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A Father's Love

By cwjohnson All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Thriller


After Rhett's daughter Mia goes missing he finds himself in a personal hell. He also finds himself face to face with the attractive RN who tended to his brother in law a few months earlier, at a meeting for parents of missing children. After talking about their cases, Rhett realizes there is something strange going on. Can the two work together to find their daughters and save them before it's to late?

Chapter 1

Rhett ran his hands through his short brown hair as he stood in front of the bathroom mirror. He wiped his hand across the steamy mirror and stared at the reflection looking back at him. He made a mental note that he needed to get a haircut soon as he took in the length, and the slight peppering of grey at the temples. It was getting a little too long for his liking. Not that he had anyone to impress, he was all about first impressions, but of the business sort.

Love wasn’t something he was looking for any more. At almost 50, he was done with that part of his life. After loosing his wife Anna almost 12 years ago, he had no desire to be put through that agonizing pain again. Besides he had Mia to worry about.

Raising a teenage daughter alone was enough to keep any man busy. Now a man with a thriving construction company, that was like pulling double duty. Working long hours at a job site, coming home to work the paper side of the business, and make sure Mia was taken care of was a tough job. Though it was one he wouldn’t trade for the world.

Rhett pulled the black polo bearing the Calvertson Construction name over his head and walked out of the master bathroom into the bedroom. He stopped at the dresser to pick up his wallet and keys. Then sat down on the king size bed with it’s blue comforter to pull on his work boots.

Rhett sighed as he looked at the clock beside the bed and read the time. 6:30 already? He stood up tucking his wallet into his back pocket as he walked out into the hall, stopping at one of the doors along the way. He tapped on the Oak door and listened for a minute before tapping again, a little harder. “Mia?” he said leaning against the white door frame and waiting. He smiled as the door cracked open.

He looked down into an identical pair of sparkling sky blue eyes. “Need to get a move on it.” he said trying to not laugh at the towel wrapped around the girl’s head, brown hair poking out around the edges. She was turning into a young woman and was taking longer in the bathroom every morning, causing him to have to keep her on schedule, otherwise both of them would be late. “Breakfast in 30.” he said as he continued down the hall smiling again as he heard the door shut behind him. The only acknowledgment that she had heard him was the sound of the hair dryer turning on.

Once in the kitchen Rhett walked to the stove and set a pan on the burner to heat before going to the cabinets pulling out the bowls and utensils he needed to make Mia breakfast. He pulled the dozen eggs out of the refrigerator and began cracking them into a bright blue bowl, then whisking them together as he heard Mia run down the hall to her room.

He shook his head as he dumped the egg in the heated pan, seasoning the liquid, throwing in leftover veggies from dinner and some cheese. He popped two pieces of toast into the toaster on the counter and pulled down two plates from the cabinet next to the stove. He turned to the stove checking on the eggs and then pulled two glasses from another cabinet quickly pouring orange juice into each one and setting them on the table at the two place settings.

“Breakfast is almost ready sweetheart.” he yelled giving Mia her 10 minute warning as he walked back to the stove and flipped the omelet. Rhett pulled the pieces of golden brown bread from the toaster as they popped out, placing one along with a fork on each plate as Mia came into the kitchen.

Rhett cut the omelet in half with the spatula and placed half on each plate. He turned off the burner and placed the pan and dirty utensils in the sink before carrying the plates over to the table and setting one down in front of his daughter.

He looked at her as he sat down across from her. “Your wearing that?” he asked eyeing the tank top she had on, as she self consciously pulled on the top trying to hide her bra straps underneath. “Why what’s wrong with it?” she asked looking down at her plate.

“Mia Diane. You know exactly what is wrong with it.” he said as he picked up his fork. “Come one dad. All the girls at school wear stuff like this.” she said her face scrunching up as she slouched and tipped her head to the side. Rhett smiled she looked so much like her mother when she did that.

“I don’t care what everyone else is doing. They aren’t my daughter. You don’t wear stuff like that out in public. After you eat you can go change.” he said jerking his head towards the hallway as he cut a bite of his omelet and lifting it to his mouth.

“Dad?” Mia said in the whining voice she used when ever she thought he was being way to hard on her. “Mia we have talked about this many times before. Not appropriate school attire.” he said before motioning to her food. “Now eat before it gets cold and we have to leave for school.” he said picking up his juice glass and smiling as she gave in and began to eat.

At 7 Mia picked up her dishes and set them in the sink then hurried down the hall to her room to change. Rhett cleaned up the table putting the dishes in the sink and went to his office to get his briefcase. Quickly meeting Mia at the front door as he pulled his keys out of his pocket. He looked at Mia as she walked towards him, checking to be sure the new wardrobe change was acceptable.

After deciding the pink shirt she changed into was Ok, he opened the front door for her letting her step outside into the early morning sun before him. He watched as she walked down the stone path to the truck as he stuck the key into the lock, turning the key to lock the house and followed her down the path. Rhett walked around the front of the Black Dual cab truck, opening the door, behind his and setting his briefcase in the backseat before climbing up into the cab.

Rhett pulled on his seat belt then stuck the key in the ignition and felt the diesel engine rumble to life as he turned it. He looked over to the other side of the truck, waiting for Mia to click her seat belt into place before backing out of the driveway and heading down the street in the direction of the school. The only sound other than the truck was the sound Mia’s music made from her earbuds.

Rhett sat at the light on the main road, waiting for the light to turn green so he could drop Mia off, and then head to the job site. He hated the morning traffic on this side of town, he always felt the more traffic the more likely an accident could happen, and that was a big fear for him.

After a short few minutes Rhett turned onto the road leading to the massive school with the U and Missouri flag whipping in the wind. Rhett pulled up to the curb before putting the truck into park, he turned and looked at his daughter. “I have to work late this evening. You think you can get a ride home with Victoria or Kaitlyn?” he asked looking over at her as she gathered her things, shoving things into the Pink and Black bag.

Mia pulled the hot pink ear buds out of her ears and tucked them in her bag. “Yeah, no problem dad.” she said leaning over and kissing his cheek. Rhett opened his wallet and held out a bill to her. “See you at dinner.” she said as she took the money out of his hand and shoved it in her pocket. “Love you Mia.” he said as she jumped down out of the truck. “Love you to Dad.” she said as she shut the door and began walking up the sidewalk to the front door, sliding her arms into the straps of her backpack.

Rhett watched as a couple girls walked over to her and began talking to her as they walked together to the front doors of the building. He sighed as he watched them in his mirror. She was growing up,and it was getting harder to keep tabs on her and her friends. He didn’t agree how a lot of people allowed their children to get away with some things. Allowing them to dress the way they do,and talk to people the way some kids do now days.

Rhett put the truck into gear and pulled away from the curb, following the steady stream of traffic of the other parents dropping off their kids on their way to work. He made a right at the light, heading back the way they had came, slowly making his way back to the highway.

Rhett pulled the truck to a stop in the driveway of the new construction his brother in law was over seeing. The company was currently working on 3 projects, the other two accounts were remodels, which were being ran by two of the best foreman they had. He had a great crew, he trusted everyone of his workers, though he still checked in every few days just to make sure it was going smoothly and on schedule.

Joey smiled as Rhett lowered his tall frame down from the cab and opened the back door to the truck to retrieve his briefcase. “How’s it going this morning?” Rhett asked as his brother in law approached him. “Good so far, but it’s still early.” Joey said his green eyes dancing with laughter. He said that every morning and they both knew it was the truth.

“You heard from the lumber company on our missing order?” Joey asked leaning against the bed of the truck crossing one booted foot over the other as he folded his arms across the chest of a black polo shirt identical to Rhett’s. “I called them yesterday afternoon. They said it should be here this morning. Something about their delivery got delayed, which delayed all their orders.” Rhett said pulling out the blue prints for the house.

The two men walked over to the small trailer they used as a portable office on new build sites, where they could meet and discuss options with the home owners during any kind of weather. Rhett walked in and laid the plans down on the small desk inside and leaned over them. “Now show me what the home owners are wanting to change.” Rhett said his eyes scanning the layout of the massive two story home that was designed from scratch specifically for the family.

Joey stood beside him and pointed to the kitchen. Showing him the wall they wanted to remove, and the window they wanted to add. “The windows are doable. The wall isn’t. That is a load bearing wall. We may be able to put up some sort of archways, but something has to remain. Archways would still open in it up quite a bit.” Rhett said opening the laptop and pulling up the model rendering of the inside of the house.

Joey watched as Rhett changed the image to show elegant archway’s opening the kitchen up with it’s new window design to the living area. “Show them this when they come by later. See if that will work for them. Explain to them some sort of support has to be there, but I’m open to suggestions.” Rhett said saving the new options and closed the laptop. “When they coming by?” he asked looking at the clock. “Lunch time.” Joey said pouring Rhett a cup of coffee.

Rhett accepted the steaming mug and walked towards the door of the trailer. Joey poured himself one and followed him out the door for their regular inspection of the build site. They walked it and checked on progress every day, that is why Calvertson was well known for finishing on time no matter the project. Rhett nodded his head at Joey’s explanation of why he authorized the delay of the kitchen wall, after hearing what the homeowners wanted, it made sense to wait until the plans were finalized.

They moved on to the progress on the other projects when Rhett got the message that their 5 day late order of lumber was finally being delivered. The two men stopped the tour and headed outside to over see the delivery. Walking across the yard to where the truck was sitting watching as the lumber companies forklift was unloaded and they started to unload. Joey went with the delivery driver and began making sure the order was complete while Rhett instructed the forklift operator on where to stack the lumber.

Rhett stepped back and let the forklift pick up it’s first load and began to walk towards the house to continue his tour with Joey once he was finished checking in the order when he heard the sound of lumbar falling to the ground. Rhett jerked around to catch the last of the lumbar fall to the ground exactly where Joey and the driver were standing checking off the order.

“Joey?” Rhett yelled as he ran over to large pile of lumbar laying on the ground beside the truck. He began helping the guys, pulling lumber off the pile in hopes to get to Joey and the driver. Rhett stood up and pulled his phone out of his pocket and quickly dialed 911, requesting an ambulance for both men. “Joey.” Rhett said as they pulled enough lumbar off Joey that he could see his brother in law looking around. “Well at least your still awake.” Rhett said with a smile. “How bad you hurt?” he asked as the guys pulled the rest of the lumbar off of him. “My shoulder hurts, my left arm is broke I’m pretty sure.” Joey said looking over at his arm.

“Ambulance is on it’s way. We’ll get you to the ER and have you looked at.” Rhett said helping Joey up off the ground. “How’s your head?” Rhett asked as they walked towards the house to get a chair for him to sit in. “slight headache, saw some stars for a bit.” Joey said with a smile. “Well I want you to go to Springfield and get checked out. Get the arm taken care of.” Rhett said sitting him down on the metal folding chair.

“Yes boss.” Joey said laughing. “I’ll meet with the homeowners, and come up to check on you when I’m done.” Rhett said as he heard the ambulance pull up out front. “OK, make sure to explain to them about the sink issue we discussed. I hope they have a second choice.” Joey said as the EMT knealt down in front of him and began his assessment.

Rhett stepped back and watched as they evaluated Joey and loaded him up on the gurney and wheeled him to the back of the ambulance. “We are going to take him in. Probably a dislocated shoulder, definitely a broken arm, possibly wrist as well, as well as a concussion. Do you know if he ever lost consciousness?” the EMT asked. “Not that I’m aware of. There were several minutes before we got him uncovered that there could have been a time he did.” Rhett said looking at his brother in law as he gave him a thumbs up sign with his good arm.

“OK, we will let the ER Doc know.” The EMT said as he noted down the info. “What hospital are you taking him to?” Rhett asked as they closed the doors. “He requested Cox South.” The EMT said looking down at the clipboard in his hands. Rhett nodded his acknowledgment of the answer and stepped back from the vehicle, staring over at the pile of lumber laying on the ground, and how the construction crew were working to get it back on the pallet so they could get the order unloaded and back to work.

Rhett sighed as he went to help the men get the mess cleaned up, so he could mentally prepare for the meeting with the homeowners. It wasn’t his favorite part of the job, he loved the manual labor part, getting in and building the houses, designing them, not the social part of it. That part was what Joey excelled at, but he did what he had to do to keep the business going. He just hoped Joey was OK.

RN Grace Morris sat at the small nurses station rubbing the back of her neck as she bent over the patient charts she was working hard to finish before lunch. She sighed as she sat up and stretched her neck in hopes to make it feel better.

She looked over and eyed the framed photo in the corner of her desk. All the nurses had pictures on the desk to keep them going through one of the long days. To remind them why they did the job they did. She felt the tear escape the corner of her eye as she stared at the beautiful smile of her daughter Emily, dressed in costume for one of her ballet recitals, gracefully posed, making her look like a professional dancer.

It had been almost 3 months since she went missing. She had only been back to work for a few days now, spending all the time she could get scouring the city for her. Getting a few leads, but in the end it was if she had vanished. The police assured her they were still looking, and taking every tip seriously.

She finally joined a support group a month after her disappearance in hopes of helping with the guilt. The group would meet every Wednesday and Friday evenings at The Library Station off of Kansas Expressway. They had a room big enough they could get together and just talk if that was what everyone needed to do. Sometimes some of the group will bring up some stuff they found on their case, hoping that one day some of them will find their loved ones.

They would use the entire 2 hours they had going over the new information, in hopes of helping the family deal with the news. She had been going for 2 months now, but she had already been through the heartbreak, authorities found one of the member’s daughter’s body in Iowa a few weeks after she started the meetings. She still prayed every night that she didn’t have to hear that news about Emily.

Grace looked up as the ER nurse up front wheeled back a new patient and handed her the chart. She glanced over the info, making sure she knew what she was walking in to. She opened the sliding glass door and walked to the computer system in the room and pulled up the assessment form for the patient and began entering the vital’s that the monitor was displaying.

“Not such a good morning is it Mr. Hersh?” she said as she unlocked the cabinet next to the bed and began pulling out the necessary supplies to start the man’s IV. She heard him chuckle. “Not exactly how I planned it no.” the young man answered as he tried to relax as she pulled the cart over to the side of the bed and started looking for the best place to start the line.

“You work with Calvertson?” she said noticing his polo shirt nodding at it as she felt around his arm. “Yeah, I am co-owner with my brother in law. I assume you have heard of us?” he said wincing as she sunk the needle into his arm, quickly detaching the needle and taping down the line before attaching the bag of fluids to it and hanging it on the pole beside the bed.

“Your pretty quick at that.” he said as she picked up the empty packaging throwing it in the waste basket under the computer stand, and began entering labels into the computer with a smile on her face. “Thank you. Lot’s of practice. Almost 15 years of practice.” she said as she set the pump to start the saline drip as the ER doctor entered the room. She stepped back and let the doctor do his assessment, taking note of what he wanted done, so she could order the tests, and administer any meds he wanted.

Grace left the small cubicle and returned a few minutes later with a syringe. She stuck the label to the keyboard and walked over to the IV in the patients arm, asking him to verify his name and birth date for her. “Joseph Hersh. 12/20/1982.” he said wincing as he moved a little to much to look at her. “The doctor ordered some pain medicine. So I’m going to push it through the IV. Shouldn’t take long until you feel better.” she said with a smile as she uncapped the needle and administered the dose of Dilauded.

She waited a few minutes and watched as Mr. Hersh relaxed. She knew he wasn’t hurting, he was probably feeling really good at that moment. “X-ray will be around shortly for your arm and shoulder. CT should be here as well but there is a wait for them.” she said turning on the TV. “I will be back soon, if you need me press this button.” she said showing him the red button on the remote. She smiled as he gave her a goofy smile as she headed towards the door.

When Grace returned a few hours later after her lunch break, to check on Mr. Hersh, she could hear him talking to someone. One of the nurses had told her CT had came while she was gone, and that he had just returned 20 minutes before. She also told her that he had a visitor show up right after that. According to Melissa a very nice looking visitor.

She thought it was nice that the other girls were trying their best to distract her, and that they all thought she needed a man to do that. She and her husband had been divorced for 5 years now, they were still friends, just not compatible with each other. It wasn’t fair to either of them, continuing to stay together for the kids.

They had two kids in their 15 year marriage. Emily who was almost 10 when they divorced and Parker their son who was 2 at the time. Charlie was a good guy, great with the kids and she was happy that he had moved on and remarried. He was living in Nixa with his wife Tracy and actually expecting a baby in 4 months. She took a deep breath as she stood outside the door to Mr. Hersh’s room. Waiting to see what bachelor #12 looked like.

Grace smiled at her patient as she walked over to him and checked the bag hanging on the pole. She turned and logged into the computer and checked the orders to see if there was any new meds for him, noted his new vitals and looked over at the other chair in the room. “I see you have a visitor.” she said smiling at the man.

“Yes, this is my brother in law. He finally was able to get away from the build site to check on me. He said I didn’t put them to far behind schedule.” Mr. Hersh said with a smile. Grace laughed lightly. “That’s good to hear. I know you guys are well known about finishing quality work on schedule. You actually renovated my neighbors house two years ago.” she said looking between he two men. “Really? What did you think of the work?” the other man said from the chair.

Grace felt her pulse speed up at the sound of his voice. She looked him in the eye and noticed how beautiful his blue eyes were. She felt her face flush a bit as she struggled to think of the words to answer his question. What the hell was wrong with her? “I love her kitchen. I’m a bit jealous actually.” she said looking down at the bed as she began to chastise herself for getting caught up in the bachelor game the girls had going.

Grace heard someone call her name from the hallway. She felt the instant relief that she had an excuse to turn and run. She excused herself quickly and left the room in search of who had called for her. She stood at the nurses station and covered her face with her hands. “What’s wrong Grace?” Melissa asked as she stopped beside her gently touching her back. “I humiliated myself.” she said her face still buried in her hands.

“Oh come on it can’t be that bad.” Melissa said leaning down to look at her face. “What happened?” her friend asked leaning against the desk. “I went in 5. Checked the orders, and mentioned that he had a visitor. He explained it was his BROTHER IN LAW.” she said emphasizing that the man was married as she glared at her friend. “He joked that he didn’t delay their schedule with his mishap, and I told him I knew they were well known for finishing on time, because my neighbor had her kitchen remodeled by them. So his brother in law asked how I liked their work. I felt this warm fuzzy feeling when I heard his voice. It made me forget how to speak.” Grace said feeling the heat rise in her cheeks again.

“Ok, so why do you think it was enough to humiliate you?” Melissa said tipping her head to the side, thinking her friend was over reacting. “Mel, I’ve been an RN for almost 15 years. I don’t get rattled like that, especially not by a man.” she said looking at her friend. “Your fine. Every now and then it’s good to get the fuzzy feeling when you see someone, lets you know your not numb inside. This job can make you cold, we both know that. Congratulations Grace Morris, you still have a beating heart and a sex drive.” Melissa said as she pushed off the counter and walked towards one of her rooms with the light on.

Grace dropped her head into her hands as she realized her friend was right. Mr. Hersh’s brother in law was the first man she had felt anything for since she divorced. It was nice to know she was still normal, just to bad the man was married. For a moment she felt that maybe he was interested as well, with the way he watched her, but it was probably her hormones, 5 years was a long time.

4 hours passed before Mr. Hersh was assigned to a room. The x rays came back as well as the CT scan, which was causing the doctor to delay his plan of action. Now seeing the images he wanted to keep him for observation on the concussion, as well as waiting to get the arm and wrist set and put into a cast. She walked into the small cubicle and unhooked him from his monitors, and unlocked the bed on the side where the computer station was. She warily eyed the man on the other side of the bed in the very tiny space. She circled the bed and squeezed past him to unlock the other side of the bed, and began to push the bed out the door.

“Well, Mr. Hersh, looks like you will be staying with us at least for the night. I promise they will keep up with the lovely pain meds I have been giving you all day.” she said as she pushed him around the nurse’s station towards the freight elevator. Noticing Melissa smiling as she passed by. When she got into the elevator she heard her phone notify her of a new message.

Grace pressed the button for the 3rd floor and opened the message from Melissa. “Tall dark and handsome is staring hard at your rear.” Grace felt her face flush as she covered her mouth with her hand and shoved her phone in her pocket as the doors opened. She pushed the bed out of the elevator and started towards the new room. She stopped and exchanged papers with the nursing staff on the floor and helped get the bed in the room, locked the wheels and set up the monitors for him.

She turned and looked at him. “Well good luck to you Mr. Hersh. I hope you heal quickly and get back to work soon.” she said as she started towards the door. “Wait. Give her a card. If you need any work done, call us.” he said to his brother in law as she rounded the end of his bed, motioning with his good arm. Grace stopped and looked over at tall, dark and handsome as Melissa had dubbed him.

She felt her pulse speed up again as he stood and pulled out his wallet from his back pocket, then holding out a white card. Grace reached out and took it from him, her fingers lightly brushing his. It was brief contact but she felt a jolt in her fingers where they had touched his. “Thank you. If I decide to have work done I will give you guys a call.” she said looking down at the card in her hand. “Take care.” she said glancing up at both men as she pocketed the card and walked to the door. She smiled as she walked out the door, Rhett Calvertson felt that jolt, she could read people, and he felt something.

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1. Chapter 1
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