Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes Page 81

Joe sighed and pulled me tighter. “Yeah, I did, but it’s complicated. I told him I was watchin’ you to hold him off from killin’ you. He suspected you had the flash drive so I told him I lived next to you and I could find out where it was. If you were dead, he’d never get it. I held him off as long as I could, but like I told you earlier, he was desperate. The person who has it made him look bad and he had to have the information on that drive before his big meetin’ today.”

“Which is why he would have killed me anyway.”

“Yeah.”

“But I never had it. Why did he think I did?”

“Because of your reaction to him at the DMV. He knew the person who had it was associated with the DMV. You changed your hair and got new clothes. Then you started spendin’ money, you got a new car and a big diamond ring … he thought you were spendin’ the money he paid you. Or rather the person with the real flash drive.”

“Did you think I had it?”

He hesitated before he admitted. “I wasn’t sure.”

“How could you think that?” I pulled away, offended.

“Lots of reasons.” He felt me stiffen but pulled me back. “I’m so sorry, Rose, but I’ve been dealin’ with a lot of bad people and I’ve become jaded enough to consider everyone suspect until proven innocent.

“The first time I suspected anythin’ was the night of your mother’s murder. You told your sister it should have been you, which I considered a very strange thing to say. You were so insistent you were the one who should have been dead. At that point, I knew you worked at the DMV. It looked suspicious. Why did you say that?”

“You wouldn't believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

“You tell me why else you suspected me first. Did you think I killed Momma?”

“I admit, I wondered at first, but it didn’t take long to figure out you weren’t capable of murderin’ someone. But you kept droppin’ hints that you might be involved with Crocker, like tellin’ Muffy you only had four more days, which just happened to coincide with Crocker’s big meetin’. So I tried to stay close to you, lookin' for information.”

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Joe worked for Daniel Crocker. The enormity of it seemed too heavy to hold up. “So it was all a lie. I was right. You were just usin’ me.”

Joe turned my chin. “No! I really like you. Yes, I tried to get information but only to save you. Besides, I suspected if you had the flash drive it was because someone was usin’ you or forcin’ you to do it, especially the night we ate Chinese and you were so upset lookin’ at old pictures. I hoped you would tell me so I could help you.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Rose, how could I? Tell you I worked for Crocker and that he would kill you if you didn’t give me the drive? I knew you wouldn’t tell me anythin’ and maybe even run. I didn’t want to risk losin’ you.” He paused. “Now tell me why you said you were supposed to be dead instead of your mother.”

I hesitated. Could I really tell him? He needed to know the truth about me. “You asked why Daniel thought I knew him the first time I saw him, and I told you I fainted. I fainted because I saw a vision.” I paused to gauge his reaction. When he didn’t recoil, I continued. “I have visions. I see things about other people, usually stupid things. It’s why I don’t have many friends. People think I’m weird. I know too much and they think I know it because I’m nosy or snoopin’. That’s how I knew about Hilary’s dog before I even knew about Hilary. I had a vision of the dog gettin’ out of the fence.”

Joe looked like I told him I was the tooth fairy.

“Believe me or not, it’s true. When Daniel Crocker came in that day, I saw a vision of me dead, on Momma’s sofa. Only it turned out not to be me, it was Momma. Because I didn’t come home when I was supposed to.”

“This sounds crazy, you know that?”

“Why do you think I didn’t want to tell you?”

“Have you had any more? You obviously didn't die.”

“I had one Monday. I didn’t fight that one, I usually do but I gave into it and it lasted longer than any I’ve ever had. I looked through my niece Ashley’s eyes and she was at a visitation at the funeral home, my visitation. I was dead. I saw a sign that said I died on June twelfth. Today.”

“Any others?”

“I saw another one with Daniel, in the funeral home at Sloan’s visitation. In my vision, I was at in the woods and I had a bullet hole in my head. Dead.” I paused, realizing Joe really had saved me. “That’s what would have happened to me if you hadn’t come to get me.”

“Yeah, probably. Why did you go?” Joe asked. “Why not try to change it? You changed the first one.”

“I didn’t purposely change the one when Momma died. And this second time, I had two visions tellin’ me the same thing, but I had no idea how to change it. The only reason I went was to save Violet.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I could have helped you.”

“Because I didn’t trust you. I saw you hide the gun in the shed and I knew you were tryin’ to get information from me about Sloan. Then I heard Hilary’s voice mail Friday night and I knew….”

His arm tightened around me. “That’s why you were scared of me yesterday mornin’.”

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