Thirty-Two and a Half Complications Page 79

“I know for a fact he would.”

“At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that the bank robbers—who have now robbed Big Bill’s too—are stealing the money to make a bid for Crocker’s business.”

“I think you’re probably right. And I think there’s probably enough evidence available for the police to do something about it.”

“Really? The guys in my vision still don’t think they have enough money to make a bid. I suspect I was having the vision from Lars’ or Moose’s perspective. How is it that we can’t figure out who the other guys are?”

“Like you said, Rose, it could be that they live out of town. They could be from Columbia or Lafayette Counties. It’s a short enough distance to drive over, rob a place, then be home before dinner’s on the table.”

“I wish I’d seen the license plate numbers on those cars.”

“And I wish I hadn’t flubbed that great line in my sermon on Sunday, but we both did the best we could, right?”

I grinned. “Yeah.”

“Say, Rose, I have to go. Jessica’s hollering for me.”

My grin widened. “So did you ask her out yet?”

He cleared his throat. “I’m working up the courage.”

“You need courage?”

“Everybody needs courage, Rose.”

“Say, Jonah. What are your plans for Thanksgiving?”

“Uh…”

“If you don’t have anything pressing, I’d like for you to come out to the farm.”

“Oh.” I heard the gratitude in his voice. “I don’t want to put you out, Rose. It’s the first Thanksgiving you’re hosting.”

“No, we’d love to have you, Jonah. I meant to ask you yesterday, but I got caught up in all the excitement. Bruce Wayne and David are coming. And Mason’s mother.”

“I’d love to join you, but I don’t want to be an imposition.”

“We’re like family now, Jonah. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be right without you, and I won’t take no for an answer. Dinner will be at around five.”

“Thank you, Rose.”

Bruce Wayne was back to working when I hung up. I could tell he wanted to tell me something, but he was acting like it would be easier to birth a breech cow than to spit out what he wanted to say.

“Bruce Wayne,” I finally said, “if you don’t tell me what’s buggin’ you, you’re gonna drive me plum crazy.”

“David texted when you was talkin’ to Reverend Jonah. He wants me to ask you something.”

“Okay…” I said, wondering if he had some information on Samantha Jo.

“I told him you invited him and me to Thanksgiving dinner and he wants to know if Carla can come too.”

“Oh.” I stopped pulling a shrub out of a pot. “Of course.” Especially since I doubted Violet and her kids would come. And even though we were fighting worse than ever, I was still sad that this would probably be the first Thanksgiving we’d spend apart.

He grinned. “Thanks.”

“Bruce Wayne…” My voice trailed off. I was afraid to put a voice to my fears, but he needed to be prepared. I owed him that. “What would you do if you weren’t working for me?”

His gaze lifted to mine, his eyes wide. “Are you not happy with my work, Miss Rose?”

“Oh! No! Of course I am. But you know I lost all that money, and Violet…well, let’s just say I need to find that money or neither one of us might have a job.”

“Oh. I guess your brainstorming didn’t pan out.”

“No. Not yet and we only have until Friday.”

We worked in silence for several minutes, my mind running over everything I knew about the robbery. There had to be a way to get my money back without risking my life. “Say, Bruce Wayne. Do you think Skeeter Malcolm knows who his competition is gonna be at the auction?”

“Not all of them, but I suspect he has a pretty good idea of most of ’em.”

“So Skeeter might know who committed the robberies?”

“Maybe… But you can’t walk in there expecting him to just give you information if that’s what you’re thinkin’. He’ll expect something in return.”

I knew that firsthand from when I’d met him this past summer. “What if I had information to give him in exchange?”

He released a low whistle. “I don’t know, Miss Rose. Making a deal with Skeeter Malcolm is kind of like makin’ a deal with the devil, only at least you know you’re gonna have a toasty bed when it comes to the devil.”

“I only want to talk to him,” I said defensively.

His eyes narrowed. “You’re not gonna stop, are you?”

“Bruce Wayne. It’s our business. You and I both put our sweat equity into this endeavor, and look at all we’ve done in such a short time! I’m not willing to let this go without a fight. You of all people have to understand that.”

He watched me for so long I started to squirm. “I can’t be lettin’ you go alone. Let me call Scooter and ask him to butter up his brother before we talk to him.”

“I don’t want to involve you in—”

“Mason’s let you ask a bunch of questions around town without puttin’ up a fuss. But what do you think he’s gonna say when he finds out you went to see Skeeter Malcolm on your own?”

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