A Walk in the Woods (Serial Short Story Romance, Part 4 of 4)

Candy paced by the front window of her condo. Jax hadn’t lied. He had called every night since their woodland adventure. Sometimes for only a few moments as he often worked nights. Ironically, sometimes she did as well. Mick was out of the hospital and recovering at home with his family. In spite of the injury, he had managed to bring down a key player in the drug trafficking in the city. She found out Jax had come that evening because he feared something might happen even though Mick had assured him it was all covered. She was glad he had been there. Would she have had the courage to survive that alone?

The grey sedan pulled up and Jax jumped out and strode to the front door. The bell rang but she had opened it before the last tones were done.

“Hey, beautiful. Are you ready?”

“Sure am.” She grabbed her purse and her Bible and locked the door behind her as they left.

As they drove down the street, she giggled.

“What was that for?”

“I’ve never been asked to go as a date to church before. I kind of like it.”

“You needed to try something new. I thought maybe going with a friend would make it easier for you so you can get out of your rut and back to a new normal.”

“A new normal. I like the sound of that.”

They walked into church together and Candace noted the way other women watched Jax. A surge of confidence roared through her along with the awareness that she was not being welcomed as much as tolerated by any of the single women in the church. She couldn’t blame them. Jax was hot.

Jax, while polite to everyone, was not overly warm to any woman and for the most part maintained a hand at her lower back as he steered her through the crowd.

They left shortly after for lunch.

As they sat at a table at a small crowded diner, he leaned over to whisper, his breath tickling her ear. “So, did you enjoy this morning’s adventure?”

She grinned at the handsome man adjacent to her. “I’m enjoying it even more now.”

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One eyebrow quirked, “Really, why is that?”

She leaned forward to whisper in his ear. “Because my ex just walked in a few minutes ago and has been glaring at us from across the room.”

Jax smiled and kissed her cheek. “Wanna point him out to me?”

She did just that but didn’t expect the smile to fade from his face. “That’s your ex?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Excuse me for a moment.” He pulled out his phone and texted rapidly. The waitress came to take their orders and she tried to wait. A glance at her ex showed him squirming in his seat as the voluptuous, scantily clad woman next to him drooled over the menu.

Jax grinned.

“What’s up?”

“I know something you don’t . . . yet. But justice is on its way.”

“I don’t have much animosity for him anymore. I’ve forgiven and even feel sorry for him.”

“And so you should. He’s a pathetic excuse for a man.”

As they ate their food and talked they were soon disturbed by a commotion on the other side of the room. A woman had approached the table of her ex and Candy watched as the color drained out of his skin. The woman next to him reached across the table and slapped him. Soon he was in handcuffs and being led out the door along with this girlfriend who kept up a stream of insults.

“Your sins will find you out,” Jax mumbled with his mouthful.

“Jax? What was that all about?”

“Your ex has been on a wanted list for some time. He’s been good at keeping himself hidden but he is in fact facing several charges. Be thankful you’ve divorced or you would find any of your own assets at risk with all he’s going to face.”

“So he wronged many more people than me?”

“Yup.” Jax paid the bill and left a tip on the table. They stood to leave.

“Looks like you keep helping me out. I could get used to this.” She enjoyed the touch of her hand in his as they walked out the door.

“Ah, but you helped me out too.” He opened the car door. She waited till he got in on his side

“How so?”

The car started and they drove to a park nearby. “Today was the first Sunday when I didn’t have women chasing me around church trying to finagle a date.”

“I did notice they had their eye on you and weren’t too pleased by me at your side.” She allowed him to help her out and took his hand as they walked down by a small pond.

“Just as your ex-husband now regrets that you were by mine this afternoon.”

“I guess that means we’re good for each other?” Candy tapped him on the nose with her finger.

He grinned. “So far it seems that way, but I look forward to time spent with you. I have a feeling though that ‘normal’ will not be a word that would in any way define our relationship.”

“Hmmm, what other words could there be? Providential?”

“Adventurous?” They sat side by side on a park bench. Ducks squawked nearby as a little boy was trying to feed them. Birds sang in the trees and a squirrel chirrupped as it scampered past.

“God-ordained?” Candace leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I look forward to discovering more words with you.”

Jax wrapped his arm around her and drew her close. He leaned down and she saw the intent in his eyes. “How about—wonderful.”

As his lips touched hers she found she couldn’t agree more. A little voice called out “Ewww, they’re kissing!” Candy started giggling as they pulled apart.

Jax rested his forehead against hers. “Give him about twelve years. He’ll change his mind.”

Candy looked up at Jackson and placed a palm on the side of his face, enjoying the texture of his beard beneath her fingers. “It took me a lot longer than that. I think the best kiss I ever had, was with a dangerous man in the woods just a few days ago.”

He frowned. “Competition, huh? I’ll have to do better.” He leaned down and claimed her lips again.

Candace smiled and kept her eyes closed as the kiss ended. “Hmmm, so glad you are striving for improvement, although how you could improve on that, I don’t know.”

He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her to his side as they looked out on the pond. “You give me something to strive towards. Every man needs a goal.”

“Really, and what’s your goal?”

“Making sure you know how loved, cherished and beautiful you are for the rest of your life.”

Candace let her head rest on his chest, grateful for a fresh start and a new love.

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