Thirty and a Half Excuses Page 36

Fear had been my enemy for my entire life, and although I’d vowed not to let it stop me anymore, I realized that was exactly what was happening right now. “You’re right.”

Mason’s face lit up with a smug smile. “About damn time someone admitted it, now drive.”

I pulled out of the parking lot, terrified that I was going to run over a mailbox or small car, but once I got on the road and got the feel of driving the pickup, I not only got used to it but liked it.

“Well?” Mason asked after we’d driven around Henryetta and were on our way back to the car lot. “What do you think?”

“I think I like driving a truck.”

“You look good driving it too.”

“You’re just saying that.”

He laughed. “You’d probably look good driving just about anything.”

I cast a sideways glance at Mason, looking at him in a new light. Did Mason like me as more than a friend? If he did, I knew I shouldn’t lead him on, but I really valued his friendship. Selfish or not, I wasn’t willing to give that up. Besides, I was probably imagining things. Violet was right. I was terrible at this kind of thing.

After I parked in the lot, Mason stopped me as I was about to get out. “Do you want me to see what kind of deal I can get you for this truck or do you want to think about it?”

I shook my head. “I’m not sure what there is to think about. I need a truck. I like this one. Let’s do it.”

“Okay.”

As I grabbed the door handle, everything faded to black, and I was in the courtroom facing Judge McClary, the judge who’d presided over Bruce Wayne’s trial. He was looking over the bench at me, his face red with anger. “I can’t believe you tried to submit this as evidence given what you know about the questionable chain of custody.”

The parking lot came back into view. “The judge is going to throw out your evidence.”

Mason’s mouth dropped open, and my face flushed.

He immediately laid a hand on my shoulder. “Rose, don’t do that. Don’t be embarrassed by something you can’t control.”

“I’m sorry. I…I just…”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. Can you tell me what you saw?”

I studied my hands in my lap. “I was in the courtroom where Bruce Wayne’s trial was held, and Judge McClary was looking over the bench at me, which means he was looking at you. Then he said he was throwin’ out the evidence due to a questionable chain of custody. He looked really angry.”

Mason sat back in his seat. “Well, I’ll be damned.”

I looked up in confusion. “Are you mad?”

“Mad? Why would I be mad? You just helped me.”

“What? How?”

“There was some question about a time stamp in the chain of custody on a blood sample for a DUI case I’m prosecuting next week. I won’t submit it as evidence now.”

“Oh. But my vision might not be true.”

“But there’s a good chance it is. I was worried about building my case on it. Now I’ll take a different tactic.” Mason’s eyes locked on mine. “Don’t let people belittle you, Rose. Don’t be ashamed of who you are.”

Joe and Neely Kate had told me the same thing. So why had Violet always believed the opposite? Mason had given me something to think about. “Let’s go buy a truck.”

Mason was right about getting a better price because he was the assistant DA. I paid less for the truck than I’d anticipated, partly because Mason got a better trade in for the Nova than I’d thought possible. When Mason was satisfied, I signed the paperwork and wrote a check.

After we were finished, we got into the truck, and I sat behind the steering wheel, shaking my head. “I can’t believe I just did that.”

“You did it. Now you need your business name on the side. Do you know who’s going to do that for you?”

“No, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”

“Stan runs the body shop on Third Street, and he’d do a good job. Tell him I sent you, and he’ll give you a deal.”

My eyebrows rose as I looked at him.

Mason shrugged. “I helped him collect on some hot checks. He’ll help you.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

My cell phone rang before I put the truck into reverse, so I pulled it out of my purse, hoping it might be Joe. It was Neely Kate.

“You were right, Rose.” Her voice was hushed but determined. “A quit claim deed was filed last week on Dorothy’s house.”

“Who’d she put on it?”

“You’re not gonna believe this part. Jonah Pruitt.”

I cast a glance at Mason, trying to contain my shock. “So he owns her house now.”

“It looks like it.”

Mason had noticed my change in demeanor and was outright staring at me.

I tried to ignore him. “Can you find about the other…person?” I didn’t want to say Miss Laura’s name or he’d know for sure what I was talking about.

“One step ahead of you. When I found out about Dorothy, I asked Marta to look into it. I’ll let you know when she gets back to me.”

“Thanks, Neely Kate. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Anytime.”

“Is everything okay?” Mason asked when I hung up the phone.

“Yeah. Fine.” I wasn’t sure what to do with this information. I needed to let it sink in before I decided how to tell Mason, so I focused on something else. “Why didn’t you correct the salesman when he thought we were a couple?”

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