Publication Date: November 7, 2019
The sudden opening of the driver’s door ushered in another gust of icy wind and had me sucking in a sharp gasp.
“Sorry,” Jimmy said as he climbed inside. “Didn’t mean to startle you. Here.” He handed me a plain white paper bag.
I took it with hesitation. “What’s this?” A dead rat? Dog poop?
I unfurled the top and peeked inside with trepidation, half-expecting something to blow up in my face. A chocolate chip cookie the size of a dessert plate looked back at me alluringly. Okay, maybe not. But it sure seemed that way.
“I remember you had an affinity for sweets.”
Was that a dig? I wasn’t sure. I rolled the top down again to seal the temptation from my eyes. The holidays were tough enough for former bulimics like me without the intention of well-meaning saboteurs. “You’ve been gone a long time,” I replied airily. “I don’t have that same sweet tooth anymore.”
“Oh? Good for you.”
That was definitely a dig. I wanted to hit him, I swear.
He sipped whatever he’d bought himself, settled the cup into the center console holder, buckled up, then started the car. “Next stop?”
I looked at him, my brain still imagining his naked and oiled body slowly turning on a rotisserie spit—but not in a sexy way. “Yeah?”
“I’m asking. Where do you want to look for your grandmother?”
My brain got sucked into a black hole. I had no idea. My confusion must have shown because he pressed the issue.
“Any friends she’d visit? Favorite places she likes to go? Maybe out for breakfast?”
I shook my head. “I honestly don’t know.”
He sighed. “Wow. You really thought this through, didn’t you?”
“I’m sorry,” I snapped. “It’s not like I hang out with the lady all the time.”
“Well, when you did hang out with her,” he said with equal animosity, “where would she take you?”
I scratched my temple to wake up my memories and keep my growing temper in check. I should have made him buy me one of his expensive fancy coffees. “I don’t know. I was a kid at the time. I guess she’d take us to the usual places a grandma would take her grandkids: the movies, the library, the petting zoo.”
“None of which are open at this time of morning. Anywhere else?”
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” I placed a palm against my forehead where a dull ache throbbed. “Just drive wherever you need to go. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”
“Lucky.” Jimmy snorted. “That’d be a first.”
Something was definitely wrong with this guy. I surreptitiously checked the back seat for a rifle or an axe. When I came up empty, I convinced myself to relax, but in the recesses of my mind, I prayed for a lot of luck. The faster I got away from Jimmy Vais, the better.
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