53. Whiskey Lullaby

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There's a MATURE version of this chapter for those of you who would prefer to read that one

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There's a MATURE version of this chapter for those of you who would prefer to read that one. If you follow, you should be able to see it. 

Earl Waites took a shotgun to his mouth on a sunny Saturday morning.

Amber and I were in Buck's kitchen, failing miserably at frosting butterflies onto her cupcakes when Buck strolled in, smelling like a whole lot of pot.

He slumped into a chair and plucked a cupcake off the tray. "What are you doing here?"

"What do you mean?" It wasn't the first time I'd come around to visit since I'd moved out.

"Guess you haven't heard then. Your boyfriend's daddy just offed himself. A real shame too, he was a real cool cat back in high school."

Buck said something more but I couldn't hear anything over the blood rush in my ears. Snatching his car keys off the table, I broke into a run.

"Hey hey hey! C'mon I've got places to be! Layla, get back here!"

But I was already out the door.


Two sheriff cruisers and an ambulance were parked in front of Jake's house. Mr. Duval stood at the front door with his arms crossed, shaking his head at one of the deputies. He looked up as I slowed, and kept his eyes trained on me even as he continued to answer the other man's questions.

Jake's truck wasn't in the driveway, but there was a black body bag, lumpy and bumpy in the shape of Earl's body.

He really did it.

Once the initial shock faded, my heart ached at the sight.

Just the other day, Earl had been sitting in that house, if not well, then at least alive. And now, all that was left of him was a sad heap of bone and flesh, bagged up to be discarded.

Earl Waites hadn't been a nice man, but he didn't deserve this. Not after leading such a difficult, broken life.

Dear God, please receive his soul, remember this man when he comes into your kingdom. Amen.

Jake. I had to find Jake.

As I was about to hit the gas, one of the cruisers backed out, revealing Earl's truck.

I slammed down on the brakes and stared. There was so much blood congealed on the windows that the whole thing looked fake, like a cheesy prop used in a B-grade detective movie. But it wasn't, was it? This was real. On its own accord, my hand moved to roll the windows up, as if the horror was somehow contagious, as if I would be tainted by it from breathing its air.

Had Jake seen this? Had he found him?

Taking a deep breath, I tore my gaze away and forced myself to drive on.

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