Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons Page 72

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You have to take this threat seriously. I want to know what you’re planning to do about it.”

I was hot and my headache made me cranky. I jerked my arms free from his grasp. “I don’t know, Mr. Deveraux. There’s nothing to do.”

“Why won’t you go stay with your sister?”

I put my hand on my hip, my temper flaring. “How do you know I have a sister?”

“Your file.”

He stood there so arrogant, discussing my life as though it was merely the contents of a file. But then again, for him it was.

“How dare you!”

His eyes widened and he stiffened. “Excuse me?”

“How dare you? You read about my life, the private things in my life, like the fact I have a sister, or throwin’ in my face that Joe didn’t trust me when he met me. What gives you the right to snoop into my business and toss it around like it means nothing?”

His face reddened. “That is not what I intended, Rose. I was merely trying to find out—”

“Why didn’t you just ask me?”

“What?”

“If you have a question about my personal life, ask me. Stop reading about me in a file. It’s violating!”

Taking a deep breath, he turned to the side and rubbed his chin. After staring at the wall for several moments, he exhaled and dropped his hand to his side. “You’re right. I’ve been very crass about the facts of your personal life. I apologize. But I swear I didn’t mean to violate your privacy. The first time I read your file was when I was convincing Judge McClary to let you out of lockup. I promise you that I did it with the best of intentions.”

I started to protest, but he held up his hand.

“Yes, I know. You think I should have come back to the county jail and asked you, but time was running out. Judge McClary only gave us until five o’clock to convince him to let you go. If we didn’t get the paperwork signed by five then you would have spent the weekend in jail.”

I groaned, now feeling like the most ungrateful person alive.

“And then last night, I was working late in my office when Neely Kate called. So I looked up your file, which was still on my desk. Neely Kate had given me your phone number, but I wanted your address to run by your house.”

I sat down on the bench, suddenly weary. When would I stop jumping to conclusions?

Mason perched beside me, leaning forward with his elbows on his legs. He clasped his hands in front of him. “I had no intention—”

I fought back the tears burning my eyes. “Stop. I shouldn’t have assumed the worst of you. You’ve helped me twice now and what have I done? I’ve been rude and ungrateful. I’m sorry.”

He leaned back, pressing into the wall. “We sure do seem to bring out the worst in each other.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, but it seemed to be the truth. We sat in silence for several seconds before he cleared his throat. “I don’t have enough evidence to charge Skeeter Malcolm with anything at this point, so my hands are tied. But you have to take this threat seriously, Rose. You have to take some type of precautions.”

I wiped a tear from my cheek. “Okay. I will.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Um… Joe’s comin’ down from Little Rock tomorrow night. Maybe I can go back with him on Thursday morning.”

He nodded. “Good. That’s good. What about tonight?”

“I’m supposed to go to a Henryetta Garden Club meeting tonight, so I’ll be out.”

“You shouldn’t stay at your house overnight.”

“What do you think Skeeter’s gonna do?”

“I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Maybe…something.”

“Do you think he’s capable of murderin’ someone?”

He turned his head so that his gaze held mine. “Yes. I do.”

“Oh.”

“Now you see my concern?”

“Yeah.” I looked down at my lap. “Do you think he’s killed people who owe him money?” I didn’t think Skeeter had done it, but it didn’t hurt to ask since he seemed to be leveling with me.

He released an exasperated sigh. “Rose,” he growled. “Let it go.”

“It’s a yes or no question. If you answer, I’ll spend the night at my sister’s.”

He stood and I was sure he wasn’t going to respond. He tugged at his tie. “You promise me that you won’t spend the night at your house?”

I made an X over my chest. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

His face paled. “Wrong choice of idioms at the moment.” He shifted his weight and his eyes hardened. “I’m scared to give you my honest opinion. I’m worried what you’ll do with the information.”

“I promise not to tell anyone.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He paused. “You seem so headstrong about proving Bruce Wayne Decker innocent. I hate to throw fuel onto your burning fire for justice.”

“So the answer is yes?”

“Yes.” He looked sorry that he admitted it the moment the word left his mouth. “Stay away from Malcolm. Got it?”

“Yes.”

“I want your word, Rose.”

“I promise. And thank you.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to eat humble pie.”

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