Sage Michaelson here, a Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Witness Protection Program. Although lately it feels more like a Criminal Protection Program, especially after losing my spleen on the job.
When my best friend Steven texted, “Delaney in trouble. Can you keep an eye on her while I’m on my honeymoon?” I chucked the hospital gown and split for Journey Creek. We grew up in the same orphanage—Steven, his sister, and I—so that makes us practically brother and sister. How could I say no?
Besides, I needed time to recover and reevaluate. And a little distance from my ex-fiancé couldn’t hurt. Jennifer always said I was married to my job. Guess she found a man who wasn’t because she wears a ring on her finger again. I’m OK with it. Sure, I gave her a ring and a commitment. But not my heart. How could I? The people I love always end up dead. I’m on my own. Best just to keep it that way.
What trouble was Dane in this time? That’s what we used to call Delaney. Growing up, she’d had long muscular legs. Cute, but in an awkward, gangly Great Dane sort of way. And always in trouble or causing trouble. I gather from Steven’s text that hadn’t changed.
I hadn’t seen the Dane in a few years, so it kinda threw me to see her waltzing away from the wedding reception in a silky turquoise gown, the kind of dress that forces a man to take a second look. Steven sure wouldn’t appreciate the thoughts that flitted through my head about his sister. To be truthful, I’d feel much better if she changed into her customary basketball shorts or work scrubs. Then I wouldn’t notice how she’d grown from the Dane into beautiful, vivacious Delaney. A woman who embraces passion and life with enthusiasm. A woman who puts others first, on the job and with the orphanage kids.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to ditch the doctor. All this ibuprofen seems to be messing with my head.
Steven only said that someone ransacked Delaney’s house. He didn’t warn me that a man had it out for her. Delaney insists God will protect her, but I’m not buying it. He didn’t protect my parents and sister from the car accident that killed them, or keep my granny from suffering a fatal heart attack on an airplane.
No, I can’t leave her to fend for herself. I promised Steven I would look out for her. But, somewhere along the way, protecting Delaney became less about my promise to Steven and more about my love for her…and God.