CHAPTER TWENTY

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Chapter Twenty

I set the phone down on the nightstand just as I heard the bathroom door open. I was quivering like a Jello salad just shook out of its mold. How was I gonna hide that? I lay down, my back to the door. Muffy jumped up on the bed and laid beside me, her head on my legs as if she watched for Joe.

He came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. He rubbed my arm. “Hey, are you feeling any better?”

Muffy lifted her head and whimpered.

I was scared.

This was Joe. Joe who helped me paint and stood outside the funeral home with me, handing me tissues. Joe who laughed with me until we cried over Muffy and her intestinal issues. Joe who taught me how to use chopsticks and about drinking and kissing. And more. I felt so hurt and betrayed it overshadowed the fear. But I couldn't confront him with any of it. I had no idea what he was capable of. Turned out, I didn’t really know him at all.

“Yeah, I’m just tired.”

“I can stay and just hold you. It might make you feel better.”

Ten minutes ago, I would have killed for that. “Nah, that’s okay. I’m about to drift off to sleep. You go home.”

He hesitated, like he wanted to say something and then he stood up. “If you need me, I’m next door.” He started for the door, Muffy’s head moving as she watched him.

He picked up his phone and looked at it, then leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

It took everything within me not to snort. Nightmares were more likely.

“Call me tomorrow, okay? We still have to work on your list.”

I’d begun to hate that stupid list. My list got me mixed up with him in the first place, that and my overly aggressive hormones.

I lay on the bed, and about half a minute later the kitchen door opened and closed. I waited a few more minutes, then got up and snuck out into the kitchen, half expecting to find him waiting in a chair, but found an empty room. I went to lock the door and discovered Joe had already locked it. How did Joe lock the deadbolt? I searched my purse and the table for my keys.

A scrap of paper lay on the counter.

Rose,

I took your keys so I could lock up for you and you didn't have to get up. Call me as soon as you’re awake so I can return them.

Joe

 

Crappy doodles. Now, I was trapped and had less than twenty-four hours to figure out what kind of information this mystical flash drive contained, certain Joe was after it, too. Why else would he care about Sloan?

I looked out the front window onto the street. A few houses down, an unfamiliar car parked on the curb. I ran to the hall closet and searched for the binoculars. They were hard to find in the dark, but I had told Joe I was going to sleep. I couldn't very well turn on any lights or he might consider it an invitation to come back.

Once I found them, I crept to the front window and looked at the car. A man sat in the front seat. Looking right at me. Thank goodness he didn’t have binoculars or we could have waved to each other.

Crappy doodles.

Who was he? Who was he with? Daniel? Joe? Someone else?

I sure didn’t want to be trapped in my house all night and now, more than ever, I needed to get out to my shed and see what Joe had been doing out there the night before. But first I needed to change clothes. I put on a t-shirt and capris, suddenly wishing I’d paid attention to what I was wearing in my vision. I sure didn’t want to be caught dead wearing that.

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