Page 26 of Jed Had to Die

The ugly little mongrel’s head jerks up and looks right at me, almost as if he could hear me and I give him a middle finger salute.

After the chaos of today and now that there are no longer people milling around the house, Emma Jo went upstairs to take a nap as soon as Jed’s body was taken away. Jerk-face Leo came inside and held Emma Jo’s face in his hands when he told her all soft and sweet that they would wait until it got dark outside and people went back inside their homes before taking him away. I want to feel bad about calling him a jerk-face considering he knew Emma Jo would freak out if the neighbors saw Jed’s body being wheeled out from the backyard. He knew it and he solved the problem before it even became one, leaving Emma Jo with nothing to do but smile and thank him for being so thoughtful and good to her.

And really, if I wasn’t so annoyed with him, I’d probably be halfway in love with him for the way he handled Emma Jo all day. He kept her updated on everything they were doing; he spoke to her in a calm, soothing voice; he made sure she ate something by calling one of his other deputies and having him bring over a whole kitchen full of groceries; he kept the nosey neighbors at bay; he answered the house phone whenever it rang when he was inside; and his eyes always went to her when he was too far away to speak, silently checking to make sure she wasn’t two seconds away from a completely meltdown. Oh, and he made up a lie to tell my mother about how the sheriff’s department was using Emma Jo’s backyard for some kind of law enforcement training, explaining to her we couldn’t join her at the Hungry Bear because we’d volunteered to help them if they needed it.

Okay, so that kind of helped me out too since I didn’t have to sit through breakfast with my mother where she would have grilled me about pining away for Leo all these years. I don’t think I would have been very good at squashing those rumors, while at the same time not letting it slip that Emma Jo’s husband was dead and I helped make the poisoned toilet pie that killed him and, “Oh, by the way, his rotting corpse was in Emma Jo’s backyard when you stopped by. Who wants dessert? I’d avoid the blueberry pie if I were you.” Since my mother quickly realized she wouldn’t be getting any dirt from me anytime soon, she told me if I didn’t come to the house tomorrow she’d take me out of her will, and then she left and all was quiet and peaceful again.

Whatever. Just because Leo did one little thing that helped me out does not mean I’m going to stop thinking he’s a jerk-face. He literally went out of his way to ignore me all day. It was almost like he knew I was guilty…

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT! He knows I’m guilty!

Was he looking through the kitchen window when I cleaned up our pie mess and stashed it in the hall closet? Did he see remnants of blueberry pie around Jed’s mouth when he was looking at the body? He was there last night when Jed attacked me, but who knows how long he’d been there before he cocked his gun and told Jed to get away from me. Did he hear me tell Jed I’d rip off his balls and make him choke on them? If he didn’t, he sure as hell heard me when I ordered him to give me his gun so I could shoot Jed in the junk. The sheriff of Bald Knob heard me threaten one of its citizens, who just so happened to wind up dead in his own backyard, where I’m currently staying. And the only thing he said to me all day today was not to leave town and that he needed me to come down to the station to answer some questions.

Oh, my God. He definitely knows I’m guilty!

Before I can start screaming and lose my shit all over Emma Jo’s living room, the streetlamps outside illuminate Bo Jangle’s scrawny little ass as he squats right in the middle of the side yard, looking back over his shoulder at me.

“You psychotic little maggot, are you seriously taking a dump and giving me the side-eye while you’re doing it? I will punt you like a football right through Starla’s bedroom window, asshole,” I threaten him through the glass, pointing two fingers at my eyes and then at him.

“It’s been a long day, can you please try and avoid killing the neighbor’s dog? I can’t deal with another phone call from Starla Godfrey complaining about you.”

My head whips around when I hear Leo’s voice to find him lounging against the doorframe between the front hallway and the living room. He’s no longer in his sheriff’s uniform, but sweet mother of God, he’s wearing those same worn jeans he had on at the hospital. The ones that hug his ass and thighs and look like he’s spent a lot of hours doing manual labor in them while getting all hot and sweaty and…hot. He’s got his hands in the front pockets, pulling them down so they ride low on his hips, and he’s wearing a dark blue t-shirt that clings to his chest and biceps, the cut of his muscles highlighted through the soft cotton material like he just got finished with a wet t-shirt contest. His forearms are lightly tanned just like his face, and I wonder if his parents still own the sweet corn farm out on the edge of town and that’s where he got some sun. I also wonder what kind of exercise one does in order to get that kind of muscle definition in the forearms I’m currently staring at while they flex as he pulls his hands out of his pockets.

“How the hell did you get in here?”

High-five to me for managing to spit that out instead of “Can I lick your forearms and let you bench-press my body above your head?”

Leo pushes away from the wall and walks across the room, not answering the question until he sits down next to me on the couch, leaving only a few inches between us. The warm weather outside that heated his skin radiates off him and brings with it the faint woodsy smell of his cologne that rendered me stupid and speechless earlier today.

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