“Hi, Sheriff. You’re welcome. Was she surprised?”
“Very. She loved it.”
“Wonderful. What can I do for you today?”
He stifled a sigh. “I need wedding bands.”
“I can fix you up with that no problem. I already know Ivy’s size, but you’ll have to come in so I can measure you. When do you need them?”
“Oh. In that case, you’d better come now in case I have to size yours.”
“I’ll be right down.” Wasn’t like he was going to get any work done today anyway. “Would you like to come to the reception? I know it’s short notice, but seeing as how you helped us with the rings and all…”
“I’d love to, but I have a meeting with a customer for a new custom piece this evening. I’d move the appointment, but they drove all the way up from Florida. I told Birdie it was sweet of her to ask.”
“Birdie already invited you?”
“Mm-hmm,” Willa answered.
“Of course she did.” The sigh slipped out. “I’ll be down in ten minutes.”
Getting rings took longer than Hank anticipated once Willa showed him all the different styles to choose from. He ended up with a plain one for himself and a diamond one for Ivy that Willa said would match her engagement ring nicely.
Then he asked Willa for one more very special thing, explaining the situation. Fortunately, she was happy to oblige and had just the thing whipped up for him in about ten minutes. He took that gift with him as well and headed back to work.
As he reached the station on his return, Ivy and Charlie were coming from the other direction. Charlie ran up to him, looking less than happy. “What’s wrong, kiddo?”
“I start school on Monday.”
Ivy laughed. “It’s not school, it’s camp. The receptionist at the clinic told me about a three day summer sports camp that starts on Monday, so I got him registered. She said it’s all the same kids Charlie will be going to school with so I thought it would be a good way for him to make some friends. Maybe meet some kids he can hang out with over the summer.”
“Good call. How was his check up?”
“Other than the bruise, he’s fine.”
“Even better.” Hank reached for the station door. “You ready for that tour, Charlie?”
Charlie’s face brightened. “Totally.”
“First, there’s someone who’s dying to meet you. Your new aunt, Birdie. C’mon.” Hank pulled the door open, and Charlie took a few tentative steps inside with Ivy and Hank right behind him.
Birdie looked up from her desk, saw Charlie and smiled. “Is this the new deputy you hired, Sheriff?”
Charlie grinned but stood close to Ivy’s leg. “I’m not a deputy.”
“Not yet,” Hank said. “We’ll get you that star and swear you in right after the tour.”
Birdie stuck her hand out to Charlie. “Hi, Charlie. I’m going to be your new aunt. It’s very nice to meet you. You’re very handsome.”
He shook her hand and retreated to Ivy’s leg, hiding his face against her jeans.
Hank put his hand on the boy’s shoulders. “Birdie, would you mind taking the rest of the day to help Ivy with—”
Birdie was out of her seat, purse in hand. “Wedding things? I’m on it. But you have an appointment at Corette’s. There won’t be anyone on duty.”
“Blythe and Cruz are coming in.”
Deputy Blythe stuck her head out from the back room. “I’m already here. And Cruz is right behind me clocking in.”
Hank gave Ivy’s hand a squeeze. “I guess I’ll see you at the J.O.P’s office. Five o’clock. Don’t be late.”
She laughed and kissed his cheek. “Same goes for you and Charlie.”
“We’ll be there. So will my parents.”
Ivy smiled and nodded, the slightest bit of shock and stiffness in her face. “I have to meet them sometime.”
“They’ll love you. Don’t worry about it.”
Before Hank could say anything else, Birdie took Ivy’s arm and led her out of the station, keeping up a constant buzz of wedding conversation that Hank was happy not to be a part of.
He introduced Charlie to Blythe and Cruz, then took him for a tour of the station, which didn’t take long because there wasn’t that much to it. From there, they walked down to Corette’s, where she worked her magic, literally and figuratively, to get them fitted for their suits and out the door in less than thirty minutes.
Hank carried the garment bags back to the patrol car. “You ready to go home? We have a little time before we have to get ready.”
Charlie pointed eagerly at the car. “We’re gonna ride in that?”
“Yep. And we’re going to play the second part of our game when we get there.” Hank had a theory about Charlie’s shifting that he wanted to test. If he was right, and he had a pretty good feeling he was, then Charlie was about to have a very interesting afternoon.
Ivy wanted to sink through the floor of Howler’s and disappear. With each person Hank’s aunt ticked off the guest list to Bridget, Ivy cringed. Birdie had apparently invited everyone she knew to the reception. It was worth repeating that that included Hank’s parents. No pressure there.