Authors: Kristen Ashley
Before Colt walked into his house, he knew Susie was there.
“Fuck,” he muttered while entering.
He should have never given her his key. They’d been seeing each other off and on (mostly off) for three years and he’d managed to steer clear of doing it. He’d only done it because he needed someone to look after his dog when he went fishing with Morrie two weeks ago and Susie had begged him to do it. She’d never given the key back and he’d not had the time to ask for it or the patience to deal with the tantrum when he asked.
He ignored the fact that Susie was there and went directly to the kitchen, pulled a beer out of the fridge and used the edge of the counter to snap off the top.
He was halfway through downing it when Susie came in.
His chin came down as did his beer and he looked at her.
She’d been the town beauty since practically birth, homecoming queen, prom queen. Her father owned a variety of local stores and a shitload of property until he’d sold them all to big chains and land developers, making a mint and making his daughter, upon his death, the only multi-millionaire in town.
Susie Shepherd had been engaged twice, never married. Both men begged off, Colt knew, even though the story was spread that Susie had been the one to get cold feet.
After three years, Colt knew why they’d fled.
She was a beauty, she could be sweet when she had a mind to do it or she wanted something and she was a great lay but she also could be a total bitch.
She was blonde, like February, but Susie’s blonde hair wasn’t thick and long and wild like February’s. Even when February did whatever she had to do to make her hair almost sleek, it still flipped out at the ends, defying her, laying testimony to the deeper personality trait that February couldn’t hide even though she tried.
Susie was also tall, like February, she just didn’t have February’s great tits and abundant hips and sweet ass. And, even though Susie’s legs were long, they didn’t seem to go on forever, like February’s, like they could wrap around you twice to lock you close while you were fucking her.
And Susie just simply didn’t have that look about her, that look February started to get when she was fourteen, that look that matured as she did. That look that promised she’d suck your cock, and get off on it. That look that told you she’d sit on your face, and fucking love it. That look that told you she’d let you do her doggie style, or any style, and she’d want more of it, beg you to do it harder. That look that said you could leave her on her belly in bed after you’ve just fucked her, and she’d be totally okay with you going to meet the guys at the bar. Hell, she’d get up, clean up and come with you if she felt like it, but she’d have a mind to your space as long as you gave a mind to hers.
“You’re late,” Susie said, like she’d know what late was for him which she fucking didn’t.
“Angie Maroni was murdered this morning.”
He heard her suck in breath and he wondered what world she lived in. Everyone else in town knew about Angie by noon.
Then again, Susie had never stepped foot over the threshold of J&J’s Saloon as everyone in town over drinking age, and some of them under it, had. Susie shopped in the Indianapolis, had her hair done there, met her friends there. She just lived here so she could pretend to be queen even though no one really liked her.
“How’d that happen?” Susie asked and Colt saw Angie again in that alley but, even though he wanted to stop it, for the life of him he couldn’t and he saw her with Feb’s eyes.
It was a small town but it was close to a big city and two race tracks, shit spread and, as a cop for over twenty years, a detective for over sixteen, he’d seen his fill of crime and definitely his fill of death.
But Angie, Christ, he could pick hundreds of deaths, even murders he’d prefer Feb to see.
“Knife,” was all Colt would tell Susie.
He was close to ending it with her, he had been now for months; he’d just never got around to it. Still, he had no intention of telling her how Angie was murdered with a hatchet. She’d likely find out eventually if she started paying attention, but he wouldn’t be the one to tell her.
She started to come closer, saying, “I’m sorry, Colt.”
“Don’t be sorry for me, it’s Angie in the morgue.”
Her lip started to curl up before she caught it. She knew that’d piss him off.
But he saw it and it pissed him off.
“Angie was a good woman.”
She started to roll her eyes again before she caught it.
That pissed him off more.
Susie saw it.
“She sleeps with anything that moves,” Susie defended.
“I didn’t say she wasn’t a troubled woman, I said she was a good one.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about your work,” she suggested, “get your mind off it.”
Susie didn’t want his mind off it. Susie didn’t want to think about it or talk about it. She never did and she never gave a fuck if he did.
February would listen if he wanted to talk. She’d get him a beer or she’d pour him a Jack and coke and she’d keep them coming. When he was done, she’d slide the tips of her fingers around his ear then curl them at his neck, her touch warm and steady and real and his mind would blank.
“All right, let’s talk about Puck,” Colt told Susie and her head jerked.
He hadn’t wanted her to do it but she’d pushed it so he’d let her look after his dog Puck, a German shepherd. Puck, when Colt got home from fishing, surprisingly hadn’t seemed the worse for wear under Susie’s care. But the day after he got back, Puck’s body had been found blocks down. Colt suspected he’d gotten out like he usually did when Susie would leave after Colt in the morning and she wouldn’t fully close the door. This was something she’d done before like Colt’s house and what he kept in it didn’t matter much to her. Puck, being a smart dog and liking it when he could run, nearly always got out when Susie didn’t make certain the door was closed. Then again, it wasn’t hard. He just had to pull it open further with his paw and go. Puck had been hit by a car or, by the looks of him when Colt found him, a fair fucking few of them.
Normally he’d take Puck with him when he went fishing but he and Morrie went to a new place that Morrie wanted to try and, at the cabin they rented, it was no pets allowed. Thus Susie getting the key.
Colt had loved that dog. He hadn’t accused Susie, mainly because it served no purpose, especially considering the fact that she’d soon be out of his life. But he missed his damned dog and there was no denying it, he blamed her.
“I’m not goin’ fishin’ again anytime soon and even if I did Puck’s no longer here. You don’t need my key.”
Her eyes closed slowly, the lids taking their time on their descent like she was drawing the movement out, sucking more of his time.
She knew what he was saying.
She’d be stupid if she didn’t. He hadn’t taken her out in months, didn’t spend the night at her place, didn’t ask her to his, didn’t call, barely touched her anymore, hadn’t fucked her in that long and only slept with her the night before Puck died because she’d already been asleep in his bed when he got home. That had pissed him off too. He’d considered dragging her ass out of bed and sending her home or sleeping on the couch but he’d been too damned tired to bother with either.
The desperate play of her newfound desire to watch after his dog meant she knew it was coming.
And now it was time.
When she opened her eyes he knew she was pissed and when Susie was pissed it was never pretty.
“February,” she said.
“It was all good, you and me, until February came back to town.”
Jesus, not this again.
She was wrong. February had been back for two years, came back to help Morrie with the bar after Jack and Jackie finally retired and moved to Florida. He and Susie had been on a break then, one of many.
And everyone knew there was no fucking way Colt would get near February.
She’d made her choice but Colt had dealt with it. He’d told her but she didn’t listen. It could have ended his career, could have landed him in prison but he’d done it, for Morrie, for Jack and Jackie and especially for February.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t forgive her for what she did. It was that he couldn’t trust her judgment. Because after he’d done what he’d done, she never let him back in, and that…
Well, that he couldn’t forgive her for.
And obviously, since she’d tried to hack it for awhile then given up then taken off for fifteen years then steered clear of him the last two, he figured it was because she couldn’t forgive herself.
No, his problem with Susie had nothing to do with February.
“This has nothing to do with Feb.”
“Everything with you is wound up in February.”
Colt wasn’t going to have this discussion. It was late, he’d started the day with Angie’s murder; having Feb in his arms for the first time in twenty-two years only to have her pull right out of them; spent some not-so-much fun time with Cory and his loud, screeching wife Bethany, who looked eighteen months pregnant rather than the six she was supposed to be, however she’d also given her husband an alibi even though Colt knew Cory didn’t have it in him to hack up Angie; and running up against bizarre dead end after dead end on a fresh case he had to crack because this town had never seen a murder as brutal as Angie Maroni’s and the whole fucking place was going to go berserk if word spread what happened to her.
Nope, he didn’t have it in him to spar with Susie.
“Just give me my key, Sooz.”
“I don’t know why you’re playing this game, Colt. You asked, she’d drop straight to her knees in front of that whole fucking bar and suck your dick.”
All right, maybe he had it in him to spar with Susie.
“Watch your fucking mouth.”
She tilted her head with her challenge. “Not wound up with February?”
She wanted it? He’d give it to her straight.
“Yeah, not wound up with February. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer her mouth around my cock. That I don’t think of her when I’m fuckin’ you. That I wouldn’t mind comin’ home to her and sharing my day, because she’d share it and you never gave a shit. But, like I’ve said a million times before, it’s not gonna happen, I knew that a long time ago, so did Feb. It’s done.”
Her eyes went to slits while he spoke and she leaned in. “Don’t give me that shit. It’s never been done between you two.”
“We’ve had this discussion before.”
And they had even before Feb came back to town. Susie never let it go, just like he suspected his ex-wife Melanie never let it go.
Unlike Melanie, it was likely Susie never let it go because he’d said February’s name while he was fucking her the first time. But hell, he’d been drunk off his ass which was the only way he’d have gotten involved with Susie in the first place.
Still, she was good in bed and she kept coming back for more so in the beginning, who was he to argue?
The next thirty months he had no excuses, except for most of them they’d been on a break.
“You’re a fool,” she spat.
“Just give me my goddamned key.”
She walked to her purse which was on the kitchen counter. “You don’t get it from her you’ll come back to me.”
This, Colt thought, was doubtful. There wasn’t a lot of choice in their small town, not any which wasn’t already taken. Not that some of them didn’t get in his space more often than not; just that he wouldn’t fuck another man’s woman. Still, even the rare times Susie could be sweet, which was whenever he ended it and she came crawling back, it wasn’t worth this.
And it always ended like this even though she swore that it wouldn’t. It wasn’t always about Feb, but it was always ugly.
“You’re right,” he told her, wrapping his fist around his key which was dangling from her fingers, “I’ve been fool enough with you.” He looked her in the eyes. “That’s over.”
He saw her face bleach of color and she flinched. Whatever he sounded like she must have took his meaning because he could even see the blow he’d struck to Daddy’s Little Girl, who always got everything she wanted and who’d been working hard on getting him for three years and not succeeding. Instead, he’d been taking what he wanted from her and handing the rest back.