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CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN: Trinity Payne

Her next call was to Trinity Payne, who picked up on the third ring with the words, “Did you talk to Ginger Blackwell?”

Josie could hardly get the words out. “You fucking bitch. How could you?” she spat.

Silence. Which meant she knew she was in the wrong.

Squeezing her cell phone so hard her fingers ached, Josie glared back at the people passing in and out of the minimarket who stopped to stare at her. “I know you heard me. How could you? You know what I said about Rockview was off the record.”

“You said there was no record.”

“You know damn well what I told you was in confidence. I never   even confirmed there was a fork. How could you use that? Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

Her tone was breezy. “Oh, please. Like anyone cares. So, I used a line or two from what you told me, and even then it wasn’t very interesting. My producer didn’t even want to run it.”

“My chief cares. He put me on suspension without pay. Thanks to you, I can’t even put gas in my car.”

“I thought you were married.”

The anger exploded in a flash of blinding light. For a moment, she couldn’t take in any air. “I’m separated,” she said through gritted teeth. “I pay my own way, and now I’m broke and jobless because you had to have your story. You are a manipulative, lying bitch, and unless you want me to rearrange those perfect television cheekbones of yours, you better stay the fuck out of my way. And that exclusive I promised you? Over my dead body.”

She hung up before Trinity could say another word. Using her credit card, she bought enough gas to get her home. She didn’t dare attempt

coffee. Besides, her outrage was burning a hole straight through her stomach. She seethed the entire drive home, her hands cramping around the steering wheel as her brain furiously calculated how she was going to pay to live in the weeks to come. She could keep getting gas and food with her credit card, but she couldn’t pay her bills. Or her mortgage.

Her beautiful house. Her refuge. She could go without utilities, she decided. She’d take whatever she would normally put toward gas, electric, and water and save her house. After that, she had no idea how she would survive. And no—no way was she asking anyone for money. Her grandmother had nothing to give, and Luke had given her enough already.

She was so consumed with thoughts of how she would make ends meet that she nearly missed her exit. As she pulled into the police department parking lot, she scanned the personal vehicles but didn’t see the chief’s Jeep. Of course it wasn’t there. Ray would have told him she was coming and he knew better than to deal with her head-on.

She stormed inside anyway to find the place like a ghost town. Only Noah Fraley sat at his desk, a few others floating in and out of the common room on the second floor. Ray was nowhere to be seen. The door to the chief’s office was closed—silent and impenetrable.

Striding up to Noah’s desk, she put her hands on her hips and glared down at him. “Where’s the chief?”

He stared back at her, surprised, his cheeks pinking. “He’s out with everyone else on the Coleman case. Some lady called and said she thought she saw a blond girl walking down the side of the road out on Old Gilbert.”

Josie raised a brow. She knew the road he was talking about. It wasn’t far from Denton’s Catholic high school. A lot of students used that rural road when they cut school to get to the strip mall a mile or so away.

“When’s he due back?”

Noah shrugged. “Don’t know. Guess it depends on whether the lead checks out, or not.” He waited a long moment to see if she had any more questions. Then he looked at the chief’s door as though it were the man himself, the side of his mouth hitched up in a pained expression. “Between you and me, the chief’s being a real dick. Listen, if you need help, like with paying bills or whatever, I can lend you money. At least till the chief gets the stick out of his ass and puts you back on the payroll.”

Had it been any other person offering to help her, Josie might have been insulted. Even the thought of Ray offering to help her with money

made her hands sweat. But coming from Noah, the offer was not at all uncomfortable. She still wasn’t going to accept it, of course, but she was grateful for it.

“Thank you.”

Noah shrugged as though it was no big deal. “Want me to call you when he gets back? He’s been sleeping here most nights. You could probably catch him.”

But her rage had dissipated for the moment, placated by Noah’s kindness. She didn’t have the energy to keep it up until the chief got back. Maybe rage wasn’t the best approach anyway. Maybe in the morning she would be more clear-headed, less prone to flip and say something that would get her fired for good. “No,” Josie said. “I’ll come back tomorrow.” It can wait, she thought. “But thank you.”

Noah’s gaze floated back to his computer screen where Josie could see that he’d been logging in phone tips in the Isabelle Coleman case. There weren’t many. “Sure thing,” he said.

“Hey, Noah.”

“Yeah?”

“Did they move June Spencer yet?”

He met her eyes once more. For the first time in the years she had known him, she realized he had tiny flecks of gold in his brown eyes. “No,” he said. “Supposedly there’s nowhere to move her to. The nearest psych unit is an hour away and they don’t have any beds. The chief is trying to find a place for her at a facility in Philadelphia. But she hasn’t been arraigned yet. She’s down in holding till the DA decides what to do with her.”

“I’ve never known the DA to move this slowly. She killed a woman with a fork, for God’s sake! Why haven’t they charged her yet?”

Another shrug—one that said “it’s not my job to make these decisions”—and he went back to his computer screen.

“Let me know how the Coleman lead turns out,” she said as she was leaving.

“No need,” he called after her. “If it’s her, you’ll see it on TV.”

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Written by Amazing Thing Admin

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CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: Driving home

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT: nearly dark