Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons Page 95

“Smart girl.” He poked the gun into my back and I marched toward the back door, praying I’d made the right decision.

We exited into an alley, the heat hitting me as soon as we walked out the door.

“Goddamned heat wave,” Jimmy grumbled. “The AC’s out in my car.” He shoved me to the right and had me walk in front of him. “Where’s yours?”

I frowned, the heat and the situation making me cranky. “I already told you that it’s not here.”

“I know that. I asked you where it’s at.”

“I suppose it’s in my driveway.”

“Does the A/C work?”

I looked over my shoulder at him in disbelief. He wanted to drive to my murder scene in air-conditioned comfort. “Not very well.”

“Wait a minute.” He shoved me against the brick wall of the coffee shop. A dumpster hid us from view of the street at the end of the alley.

I tried to swallow, a lump of fear getting in the way. He was going to shoot me outside next to this smelly dumpster. “I’ve changed my mind. I want to go back inside.”

He shook his head in disgust. “You can’t change your mind now.”

“Well, I did anyway. If you’re gonna shoot me, I’d rather die in the air conditioning instead of dying next to the trash.”

“I’m not gonna shoot you. I’m trying to figure out what to do about the car.”

“Oh.”

He rubbed his chin, looking toward the street.

“What are you trying to figure out?”

‘If I drive my car to your house, it’s going to be seen by your neighbors.”

“We could take a taxi.”

“What?”

“I bet it’ll have air conditioning.”

“We can’t take a taxi.”

“Why not?”

His eyes widened as though I’d said the pope was Jewish. “You know, the whole hostage thing.”

“Oh… right…” So much for staying around people.

“We’ll just have to take my car.”

I shrugged. “You’ll be fine. My neighbors are a bunch of blind and deaf old women. They never notice anything.”

He grabbed my arm and pulled me around the dumpster and toward the street, stopping at the edge to peer around the corner. “There’s cops crawling everywhere.”

“It’s the end of the month and I bet they’re handin’ out jaywalking tickets. You know, to boost the revenue.”

“Or they’re looking for you.”

“Yeah, they don’t like me very much. You know, you can just leave me here and I won’t tell anyone about you.”

“The only way you’re walking out of this alley is if you leave with me.”

So much for options. “Where’s your car?”

One side of his mouth lifted into a smirk. “That’s what I thought.”

The back door to the coffee shop opened. I hoped to God it was Joe.

Jimmy dragged me onto the street and around the corner, cutting diagonally across the street to a parking lot before I could see who it was coming out of the coffee shop. We stopped next to a light blue VW Bug, the old kind from the sixties. The car was a rust bucket, and Jimmy had to tinker with the lock to get the door to open.

Putting his hand on top of my head, he pushed me into the front seat.

I was starting to panic again. “I think it’s only fair I warn you that I get carsick.”

“Great.” He rolled his eyes. “Now stay put in that seat or I’ll shoot you, got it?”

I judged my odds of getting away as he made his way to the driver’s door and decided they weren’t very good. For one thing, it was a small car and thus a short trip around the back. And for another, the door would probably get stuck as I was opening it.

My nerves were getting the better of me and I started talking. “Lucky for you, your car’s seen better days so if I get sick, it won’t make much difference. You know, you’d think with all that income from your rental properties you’d be able to afford a new car.”

“Shut up,” he growled and shoved my head to my lap when a policeman walked around the corner.

My forehead hit the dashboard on the way down. “Oww!”

“Shh!” The gun lay across his lap, daring me to try something.

I needed to come up with a plan.

“So where’s this diary of yours?”

“What? Oh, it’s…” Oh crap. I needed a location that would slow him down. “It’s in my shed.” It would take forever to go through the contents of my shed. Especially since everything had been thrown in there haphazardly after the Henryetta police emptied it looking for a gun.

“Why the hesitation? You lying to me, Rose?”

“Well, it’s not like I want to just hand all my evidence over to you, now is it?” I grumbled.

“I guess not.”

“But then I saw your gun and realized I better tell you the truth.”

“Smart girl.”

I wasn’t so sure. I was barely hanging onto control, my wits starting to slip. I needed to stall him and I wanted to hear why he killed Frank Mitchell. “Can I get up now? I’m getting a crick in my neck.”

“Yeah…” He lifted his hand off my head and I sat up, stretching.

“So you wanted to buy Frank Mitchell’s property because the superstore was goin’ to buy up land around there?”

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