Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons Page 49

The outer door squeaked and my growling stomach reminded me I hadn’t eaten for hours. If bologna sandwiches were lunch, what did they serve in the evening? Macaroni and cheese?

But instead of dinner, Joe appeared around the corner, accompanied by a grim-faced guard.

I leapt of the cot and grabbed the bars. “Joe! Violet called you?”

“No. Neely Kate called me.” He frowned, his tone flat and unreadable.

I squared my shoulders. I’d gotten myself into this mess and I needed to accept the punishment. “So you came to see me?”

The guard moved in front of the door with his keys.

“I came to get you out.”

“You what?”

While the door was swinging open, Joe brushed past the guard into my cell.

I threw myself at him, wrapping my arms around his neck and burying my face into his chest.

He pulled me close. “You’ll do anything to get out of driving to Little Rock.”

I laughed, choking on the lump in throat. “I wanted to come. Truly I did.”

“I know,” he mumbled into my ear. After a squeeze, he dropped his arm and grabbed my hand. “Let’s get you home.”

“I can really go?”

“Yep, you’ve been released to the care of an Arkansas Police Detective.” He winked.

“Really?” I asked as he pulled me out of the cell into the corridor.

The day I set foot inside a jail cell again would be too soon.

He leaned close, his voice low and sexy. “It’s a hardship, Ms. Gardner, but I fully accept the responsibility of keeping you under lock and key all weekend.”

The jailer’s face reddened and Joe laughed. I gave the guard a sympathetic look.

Joe clung to my hand as though I might change my mind and run back into my cage. There was little chance of that happening.

“How did you really get me out?”

“I spoke with Deveraux and he said he’d been working on the judge too. Between the two of us, we convinced him to set you free.”

So Mason Deveraux really had tried to get me out. Panic made my feet stick to the floor, mid-step. “I don’t have to go back to jury duty on Monday, do I?

Joe laughed. “Oh, no. Your jury duty is done.”

“What about poor Mrs. Baker? She didn’t get jail time for poisoning the jury, did she?” Judge McClary might not have sentenced her in the morning but with all the other contempt-of-court charges flying around, I’d worried the judge changed his mind. I wasn’t sure Mrs. Baker could take the stress.

Narrowing his eyes with a perplexed look, he shook his head. “Not that I’m aware.” He looked like he wanted to ask about it, then muttered under his breath.

I was torn about being kicked off the jury. While I didn’t want to go back into the courtroom to face Judge McClary, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Suzanne on Monday morning.

Signing the paperwork for my release, I saw Mr. Deveraux’s signature on several forms. For a man who detested me so much, he’d put himself on the line. I was grateful, but wondered if he’d gloat about it. Not that I’d probably ever see him again to find out. Before my stint with jury duty, I’d never met the assistant D.A. What were the chances I’d run into him again?

After I got back my purse and my ring, Joe and I walked into the early evening heat and relief overcame me. I closed my eyes and filled my lungs with sticky, humid air. I wasn’t about to complain about the weather. I’d take humid Arkansas heat to the stuffy jail cell any day.

Joe wrapped his arm around my waist as we walked to his car. “Hungry?”


“Do you want me to make you something at home or do you want to go out?”

I narrowed my eyes in suspicion, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. “Why are you bein’ so nice to me?”

He lifted his eyebrows in mock surprise. “I’m your boyfriend. Don’t you know it’s part of the job description?” He held up his hand and showed three fingers. “Be nice to you, which is rule number one and very important.” One finger curled. “Number two is to make sure you eat. I need to make sure you keep up your strength for number three.” Another finger dropped.

“And what ghastly duty does number three consist of?”

He pulled me against his chest and lowered his mouth to mine. “Ravage your body.” Joe thoroughly kissed me on the sidewalk outside the Fenton County Jail, leaving little doubt what he intended to do later. He gave me a wicked grin. “I plan to take full advantage of number three this weekend in payment for your release.”

Still lightheaded, I had trouble forming a sentence. How could he have such an effect on me? I shook my head to clear it. “Aren’t you worried about getting arrested for inappropriate public displays of affection? I just got out of a jail cell. I don’t plan on going back into one.”

His arm around my back, he steered me toward his car. “Ah, but you forget. I’m a state policeman, which comes with its own perks.”

“You get to fondle women in public?”

He opened the passenger door and kissed me lightly. “Only women recently released from jail.”

I climbed in the car, wondering why he hadn’t lectured me or accused me of being irresponsible or a whole host of atrocities, instead of distracting me with kisses and innuendo.

When he pulled out of the parking lot, Joe laced his fingers with mine. “What did you decide? Eat out or cook at home?”

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