Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday's Chapter - Erotic Deception by Karen Cote #MFRW

Chapter One

Lily slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed as the bumper flirted with the weed-edged road before a yank on the steering wheel righted the momentum and she screeched to a halt.

Protective instinct drove her hand to blanket her stomach as tiny beads of sweat heated her forehead like splintering glass. Her heart drummed in her chest from the near miss as Lily glanced down at her hand covering her abdomen.

A ridiculous reaction.

Her womb was empty and had been for years. It always would be.

But that was a different time. A different car. A different driver. Even if the old memory held eternal consequences.

Lily slapped away the self-pity and peeked over the hood of her car. Where had that damned deer come from? One minute there was nothing and then whamo, right there in front of her. Like Harry-freaking-Houdini.

She didn’t have time for this. She had to hide. To plan.

However, with her teeth chattering and knees knocking, Lily was in dire need of some composure especially if she wanted to make it to the lake cabin tonight. She focused on a gas station sign ahead, easing her foot off the brake and back onto the accelerator.

After taking the specified exit, Lily had to go an additional half mile and she didn’t miss the irony of Jake’s Oasis posted above the country store.

Pulling up to the old-fashioned pay-inside fuel pumps, she cast a wary glance at the dirt-covered windows of the adjacent store. With more grit than sense, she opened the car door and reeled back at the oven-like humidity. Somehow her keys fell out of her hand and ended up on the ground in a billowing cloud of dust.

“Damn!” She bent down to retrieve them.


Lily jumped and cursed again when her head smacked against the inside door handle. A husky man in grease-covered overalls grinned through a wet wad of tobacco.

“Mighty fine car you got there. Needin’ some gas?”

Lily pushed her hair out of her face and encountered a friendly glance. Too friendly.

Without conceit, she hadn’t reached the age of twenty-nine before becoming aware that green eyes, long, blonde hair, and well-endowed, but slender, curved women got more than their fair-share of attention. Wanted or not. In this case, definitely not.

With a firm grasp on her keys, Lily grabbed her purse and stepped out of the car.

“Could you fill it up please?”

She didn’t wait for his answer before heading toward the entrance to the store. Her t-shirt clung in the heat and Lily self-consciously pulled the material away from her breasts.

The air inside wasn’t much cooler despite the air conditioner propped haphazardly in the window.

Another man stood at the cash register similar in stature to the first man. Lily acknowledged him with a nod and made her way to the freestanding aisles in the cramped room.

With little to choose from in the snack department, she settled on a candy bar. The diet soda from the refrigerated section was surprisingly cold. She carried both items to the cash register and placed them among the knick-knacks crowding the counter. The stench of smoke curled from a cigarette keeping company with about a gazillion others butts in a dirty ashtray. Lily stepped back to avoid it.

“Anything else you need?”

The same country drawl echoed the one from the man pumping her gas.

How far out of the city am I?

The man’s interest zoned in on her t-shirt and Lily instinctively hunched her shoulders and adjusted her arms to cut off his view.

“Just the gas,” she replied noting the nametag of Jake on his pocket. The owner?

A smile spread the man’s large nose to reveal twin-barrels of hair.

“Earl’s coming in now,” he said.

Relieved and eager to be on her way, Lily pulled out a bunch of bills.

Earl strolled toward them saying, “I cleaned the windshield, do you want me to check the oil?”

With a hasty shake of her head, Lily paid for the gas and the items on the counter. After giving a tip to a surprised Earl she didn’t have to look back to know they were watching her all the way to her car. She sent up a silent thanks when the Lexus purred at the first touch and without effort accelerated onto the semi-paved highway.

Goosebumps skipped along her arms. Where are the tourists? They definitely aren’t visiting Jake’s Oasis.

In her opinion, there was too much farmland and too little civilization here for her comfort level.

Turning back onto the main road put her more at ease and Lily reached for the diet soda and sighed. Where else can I go?

The police had been a mistake. It had only ended with an altercation with a fatheaded police officer who hadn’t believed her claims.

I have no intentions of filing a complaint against the fine District Attorney. He’d said.

Sudden tears blurred the Missouri afternoon scenery. For six months, pain had plagued Lily at the loss of her brother. The sole person left to her in the world…gone forever.

The cops said accidental overdose. Claimed a man who’d founded a successful drug rehabilitation center had put a needle to his own arm. Their report was blown to hell two nights ago.

If Lily did nothing else in this life, she would clear Jerry’s name. She owed him that much.

Taking a drink from the carbonated refreshment, Lily glanced around at the woods and wildlife. Nature in this part of the country was earthy, beautiful, and uncomplicated. At least that’s the way Jerry had described it. Frankly, it was unnerving to be in a place where the only inhabitants possessed four legs and played chicken with cars. She snorted. Of course, there was the bush-nosed Jake and his buddy back at the Oasis.

Rolling her eyes, Lily she sat her drink in the cup holder and reached for the candy bar. It took only a second’s glance away from the road, but enough to surprise her at the sudden appearance of a wide moving obstruction ahead. She braked to avoid slamming into two large rounded bales of hay.

What the heck? The large wagon forced her speed to a crawl and she tossed a cursory glance at the numerous signs labeled No Passing Zone. Should she risk it? It wasn’t as if the road was crowded with cars. She steered her car to the left, but the upcoming curve gave credence to the appropriate sign markings.

“Great,” she grumbled. “Old MacDonald had a farm and I’m his newest resident.”

Feeling mean, Lily relaxed her grip on the steering wheel and stretched her back to lessen the fatigue. But damn it, she’d been driving at least five hours.

Remembering the candy, she held it up, asking, “Would you like to energize my crappy disposition?”

She slid one-half of the candy from its twin. With an abstract look, she raised the piece to her mouth and paused midway. Huh? At first, confusion didn’t connect the object to her brain. Absolute horror struck as the squirming worm jutting up at her amid chocolate and coconut.

Lily’s scream punctuated her violent jerk on the wheel. Gagging and disgust careened her car into the opposite lane…and into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

A quick reflex from the other driver prevented a head-on collision, but not the side clipping to her car.

Lily’s head jerked as if it belonged on a rag doll seconds before her air bag deployed. The explosion slapped her into disorientation. Smacked hard in the chin simultaneous to the stench of powdery smoke, instinct skid the vehicle to a stop. The car missed the ditch by mere inches.

Dazed by the accident and stinging numbness to her jaw, Lily peered over her shoulder as the other driver was pulling out of a tailspin. Just when it appeared the vehicle was under control, one of the tires hit the jagged edge of the rough pavement. The deep gouge and momentum flipped the car over and as the scene took on a dream-like fashion; the vehicle slid on its top a few yards before coming to a halt.

Oh no! Lily released her seat belt and fought her way out of the airbag, shoving at the door. The acrid smell of burnt rubber permeated the air as she jumped out and raced to the other car. She crouched down, impervious to the rough pavement and broken glass digging into her palms and knees.

“Are you alright?”

Lily gratefully sent up a prayer at the man conscious and moving. He braced himself against the roof of the car, battling his own airbag to unlatch his seatbelt.

“Mister,” she appealed again.

“Get back,” he growled, his voice strained by his efforts.

With a helpless gesture, she sought for some way to assist when sudden doom slammed into her mid-section.

This… couldn’t…be… happening. Trying not to freak out, she pleaded; now almost in tears, “Please, let me do something.”

“I said to get back,” he gritted, although muffled, no less forceful. “There could be a gas leak. Don’t you see the smoke?”

“Miss, are you alright?”

At the anxious voice, Lily turned her upper body around to an old man in grey coveralls and khaki shirt. This must be the Old MacDonald she’d been following. Hollowed and resigned, Lily rose to her feet already knowing what she’d see.

Yep, right there it was, written upside down. Sheriff. However, the floating mangle of cords and equipment inside along with a teed-off uniformed figure had been the big tip-off.


She brought her attention back to the old man and although heart-heavy with the implications, Lily managed to nod. He bent down to the wrecked car.

“Jet,” the old man said. “Are you okay, boy? Give me your hand.”

“I’ve got it, Pete. Is she alright? What about you?” he demanded.

“We’re both okay,” he assured. “But we need to get you outta there.”

“Just get her away from here in case this thing blows,” he ordered.

The old man hesitated before rising to his feet. “Come on, Miss. Let’s stand over here.”

Torn between concern and guilty responsibility, her meek demeanor bespoke Lily’s desire to obey orders. She went with the older man to stand next to her car just a few yards away.

The sheriff inched out, crawling on his stomach through broken glass and twisted metal. Curses wafted out as he fought with the second airbag before finally exiting through the passenger’s side window. Lily released the breath she’d been holding.

“Looks like the sheriff’s hurt!” the old man said. “Miss, you stay here.” Bowed legs propelled him to the merging figure. “You’re hurt Jet!”

Once clear of the car, the sheriff pushed to his feet. He adjusted the heavy belt around his waist and checked the security of the weapon attached. Lily noticed one hand was indeed bleeding and blood was running down his arm. The badge and his previous order to keep away kept her feet planted where she was.

He removed a handkerchief from his pocket and deftly tied it around the injured hand. Seemingly satisfied to have stopped the immediate flow of blood, he waved aside the old man’s concern.

“I’ll verify where the smoke is coming from but it doesn’t appear as bad as I first thought. Why don’t you wait over there just in case Pete?” He gestured without looking toward Lily before muttering, “I think enough lives have been jeopardized today.”

Pete still hesitated. “If you’re sure, Jet.” He glanced doubtfully at the wave of smoke but at the shake of the other man’s head, Pete ambled back to Lily.

Upright, Lily mused in amazement how such a big man had crawled through the damaged window. How tall is he? He looks well over six feet.

Regardless, his lean and muscular body moved easily around the car, smooth and graceful. Watching all that muscle moving together in liquid motion caused Lily’s mouth to go dry. With wide shoulders and narrow hips, an image of a football player came into view but without the padding.

Glossy black hair brushed the back of his collar and a sleek lock fell forward to arch over his forehead. With cool efficiency, he searched the origin of the smoke. The brown stripe of his pants creased at the knee as he squatted down to peer through the grill. The smoke appeared localized to the radiator section with no apparent threat of fire or immediate danger. He rose to his feet and flinched. Lily’s conscience took on more guilt at the torn material near his knee and the dark stain seeping around it.

Long lean fingers pushed his hair back as he made his way toward them. He stopped for a cursory perusal of her car before coming to stand in front of her. He tucked a thumb in the front of his belt allowing his injured hand to hang loose at his side. Lily’s first view at his face shifted the pavement beneath her.

Whoa! Despite her recent encounters with the police in Kansas City, there were appreciative benefits to this particular one. Beneath an attractive patrician nose, a five o-clock shadow darkened the already tanned cheeks, but oh dear. His mouth? Mmm. Made hers water. Sensuous and firm, the slightly fuller bottom lip spoke its own persuasion to slow a woman down…and not just while driving.

The shocks didn’t stop there as glancing up; Lily fell into deep, blue eyes emphasized by thick, dark lashes. Did the man have any flaws?

“Did you hear me?” His impatient bark penetrated Lily’s gaping fascination. At her blank look his nostrils flared, “Is your chin the only injury?”

Mortified by her uncharacteristic-like response to the opposite sex, Lily’s answer was subdued.

“Yes, I think so.”

“Do you need medical attention?”

She raised a hand to her chin and opened her mouth, flexing her jaw back and forth.

“No, it was just the airbag. I’m fine.” She threw a feeble gesture at his injuries. “But you’re not.”

He ignored her last comment and reached out with his good hand to raise her chin up for a closer view. His gentle touch caught Lily off guard, but not near as much as its effect. The heat consumed her breath as it wielded its way down her neck and coursed through her chest to pool deep into her stomach.

The hollowed cavern of her consciousness barely heard his distracted voice.

“Airbags can cause serious damage.”

He must’ve decided this wasn’t one of those times as he released her. The tingling numbness remained, however, and its lingering effects were mindboggling. Strange. She’d never experienced anything like this before.

His shift of attention was a relief.

“Pete, your truck didn’t appear to get hit, but are you sure you’re all right?”

“Just shook up a bit that’s all,” Pete replied. “Looks like you and the little lady are the only ones with damaged property.”

The reference shifted attention to Lily’s car. Other than the damaged bumper, a dent buckling the front-end panel on the driver’s side and torn grill, the Lexus appeared to have escaped extensive harm. Following his gaze Lily noted the distinct comparison to his car. In an expression of grim resolve, he reached down with his good hand to retrieve a cell phone from his leather utility belt.

After punching in some numbers, his deep baritone was sharp and professional.

“This is Sheriff Jet Walker with the Windom Hills Sheriff’s Department. I’ve been involved in an accident and need a State Trooper on the scene.”

Lily gasped. A State Trooper? “Wait!”

She realized her mistake when the sheriff’s gaze sharpened into suspicion. He didn’t remove his focus on her as he spoke again into the phone.

“We’re a mile down from Junction 77 on Double D Road.” He listened for a few more moments and then said in a clipped tone, “No problem. Make the appropriate notations.”

Lily groaned in dismay at the involvement of more law enforcement. The added exposure to her whereabouts ticked up her nervousness multiple notches.

Of course, every nuance of emotion crossing her face was being scrutinized.

In a soft voice, albeit no less dangerous, he said, “I think it’s time we start with your driver’s license, registration, and insurance.”

Lily swallowed the huge rock in her throat. “Of course.”

She moved around him, intent on the driver’s side of her car, but in one smooth motion, he blocked her path. She tilted her head up in question.

“I don’t have them on me, they’re in my car,” she said.

Peering down from his superior height, he asked, “Other than your car, do you have any other weapons I need to be concerned about?”

The sarcasm gave Lily pause as his first flaw began to emerge. However, she acknowledged his attitude justified and set aside the hostility.

“No, there are no weapons in the car.”

A further few seconds of unrelenting scrutiny made her self-conscious of the clinging t-shirt and short yellow jean skirt. Her face aflame, Lily seriously wished she’d worn something different today. By the time he moved aside, her usual confident demeanor had bubbled with the hot-tarred pavement.

Reaching the car, she opened the door and drew back at the smell from the airbag. She grimaced at the spilled diet soda and stained dashboard before shivering at the memory of the candy bar. She peeked around for the blasted worm responsible for this mess but saw no signs of it.

Her purse had fallen to the floorboard on the passenger’s side and, no mystery here, the contents were scattered. Lily braced one knee on the seat and stretched across to retrieve her wallet while tugging on her skirt. Her position became even more precarious and she had to balance to access the glove box.

* * * *

Outside, Pete swallowed hard, dragging a gnarled hand over his gray whiskers. He turned to Jet in an obvious attempt to capture his reaction to the display. Jet glanced over, a tick in his cheek, blue eyes flickering. Without a word, his gaze hardened and his lips tightened to an ominous line.

* * * *

Inside the car, Lily retrieved the items and backed out muttering, “Why not put an ad in the paper announcing to Anthony where you are, Lily?”

It would’ve saved everyone a lot less hassle. Especially the man whose car she’d flipped over.

Imminent disaster trailed her steps as she walked the registration, insurance, and wallet to the silent waiting man. When he didn’t take them, she looked up with a bewildering tilt of her head.

“Would you remove the driver’s license from your wallet please?” he asked.

Uh-oh. Had his disposition worsened? Great. Lily complied.

He took the items and as he walked away, Lily met Pete’s sympathetic look.

“You may be in some trouble, Missy.”

She nodded her awareness to the repercussions. “Why did he have to call a State Trooper?”

Even to Lily, her voice sounded pitiful. The old man must’ve felt sorry for her as he came over and put an awkward, but compassionate hand on her shoulder.

“I think he’s supposed to when it’s him involved in the accident. But don’t worry; he’ll take care of things. He’s used to dealing with situations like this.” He shot a glance at the overturned car. “Well, maybe not quite like this.”

Joining his attention, Lily conceded the disturbing sight of the gold star insignia in crumpled surroundings. It brought her attention to the sheriff’s one-sided conversation.

“Thanks, Denie. I’ll hold while you run it. Has Mark returned?” The person named Denie must have made some positive response because the sheriff responded, “After you call the body shop, tell him to get the Blazer and follow Walter out here.” He paused again before replying, “My car’s been involved in an accident.” He listened again and then shook his head. “I’ll be handling this on my own for now. With the Sedalia State Fair and a major spill from a jack-knifed big rig, all the State Troopers are tied up. I told them I could handle it.”

The air restricting Lily’s lungs eased...a little. Thank goodness for small favors.

“I’ll explain it all later,” he replied and even Lily could hear his impatience. “Right now I just need you to run the numbers.”

A new wave of anxiety stole the short reprieve and Lily chewed on her lower lip. Would her driver’s license show anything? Maybe that police officer in Kansas City hadn’t written anything up. The memory of his anger, however, made that assumption improbable.

What seemed hours provided the answer, as she became the focus of a sharp piercing glance. Her stomach lurched when his expression darkened. By the time the sheriff finished his call and sauntered back over, Lily’s nerve endings were a frayed mess.

“This isn’t your first encounter with the law now is it, Miss Delaney?” he asked.

“Dr. Delaney,” she corrected, needing the steady formality of the title. She then glanced at his injuries and hastily added, “Therapeutic, not medical.”

The ascension of a dark brow was his only response.

Lily’s chin lifted. “That cop in Kansas City deserved more than my bad attitude.”

He tossed a cursory glance at his car before bouncing it back to her.

“Do you make it a habit assaulting law enforcement officials?”

The inference was unmistakable. “Today was an accident! And I didn’t physically assault that police officer in Kansas City.” Although some people might’ve taken her insult as an attack. But shoot, the man probably did shop in the small condom section of a pharmacy.

Penetrating cerulean steel peered down at her. “What about the restraining order the Kansas City District Attorney filed against you?"

Lily's jaw dropped. “What?”

“You have a restraining order against you,” he repeated. “It’s usually filed when one person has proven to pose a threat against another.”

His explanation was a little condescending, but Lily was barely listening. Had Anthony filed a complaint of her accusation of murdering Jerry? That’s crazy. Besides, it might merit a charge of slander, but a restraining order?

Then realization dawned as Anthony's thought process slammed into her. If the police stopped her for even a minor infraction, he or she might feel compelled to notify the court, if not the District Attorney himself. Anthony must be desperate if he’s stooping that low.

“It’s a mistake,” she said, her voice flat. “I’m the one who needs protection from him.”

Mild skepticism appeared briefly between his narrowed dark lashes.

“It’s true,” she frowned. “He’s my ex-fiancĂ© with serious psychosis issues.”

His enigmatic stare gave a moment’s study before he replied.

“Dr. Delaney, the restraining order implicates you as the threat.”

She adamantly shook her head. “I’m the one being threatened!” Experience warned not to mention he also killed her brother.

“You’ll need to take that up with the courts,” was his infuriating response.

“And play right into his hands,” she said bitterly and then muttered under her breath. “You’re all as crooked as he is.”

The rearing back of his head indicated he’d heard her, but at this point Lily didn’t care. She was tired, scared, and tired of being scared. Screw them all.

“Then allow me to at least pretend to care about justice and get back to the three lives almost taken today?” he suggested in a soft dangerous tone.

Heat rose up the back of Lily’s neck and her momentary apathy awoke to shame. In this, she was entirely to blame.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” she said, pressing her index fingers into her temples and rubbing in simultaneous circular motion.

“Forget it,” was his clipped response. “Why don’t you tell me what happened today?”

Despite his command to forget it, his abrupt demeanor assured Lily that he, at least, hadn’t. But the damage was done and there was little she could do.

She started to answer, but the explanation of the worm now seemed more ludicrous than before. Her gaze fell on the mounds of hay on the big truck.

“Isn’t there a minimum speed limit here?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well,” she licked her lips. “To be perfectly honest, the fault isn't entirely mine, if you think about it.” She noted the warning light appearing in his eyes and knew she was only making things worse for herself. Apparently, however, she was on a suicide mission as she trudged on.

“That truck was barely moving. Isn’t there a minimum speed limit here?”

“You're inferring this was Pete’s fault?” he asked with an underlying threat.

Shame pushed her lips together, but for some reason, it didn’t stop the flow of diarrhea.

“Well, he was driving as if his only intent was to race a turtle,” she said and cast a guilty glance toward the shocked older man. She stammered on, “A-And by you allowing that kind of obstruction makes us all responsible, don’t you think?”

Have I lost my mind? It was obvious the man before her thought so.

“Now you’re encompassing me as a responsible party?”

“It’s possible,” she said weakly.

“Are you under the influence of any drugs or alcohol?” he asked.

She checked the hysterical laugh bubbling up. She could use something right now.

‘No,” she replied.

“Are you in the habit of always blaming others for your problems?”

Hot tears burned.

“No,” she answered again.

“Would you mind giving an honest answer as to why you tried to pass in a zone clearly marked do not pass?”

“I wasn’t trying to pass,” she responded in a flat voice.

“No?” He asked. “What were you doing? Playing Peak-A-Boo with your car?”

“No,” she gritted. “I don’t consider driving a car as playing a game.”

“Yet I remind you once again, several lives were put in jeopardy today,” he stated.

Lily rubbed shaking hands over her face in defeat. “I know and I’m sorry, but I was distracted by a worm in my candy bar and-”

“A what?” he cut her off.

Exactly. She repeated it anyway. “A worm.”

“You put worms in your candy bar?”

“What,” she frowned and then shook her head. “No, I don’t put worms in my candy bar. I bought it from a store a few miles back.”

“They sell worms in candy bars?” he asked and Lily couldn’t tell if his sardonic disbelief was real or not.

“No,” she responded again, feeling her patience start to thin. “I suppose the candy was old.”

He cocked his head to the side. “Alright, let’s presume you’re not making this up—”

This time Lily cut him off. ‘Who in their right mind would make up a story like that?’

“Good question,” the sheriff concurred in derision, “I’m guessing next you’re going to tell me the worm was driving?”

Lily’s mouth tightened. “Listen, Sheriff. I’m sorry I wrecked your car, but it was an accident. And as I mentioned, if the truck in front of me hadn’t been going so slow this wouldn’t have happened.”

His lip curled. “I thought we were blaming the worm now.”

Nearing the end of her tether and not sure why she continued to argue the very-moot point, the last thing Lily needed was his belligerent sarcasm.

“Can we wrap this up?”

Ice-blue chips reflected his less than appreciative response to her attitude.

“Where are you headed today?”

Her lips twisted. “Here.”

“Where exactly is here?”

She suppressed a caustic response. “Windom Hills Lake Resort.”

“Are you renting a cabin?”

“I believe it’s a house.”

His eyes traveled over her curves, down to her long legs and back up again.

“Why Windom Hills? It’s not exactly Club Med.”

Dismay over her predicament, coupled with his insulting remark and perusal made her own response less than respectful.

“That's none of your business, Sheriff.”

With a menacing step, he leaned in and whispered, “Lady, you've made everything about you my business today.”

It was the final straw. First, she’d had to endure the loss of her brother. Then she’d found out the man she was going to marry had killed him and threatened to do the same to her. With the horror of a worm, whose very existence was in question, followed by an accident she’d certainly caused, and the impending legal ramifications which would bring about the imminent discovery of her whereabouts, she now had to endure this man’s relentless aggression? All rationale and common sense disintegrated.

“Which goes back to my earlier question,” she challenged. “Why aren’t you monitoring the roads better instead of being in everyone’s business?” In her need to lash out at someone, she took enormous satisfaction at catching him off guard. “If you’d been doing your job instead of driving around with your thumb up your ass, I wouldn’t have been stuck behind that monstrous contraption for what seemed an eternity and you wouldn’t have wrecked your vehicle.”

Pete’s mouth dropped, but Lily was too far gone and incensed to care.

“Now it’s my fault again?” Disbelief made the sheriff’s voice rise to match hers.

“Well, I’m glad to see you’re finally taking some responsibility,” she announced irrationally.

“Things are beginning to make sense,” he gritted through his teeth, reaching behind him. “You’re not only dangerous, you’re nuts. Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”

Not taking into account he’d arrest her, Lily backed up in wide-eyed horror.

“You’re going to handcuff me?” she asked aghast.

An anxious Pete stepped in, “Now hold on a minute, Jet. There ain’t no cause for that.”

Ignoring Pete, the sheriff advanced toward Lily, his lip curling.

“Maybe you want to coerce me against it by hiking up your skirt again.”

“By hiking up my skirt…” she asked, thrown off by confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“Are you going to deny trying to make things easier on yourself by wiggling your assets in your car earlier? Exhibitionism is against the law in this county, Ma’am.”

She sucked in a breath. “You’re the one that’s crazy,” she choked out in rage. “I wasn’t wiggling anything.”

“What would you call it? Soliciting an ad for yellow underwear?”

Her green eyes blazed before she allowed her lips to curve sweetly in pent-up hysteria.

“For your information, Sheriff, my underwear is not yellow. Where’d you get your investigative skills, Detectives for Dummies?”

Dead silence fell like a thick fog. Somewhere in the back of Lily’s hysterical frame of mind, she realized she’d just insulted an officer of the law over her underwear.

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