Excerpt from Promise Forever

     It was mid-morning the next day when Chief Joseph Scott strode into the newspaper building, stormed past the surprised receptionist, and charged into the already bustling news room. Regardless of the fact that he had no idea where he was going, he had followed, as usual, his instincts, and found himself amid the usual chaos of the early day, police radio squawking, a computer printer humming sporadically as Associated Press news was received from a distant location.
     Some reporters were already busy at their desks, while others gathered with coworkers sipping cups of too black coffee, lounging on the corners of each other's desks while waiting for their morning staff meeting to be called.
     Chief Joseph Scott was not in the mood for jovial newspaper reporters. In fact, he was in the mood to throttle one. And when he got his hands on one Frankie A. O'Brien.. the fur was going to fly.
     "Hey, Buddy," one young reporter called, probably noticing the look of doom and death on his face. "What can I help you with?"
     "What you can help me with," he said with his teeth tightly held together, "is to point me in the direction of Frank O'Brien. And then," he added, "It will probably be Mr. O'Brien who needs your help."
     It was amazing, really, how much the article he had read about himself in the morning paper had enraged him. It had really gotten under his skin. His hand clutched the rolled copy of the Daily Reporter more tightly. "Hold on, Buddy," he told himself, "you are blowing this out of proportion." Having been alone for most of his life, talking to himself was a favorite pastime. "Calm down, buster," he continued in his subconscious. "You have worked long and hard for your career and your reputation. Don't blow it by punching out some weasely little reporter who did you dirty."
     He was trying to take his own advice. He was trying to calm down. But then he looked at this other reporter's face, whose name, he learned by looking down on his desk name plate, was Tony, and who was smiling widely, almost ridiculously, and he felt the almost overwhelming urge to lunge. He froze for a minute and took a mental inventory. Where was this anger coming from? And why on earth was this guy smiling? He composed himself again.
     "That reporter is not here yet," the man said, still smiling. "But if you can wait, O'Brien should arrive momentarily. You're Chief Scott, aren't you, sir? I believe I saw your picture and article in this morning's edition."
     The grin was really getting to him.
     "Don't be coy, Clark Kent. I'm going to take up that little piece of libel with O'Brien."
     Now Tony stood up. The smile was gone. "Libel, partner?" he snarled. "Was there one untrue word in that piece? One fact that was not true? O'Brien is a professional, so you'd better watch your step and your mouth, or you'll have me to mess with, too."
     "My, my, my!" came a lilting voice from behind him. "Tony, I'll let you know when I need the infantry to back me up! Chief Scott, I presume?"
     He turned on his heel at the sound of the voice, a feeling of dread climbing like bile in his stomach, the anger melting like ice in a heat wave. His face was flushing, he could feel the color advance.
     "Chief Scott," came Tony's voice, the reporter grinning once again. "Let me introduce your Frank O'Brien.... Frances Ann O'Brien, to be sure."
     He turned to face her, aware, suddenly of a mass of red hair, a pair of dancing eyes, and a well put together body that was dressed in a pair of tan jeans, high brown leather boots, and a brown corduroy jacket. She was impish, she was lively, she was, well, adorable. His heart started hammering in his chest. She met his dark eyes squarely, and he could see intelligence there, and something else.... a look of challenge.
     Despite the amazing physical effect she was producing in him, he could not allow himself to be swayed from the purpose that had brought him charging into the office. She had written that disgusting article about him, and he was going to know why.
     "Frances Ann," he said softly, but with a voice full of meaning. "Why did you torpedo me like that?"
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