Shade's Lady
Page 25

 Joanna Wylde

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Except there hadn’t been a next time.
Here we were, two days later, and I hadn’t seen or heard from the sexy Reaper, which was exactly what I’d wanted, except it was also one hell of a blow to the ego.
There’s something broken in your brain, idiot. Obviously, he’s a lot less hung up on you than you thought. This is a good thing. It’s what you wanted. Now get over yourself.
Grabbing the plastic grocery bag carrying our lunch, I gathered up the girls and herded them out the door. At three years old, the twins were big enough to walk, but it made things a lot easier if we took the stroller, so that’s what we did. Violetta’s one small park was just over a mile away, located right in the center of town across from the grocery store. It was an interesting place—possibly one of the last parks in America with a merry-go-round (made of rusty metal, naturally) and wooden slides.
The girls and I had made a habit of meeting Hannah there for lunch when the weather was nice. Her break ran from twelve-thirty to one, which gave her just enough time to wolf down a sandwich and then push the girls on the swings for a while. By the time we made it back to the house, they’d be tired and ready for their naps, which was a win for everyone.
Hannah was already there when we arrived.
“Thanks, baby doll,” she told Callie, who handed her a peanut butter and jelly that’d somehow gotten smushed along the way, despite my best efforts.
“I made it with extra love,” Callie insisted. “And some Rice Krispies, so it’s crunchy. Can I go play now?”
“Sure,” Hannah said, and the little girl took off, followed by her sisters. I leaned back on my hands, watching as they attacked the monkey bars. “So, still no word from the sexy biker guy?”
“Nope,” I replied, refusing to look at her.
“And the money is still just sitting there at the bar?”
“I realize that you’re being all noble and principled,” she said slowly. “But five hundred bucks would probably be enough to get the van up and running. We’re going to need it once the weather turns.”
“It’s going to take more than that to get that thing running again,” I muttered. “They said at least a thousand, with a miracle thrown in for good measure.”
Hannah reached down, twisting her finger in the grass thoughtfully. “I talked to Heath about it. His family has a farm shop and he’s a pretty decent mechanic. He thinks he could help us out if I had the money for parts.”
I turned to stare at her.
“Heath?” I asked, raising a brow. “I thought you and the good deputy were just friendly acquaintances.”
She shrugged, refusing to meet my eyes.
“You insisted,” I continued. “You swore to me that there was nothing going on between you guys. It was a pinkie swear.”
“I didn’t want to freak you out,” she admitted, blushing. “I know you aren’t a big fan of cops.”
“No, I’m not a big fan of jail,” I said. “And if you remember correctly, that’s exactly where I’m headed if someone decides I violated my probation. The last thing I need is some sheriff’s deputy watching everything I do. If we get the van running, I’ll run a light or something, and then he’ll arrest me and I’ll go to prison and be someone’s bitch. Someone named Rhonda or Kaleee with three E’s. I can see it now.”
“The probation’s just a formality and you know it,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You aren’t even being supervised. They gave you the minimum because you were as much a victim as anyone. They didn’t even have a problem with you moving here.”
“You’re not the one who went to jail.”
“You were there for three days, and the only reason it was that long was because you didn’t have bail money. Get over yourself.”
I glared at her.
“I can’t believe you’re falling for a cop.”
“I can’t believe you aren’t taking that five hundred bucks and fixing the van,” she snapped. I looked away, feeling pissy because she was probably right. We really did need to fix the Kia and Shade obviously wasn’t in a hurry to get his money back. He also wasn’t in a hurry to see me.
So much for “this isn’t over yet” and all that smoldering, sexy intensity of his.
This is about your ego. Snap out of it.
Stupid men.
As if summoned by my thoughts, a sheriff’s car pulled into the parking lot. I could all but smell Hannah’s excitement.
“You’re a slut,” I told her glumly.
“Yeah, well, you’re just jealous,” she replied, sounding perky. “And he’s a nice guy. Exactly the kind of guy we never date.”
“That’s why we shouldn’t be dating at all,” I reminded her. “Mom was shit at it, I’m shit at it and so are you. You just wait and see—he’s going to strap you to the train tracks while a train is coming, then stroke his mustache and cackle. It’s our destiny as McBride women.”
“He doesn’t have a mustache.”
A clump of grass hit me in the side of the head. I turned on her, grabbing my own clump to throw as she screamed. Callie and the little girls came running, jumping on their mom in excitement. She managed to send me a death glare and I knew I’d pay for making her look silly in front of her new boyfriend. Too fucking bad.
“Totally worth it,” I mouthed at her, then I looked up at Heath Andrews and smiled.
“My sister’s crazy,” I told him. “You should run away while you still can.”
The twins were sound asleep in the stroller by the time we got home, exhausted from playing with Callie, Hannah and Heath. My sister and her deputy looked so adorable together that I could’ve barfed. Even worse was the way he watched her—the man was crazy about Hannah.
Obviously, he was a secret serial killer.
Only possible explanation.
The sidewalk disappeared once I passed the railroad tracks, which made pushing the stroller a hell of a lot harder. Nothing quite like tiny plastic wheels on gravel for a smooth ride. That’s probably why I didn’t notice the old pickup truck parked next to the trailer until we were nearly on top of it.
“Daddy’s here!” Callie shouted, her little voice full of joy. I felt sick to my stomach because I remembered those days from my own childhood. My father had been in and out of our lives until I was about six. Then he was out for good and I never saw him again. It took another few years before I realized he wasn’t coming back, and even longer before I understood it wasn’t my fault.