Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons Page 68

“I am someone you don’t want to mess with. I suggest you step away from the lady unless you want to see enough legal injunctions brought upon your establishment to shut you down before sunrise.”

Lifting his hands in surrender, Skeeter backed away from me. “I didn’t hurt her. I just wanted to know why she was being so nosy.”

“Being nosy seems to be what she does best. I’ll be takin’ her home now.” Mr. Deveraux tossed the cue to the empty table next to him and reached for my arm. “Come on, Rose.”

“Rose?” Skeeter bellowed. “I knew Jane wasn’t your real name!”

Mr. Deveraux cringed at his mistake as he pulled me toward the door.

“My purse!” Teetering on my heels, I made it to my table and retrieved my bag, with Mr. Deveraux still gripping my arm.

“Good Lord, how much did you have to drink?” he muttered.

“I don’t rightly know.”

Why did I admit that? I hated beer.

“We’ll see each other again, Rose,” Skeeter shouted from the back corner.

“Not if I see you first,” I said, then giggled.

Mr. Deveraux pulled me out the front door and onto the sidewalk. “You have an uncanny knack for making enemies.”

I tilted my head, staring up into his face. “Things were going pretty well until you got here.”

He snorted, a rumbling sound in the back of his throat. Leave it to Mason Deveraux to make a snort sound pretentious. “I saw how well you were doing when he had you trapped against the pool table.”

“Yeah, well… it was going well up until that part.” I opened my purse and started digging.

“What are you doing?”

I glanced up, curling my lip at his stupid question. “I’m lookin’ for my keys.”

“You’re not driving anywhere. You’re drunk.”

Crappy doodles. He was right. I ran a hand through my hair and scanned the parking lot as I searched for another option. Putting my hand on my hip, I glared. “Well, then how am I gonna get home?”

“I’m taking you.” He grabbed my arm again and dragged me to a dark sedan in the second row, separated from the other cars.

“Why? What are you doin’ here anyway?”

“Neely Kate called me.”

What was the deal with Neely Kate calling men to come rescue me?

“She told me that she was supposed to meet you here, but her grandmother had chest pains and she had to rush her to the hospital. She tried your cell phone, and when you didn’t answer she called me.”

I plopped my bottom against the trunk of his car, crossing my arms over my chest. “No offense, but why would she call you?”

He shrugged with a scowl. “Good question.”

I suspected that he knew and wasn’t telling me. “Again, no offense, but why did you come? You don’t even like me.”

His grimace softened. “I know I come across as an ass, but I am actually capable of being nice.”

I giggled. He’d called himself an ass.

“God, you’re as drunk as a skunk. Get in the car.”

I put my hands on my hips. “You can’t tell me what to do.”

“Get in the car or I’ll call Detective Taylor and have him arrest you for disorderly conduct.”

Mumbling curses under my breath, I started to open the passenger door but stopped short when Mr. Deveraux got there first. “You might be an ass, but you can be a gentleman when you want to.”

“Be sure to tell my mother, to make up for my earlier offenses.”

The door shut before I could respond.

After he got in the car and drove toward downtown Henryetta, I realized he was headed toward my house. But then again, most of the population of Henryetta lived this way. “Don’t you need my address?”

“Nope.”

“Why not? Are you takin’ me to jail?” Oh Lordy. Had I done something illegal?

“No, Rose. Calm down. You’re not going to jail. I got your address from your juror form. If you weren’t at the pool hall, I was gonna go by your house to check on you.”

“Why?”

“I told you. I am capable of being a gentleman.”

“No. Really. Why?”

His mouth twisted as he pondered how to answer me. “Neely Kate was worried about you. And with just cause.” He shot me a stern look before facing the road. “Why are you still investigating this case?”

“Who said I—” Oh. Neely Kate.

“So, why are you doing this?” His hands gripped the wheel and his shoulders tensed. “Did you know Bruce Decker and not reveal it in voir dire?”

I scrunched up my face in disgust. “Why do you keep assuming I lied during voir dire? I didn’t.”

“Then help me understand. You’ve turned this whole case upside down since you plowed into me that first day.”

“That was an accident and you know it.” I watched the mailboxes on the side of the road fly by. My head started spinning and I leaned back in the seat, closing my eyes. “I told you that I knew he was innocent from what I overheard in the men’s restroom.” Opening my eyes, I turned to face him. “But also because I know how hard it is when everyone, including the police, thinks you’re guilty just because all the puzzle pieces fit. Who was going to help Bruce Wayne Decker if I didn’t?”

He gave me a quick glance. “Who helped you?”

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