Read One Last Call Online

Authors: Susan Behon

One Last Call (21 page)

BOOK: One Last Call
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When asked on more than one occasion why he didn’t date, he’d laughed it off and said that for the time being, he was married to his job. Josh knew Seth wanted to prove himself competent after the former deputy went bananas last summer. Elaine Newman, Bobby’s mom, still hadn’t returned to town after her son’s scandal. For a woman who used to be the town’s biggest gossip, when it came to her own life, she wanted privacy.

Josh never had a high opinion of Bobby, for obvious reasons. It was still shocking when he’d found out that Bobby was in jail for corruption, arson, kidnapping, and attempted murder. Sabrina Sutton had figured out Bobby was taking bribes from Dix Superstores, and he’d tried to keep her quiet by shooting her. Thankfully, it only grazed her hip, and Keith and Chris had found her before Bobby could do any more harm.

After that scandal simmered down, the town had moved on to other gossip, namely the romantic speculations about the new sheriff. Considering Seth never discussed his personal life with anyone, the biddies were left with nothing to do but speculate.

Seth was in his freshly pressed tan uniform and ready to do business. “Sorry to bother you on a Sunday.” He saw Lucy standing next to Sarah. “Good morning, Mrs. Brandon. If you don’t mind, there are a few things I need to discuss with Sarah and Josh. Is it okay if we all sit down?”

Lucy was a gracious hostess. “Good morning, Sheriff Hughes. I’ll make a fresh pot of coffee while you all have your conversation.”

“Oh, yes, of course! Where’d my manners go? Would you care for some coffee, Seth?” Sarah was still on edge. Her words were coming out one on top of the other, and her smile held a forced brightness.

If Seth caught on, he pretended not to notice. “Thank you. That would be great.”

Sarah led him into the living room and invited him to get comfortable on the sofa. Seth sat on the edge and broke out his notebook. “The reason I’m here is because Richard Alan is missing, and according to reports, you were the last two to interact with him.”

“What?” Sarah popped back up from her chair. “How do you know he’s missing? We saw him less than twelve hours ago.”

“His car was found abandoned out by River Bend Road near the Falls. The driver’s-side door was left open, and there were signs of a struggle.”

“Who reported him missing?”

“His girlfriend, Brandi Belmont, made the report. According to her, he had an altercation with Josh before being seen leaving your bar, Sarah.”

Sarah wasn’t having any part of it. “Josh didn’t have an altercation with him. I did. I kicked his ass for trying to…”

“Assault her.” Josh intervened. “Richard had her pinned against the desk in her office trying to
assault
her.”

Seth didn’t react with any amount of surprise. The only reaction to the news was a slight tic in his jaw. “I see. Sarah, did Richard Alan try to physically force himself on you last night?”

Sarah sank back into her chair. “Yes.”

“About what time did this take place?”

“Between ten to ten thirty. I was taking care of some employment applications while Josh and Chris King fixed the karaoke system. Someone had cut all the wires to the speakers and the video monitor.”

“While we were workin’ on gettin’ the karaoke back up, Richard snuck back to Sarah’s office.”

“Did you see him?”

“No, his girlfriend told me about it. She said that she thought Richard was back there fu—uh, screwin’ around with Sarah. Then she offered to have revenge sex. I don’t know if she was tryin’ to block me from going back there or what.”

“You didn’t tell me Brandi did that.” Sarah’s hands clenched up into little fists at the mention of Brandi.

“I hadn’t thought about it until now.” Josh continued his explanation to Seth. “I told her no and had to peel her off me to get back to Sarah.”

“What happened then?”

“The door was locked. I could hear a man speakin’, but no one would open the door. Since he sent those crazy texts, I thought Sarah was in trouble, so I broke down the door. I think maybe Sarah should be the one to tell you about the rest of it.”

“Were you injured in any way?” Seth had his pen poised above his notebook. He glanced up at Sarah when she was slow to respond. “Sarah?”

Sarah slid a quick glance at Josh. He should have known that she hadn’t come out of it completely unscathed.

“I’m sore from where he was squeezing my ribs. I don’t have any bruises or anything.”

Seth did a visual sweep of her. There was nothing sexual about it. He was searching for unmentioned injuries. He nodded. “Would you lead me through the events that ended with the rest of his injuries?”

Sarah detailed how Richard had followed her back to her office. She grimaced her disgust when describing how her ex-husband had restrained her and rubbed himself against her. She hugged her arms around her middle as she talked. “I felt him groping behind me, and I…I couldn’t scream with his hand over my mouth. I scratched his forearm where he was holding me. When you find him, there should be some marks on him.”

Josh added, “When I got in the room, I saw him workin’ on his fly while he had her restrained.”

Sarah continued with the rest. “Josh pulled him off of me, and once I was free, I kicked him in the, well, I kicked him in the nuts.”

Seth nodded in what looked like approval. “Did you injure him in any other way?”

“When he was bent over, I smashed my knee into his face. I might have broken his nose.”

“Did you?” Seth glanced up again.

Sarah loosened her hold from around her middle. “His nose was bleeding pretty heavily. I told him to leave me alone, and Josh threw him out.”

Seth cast a curious glance at Josh. “Did you hit Richard Alan?”

Josh had wanted to. “No. I tossed him out on his ass and told him to stay away from Sarah.”

“Did you threaten him?”

“Yeah, I did. I told him if he messed with Sarah again, I’d put him in jail or the hospital.”

“Is that the last you saw of him?”

“Haven’t seen him since last night.”

Sarah leaned forward, gripping her knees and radiating her apprehension. “Am I going to get arrested?”

Seth glanced up from his paperwork. “For what?”

“Assault of an ex-husband.”

He gave her a reassuring wave of his hand. “As far as I’m concerned, that was self-defense. As far as his disappearance goes, I have to ask. Do you two have alibis for last night?”

Sarah thought about the hour or so Josh had been gone to do stuff. Did it take that long to pick flowers?

“We were here all night and this morning.”

“Any witnesses to that?”

“My mom.” Although Sarah didn’t know what time Lucy had come home. “What do you think happened to Richard?”

“We’re still investigating. I can’t really tell you much more than that.” Seth scribbled something else on an official-looking form. “If he returns, would you like to press charges against Richard?”

Sarah shook her head. “No, but I want a restraining order against him.”

“You’ll have to see the judge for that. Make sure you do that, Sarah. In the meantime, if you hear from your ex-husband, notify the sheriff’s department immediately.”

“I will.”

Seth handed over the paperwork. “I need you to read through the statement on this form to make sure I didn’t miss anything. If it all looks squared away, you and Josh both need to sign it and date it.” She read through the form and signed the bottom, and handed it Josh so he could do the same.

The sheriff canted forward with both elbows on his knees. “Off the record, I have zero tolerance for a man who would hurt a woman. Make sure you get a protection order as well as a restraining order.”

“What’s the difference?”

“We don’t enforce a restraining order. In the event that he violates the order by coming near you, you and your lawyer will file a motion of contempt in court. On the other hand, with a protection order, officers anywhere in the state can enforce it and arrest the violator.” He took the form from Josh, read it, and signed it. “I’ll do my best to find him.”

Lucy entered the room with a tray of coffee and cookies. “Would you like some coffee now?”

Seth was preparing to leave until he saw the cookies. He took the mug gratefully. “Thank you, ma’am. Did you make the cookies?”

Lucy offered the other mugs to Josh and Sarah. “I can take credit for the coffee. The cookies were made by my youngest daughter, Sophie. She keeps me pretty well stocked with sweets.”

Kenny came in behind Lucy munching on a chocolate chip cookie. “I recommend the chocolate chip, Sheriff. I already ate three.”

Seth chose a few cookies and set them on a napkin. He smiled up at Lucy. “Her chocolate chip are my favorite, followed closely behind by her peanut butter ones.”

Sarah saw a new side of the sheriff. “You look like a happy little boy at snack time.”

“Do I?” He seemed to relax out of cop mode and chilled out. “I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and I love homemade cookies. That rumor about cops and donuts is pretty close to the truth for me too. If we ever get a donut shop in Madison Falls, I’m in some serious trouble.”

Josh chose a few for himself. “I tell you what, livin’ above the bakery is sure a sellin’ point for my place. I should be gettin’ fat by the scent alone, not to mention my daily dose of cookies.” He nodded at Sarah. “Then there’s the potato skins I can’t get enough of at Sarah’s place.”

Lucy beamed with maternal pride. “Everything on the menu is from Sarah’s recipes. She has a knack for knowing what sells.” Her mom nodded at Josh. “Sarah has always had a head for business. Even from when she was little, her lemonade stands always sold out.”

“Mom, I think that’s because Dad…” Sarah’s phone went off. She took a peek at the text and instantly felt like throwing up.

Josh sounded far away when he asked, “Sarah, what is it?”

Chapter 18

THE
text came in from an unknown number. When she opened it, there was a picture of Sarah, from the shoulders up. She was lying on her blue and cream checked quilt with her head near the oak footboard. Her head was thrown back, damp hair spread out over the pillows, while she was obviously caught in the throes of a climax. The caption underneath read, “naughty girl.”

Oh, God
.

Sarah felt the cold rush of all the blood whooshing from her head to her feet. The nervous tingles were starting in her lips again. She clamped her fingers around her phone in a death grip in an effort not to drop it on the living room floor.

That someone had violated her privacy by taking a picture of her when she was making love with Josh was alarming. What had her freaking the hell out was the fact that the blinds had been pulled down and the angle of the picture was coming from the same direction as her closet. Had someone been hiding in there the whole time she and Josh had been intimate together?

This can’t be happening.

“Sarah, what’s goin’ on?” Josh was on his knees next to her, holding on to the arm holding on to the phone.

Sarah made an effort to keep her expression placid. “Josh, can I see you a minute?”

“What is it, Sarah?” Seth set his coffee down with a
thunk
and leaned over the glass coffee table to see what had her so concerned.

She hugged the phone to her chest. Not yet. She needed to process the newest freak-out. Sarah forced her lips up in a complacent smile. “Nothing. I have a question for Josh.” She grabbed his hand and tugged him off the floor and down the hallway to her room.

“Sarah, what…” She handed the phone to Josh. “Holy shit.” He stared at the screen in shock before glancing at the bed and the walls. “This isn’t from outside.”

Sarah whispered in his ear. “I don’t know if there’s sound as well as video. It looks like it’s coming from the closet.”

Josh handed the phone back to her and scrubbed his hands over his face. He whispered back, “Okay, here’s what we’ll do. You stay here, and I’ll check the closet.”

“Why do I have to stay here? You stay here, and I’ll go.”

Sarah stepped around him, and Josh grabbed her hand.

“Damn it, Sarah! All right, we’ll go together.”

They tiptoed to the closet. Well, Sarah tiptoed. Josh tried not to stomp.

As soon as they got there, he yanked the door open, ready to pounce on someone. No one was in the closet.

“That was real subtle, Josh.”

“I don’t care about subtle. I care about kickin’ someone’s ass.” He checked through her closet, moving hangers back and forth, searching for a camera.

“Find anything?”

“Yeah, a shitload of bridesmaid’s dresses. How many weddin’s you been in?” He glanced over his shoulder. “This bluish-purpley lookin’ one is nice.”

“Joshua, the camera.”

“I don’t see one, Sarah.” He stuck his hand out. “Let me see the picture again.”

Sarah handed it over. Josh faced the bed from the closet and moved left until he had the same viewpoint as the picture.

“Josh, you’re going to knock over the lamp if you don’t stop.”

They both stared at the floor lamp.

“Do you think…?”

He held the lamp by the base and angled it toward him. Clamped to the brass finial on top of the stained-glass shade was a tiny, lipstick-size camera.

“Don’t touch it! We need Seth in here!” She bit her lip. “Do you think it recorded us…you know?”

“Maybe. Probably not after I tossed my shirt this way. It covered the top of the lamp, right?”

“Right?” She wasn’t sure of anything right now.

Josh backtracked to the bedroom door. “I’ll call in Seth.”

“What if there’s naked pictures of us? I don’t want anyone else seeing me naked!”

“Trust me, honey, I don’t want anyone seein’ you naked either.” He set a warm palm against her cheek and kissed her forehead. “That camera is a transmitter. The pictures are comin’ up somewhere else. We won’t know anythin’ until we have it checked out. I’m gonna call Chris King too. He has experience with this stuff.”

“He spies on people?”

“No, not exactly. He installs security systems. He has to know about secret cameras.”

Sarah did a mental rewind of their lovemaking. “Josh! Before you took your shirt off, I didn’t have my tank top on for the other half of that foot job.”

BOOK: One Last Call
10.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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