Read One Last Call Online

Authors: Susan Behon

One Last Call (10 page)

BOOK: One Last Call
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“Why not leave it down?”

“My arms were up so I was already committed.”

Josh had always loved Sarah’s hair. It was golden with natural sunny highlights. That’s why he called her
sunshine
. Besides, she used to be so happy and sunny all the time. He gently pulled the hair tie from her hair, and coconut-scented air wafted up between them. She smelled good enough to eat. Josh gathered the soft, shoulder-length tresses into a ponytail as quickly as possible and secured it on top of her head with the hair-do-ey thing. Sarah didn’t seem to be breathing. “Take a breath, honey. All done.”

She exhaled a shaky breath. “I am breathing!”

“Okay, I’m gonna rub out that kink now. Try to relax and don’t tense up against the pressure of my fingers.”

“Ow!”

“I didn’t do anythin’ yet!” Josh’s hands hovered over Sarah’s shoulders.

“I know that!” Her entire body had tensed up, and Josh hadn’t even touched her. She felt stupid yelling out prematurely. “My neck still hurts.”

“Okay, relax now, honey. I’m gonna make it all better.”

* * * *

Somehow, Sarah doubted that, but if he could fix the kink, she’d be willing to try to relax. “Okay, do your thing. Just remember, I have Sheriff Hughes on speed dial.” She didn’t have her phone out so she didn’t know who she was trying to fool.

“I never doubted it for a minute.” He rested his hands on her shoulders, and before she could register the heat from his palms, Sarah felt the pad of Josh’s thumb hit a pressure point that made her fingertips go tingly.

“Holy shit!”
What was that?

“You okay?” He lifted his hands the second she called out.

“Yeah, what did you do?”
And could he do it again?

“Nothin’. Just unkinkin’ you.”

Another press on the right side of her neck made goose bumps rise on her arms. She felt Josh scoot closer to her in the middle of the bench seat. “Your neck is really sensitive. Let me know if I hurt you.”

Hurt her?
Sarah didn’t know what magic mojo he’d learned in the service, but two presses of his thumbs, and she was downright giddy. She blew out a breath to steady herself. “You’re okay; keep going. Start talking.”

His thumbs moved to the base of her neck, and she stifled a moan. He pressed in, circled his thumbs in opposite directions, and then pressed in again. There was still a vague ache going on that was now overlaid with a sexual zing that hardened her nipples. Sarah hunched forward a little more. Her hormones had gone haywire. Back to the subject at hand. “So, who did you kill?”

His hands paused, and Josh added the sweep of his fingertips to the tops of her shoulders.
Good stuff. Keep going.
And did she get points for sounding so casual?

“I didn’t kill him. I said that I
almost
killed him. You remember Bobby Newman?”

“Of course I remember him, and he’s not dead. Seth replaced him when he went batshit crazy last year. I’m sure you knew that.”

“Yeah, I know. I mean, do you remember what he was like back in high school?”

Sarah thought about Bobby. Back then, he’d been the captain of the football team and had gone to state for track. Bobby was a good athlete and a decent student. He’d asked her out once. Sarah had refused him because she was already dating Josh.

Bobby was attractive enough with his white-blond buzz cut and stocky build. Still, he wasn’t Josh. When she’d refused, Bobby went from sweet boy next door to someone she didn’t recognize. He’d told her that if she wanted to fuck trash that she could keep being Logan’s whore. He’d refused to say another word to her from that day on, which was fine with her.

Sarah never told Josh about it at the time since she knew it would have caused nothing but trouble.

“I remember.”

“Bobby didn’t like me for two reasons. The first was because I was the new kid and the other was because I was datin’ you. He’d try to screw with me by callin’ me poor white trash or a dumb hillbilly. He and a few of his cronies got off on makin’ fun of my accent too.”

Sarah had noticed from the beginning that Josh dropped his G’s and drew out some words. When she was a teenager, she’d thought it sounded almost exotic compared to everyone else’s voices. Josh’s accent was beautiful, not to mention sexy as all get out. She liked Bobby even less now.

Josh went back to work massaging the knots out of her muscles. “They made fun of our apartment above the garage too. Bobby said that I might as well live out of my piece of shit car since it was probably only a little less grungy than my oily rathole of an apartment.”

“There is nothing wrong with that apartment. It’s nice upstairs!” She’d been there quite a few times when they were dating. It had all the basic amenities of a bachelor pad and looked like any other apartment. It was also clean.

“I know that, honey. That’s not the point. I didn’t care about that, anyway. They said shit about my mom, my dad, even where I came from, but the taunts didn’t work. I ignored them. One day, after school, Bobby finally hit on the one thing that bothered me.”

“What was it?”

“You.”

“What did he say?”

“He said that the longer you stayed with me, the more everyone at school thought I was turnin’ you into a white-trash slut.”

“That’s complete bullshit. No one thought that!”

“It didn’t matter what anyone thought. Nobody talks about you like that, Sarah. I shoved him against the lockers and offered to shut his mouth for him. He didn’t have his buddies with him so he backed down right away. Of course, it was my luck that a teacher saw me with my hand fisted in his shirt. Bobby looked like the victim so I got in-school detention for a week for fighting.”

“I thought that was because you skipped chemistry class too many times.”

“It would’ve upset you if you knew the truth. I had to tell that little white lie, and I knew Bobby wouldn’t say anythin’ because it made him look like a wuss. The teacher was Mrs. Hathaway. Remember her? She was friends with his mom so she kept it low key.”

Josh’s fingers slid under the neckline of her T-shirt and kneaded the bare skin on her shoulders. Sarah shivered in reaction to the skin on skin contact. “You were right about Bobby not liking you because we were together. He asked me out. I never told you about it since I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

“He did? Did you go out with him?” Josh threw out the question offhandedly. The steely tone to his voice belied his interest.

“No, of course not.”

“Why?”

“Why? I was dating you. Even if I wasn’t, I never liked him that way. To be honest, I thought there was something not quite right about him.” Sarah shivered. “He used to, I don’t know, stare right through me. He gave me a weird vibe.”

“It was good you trusted your instincts.”

“No kidding. I thought I was overreacting since he acted so normal for years after we graduated. Tracy went out with him once or twice before she met Ben. It’s not every day the county deputy turns out to be a psychopath, or is it sociopath? Probably both, huh?”
Am I babbling?
“So, he was the one you tried to kill?”

Josh sighed out a warm breath that tickled the back of her neck. “I wasn’t tryin’ to kill him. Not really. I don’t know; maybe I was. At the time, I wasn’t thinkin’ clearly.”

“I take it you had another fight with him?”

“You remember when your mom took you and your sister to Granby Creek for a girls-only weekend?”

“How could I forget? It was the July after graduation. I came back, and you were gone.” No one would say where he went either.

“That’s what I want to explain. I didn’t leave because I wanted to. I left because I had to. Thanks to Bobby Newman, it was either I joined the Marines or go to jail.”

* * * *

Josh hated this part. He hoped the massage was helping Sarah because touching her was helping him stay focused. That night had been such a senseless mess.

“Since you were away with your family, I decided to get some work done on the Mustang’s brakes. They felt a little spongy and…” He shook his head. “That part doesn’t really matter. The garage was closed for the evenin’, and I was on the creeper board under the car. Gabe Watson, Bobby’s buddy, comes strollin’ in, callin’ out my name like he had somethin’ important to tell me. I remember comin’ out from under the car, seein’ that bastard lookin’ so smug he was practically jumpin’ for joy. When I asked him what the hell he wanted, he asked, ‘How’s Sarah? Have you seen her?’”

“That’s weird. Why would he ask about me?” Sarah stared down at her lap as Josh continued those soothing strokes over her skin. The goose bumps had traveled down to her legs. “What did you say?”

“I said that you were none of his goddamned business. He asked if I knew where you were, and I said that you were out of town with your family. Gabe laughed in my face and said that was a good excuse.”

Sarah tried to remember what Gabe was up to now. Last she’d heard, he’d been doing odd jobs around town. He’d worked briefly as a cook at the Suds and Spuds a few years back. Sarah fired him when she caught him stealing liquor.

“I
was
out of town with my family.”

“I know that. I
knew
that, but I fell for his line of bullshit anyway.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He told me that you lied about bein’ out of town so you could meet up with Bobby at the Falls.”

Sarah gasped in stunned indignation. “And you believed that?”
How could he?

“Not at first. At first, I told him he was full of shit. We argued about it, then Gabe sounded pretty convincin’ when he said that Bobby had some big plans for you that night.”

“I never…” She tried to whirl around to defend herself. Josh held her in place.

“I know that, honey. I should have known better. Like a jealous idiot, I raced up there anyway.”

His thumbs moved to the middle of her shoulder blades. Sarah was like putty under his fingers, soft and malleable. She didn’t think that would last with the bad news she knew was coming with her next question. “What did you find, Josh? Was anyone there?”

“I found Bobby’s Honda Civic parked by the tree line with the windows fogged up. The interior light was on, and I saw the back of a girl’s head. Her hair was long and blonde, and with the steamed-up windows, could have been yours. I was so pissed that I wanted to smash in the windshield and pull you away from him.”

“It wasn’t me, Josh.”

“I didn’t know that when I got there. It was a shock, and I knew I had to get away from that car before I did somethin’ stupid. When I spun around, four of Bobby’s buddies were waitin’ for me. Gabe Watson was one of ’em. I figured I was gonna have to fight my way out of there until I heard the scream.”

Josh stopped rubbing for a second. “When I heard it, I looked back toward his car. The music was cranked up, and I could still hear the girl over the noise. She was yellin’ and beggin’ for Bobby to please stop and for someone to help her. Those pricks next to my car just stood there, not doin’ a damn thing to stop what was goin’ on. I raced over and yanked open the door. I pulled Bobby away from who I thought was you. It wasn’t you, obviously. Layin’ there, shakin’ like a leaf, was Mandy Riley.”

“I know Mandy. She works at the library now.”

Josh was still caught in the memory. “Her top had been ripped open, and her makeup had smeared down her cheeks from her tears. That son of a bitch had the front of his jeans unzipped, ready to take her whether she wanted it or not.”

Her stomach clenched up. “Oh, no. Josh, please tell me you got to her before he, before they…”

“Yeah, I did.” He sort of patted her before massaging again. “I got there in time. I’m tellin’ you, Sarah, when I saw the scared and ashamed look on that poor girl’s face, I saw red. Bobby, the little fucker, laughed. He said he was bidin’ his time with a little tail waitin’ for me to show up. He thought it would be funny if I thought he was bangin’ you when I got there.”

“So he had it all planned?” Bobby was sicker than she thought.

“He told me that the joke was on me and yelled to his crew to take care of me. Those guys were assholes, but I really don’t think they thought Bobby was gonna force himself on the girl. As soon as they saw the shape Mandy was in, they took off and left him with me.”

“Oh, my God, Josh.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I punched him. He tried to hit back, but all I could think of was the damage he could have done to Mandy. She wasn’t more than fifteen at the time. I hit him until his dad, Bobby, Sr., and his deputy had to pull me off of him.”

“I remember that now! Bobby had a black eye and a broken nose. He told everyone that he’d gotten into a car accident out by River Bend Road.”

“Of course he’d lie about it.”

“Then you were gone.”

“I had to go. Mandy wouldn’t press charges against Bobby. She told Bobby’s dad that I went into a jealous rage and took it out on Bobby. Since I was eighteen, and he was still seventeen, I was seen as the adult. I was lookin’ at goin’ to jail for assault of a minor and a list of other bullshit charges.” He dug his thumbs back into her shoulders and swirled out some more kinks. “My dad didn’t have money for a decent lawyer, so they worked out a deal. If I left town, joined the service, anythin’ to keep me out of Madison Falls, the charges would be dropped, and everythin’ would be swept under the rug.”

“I can’t believe I never heard about any of this before now.”

“Yeah, well, for a town known for gossip, there were quite a few people who knew how to look the other way and keep their mouths shut.”

“Why didn’t you wait for me to come back? You could have called and told me you were in trouble! My parents would have helped you.”

“I was pissed. I was gettin’ thrown out again. Not to mention that I was reminded for the millionth time that you were way too good for me.”

“So you just left?” Sarah tried to swivel around again, but he wasn’t done talking.

“I did. I had to. Don’t you see? Even if I could have stayed, I was bad for you. I didn’t want you to get hurt.”

Josh had never done anything to make her fear him. As far as she was concerned, Bobby got what was coming to him. On top of that, he should have been the one sent to jail for attempted rape, not allowed to go free and eventually become deputy sheriff. His being behind bars now was small consolation.

BOOK: One Last Call
3.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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