He didn’t kiss me back.
I undraped myself from his body, feeling somewhat miffed, but pragmatic enough to realize that a man in an elected position probably couldn’t be seen kissing in public a woman who was wanted for murdering her husband, who had escaped from jail, and who, if gossip were to be believed, burned down the sheriff’s house.
“Hello to you too,” Linc said. His eyes twinkled. That gave me hope.
“Am I adding ‘molesting the sheriff’ charges to Annie’s file?” Mrs. Eldridge asked.
Linc shook his head. “We’ll skip that one. We have enough on her to put her away for a long time.”
“So funny,” I said. I stood there feeling awkward. “I’m sorry about your house.”
“Thanks for getting Buffy out.”
“We left a good while before the men showed up.”
Linc frowned. “Men? What did they look like?”
He led me to the very familiar interrogation room where Mrs. Eldridge brought me a much needed cup of coffee. I felt immediately better after plugging the caffeine into my system. Praise the gods of coffee beans!
I told Linc about the men. His face became a mask, especially when I mentioned that they didn’t hesitate to shoot at me, not that that was surprising since they didn’t hesitate to torch his house either. I don’t think they hesitated to perform any kind of violence.
“They didn’t seem like the kind of men who would put poison into sugar canisters though. It didn’t seem like their kind of thing.”
He nodded. I took another sip of coffee and stared at him. There was something he wasn’t sharing. I tried that old trick of staying quiet to see if he would fill in the blank space. He didn’t. I, however, couldn’t sit there letting quiet take over everything. There were times I could, but the tension right now just ate at me. I scratched my arms as if I could feel it chewing away.
“What?” I finally said.
He raised an eyebrow. He was very good at this quiet thing, but then he always was. He always won the staring contests when we were kids.
“There’s something else going on and you’re trying to figure out whether you should tell me or not, right?” I said.
“I’m not going to tell you anything so there isn’t any ‘figuring out’ to be done.”
“That doesn’t sound fair.”
“Fair doesn’t enter into it.”
“It should. Quid pro quo.”
“You saw Silence of the Lambs too many times. And you don’t have any information worth trading.”
“I told you about the men.”
He rubbed his fingers across his closed eyes. Crap. I was giving him a hard time and he had just lost pretty much everything except his dog.
“I am really, really sorry about your house,” I said again.
“How did they know you were there?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Did you tell anyone?”
“No. Did you?”
“No. The only person I might have told was the one I was thinking might have put poison in my sugar canister.”
“Clarice?” he asked. “Your mother must have been as hung up on Silence of the Lambs as you are.”
I smiled. My mother had been one of a kind. “Yep.”
“Why would you think Clarice had anything to do with this?”
I explained to him about seeing Clarice and Ry that day when I was having breakfast with Rosie.
“That may not mean anything,” he said.
“I know. Nothing makes much sense. Unless it is me and I have blackouts.”
“That’s at the top of my list,” he said and then grinned.
He got up suddenly, the feet of his chair protesting against the vinyl. “This time stay put,” he said as he placed his hat on his head.
I didn’t say anything. I’d give his suggestion some thought, probably over another cup of coffee. I needed to figure some things out and sitting twiddling my thumbs in the sheriff’s office wouldn’t help. During the past two weeks my life had gone to hell in the proverbial handbasket, whatever that was. Adultery, murder, poisoning, arson—what was left? I shouldn’t tempt fate. And yet, despite these awful things, there was coffee…and Linc.