Thirty-Two and a Half Complications Page 102

“Do I hear twenty-one?” the auctioneer repeated. “Going once—”

Skeeter growled, then lifted his paddle and shouted, “Twenty-one.”

“Do I hear twenty-two?”

“Twenty-two!” the last bidder called out.

“Twenty-three!” Skeeter shouted without being prompted.

“Do I hear twenty-four?”

No one answered.

Jed stood almost directly behind Skeeter, scanning the crowd.

“Do I hear twenty-four?” the auctioneer shouted. “Going once.”

I tensed, my nerves pinging with anxiety. This was going differently than my vision, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen.

“Going twice!”

I held my breath.

“Twenty-four!” a quiet voice rang out from a corner.

All eyes in the room turned toward it. Skeeter and I gasped simultaneously.

“He was in my vision at the fertilizer plant,” I hissed.

“That’s my goddamned dentist!” Skeeter growled. “You said it was the grocery store manager who was bidding!”

I shook my head, trying to figure out what was going on. “Merv must have stopped him. So your dentist took his place.”

“Do I hear twenty-five?” the auctioneer called out.

“Twenty-six!” Skeeter hollered, lifting his paddle. Then he lowered his voice, shooting a glance back to Jed. “Do either of you see the Burger Shack guy?”

“No,” we both said.

“Twenty-seven?” The man at the podium looked toward Skeeter’s dentist.

“How much money do you think they got from the Piggly Wiggly?” Skeeter asked Jed.

His minion looked scared. “It’s hard to say, Skeeter.”

“Take a goddamned guess!”

“Maybe ten thousand or so.”

“So they have at least thirty K,” Skeeter muttered. “Where’s the damn fast food guy? How hard can it be to find a scrawny kid?”

“I don’t know,” Jed answered.

Skeeter lifted his paddle. “Thirty thousand!”

A man was slowly inching his way toward us, hanging at the periphery of the crowd. I knew I’d seen him somewhere, but I couldn’t place him.

Skeeter’s dentist cast a glance in our direction, then stood straighter and called out with more confidence, “Thirty-one!”

“Thirty-three!” Skeeter rumbled out, flexing and unflexing his hand.

“Thirty-four!” the dentist practically shouted.

“Jed.” I glanced back at him. “Over there. The man standing by the guy with the blue shirt. He’s making a beeline toward us and I know him somehow.”

“That’s Doc Gentry,” Jed said. “The big-animal vet.”

“Oh, my word,” I exhaled. In my vision, Skeeter had been killed with a syringe of something. Doc Gentry had access to powerful tranquilizers that could down a man in an instant. It made sense that he would smell of fertilizer.

He was about six feet away when someone bumped into the vet and he shouted, “Get out of my way.”

I recognized his voice. “Dr. Gentry is Mick. The bank robber.”

“My dentist. The vet. The damn grocery store manager. What the hell is going on here?” Skeeter hissed. “Stop him, Jed.”

“You’re the one who said they’d watched too many episodes of Breaking Bad.”

“I didn’t actually believe it!”

Jed took off after Mick. Mick saw him coming and turned around, heading for the exit.

“Going once,” the auctioneer called out. “Going twice…”

Skeeter lifted his paddle, watching Jed grab the veterinarian. “Thirty-five!”

“Do I hear thirty-six?”

All eyes turned to the dentist, who was watching Jed lead Dr. Gentry to a back corner. His face paled.

“Thirty-six?” the auctioneer asked again. “Going once… going twice…”

Skeeter’s body was so stiff I could have done laundry on it.

“Sold! To paddle nine!”

A big grin broke out on Skeeter’s face right before I heard Joe’s voice shouted through a speaker, “Fenton County Sheriff’s Department! Everybody drop to your knees with your hands on your head.”

Oh, shit.

Chapter Twenty-Six

I could not let Joe find me here.

Skeeter snarled like a wild animal. “Jed!”

Jed was already on his way back, Mick nowhere to be seen. Jed threw something on the ground behind him, and a huge plume of smoke billowed into the air. Shouts and screams filled the room.

Skeeter grabbed my arm. “Come on.”

I couldn’t see where he was leading me with all the smoke around us, and a small part of me considered staying put, but I figured Skeeter had as strong a sense of self-preservation as I had, maybe more. Sticking with him and Jed seemed the best plan.

Skeeter and Jed must have already planned out an escape route. Skeeter trapped my wrist in a firm grip, and it occurred to me that even if I wanted to stay behind, he wouldn’t have any part of it. I had trouble keeping up in my four-inch heels, but after several seconds of running, Skeeter stopped. I slammed into him and he grabbed my shoulders to keep me upright.

I could barely make out Jed bending over and lifting something up. I wanted to ask questions, but I could hear a huge commotion at the other end of the barn, and I knew we needed stealth to get away.

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