“I don’t want to say anything over the phone. Someone could be listening,” I speak softly into my cell phone, glancing quickly at my surroundings in the parking lot of The Hungry Bear to make sure no one is close by.

“Oh, for the love of God, just spit it out. You had sex with the sheriff, didn’t you? Tell me all the dirty details,” Bettie demands from the other end of the line.

“No! I didn’t have sex with the sheriff!” I shout, my eyes widening in horror when I look up and see Justine Pickerson pause and look back at me over her shoulder with her hand hovering by the handle of the door to the restaurant. “Hi, Justine, how are you today? Lovely weather we’re having!”

She looks at me in disgust before quickly rushing inside the building and I let out a loud sigh.

“Justine Pickerson…is that the one who owns the bar you stole wine coolers from?” Bettie asks.

“Allegedly!” I argue. “They were sitting out behind the bar in an open box, how was I supposed to know they weren’t expired and getting thrown away? Anyway, can you focus, please? Something bad happened. Something really bad, and I need to know how you’d feel about running Liquid Crack for the rest of your life.”

“What the hell are you talking about? Was the sex with Hot Guy that bad? It’s always the pretty ones who are all talk and no action…” Bettie trails off.

A brief flash of Leo holding me up against the wall and pushing his hips between my thighs takes over my brain and I have to shake away the memory and work extra hard to focus on what I’m supposed to be telling Bettie.

Speaking of extra hard…dammit, focus!

“Bettie, listen to the words coming out of my mouth. Ed-jay as-way, urdered-may,” I explain, cupping my hand over my mouth and the speaker of the phone.

“Are you high? Did someone give you a pot brownie again? I thought you learned your lesson the last time when you hid under the bed for four hours because you thought every time the ice machine on your fridge started clinking that the cops were breaking down your door,” Bettie reminds me.

“I’m not high! I told you, someone might be listening to this phone call,” I remind her in a panicked voice, looking around the parking lot nervously again.

“Right. Pig Latin. Must be serious if you’re speaking in a language that all the brilliant scholars in the world haven’t been able to decipher for millions of years,” she replies sarcastically. “So, Jed is really dead, huh? Kind of crazy that happened right after you got to town.”

“On a scale of one to ten, what do you think my chances are of surviving prison?” I ask her distractedly, waving to Mo Wesley across the street when he comes outside to flip over the Open sign on the door of Gas N Sip. He gives me the finger and walks back inside.

“Is there a number less than one? Like zero, but times infinity?” Bettie asks with a laugh.

“Hey, I’m scrappy. I could totally be a gang leader in Gen Pop. I’ve heard that’s the only way to make it, by being the leader of your own gang.”

“Sure,” Bettie responds with another laugh. “You’d totally be the leader of the Whitest White Girl Wasp gang. You’d win every riot by boring people to death about a skirt you got on sale at Nordstrom’s and the importance of starting every morning with a good cup of coffee.”

Before I can try and convince her I could kick her tatted ass all over the streets of Chicago, you know, after coffee, she gets a call on the other line and puts me on hold. She’s back a few seconds later and if I wasn’t nervous already, this would have pushed me right over the edge.

“Weird. I just got a call from a Kentucky number. You’re the only person I know in Kentucky. Did you meet another Hot Guy and give him my number?” she asks in confusion.

“Oh shit! OH SHIT, what did they say? Who was it?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t recognize the number and I let it go to voicemail, like any rational human being does,” she replies easily.

“Holy shit, it’s the cops. It has to be the cops. They must be calling everyone I know for like a character witness thing or some shit. Fuck. I’m dead. How quickly can you make up some really awesome things to say about me and my character?” I ask, waving to my mother when she pokes her head out of the door of The Hungry Bear and points at her watch angrily before disappearing back inside.

After tossing and turning all night, my thoughts too busy to let me sleep since they were filled with Leo kissing me and then Leo arresting me for murder, I succumbed easily to my mother’s pressure when she called at seven this morning and told me to meet her and my father for breakfast instead of going out to their house. In bad need of coffee, regardless if it was shitty coffee, Emma Jo let me take her car and reassured me she’d be fine home alone until I got back. She wanted to start making funeral arrangements for Jed so they’d be ready to go when the sheriff’s office finished with their investigation. It’s probably a wise decision to make those plans now since I’m not exactly sure how easy it is to plan a funeral from behind bars. And it’s obvious Leo didn’t just think Emma Jo and I were crazy last night, and he legitimately things we had something to do with Jed’s death if he’s already calling people I know.

“A five percent raise, Liquid Crack stock when the company goes public, and I want full custody of Cecil since you’ll be too busy dropping the soap to worry about taking care of him,” Bettie replies immediately without giving what I asked any thought.

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