I grab my phone from off the table, not recognizing the number. “Hello,” I answer. The deep rumble of his voice lets me know who it is the second he opens his mouth. My heart does a funny flutter. That’s not good. He has a girlfriend and I’ll never be that girl. I would never play second fiddle to anyone. I don’t even know why I’m thinking about this.
“Did you eat breakfast?”
“How did you get my number?” I ask my own question.
“From your phone yesterday.” When he took it from me. Sneaky jerk face. Why is he doing this? “Did you eat breakfast?” he asks again. I grab a fork, sitting down at the table.
“Yep. I got pie.” I take a bite of the pie Connie brought over. I moan at the taste. This is the best pie I’ve ever eaten in my life.
“Are you teasing me, Khloe?”
“Teasing you?” I question, having no idea what he’s talking about.
“Fuck me. You don’t even know,” he says.
“I’ll be over tonight. Don’t eat dinner.”
I go to tell him I’m not having dinner with him, but he’s already ended the call before I can say anything.
I stare at my phone for a minute trying to figure out what the heck just happened. I’m starting to think everyone in this town is a little crazy. He should go have dinner with his girlfriend. Because I sure as hell won’t be home when he gets here. I’m not sure where I’m going to go, but I know I have to leave.
I get back to work cleaning and unpacking. When I look down at my watch again, I see it’s almost five.
Crap. I jump up, running to change my clothes.
I put on a coat of lip gloss and my favorite earrings before I grab my purse to head out the door. Dane is in for a surprise when he gets here. I’m sure as heck not going to be here. It’s time to explore this town. There has to be a restaurant or bar I can hang at and get some dinner. I smile, thinking I won this round.
Khloe’s place is empty when I swing by in my squad car. I knocked, but she didn’t answer. Concerned for her safety, I let myself in and did a sweep. The place was clean with not a box in sight. She must’ve worked through the night to unpack and get situated. In the corner of the living room is a large desk with two big computer monitors. Next to the keyboard is the busted microphone. There’s no camera, so whatever she’s doing on the internet doesn’t require pictures—as far as I can tell. She doesn’t seem like the cam girl, demon hour online stripper type. We have a few of those in town and we do what we can to support them because it’s a decent way to earn a living.
If horny men on the internet want to give some of my citizens their money, more power to them. Show up on their doorstep and you’re spending a few nights in our jail.
No, Khloe’s not that type and if she was, I’d have to shut it down. Not because I don’t believe she has the right to do that shit, but because I’d have to gouge out the eyes of everyone who had an internet connection, which would be hard on our future home life.
I don’t know when I decided that Khloe would be mine. It was somewhere between when she opened the door and when she smiled a welcome greeting. In that half second, I was a goner, but I had enough sense to realize she wasn’t fully ready to climb on board with me.
That’s all right. There’s no hurry. She lives in my town, eating at the restaurants owned by my friends. There’s no place that Khloe can go to escape me.
Before I leave, I take a picture of the microphone and order a replacement. Whatever she’s doing here requires the use of this thing but we don’t have a handy electronics store where she can pick it up.
In the garage, I find the discarded boxes in a pile and dismantle them for the recycling bin.
That completed, I give the diner a call.
“Yes, Chief? Do you need an order of the special to go?”
“No, Len, I’m coming in. You have a new customer tonight?”
“Sure do. Mae’s niece came in about a half hour ago and I put her in a booth toward the back, just like you asked. She’s got plenty of visitors, though. Couldn’t keep them away.” A hint of anxiety creeps into Len’s voice.
“Don’t worry about it, Len. Thanks for babysitting her for me. I’ll be over in five.”
Len’s sigh of relief puffs through the earpiece. “Good. Good. See you soon.”
The diner’s crowded when I arrive. Word has spread we have a new arrival and everyone’s come to check her out. The noise level mutes when I walk in. Several nod their head and all eyes are on me as I make my way to Khloe’s solitary booth. She’s warming her hands around a cup of coffee when I slide into the seat across from her.