Driving home, Josie kept replaying the scene in the park in her head. What the hell painting was Denise talking about? Had Luke really made plans to see her again? Was he still harboring feelings for her? Josie dialed his number but it went right to voicemail. “It’s me,” she said tersely. “I’m on my way home. Ex-fiancée? Really? Pretty asshole move, sending me in there blind. Call me.”

That done, she let her mind wander to the discovery that the DNA samples from Ginger Blackwell’s rape kit had never been run through any database. Her instincts were right about the Blackwell case, despite what she’d told Denise about there being no reason for police to run them if they thought her case was a hoax. They’d secured the DNA samples the day of Ginger’s recovery. They should have been run through the state and federal databases immediately after that. Instead, someone had held on to them long enough for her case to be dismissed, allowing the entire thing to be brushed under the carpet.

Her vehicle emitted a ding, letting her know she was low on gas. She watched the signs on the side of the interstate fly by until she saw a sign for gas at the next exit. Inside the minimarket attached to the gas station, she found the ATM and tried to withdraw money for gas and some coffee. Insufficient funds, it blinked back at her. She tried again. The machine must be broken.

In an empty stall inside the restroom, she pulled up the banking app on her phone to check her actual balance. Her paycheck came by direct deposit every two weeks, and her latest check should have been deposited that morning. But the app agreed with the ATM. No deposit had been made. She had no money. With a growl, she kicked the stall door, rattling it in its frame.

Outside, she dialed Ray’s number and, for once, he answered right

away. “Jo,” he said, his tone telling her instantly that he had been expecting her call. A slow panic started in the pit of her stomach.

“What’s going on?” she asked. “You don’t know?”

“I know that my paycheck didn’t come in. I’m… a couple hours away. I stopped for gas and just found out I have no money. What the hell is going on, Ray?”

“Why are you a couple of hours away?” “Ray.”

“The chief put you on unpaid suspension as of this morning.” “What?” she said so loudly it drew looks from other patrons moving

in and out of the minimarket. She lowered her voice. “Why? He didn’t even tell me. There are procedures. Ray, what the fuck?”

“It’s because of what you said to Trinity Payne. About Rockview.”

The panic rose to her chest and made her heart skip, giving her too many beats in too short a space. All of her savings had gone into her house, she had been living paycheck to paycheck for months now. She had a couple of credit cards, but how long could she live off them? She couldn’t put her utility bills on her cards. “I didn’t talk to Trinity Payne about Rockview. What are you talking about?”

“You haven’t watched the news in the last twenty-four hours?” “No, I haven’t. What did she say, Ray? What did she say I said?” He sighed. “I’ll send you the link to the news report.”

“Just tell me.”

“That you confirmed that Spencer killed Sherri Gosnell with a fork and that there was a lot of blood.”

Tha-thump went her heart. Tha-tha-tha-tha-thump. “Oh my God. Ray, you have to talk to the chief. I never said those things. Well, I said the thing about the blood, but I never confirmed the thing about the fork. Not explicitly. And none of it was on the record.”

“What were you doing talking to Trinity Payne anyway?”

“I wasn’t—I mean, not really. She came by my house. She’s been harassing me since I got suspended. She wanted to know about Rockview, but Ray, I swear I didn’t tell her anything.”

“Listen, I can lend you money if you need—”

“I don’t need money, Ray,” she snapped. “I need my fucking job back. How can he do this? He didn’t even tell me. He didn’t even give me a chance to defend myself. I’m coming there. I’ll be there in two hours.”

“Jo, don’t.”

“He’s not getting away with this.”

“He told you to keep your head down, and almost the next day Trinity Payne is dropping your name on television.”

Her voice was a full-blown shout. “I didn’t tell her anything!”

Ray’s voice was sad. “The damage is done, Jo. Coming here to confront Grizz is only going to make things worse. Two hours? Where the hell are you?”

“None of your damn business. I’ll see you soon.”

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Written by Amazing Thing Admin

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