Home > The Best Is Yet to Come(8)

The Best Is Yet to Come(8)
Author: Debbie Macomber

   They both got settled. Harry sat in a padded chair and Cade sat on the sofa, and without thinking, Cade crossed his legs. He felt the immediate pull of pain at the injured muscle and quickly uncrossed them. It had been an instinctual move, and he realized he hadn’t been able to do it ever since his injury. The judge was right; he was making progress. This was the first time he’d done it—not for any real length of time, true, but still, he’d been able to lift one leg over the other for the first time in recent memory.

   “So,” Harry said, stirring his coffee after adding sugar, “how did your court appointment go?”

   “Okay, I guess. Judge Walters wants to see me again in another ninety days.”

   Harry nodded, as if to say that was what he’d expected.

   “My attorney thinks she’s put her name on my case file. I have the feeling her interest might have something to do with my father and his law firm.” Cade hadn’t said a lot about his family situation. Sensing Cade’s reluctance, Harry hadn’t dug for details. Nevertheless, he seemed to read between the lines.

   “As you might have guessed, my father and I are estranged.” Before she showed up in court, he would have said the same thing about his mother. He’d expected condemnation and disappointment in her face when their eyes met, and he’d seen neither. He didn’t have the ability to read people, not the way Harry did. The only thing he thought he might have detected in her look was regret, and even then, he wasn’t completely sure.

   Harry uncrossed his legs, set his mug aside, and reached for a pen. “When was the last time you spoke with your family?”

   Cade reached for one of the pillows that rested against the back of the sofa and then quickly set it back in place. “Six years…not that we talked much before I entered the military. To put it mildly, my father highly disapproved of that decision.”

   “Any particular reason?”

   “Yeah. He had other plans for me.”

   “And you used the military to escape.”

   “Probably not the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but the truth is, given the same options, I’d follow the same path.”

   Harry nodded without judgment or pressure to continue. “For your peace of mind, I’ll tell you that you’re wrong when it comes to Judge Walters’s interest in your case.”

   “What do you mean?”

   “Your family, and any influence they might have with the courts, had nothing to do with Judge Walters.”

   Cade wasn’t sure what to make of this. In his mind, he was convinced the judge had been influenced to go light with him. His mother’s presence in the courtroom had sealed the conclusion in his mind.

   “Judge Walters’s son was a marine who served in Afghanistan. He came home a different young man than when he left. He was lost and confused, the way many veterans are. Six months after he was discharged, he ended his life.”

   Surprise must have showed in Cade, because Harry continued. “Since that time, Judge Walters has made it her goal to help other young men like her son. She read your case file and contacted me long before your court date.”

   “You’re saying my family had nothing to do with my light sentence?”

   “I can promise you they did not.”

   Cade swallowed, seeing the judge with fresh eyes. “Good to know.”

   “I wouldn’t normally share these details, but I wanted to assure you her intentions toward you and others are meant for good and not for harm. They come from her own tragic experience.”

   “I appreciate knowing this. Thank you.” Cade sipped his coffee, needing a moment to clear his head.

   Harry leaned back in his chair and looked over the notes Cade had supplied him with regarding his time commitments. “I see you’ve spent quite a few hours at the animal shelter this last week.”

   Cade enjoyed the work. “I’m glad you recommended that as a means of working off my community service. I enjoy my time there.”

   “I thought you would.” He smiled, as if congratulating himself.

   “I’d like to adopt a dog myself. Unfortunately, the apartment I’m renting doesn’t allow animals.” Several times over, Cade had found it difficult to let one of the dogs he’d worked with leave the shelter. It was ridiculous really, because he knew they were going to families and individuals who had much more to offer them than he ever would. Cade’s life was chaotic, and he was rarely home as it was.

   “How’s Shadow doing?” Harry asked.

   Cade’s head came up. “I mentioned Shadow?” He didn’t recall telling Harry about the surly animal.

   “Briefly, a couple weeks ago now.”

   This was the thing about Harry. He had the ability to see beyond the most casual comment and recognize the significance. Cade’s mind went back to their earlier conversation. It happened shortly after Hope had started volunteering and he’d taken notice of her. He’d been warned to stay away from Shadow’s kennel. They all had, and with good reason. The dog was uncontrollable. Hope hadn’t listened. Instead, she’d sat down on the floor outside the kennel and talked to Shadow in that soothing way of hers. It’d intrigued him to watch Shadow’s reaction.

   “She’s got him behaving on the leash.” It seemed almost unbelievable. Shadow wasn’t exactly licking anyone’s hand. He still growled and showed his teeth with the other volunteers. Yet, when it came to Hope, he was a different animal. Shadow accepted her. To watch the transformation in their relationship had been fascinating.

   “ ‘She’?” Harry asked.

   Lost in his musings, Cade frowned. “I’m sorry?”

   “You said, she’s got him on a leash. Who’s ‘she’?”

   “Another one of the volunteers,” he said, downplaying his interest in Hope.

   His answer immediately caught Harry’s attention. “You’d mentioned Preston felt they were going to have to put the animal down.”

   “That’s what everyone thought.”

   “Except this other volunteer.”

   Cade nodded. He’d learned from Preston that Hope taught at the local high school. None of his high school teachers had looked anything like her. She was a knockout, on the petite side, with auburn hair she wore shoulder length. Briefly, he wondered if she was involved with anyone, but quickly dismissed the thought. No way was he ready for a relationship, and no way would someone like Hope be interested in a loser like him.

   As if realizing there was more going on than what Cade was telling him, Harry motioned toward him. “Tell me about this volunteer.”

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