was the nutsiest cop in the city, the whole state and probably, the whole damn country. And she, one Louise Rogers, was going to burst his little bubble the minute he left her alone for five minutes.
He didn't leave her alone for five seconds...
He took her to the doctor for an exam and a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and to the courthouse for a marriage license. He dragged her to the church to meet the minister. He took her to the local bar to celebrate and made sure she drank tomato juice instead of beer. He danced with her. He told her he loved her and he meant every word he said.
He couldn't have been happier.
Louise hadn't protested the doctor's appointment. She hadn't protested the marriage license. She had ignored the minister but because she liked tomato juice, she didn't object to passing on the beer. She enjoyed dancing with Mr. Hunk Stuff but when it came to declarations of undying love... the man was in for a rude awakening.
Fate, in the form of a phone call from his precinct captain demanding Joe's urgent return to work was in Louise's favor. He told her he'd be back as soon as possible and she was to eat a healthy supper and go to bed early.
"Uh huh," she agreed. "Don't worry about me. I'll be just fine."
"Gonna be mine in three days, doll face," he smiled as he kissed her goodbye.
She waited an hour, gathered her personal belongings, stuffing them in a duffel bag and hightailed it out of there. A block away from his apartment building, she called a cab and when it arrived, she sped away and out of one Joe Taggert's life.
He put out an APB on her, had the airport, train and bus stations covered and notified the border police. Kirkland, one of many suburbs of Seattle, was a solid three hours from Blaine, the town you went through to cross into British Columbia. It was possible she'd travel east first and enter through Alberta but he doubted it. Vancouver was a busier port of entry, easier to cross into Canada there than in a more remote location. Just in case, he made sure her picture was displayed at all the checkpoints along the USA and Canadian borders.
She wasn't in Canada, hadn't tried to cross the border, the thought had never entered her head.
She was in Issaquah.
Nestled in the valley between the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountain range, Issaquah had been a farming community long before yuppies discovered it. Not too many years ago, there had been a few Mom 'n Pop grocery stores, a grange that sold feed and tack and vegetable seedlings, postage stamps, sweet treats for the children, and free advice dispersed to anyone who wanted to hear it. Their most popular item was a special ointment that took care of bug bites, aching muscles, dry skin and some even said it could fix a broken heart. When the town raised enough money to build a library... well... they knew Issaquah had "arrived."
The prices of houses closer to Seattle went sky-high... and young and upcoming corporate leaders recruited from California and other heathen places... discovered a quaint small town. It had everything: clean air, "happy cows," hills and mountains and extensive forests. Within a very short period of time, Issaquah had grown from a small farming community into one of the most popular suburbs in the Seattle area.
Louise Rogers had been born and raised in Issaquah. She knew all the country roads, all the best fishing spots and she knew all the secret cabins hidden in the thickly forested hills. A phone call and a quick trip to the old grange for supplies and she was isolated from the world and one Detective Joe Taggert.
Detective Joe Taggert was exhausted. He and his partner were working 16-hour days trying to solve a murder case, an ugly murder case. The man enjoyed torturing his victims before killing them, the torture so heinous that experienced veterans on the job were stunned at its ferocity. The murderer clearly hated women.
Then there was Louise - missing for nine days. All of his resources had failed to find her. He was at a loss - lost without her and worried that something bad had happened to her.
"Louie," Joe whispered with his head in his hands. "Louie, I miss you."