Home > Floored (Frenched #3)(8)

Floored (Frenched #3)(8)
Author: Melanie Harlow

“Maybe. But we’ve never been broken into.” Coco shook her head. “No neighborhood is completely safe, Erin. Look, I grew up around here, and I know it’s safer than most places, but it’s not like it used to be. You should at least consider it. Wouldn’t you feel better?”

“I guess so.” I brought my hands to my face and rubbed my eyes. “God, I’m so tired. Although I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.”

“We’ll stay with you,” Mia said firmly. “We already decided.”

“You don’t have to do that. What about your husbands?”

“I don’t have a husband yet.” Coco stuck her chin out. “And if Nick doesn’t quit bugging me about the church thing, I never will.”

“Church weddings can be beautiful, Coco,” Mia pulled a pad of paper and pen out of her bag. “I don’t know why you’re so against it.”

“I’m against it because he and I are liable to burst into a ball of flames if we even go near a Catholic church. We’re divorced, remember? It’s a sin.”

“Yeah, but you’re only divorced from each other. Seems like you should get a free pass on that.” Mia set the pad in front of me. “Here. Write down everything they took.”

Coco sniffed. “I don’t think the Catholic Church gives a free pass to anyone. Unless you buy the archdiocese a new rec center or something.”

“Why does he want a church wedding?” I asked. “I thought you were going to get married in your backyard next summer.” Coco and Nick had recently purchased a beautiful old home in Indian Village and spent all their spare time working on its restoration.

“We were. But his Italian grandmother is giving him the Catholic Old Lady guilt trip. The All-I-want-is-to-see-one-of-my-grandchildren-get married-in-the-Church nonsense. Basically, we’re crushing an old lady’s dream.” She got off the stool, went to my snack cupboard and rummaged around. “Got barbecue?”

“No, sorry.”

She pulled out a bag of sweet potato chips instead. “And then there’s Nick, who decided he doesn’t want to wait until next year. He’s giving me no time whatsoever to plan this thing. And yet he won’t elope.” She sat and crunched angrily.

“No!” Mia’s hand shot out and flicked Coco’s ear. “No eloping. I will smother you with a pillow in your sleep if you get married again and I’m not there.”

“Me too,” I added. “No eloping.”

Coco waved a hand in front of her face and swallowed. “Forget about me. Let’s deal with this. What’s missing?”

I’d just started to write when a loud knock at the back door made us all jump.

“Want me to get it?” Mia asked, her eyes nervously flicking toward the door.

“No.” I got up and set the pen down. “I’m not opening it until I know who it is.” Glancing around for something to use as a weapon, I decided on a butcher knife. Mia and Coco gasped when I pulled it from the block, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Cautiously, I moved for the door, blade raised. “Who is it?”

“It’s Charlie. I have something for you.”

I lowered the knife and opened the door. My heart thumped hard, and I decided it was adrenaline, not attraction. Big difference. Big, big, big.

“Hi.”

“Hi. It’s only been like five minutes. You checked out the station already?”

“Not yet. I had to finish my report. I’m heading there now, but I wanted to give you this first.” He held out his hand, which held a twenty dollar bill.

I stared at it. “What’s that for?”

“I’m paying you back the money I stole from your lemonade stand. I feel bad about it now.”

My eyebrows rose. “Now you feel bad about it? Like twenty years later? What’s the extra eight fifty for, interest? Or did you want change?”

He smiled. “Nah, keep the change.” When I didn’t take it, he tucked it into the pocket of my robe. “Planning to stab me, Red?”

I looked down at the knife in my hand, then back at him. “I might, if you keep calling me that.”

He held up his hands. “I come in peace.”

“Fine. Now go in peace.” I pulled the twenty from my pocket and held it out. “And take this back. I don’t need charity. Give it to St. Jude’s, which is where it was supposed to go in the first place.”

He dropped his hands. “Take it. It’s yours.” Then he grinned mischievously. “Put it toward a real pair of hand cuffs.”

I slammed the door in his face. “God, he’s annoying.”

“What was that all about?” Mia asked. She was pouring a glass of water into the kitchen herbs I had on the windowsill in little pots that said BLOOM on them. Although in my case they might as well say DIE because for some reason I can never remember to water plants.

“It was Charlie Dwyer again.” I replaced the knife in the block and touched my cheeks, hoping they weren’t as red as they felt. “He wanted to pay back the money he stole from me almost twenty years ago, of all things.”

“Oh?” She and Coco exchanged a look, which I decided not to acknowledge. “It’s nice that he’s taking a special interest in you.”

“He should, as a public safety officer,” I huffed, plunking down on the stool again. I avoided meeting their eyes and picked up the pen. “If they would have caught this guy already, I wouldn’t have been robbed tonight. Number one,” I said loudly, eager to drop the subject, “laptop computer.”

   
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