66.8K 2.1K 282

Chapter Twenty-Two

After Joe helped me calm down, I loved the rest of the flight. When we landed, we went back into town to get lunch at Little Italy. Joe didn't ask any more questions about Sloan or hint at a flash drive. We acted like normal people on a normal date.

I tried to forget about Hilary’s phone call. I kept telling myself there was more evidence that I could trust Joe than against.

I had no proof that Joe broke into my house. In fact, the way he acted last night seemed to prove otherwise. I had no proof he broke in the second time either. I didn’t even know if he had a set of keys. But what about the gun? And the phone message?

After lunch, we sat in Joe’s car and he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. “The only things left are ride a motorcycle, play in the rain and number thirteen.”

“And fifteen.”

“I think you have fifteen covered. Of course, we need to review the Seven Deadly Sins, to see if you’ve covered them.”

I’d forgotten about the Seven Deadly Sins and fifteen wasn’t covered.

Joe’s cell phone rang and his smile disappeared when he looked at the number. “I’ve got to take this.” He said then got out of the car.

I watched his two-minute phone call unfold, wondering who he could be talking to and what could produce such an animated conversation. Joe was clearly upset when he got into the car. “Do you still have to go to Walmart?” he asked, jamming the keys in the ignition.

“Yeah.” I answered, confused by his abrupt change of attitude.

“We need to go there now.”


We drove in silence and dread crept back in, a now semi-constant companion. If Joe really wanted the flash drive, he would find it odd when he saw me buying one. I needed to tell him I didn’t have it.

“Joe, about Sloan and….”

“Rose, stop.” He cut me off, his voice harsh. “Don't say another word.”

“But you…”

“Not another word.” He said through gritted teeth, gripping the steering wheel so tight I thought it would bend under the pressure.

Joe pulled into a space near the back of the parking lot. “I’ll wait here.” He looked straight ahead, his mouth in a tight line.

I started to protest, but changed my mind. It was probably better this way.

I bought the flash drive in the electronics section and headed out of the store, suddenly uncertain I made the right decision about Joe. I stood outside the entrance doors, people streaming past me on either side. If I wanted to ditch Joe, it was now or never. I had my keys in my purse and I could easily walk the mile to my car at the funeral home. I’d hide somewhere until it was time to meet Daniel. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a win/win situation. If Joe was bad, I needed to ditch him when he least expected it. If he wasn’t, I’d apologize later.

I walked down the sidewalk in front of the store, away from Joe’s car. I stopped at the corner of the building, preparing to cross the parking lot.

“Going somewhere?” Joe asked, leaning against the side of the building. He sounded bored, but I knew he was anything but.

My heart stopped and I twisted the bag in my hands. “Uh…I was looking for you.”

“You must have really gotten turned around. The car’s back that way.” He looked casual, standing with his back against the brick wall, pointing in the opposite direction with his thumb. But he clenched his jaw and his eyes were cold.