The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6)


by Robyn Carr

One

When Seth Sileski was a kid, Thunder Point was his playground. Even as a freckle-faced, towheaded little kid he’d held this town in the palm of his hand. He could run the fastest, hit the hardest, throw the farthest and charm the most cantankerous teachers. His two older brothers, Nick and Norm Junior—affectionately known as Boomer—had also had great childhoods, but they never matched Seth’s notoriety. He went from beautiful kid to adored adolescent to most popular and accomplished teenager—great grades, superb athlete, handsome, a good and loyal friend. He’d had it all. And then, at the age of twenty, his life took a dramatic turn and all that great luck and good fortune seemed to blow away.

Or, if you listened to his father, Norm Sileski, Seth threw it away.

So now he was back in Thunder Point, a little scarred and damaged but whole. And definitely humbled. He’d traveled a long way since leaving town at the age of eighteen and if you’d told him five or ten years ago that he’d return home he’d have called you a lunatic. Yet here he was, and by choice. This time he was wearing a deputy’s uniform. He was thirty-four years old, and his battle to regain a sense of pride and accomplishment had been mighty and difficult. Seth was taking over the Sheriff’s Department Thunder Point substation from Mac McCain. He’d be the officer in charge while Mac moved to a lieutenant’s position at the headquarters in Coquille.

Seth had been back to town fairly often over the past sixteen years. He visited his mother and tried to check in with his father. Every time he drove into this small coastal town he was surprised by how little the place had changed. People changed, the economy changed, the world changed, and yet Thunder Point, Oregon, always seemed to remain the same. The linoleum in the diner had been old and cracked when he was a boy, all the same fast-food establishments were present, Waylan’s Bar was still the only real dive in town and it looked frozen in time. In fact, Waylan still propped the door open with a paint can, as if he intended to paint the place. It hadn’t happened yet.

It was the second week in September and school had resumed just a couple of weeks ago, so there was still a lot of optimism and excitement winding up the students. Those on bikes weren’t staying out of the middle of the road very well, but a little whoop-whoop from the police SUV moved ’em over quick, followed by yelps of laughter and shenanigans.

Seth caught sight of Iris McKinley, his next-door neighbor and childhood friend when he was growing up. She was still riding her bike to school, but now she wore a skirt and carried a briefcase in the basket. When the wind caught her skirt it revealed tight, black bike shorts underneath. The kids raced her. The school buses passed her, honked their horns and kids leaned out their windows to wave. Iris jingled the bell mounted on her handlebars and waved in response. She threw back her head and laughed as a bus driver laid on the horn for a long blast. She still had that wild, unrestrained laughter he remembered. Before she noticed him, he turned off the main street, heading back to the substation to park.

The Sheriff’s Department substation was one sign that some changes had taken place in Thunder Point. The department had always had a strong presence in the town as there was no local law enforcement, but the substation office was only about ten years old. The clinic next door was quite new so Seth made that his first stop. He walked into the clinic to face a beautiful woman standing in the reception area. She could be mistaken for Catherine Zeta-Jones with her dark straight hair and brown eyes.

“Hi,” he said, smiling, putting out his hand. “I’m Seth Sileski and I’ll be your new neighbor. Mac starts working in Coquille in about a week.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure,” she said. “Peyton Lacoumette, physician’s assistant. And this is Devon Lawson, our office manager. Scott?” she yelled. “Do you have a minute?”

The doctor came to the front of the clinic wearing the native dress—blue jeans and denim shirt. “Hi, I’m Scott Grant. So, you’re the new guy,” he said with a smile.

Seth laughed and stuck out his hand. “Seth Sileski. I’m not exactly new. I grew up here. Norm is my dad.”

“No kidding. Which one are you? He said he had three sons and none of them lived in town.”

“I’m the youngest. I’ve only been back to visit since leaving for college.”

“Then welcome back,” Scott said. “We’ll be glad to have you. And we’re darn proud of Mac—moving up in the world.”

“Those are going to be hard shoes to fill,” Seth said.

“Did you know Mac before now?” Peyton asked.

“Sure, from the department. I think I’ve known him eight years or so, though we worked in different parts of the county. He has a very good reputation. Before it’s down to me—are there any needs you have or issues you’re concerned about? Anything you want me to know?” He grinned. “As your neighbor and your cop?”

Scott chuckled. “Trash pickup is Wednesday in the alley behind the stores. I’ll have to think about anything else.”

“Trash,” Seth said. “Good to know. Let me ask you this—how do you get along with the youth in town? Any problems I should be aware of?”

Scott shook his head. “I had to stitch up some wild ones in the E.R. in North Bend—a fight at an unsupervised party. I haven’t dealt with any injuries caused by bad behavior around Thunder Point in the past year. Mac had some bullying issues before I opened up the clinic, but I’m not sure of the details. I’ve just had the usual stuff and the kids around here are better than most.”

“Strict parents, for the most part,” Seth said. “And a nosy town in general.”

“Do you have teenagers, Deputy?” Peyton asked.

He shook his head. “I’m not married and don’t have kids, ma’am. Asking about the teenagers is just something I do when trying to get a profile on a new place. The town isn’t new to me but the people are—the faces have changed after sixteen years. Right now I’m in orientation with Mac as my supervisor and part of the process is to introduce myself to the businesses. The stores haven’t changed much but the owners, managers and employees have.” He looked over his shoulder at the diner. “We used to go there after school and I hear Stu is still the owner and cook but now Gina is the head waitress. Gina’s mom was the waitress in charge when I was a kid.”

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