Before It’s Too Late

Primary Characters: Peter Boyd, Grace Foley, Stella Goodman
Rating: M
Spoilers: Some
Warning: adult themes
Description: Boyd and Grace and the rest of team continue supporting the police investigating the serial abductor and killer. Grace ends up in the hospital which makes Boyd react rather surprisingly.

While Boyd took his son home from the hospital and installed him in his flat, the rest of the team worked to provide backup to the Essex police who was formally responsible for the case of the serial killer and serial abductor of young men.

Despite being the psychologist on the case, Grace Foley found that with a man like their suspect, there wasn’t much she could add beyond her initial observations. He wasn’t going to talk. What she knew about his behaviour was derived from physical evidence, gathered from the bodies of his victims.

She still hadn’t been able to get Luke to talk about his experiences at the man’s hands and she had stopped expecting him to. Luke’s mental health had to come first. He seemed to be feeling better. Once he’d been discharged from the hospital, her contacts with the boy had ended, or at least that was what she had expected.

To her surprise, it wasn’t long until she heard from Boyd again. He sounded different somehow. More subdued.

”Grace – I was hoping you could – talk to Luke. Actually, I was hoping you could tell me how to – talk to him. Get along with him. I don’t want things to end up the same way as before.”

Grace took a deep breath. Her mind struggled to find a suitable reply. What she really wanted was to stay as far away from Boyd and his son as possible. On the other hand, she knew that wasn’t an option. In the end, she heard herself accepting Boyd’s suggestion – or rather – demand. She didn’t have any illusions about his behaviour. If she tried to say no, she knew what his reaction would be.

”Yes. I’ll try. To begin with, don’t – how do I put this – don’t give him orders. He’s not a DC under your command, he’s your son. Let him – as long as he’s not involved in any self-destructive behaviour, just let him be. Can you do that?”

There was silence on the other end of the line, and Grace imagined Boyd grinding his teeth. But he was the one who had come to her with his demands for help. He would just have to accept what she had to say or find someone else to help him.

”Yes, I think I can do that. At the moment he’s resting. I was told he would need plenty of rest. For the burns to heal. As for the – drug addiction – we have an appointment at one of those clinics the day after tomorrow.”

”I’m not really an expert on any of that, but I really wish him good luck with that. It would be wonderful if he could get over it.”

”Yes. Grace – I really would like you to come and see him. Talk to him.”

”About what? He’s not going to tell me anything else about that man. I’ve already tried and frankly, if I was able to force him to talk, it would do irreparable damage. You just have to accept that there are some things – that he’ll never want to discuss.”

”Yes, I know. It’s not as if I really want to know anyway. It’s bad enough as it is. I just meant – talk to him. Make sure he’s feeling better.”

”Do you know what you’re asking of me?”

Again that silence. As if Boyd was actually considering his reply. He did seem to have changed, though Grace wasn’t going to get her hopes up. Boyd was Boyd and there were some things that never changed.

”Yes. I wouldn’t be asking if you hadn’t been the only one I could turn to. There’s no one else I’d trust with this. If you can’t help Luke, no one can.”

”I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but – I can’t say no. You know that.”

”Thank you.”

She was hoping her cardiologist would approve of her taking on this task. Not that she had any intention of telling him just what it would involve.

”Can you come over today? As soon as possible?”

”Yes, I think I can. This case doesn’t really require my input. As you know, that man isn’t talking. I’ve already made my report. It would take a miracle for anything to change at this point. Forensics are going to finish this case, not me.”

”So I’ve heard. Spence keeps me informed.”

Grace wasn’t surprised. She knew Spence and Boyd were close and that was hardly surprising. They were like two peas in a pod, those two.

She made sure she had taken her medication before she set out to visit Boyd’s home. This would be hard enough as it was, without risking her frail physique letting her down.

She was wondering how Boyd was dealing with the enforced passivity. When had he last taken any time off from work? His work was his life. Perhaps that was the trouble. Even if his wife had most likely been as good a mother as anyone, she would still have had to care for four children mostly on her own.

When Grace arrived outside Boyd’s flat, she took another deep breath. She had followed her doctor’s orders and taken the lift, but the mere thought of the time ahead made her feel as if she had run a marathon. Was she getting old? She knew Boyd would say so, but apart from her heart condition, she knew she was probably more healthy than he was. This would be a strain, but she could handle it. She had years of experience to draw on. Of course she could do it. Reluctantly, she raised her hand to ring the doorbell. Boyd must have been waiting for her because he opened the door so quickly, he startled her and she almost took a step back.

”There you are. Come in.”

”Where is Luke?”

”In bed. At least he’s in his room. I thought it would be best if he got plenty of rest.”

She nodded.

”Would you like me to go in and see him right away -”

”No. If you could – I thought we could talk. I need to know more about how to handle him.”

This wasn’t right. A man shouldn’t need to ask a psychologist for advice about dealing with his own grown up, albeit troubled son. He should know the boy better than this. But it was no use telling him that. He probably knew that as well as she did.


They sat down in the kitchen. As she had known, Boyd didn’t offer her anything to eat or drink, but she would have been surprised if he had.

”I really don’t know what else to tell you. Just be gentle with him. Try not to – let your temper get away with you.”

She knew she was on thin ice now. He could easily turn on her for that last statement, but she wasn’t afraid of Boyd. Let him yell all he wanted. It wasn’t herself she was concerned about.

”I’m trying.”

”We’ve been through this so many times before, when you asked me in the past. I have nothing more to add.”

She should have known Boyd would never change. At her last words, she could see his facial colour darken. So he was going to raise his voice at her again. Very well. She was prepared for that.

”But he’s your son too. Surely you -”

Grace cowered back as if from a blow. Her face lost all trace of colour and anyone but Boyd would have noticed and been concerned. As it was, he didn’t even notice when her lips began to turn blue.

When she had drawn in enough breath to speak, the words came out as barely above a whisper.

”Do you think he could ever forgive me?”

She knew that Boyd was at least as much to blame, but at the moment, it was her own guilt that was weighing on her mind, not his.

”Do you think he will ever be able to forgive me?”

Boyd actually sounded far less aggressive than just a moment ago.

They had been too intent on each other and their conversation to pay any attention to anything else. Suddenly, they became aware of Luke standing in the room, looking from one of them to the other, than back again, a puzzled look on his face.

”I’m not sure – but maybe. I don’t know yet. If you tell me the truth, dad.”

He turned to Grace. She had time to note that both hands were still bandaged and so was his head. His face had regained some of its colour and he actually looked quite well. Not that Grace had time to pay much attention.

”What were you saying? About you being my – mum?”

He turned back to Boyd, looking confused.

”My mum, your wife – what is this?”

Boyd on the other hand, was still staring at Grace.

”Well, you see -”

Suddenly, Grace gave a faint sigh and fell to the floor. Both men bent over her, staring at her still form. In the end, Boyd recovered enough to place his hand against her cheek, then two fingers to the side of her neck. His other hand began to fumble around in his pocket for his phone. Clasping the phone so hard it began to creak, he punched in the number and called for an ambulance.

Luke waited until his father had finished the call, then made sure he had his father’s attention again.

”Is she or is she not my mother?”

”Yes, she is. I never meant for you to find out this way.”

Luke stared intently at the woman on the floor. Could she really be his mother? She had to be over sixty. Or -? Of course that was still possible. He didn’t ask any more questions, just kept staring at his – potential – mother. She didn’t look at all well. About the same as he looked when he was in the throes of the worst withdrawal symptoms. What was wrong with her? By the time he had gathered up his courage to ask his dad, the ambulance had arrived. To his relief, they were both allowed to ride in the ambulance. The calm and assured way the paramedics were working on their patient calmed at least some of Luke’s fears.

They arrived at the hospital and were told to wait in the waiting area outside. Boyd made a feeble attempt to wave his ID about, but no one was paying any attention. He and Luke sank down on the chairs over by the wall and waited as they’d been told. Once he walked outside and made a phone call, to his collleagues or at least that would be Luke’s guess.

While he was still out there, a doctor came up to Luke, gazing at him inquiringly.

”Are you the next of kin of Dr Foley?”

Suddenly, Luke heard himself answer the doctor, before he had even made a conscious decision. But that was what his father had told him. It felt strange. All his life he’d believed another woman was his mother, but his father ought to know.

”Yes. I’m her son.”

”Wasn’t your father here a moment ago?”

”Yes, but he went outside to make a call. What were you going to tell him?”

The doctor seemed to hesitate, then appeared to come to a decision.

”Your mother may have suffered a coronary thrombosis – a heart attack. We won’t know more until she comes to.”

”Will she have to have surgery?”

”We’ll have to decide when we have more test results. At the moment, she’s resting comfortably.”

Boyd returned and the doctor repeated his report. Boyd looked – devastated. Luke had always thought his dad had loved his mother – or rather his ex – but this seemed to be even more serious.

”Can we go in and sit with her?”

The doctor hesitated, then nodded. A nurse came to show them into the room where Grace was lying, clearly still unconscious, her face almost as pale as before, but with lips close to their normal colour.

Luke and Boyd sat side by side, waiting in silence. There were a thousand questions Luke would have liked to ask, but at the moment, all he could focus on was that older woman. Dr Foley. Grace. Who was his real mother. And now he might never get to know her at all.

Eventually, Grace’s eyes opened and she seemed to be focusing. Maybe it was Luke’s imagination, but she also looked a little less pale.

To Luke’s astonishment, his father bent over Grace and pressed his lips to hers. When he straightened his back again, Grace began to speak, in a faint, but firm voice.

”Let’s not get carried away now.”

Suddenly, Luke realized that the two older people – his parents – might want to speak to each other alone – so he heard himself talking – quite maturely, if he could say so himself.

”I could use a coffee. Would you like something, dad?”

It was as if Boyd became himself again and began to focus on Luke again.

”I’ll come with you and make sure you get something to eat. I’ll get Spence or Stella to come and take you home -”

”No. I want to stay. I just need that coffee or something.”

To Luke’s surprise, his father insisted on coming along anyway and he bought and paid for both the coffee and some sandwiches. It was unreal. Who was this overprotective father? He was a stranger to Luke, but how typical for their lives together that this new man was actually far more appealing as a father, than the real Boyd. Luke didn’t know what to say, so he just accepted the sandwiches and sat down and finished them under his father’s watchful eyes.

While Luke was eating, Boyd pulled out his phone again and made a call. Luke could hear him speaking to someone then hang up again. So he was going to get a babysitter anyway. He might as well resign himself to that. Did dad think he was still a child?

At least he wasn’t going to let himself be taken back to his dad’s flat. Despite all the new stuff his dad had bought for him. A computer. A music player. A bigger tv. Luke had kept his dad buying all those things, not because he really wanted them, but just to see how far the old man would go. Maybe he could have held out for a car as well, but he didn’t have a license anyway.

As long as his father kept buying him all that stuff, he wouldn’t be asking any awkward questions. He was never going to tell him about what that man had done to him. It was bad enough that the old man had seen him with a punter that time. He’d thought he’d died when he realized that his dad had seen him like that. Instead, the punter had nearly died at his father’s hands. Luke had probably always been a little afraid of his aggressive father, but that day – he had thought he would have been next.

With an effort, Luke forced his thoughts back to the present. He wanted to stay and talk to his mother, if she was well enough for that.

While he’d been thinking, a young woman showed up. Apparently that was the colleague his dad had called for. She was actually quite hot, especially with that French accent. Luke’s protests died unsaid on his tongue.

Content to have made arrangements to have his son taken care of, Boyd hurried back to Grace. She was still conscious, but this time, a nurse and a doctor were standing over her. Boyd almost panicked. Had she taken a turn for the worse?

But the doctor seemed satisfied and turned to face Boyd.

”You’re the husband?”

Boyd didn’t bother correcting the doctor. He could have waved his ID around again and told them he was her boss, but as long as they told him what he wanted to know, it hardly mattered.

”How is she?”

”Actually, your wife is doing much better. It wasn’t a thrombosis at all. But just take this as a warning. No more exerting yourself, Dr Foley. I’d be happiest if you could take some time off work or at least work part time.”

”I’ll – try.”

”In the meantime, we’ll just keep you here for observation, but I’m quite sure you’ll be able to go home again tomorrow morning.”

”Thank you, doctor.”

The doctor and nurse left them. As soon as the door closed behind them, Grace decided to satisfy her curiosity.

”How is Luke?”

”He’s outside, well downstairs actually. I got Stella to keep an eye on him.”

”But – if I recall correctly – did he overhear you saying – that I’m -”

”Yes, I had to tell him. He kept asking and wouldn’t accept anything less. Don’t worry about that now. Just make sure you get enough rest so you’ll get better.”

”I have to talk to him. What will he think of me? Didn’t he have any idea?”

”No, I – we – my ex wife and I – decided to let him think he was her son. His mother wasn’t the problem – I suppose it was I.”

Grace recognized that tone, but not from Boyd. Normally, he was never bothered by any self-reproach and bitterness – surely this wasn’t the Boyd she knew? In any case, that was Boyd’s problem. She had to think of herself for once.

”Can I talk to him?”

To her astonishment, Boyd hurried off to bring Luke back. She had never known him to be this compliant. If she hadn’t know better, she would almost have believed that she was still unconscious and was indulging in some wishful thinking.

Downstairs, Boyd found Luke and Stella deep in conversation. He was amazed. Clearly, they were getting along fine and having a wonderful time together. Boyd caught himself listening in on their conversation. He had formed the opinion that his son was – perhaps he was just being prejudiced but – after what he’d learned – and seen – he’d assumed that his son was homosexual. But that tone – that flirtatious tone he used with Stella – was telling him something different. Boyd shook his head, remembering why he was here.

”Luke – Grace would like to talk to you for a while.”

”Good. I want to talk to her too. Bye, Stella. Hope to see you again soon.”

That look – incredible. Not only could this mean Luke was – heterosexual – but he also seemed to be recovering far better than Boyd had expected.

Stella actually giggled.

”Bye, Luke. Yes, me too. Call me.”

”I will.”

After Luke had disappeared into the lift, Boyd turned to face Stella, unsure of how to deal with the exchange he had just witnessed. In the end, he merely dismissed her.

”You can go now. I’ll look after Luke myself.”

”Alright. Who would have guessed you had such a cute son?”

She broke off. That was – rather impolite, wasn’t it? Too late to take her words back now. But to her relief, her boss didn’t seem to have caught her meaning at all.

When Stella had left, Boyd sat down on the nearest chair. First Luke and now Grace. He felt a chill go down his spine. What if he’d lost them both? He couldn’t live without them. That mustn’t happen. He’d been too hard on both of them and – he would have to make things right again.

Luke anxiously looked through the door and at Dr Foley who was lying in bed. She was awake and didn’t look too pale, but still frail and – perhaps nervous. Surely she wasn’t afraid of him? What had his dad told her about him? She was very different from the woman he had always belived was his mother. Strictly speaking she must be his father’s wife, his stepmother. Dr Foley, Grace, his real mother – looked intelligent and kind. Luke didn’t think he minded having her as his mother. But how had all this happened?


He had intended to just ask her. Is it true that you’re my real mother? Why hasn’t anyone told me until now? But knowing about her health, he hesitated. He had to go easy on her.

She fastened her eyes on him, a pleading look on her face.

”Hello, Luke. Please forgive me. I – no, I know you’ll never be able to forgive me.”

To his surprise, she began to cry.

”Hey, take it easy. It’s fine. When I was growing up things were fine. Mum – dad’s wife – was good to me. It’s not your fault that I grew up to do drugs and become a rent boy.”

She went pale. Too late, he began to realize that his father might not have told her. Maybe she hadn’t even known about the drugs? What if he’d made her worse? He stared at the door. Maybe he should go get the nurse? But after a moment, Dr Foley seemed to recover. He studied her for a while, until he felt sure she wasn’t going to faint again.

Another thought occurred to him.

”Is dad really my dad too?”

She looked surprised.

”Yes, of course.”

”Oh, well. There’s no getting away from him then. It’s almost a shame. Do I have any brothers or sisters? Dad’s ex has three kids with him. Two girls and a boy. Younger than me. A lot younger.”

”You have an older sister. Much older. She’s married and has two children. Girls.”

”Oh. Nice.”

But she wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him. A drug addict and rent boy around her girls? Hardly.

”Luke, my marriage fell apart because of my career.”


”My ex demanded custody of my daughter and he got it. Before it ended, it was a good enough relationship, or so I thought, but he used my career against me.”

”What a bastard.”

”But I should have tried harder when – you see, your father and I were never married. And he didn’t really want a – relationship. I think he didn’t expect me to be able to get pregnant again. In any case I didn’t fight hard enough to keep you and I’m really sorry about that. If I had, then maybe -”

So she did know a bit about what his life had been like.

”It wasn’t your fault. I was – I didn’t get along with dad and even less with his ex’s new husband. He was so strict and so is dad. My psychologist told me that I was depressed. So I started taking drugs in school. Then dad found out and – I suppose you can imagine – He had them lock me up and I ran away and -”

”I had heard about that, Luke, but not really in so many details about you – about what you just told me -”

So he’d been right about that. What an idiot he was. It would have been much better if she hadn’t found out. One more person to get those images in her head about him.

”Never mind. I’m not infected with anything. And I’m into girls. That was just something I had to -”

”I understand that, Luke. Not that it would have made any difference.”

”Tell dad that. He thinks I’m gay. He walked in on me once. With a punter. He almost killed him.”

”I can imagine. Boyd needs to learn to control his anger. Though – if I’d been there I would have been angry too. At him. Not you. Not that I have any right to interfere, after letting you down.”

”Oh. It’s alright.”

Was it really though? He’d had another mother all this time, without knowing it. Of course all that had to be his dad’s fault. He’d never have told him even if his life was in danger. Bloody control freak. The psychologist said he’d been punishing himself to get back at dad. That was probably true. Maybe he would have wanted to hurt Grace too if he’d known about that four or five years ago. But not now. He realized that he was feeling protective of her. She was so frail. And it was obvious that dad had treated her badly.

He noticed that she was looking tired. He’d better get going. He and dad should get back to his place. Home. Except he didn’t have a home. Maybe he could go live with Grace later.

”I’ll get going now, so you can get some rest. If you have the space maybe I could come and stay with you for a while? Dad is such a pain.”

”Would you really like that?”

She sounded so pleased he was almost embarrassed. He hadn’t expected that reaction.

”Sure. I’d love to. If it’s alright with you.”

”It would make me really happy.”

He bent over her and gave her a peck on the cheek. She looked even happier at that which made him feel even more embarrassed. Lamely, he finished off with patting her hand.

”Talk to you later.”

Boyd took Luke back to his place, but early the next morning Boyd was back at the hospital. Luke insisted on coming along. The same thing happened again. That French girl showed up and sat next to him in the waiting room. He almost told his dad that he didn’t need a babysitter, but in the end, he didn’t. Stella was pretty nice looking and really cool. He was wondering if she knew anything about him. If not, he might try asking her out. Maybe she was into younger guys.

Grace was surprised to see Boyd again. She hadn’t expected him to get so emotionally invested in her. Not after how he’d treated her twenty years ago.

She remembered it as if it had been yesterday. How chilled she’d felt when she realized that Boyd had only wanted her because he thought her too old to become pregnant, but when he finally realized he’d been wrong about that, she was suddenly too old and unattractive for him. As a typical alpha male he had wanted all the youngest women. Like Mel. But Mel hadn’t returned his feelings and Grace knew that after Mel’s death, Boyd had talked himself into believing that he’d never had felt anything but paternal towards her.

It was actually quite touching the way Boyd sat next to her bed, never once yelling or arguing. He must be trying really hard. And he seemed more hopeful about Luke. If only it could last. This time, she was going to be more involved. She wasn’t going to let Boyd drive Luke away again. If they had a falling out, she would be there and do her best to keep Luke safe. She shivered when she remembered what he’d just told her the day before. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so surprised. Not after he’d told her how the abductor had found him. She had known, but then again – she hadn’t wanted to think that he made a habit of – All the signs were there, but maybe not even psychologists were immune to wishful thinking when it came to their loved ones. In a way, she could understand Boyd’s outburst. She would probably have had a very un-psychological outburst herself if she’d seen Luke in the situation his words had led her to imagine.

”Grace – I’m sorry. I should never have taken the boy away from you. Do you think you can forgive me?”

Grace stared at Boyd. This was a man who never apologized, never regretted anything he’d done. And now he was apologizing? Maybe she was really dead and was just having a nice little wishful dream?

”Oh, well, you know – that was a long time ago. We’ll have to do what we can now. Luke just told me – I – should have guessed but I just never thought – That must never happen again.”

”What? Him taking drugs?”

”No, that other thing. He told me about -”

Boyd’s expression told Grace that he knew what she was talking about.

”Oh, that. Yes. I agree.”

”And you must do something to learn to control your anger. He said you almost killed a man who -”

To her astonishment, Boyd almost looked embarrassed.

”Oh, yes. That. I know. You can help me.”

”It seems I have more on my plate now, than before I fell ill.”

Now he looked contrite. Wonders never ceased. Maybe she should press her advantage?

”I’m sorry about that too. Take some time off from work. I’d appreciate it if you just keep an eye on Luke. Never mind me. I can always find outside help.”

”Alright. There’s nothing that could stop me from keeping an eye on Luke now. He asked me if he could come and stay with me when I get out of here. Do you have any objections?”

First Boyd looked surprised, as if the thought had never occurred to him, then he nodded. Clearly he wasn’t going to dare to tell her no at least not as long as she was lying in this bed. At least that was the upside of her illness. She almost smiled at the thought.

”No, not at all. Maybe it’s for the best. You won’t get into any quarrel with him. And perhaps you’ll know better what to do about his – addiction.”

”We’ll have to accept help from professionals about that, but of course. I’ll do what I can.”

”I have already talked to almost all the professionals in the country about Luke. They couldn’t help. But maybe that was my fault. I’m beginning to think I was too hard on him. You were right. Not telling him what to do seems to have helped. So far we haven’t ended up arguing about anything.”

”I’m glad to hear that.”

Boyd smiled, looking like he had all those years ago, before he had –

”So am I. Perhaps I don’t have to say this, but I love him so much. When I found out about what he was doing – and when I thought he was gone – it – was killing me. Knowing that it was all my fault too.”

”You’ve had a second chance. I’ve had a second chance. We can’t afford to waste a single second of that. As I told Luke yesterday, I shouldn’t have given up so easily. When you – I just gave up. I let him down too. We’re both to blame.”

”No, Grace. It was my fault. I don’t know what I was thinking. When you – when I realized I might lose you – it made me realize that I can’t do without you either. I was a fool not to mention a – bastard – to treat you the way I did back then. I’m sorry. Please try to forgive me.”

That was really the last thing Grace had expected. She stared at Boyd for so long she knew she had to think of something to say, if only to keep him here and in that conciliatory mood. It was actually quite gratifying.

”Of course.”

What was she saying? She wasn’t completely sure she could forgive him. He had hurt her really badly and used her already low self-esteem after her divorce to bully her into giving up her son, that he hadn’t wanted in the first place. But she knew she was going to forgive him. What had happened with Luke – his returning from the dead – had given them both a second chance. They would just have to take it and hope that from now on, they’d be able to keep their boy safe from all harm. If they could do it together, so much the better.

Before she had a chance to react, Boyd was kissing her again and though she knew she ought to put a stop to this foolishness, she found herself unable to do so. She knew she was a fool to trust him but this felt so good after all those years of being treated like – dirt. Her knowledge of psychology warned her that she might live to regret it, but she didn’t want to listen. She’d take what she could get. At her age, that was more than she had dared to hope for.

She was wondering what their colleagues would think. No one had been able to guess what had happened between her and Boyd all those years ago, she was willing to bet. It would come as a surprise to them. But so what? It was her business after all, no one else’s. After her health scare, she was going to take everything she could get out of life and enjoy it to the full. Who knew how long any of them had? And she would make sure Luke stayed off the drugs. If she failed at that, what kind of psychologist would she be? She was looking forward to having Luke stay with her. It was time to make up for all the lost years.

When Boyd came downstairs again, at first he couldn’t find Luke anywhere. A chill came over him. Not again. If Luke had run off to do drugs again he’d – Then he walked a few steps further and caught a glimpse of his son and Stella standing very close together. Obviously flirting. He had a feeling that if he’d arrived a few minutes later he would have walked in on something even more intimate. That was a surprise and though he knew that he might have reacted differently, if Luke hadn’t been through what he had, he wasn’t about to tell Stella off. In fact, this was a rather nice surprise and he wasn’t going to spoil it for either of them. That reminded him of what he and Grace had just done. No, he definitely wouldn’t ruin anyone’s chances at a bit of happiness. He had too much to be grateful for.

So he backed of a few paces, silently, then began to call out Luke’s name, as if he’d just arrived. Luke hastily turned around, looking guilty, but Boyd pretended not to notice.

”Oh, there you are. I was going back home. Time to go. Thank you, Stella. You can get back to work. I hope to see you and everyone else soon. Bye.”

”Bye, sir.”

”Bye, Stella.”

”Bye, Luke.”

She sounded far more business-like now, but Boyd wasn’t fooled. That blush wasn’t for him, if he wasn’t very much mistaken, but for Luke. Well, Luke was a very good looking young man. As long as only young women appreciated that, he wasn’t going to complain.

On their way back, to his astonishment, Boyd found that he could talk to Luke quite easily and Luke even more surprisingly, seemed to relax and act like a normal kid. Grace was right. He should be more gentle. To everyone. His earlier approach had accomplished nothing so he was definitely going to follow Grace’s advice. He couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes as far as Luke was concerned. Not Grace either. It was time he learned from where he’d gone wrong in the past. Even he wasn’t too old to learn his lesson. From now on, he would do everything in his power to keep Luke safe. And Grace.


© Tonica