Starla Godfrey: The crime is that we caught Payton Lambert red-handed taking advantage of Sheriff Hudson. I’m pretty sure he’s being held in Emma Jo’s house against his will. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. I bet she took it and burned it in the backyard just like she did with the evidence of her killing Mayor Jackson.

Deputy Lloyd: Wait, what? What evidence? How do you know she burned evidence?

Starla Godfrey: Well, I don’t know exactly, but I saw her carrying a white garbage bag out to the yard the night after the mayor was killed and she burned it in the fire pit at the edge of Emma Jo’s property. Seems a little suspicious if you ask me.

Bo Jangles: RUFF!

Starla Godfrey: See? Even Bo Jangles agrees.


My morning coffee makes me feel like I’ve got my shit together. I don’t, but it feels like it.

—Coffee Mug

“So, you live out on your parents’ farm now?” I ask Leo, standing next to him at the kitchen sink while he helps me wash the breakfast dishes.

Yes, I know I’m stalling, but give me a break. Confessing to a murder takes time and finesse, and I’d much rather stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a shirtless Leo when he’s sated and happy after a quickie on the kitchen table right after Starla left, then watch his face scrunch up in anger and annoyance.

“Yep, I’ve been living there for about six years. The farm got to be too much for them to handle after a while, so I bought it from them and helped them move into a smaller home right in town. It’s hard work, but I love that house, and I love running the sweet corn stand every summer.

Leo’s parents owned Hudson’s Sweet Corn, the best and only place to get fresh corn starting in July, and one of my favorite memories growing up was going out to the stand by the road on their property to buy sweet corn for dinner. Leo’s dad always had a bunch of vintage candy he got from a place in Louisville that he sold at the stand as well. Bottle Caps, Turkish Taffy, Candy Cigarettes, those little wax bottles with the liquid in them, and a whole other assortment of awesome things that my dad always let me buy an entire brown paper lunch bag of whenever we’d go there. Mr. Hudson would throw in a few free extras for me and he’d give me a wink, much like the ones his son always gives me now. I loved the huge, old farmhouse out on Bald Knob road, and I love that Leo took it over, as well as the sweet corn business instead of selling it when his parents retired and that staple of Bald Knob will still be around for many years to come.

As Leo’s hand slides over mine to grab a dish from me to dry, a sudden picture flashes through my mind of me standing next to Leo at the roadside stand, just like this, helping him bag up sweet corn for buyers while also selling them my coffee. Everyone is happy and smiling and Leo leans down to give me a quick peck on the lips, the vision so clear and perfect that it brings a tear to my eye.

“Hey, are you okay?” Leo asks, bursting the bubble of my daydream.

“Yep, just got some soap suds in my eye,” I reply quickly, rubbing my eye against my shoulder instead of using my soap-covered hands.

Stupid daydream making me all girly and emotional. I live in Chicago, not out on a sweet corn farm with a man who can give me more orgasms than I can give myself in one sitting. My life is in Chicago. Liquid Crack is in Chicago, and I’ll be going back to that life and my business as soon as this whole Jed mess is over, as long as I’m not convicted of his murder.

Sure, my business is going to be franchised and technically I could open up a Liquid Crack here in Bald Knob since my contract states I get first choice of all potential locations. But there’s no way anyone in this town would be all happy and smiley if I was trying to sell them coffee. They’d still hate me and be angry if I laced it with Xanax, wrapped a diamond bracelet around the cup, and gave it away for free. And let’s not forget the hot guy part of the daydream, standing next to me at the roadside stand kissing me. Just because he had a thing for me all these years, doesn’t mean he wants to keep having a thing for me for years to come. Maybe now that he’s slept with me and knows what it’s like instead of just dreaming about it, he realizes it wasn’t all he thought it would be.

Shit. Now I’m being emotional, girly, AND feeling sorry for myself.

Leo’s phone rings from next to him on the kitchen counter and he glances down at the screen.

“Sorry, I need to take this really quick,” he apologizes, drying his hands on the towel and then draping it over his should before he grabs the phone and brings it up to his ear. “What’s going on, Buddy?”

I finish washing the last few dishes and leave them to dry on another towel on the counter, listening to Leo’s end of the conversation that only consists of a few uh-huh’s, one yep, and ends with a “Be up there soon.”

Leo disconnects the call and I turn to face him.

“Let me guess, Buddy was calling to tell you Starla left here and raced up to the station to give an interview about how slutty I am?” I ask him with a small laugh.

“Who knows,” he chuckles. “He just said there’s something I need to look at and to get down to the station as soon as I could.”

He slides his arms around my waist and pulls me against him, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear that escaped the messy bun I threw it up in after we christened Emma Jo’s table.

“You’re beautiful and sexy, and sleeping with you was better than any dream I’ve ever had. You’re far from slutty,” he reassures me, running the tips of his fingers softly down the side of my face. Copyright 2016 - 2024