“No. Way. Are you freaking serious?” I screamed as I flattened myself against the wall of my laundry room with a thud, trying not to hyperventilate. “There’s a hand in the laundry basket. There’s a hand in the laundry basket. There’s a hand in the damn laundry basket.”
Sliding carefully along the wall so the unattached appendage didn’t jump out and grab me, I eased my way out of the tiny room and sprinted to the kitchen. It had a door that led outside, just in case the hand was up to no good.
Wait. What kind of good could a lone hand in a basket of dirty laundry be up to?
No good. That’s what kind of good a companionless hand could be up to.
“I’m nuts,” I muttered, closing my eyes and pressing my fingers to my temples. Forty was supposed to be the new thirty, according to all the magazines. If this was forty, I was going to take a pass. I’d only been forty for three hours and it was already seriously bad. The solitary hand was the rancid icing on top of a really crappy birthday cake.
Pacing my kitchen and keeping my eyes peeled for more random body parts, I spotted the empty coffee container and almost cried. Handling the ridiculously absurd while un-caffeinated was not going to end well.
“I don’t have the energy for this right now,” I told no one in particular, since I was alone. “Who did I screw over in a former life that I’m dealing with this shit?”
Unfortunately, I’d been seeing semi-corporeal versions of dead people for a few weeks. I’d become the kid from the Sixth Sense except that was a movie and this was real life… and my dead people did not look like Bruce Willis.
Up until now, all my deceased buddies had done was stare and laugh—or so I’d thought. There was nothing quite like being the butt of a cadaver’s joke… that was, if the hand was a joke and not a warning that I was going to be six feet under soon.
“Isn’t it enough that you freaks follow me around? Now you’re leaving body parts in my dirty clothes? For God’s sake, today’s my birthday and this behavior is totally unacceptable. I almost puked. And let me tell you something,” I bellowed to the empty kitchen. “If I’d thrown up because one of you idiots thought it would be hilarious to put a hand in with my dirty panties, you’d be cleaning that mess up. Are we clear here?”
Of course, there was no answer. There was never an answer. They didn’t speak—just silently accompanied me to the grocery store and around my house. They were very partial to reality shows. I’d started leaving the television on all night so they didn’t wander into my bedroom while I slept. Thankfully they hadn’t discovered where I worked yet. However, I had no doubt that was coming soon.
“Come on, you guys. It wasn’t funny.” Maybe reasoning with them would work. Hell, I didn’t know if they were real or if I was imagining them. There was a fifty-fifty chance I’d lost my mind. “I think I’ve been pretty nice about letting you stay here rent-free. I don’t deserve to be given a heart attack at seven in the morning.”
Again, no answer.
Again, maybe I was nuts.
Was there even a hand in my laundry basket? Maybe it was a fleshy, skin-colored winter glove. Since it was October and I lived in Georgia it was doubtful. Not to mention, I didn’t own any fleshy, skin-colored winter gloves. I had a little more fashion sense than that. Until I had my iced coffee with an extra-large squirt of chocolate syrup, I wasn’t going to test the theory.
Pleasant. I’d be pleasant. A nice conversational tone might prevent another gag-inducing prank… or not. “Okay, I’m going to eat and leave the house. Whoever left their hand in the laundry room needs to remove it before I get home or I’m going to…”
What the heck was I going to do with a disembodied hand? Should I put it in the freezer? Should I bury it? Damn it, if I buried it, did I have to do it at the cemetery on hallowed ground instead of my yard? It would suck up, down and sideways if it popped out of the ground during a backyard barbecue. What if I got busted at the graveyard for burying a hand and had to do time in the big house? God, the heinous consequences were endless.
Terrified to open my cabinets, I debated how hungry I was. Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but if there were eyeballs next to my oatmeal, I’d have to check myself into the loony bin.
From out of nowhere, a partially translucent woman tore around my kitchen, wailing in like a banshee—and ironically, she was missing a hand. Had the weirdos been trying to kill each other? Wait. That made no sense whatsoever. They were already dead. The varying states of decay were a dead giveaway—pun intended.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I shrieked as I scrambled up onto the kitchen table in fear for my life.
Could I make it out the door and into my yard? Crap, I was still in my nightie and it was chilly today. Furthermore, what in the hell was I going to do outside? Call for help to get the handless dead woman out of my kitchen? Not too many choices here.
“Stop,” I shouted in the voice I’d learned to use during my self-defense class at the Y.
The woman was trembling from head to toe. Where her hand should have been was just shredded skin—if you could call grayish papery-looking stuff skin. No blood at all. If she was alive in the normal sense of the word, I’d guess her age to be somewhere in her late sixties. She was attractive in a ghostly way.
“Did you, umm… lose your hand? I asked, not quite believing I was conversing with someone I was fairly certain wasn’t there.
She simply stared and cocked her head to the side.
“Maybe you don’t speak English. Or maybe you were brain dead when you died so it isn’t functioning now that you’re not exactly alive. Or maybe you were mute in life… or maybe I’m insane,” I added for good measure as I cautiously got down off the table.
She came a little closer, and I jerked back. The rules were wildly unclear.
“Stay where you are,” I warned, holding up my hand and hoping she understood sign language. “If you promise not to body snatch me or eat me, I think I can help you out.
Still she said nothing as I carefully made my way to the laundry room to retrieve what I assumed was her hand.
“I’m using a bath towel that’s seen better days in case you’re a disease-carrying zombie.” Never in my life did I think I would utter those words in a sentence. “So, I’ll toss it to you in a sec.”
Surprisingly, my gag reflex didn’t kick in. Dead stuff usually set it off. However, she seemed so upset about her hand, I was okay. Strange. I approached her with extreme caution. I held out her hand, and she held out her stump.
Oh. Hell. No.
Did she want me to reattach it? How did you reattach something to what was little more than a ghost? Her hand felt real, and she looked real enough, even though I could see through parts of her.
“Here you go,” I said as I tried again to give her the towel-wrapped body part.
She wasn’t having it. She simply stood there with her arm extended and waited.
“I’m not a doctor. Not real sure what you want me to do.”
Her eyes were huge in the hollowed-out sockets—watery blue and filled with what I guessed were tears. I was tempted to take her in my arms and hug her, but I still wasn’t positive she wouldn’t take a chunk out of me.
“I suppose I could glue it back on,” I suggested hesitantly. I knew there was some superglue in the junk drawer. I had no clue if there was enough to glue a hand back on. “Superglue can hold a big fat guy attached by his hat to a steel girder, according to the commercial,” I told the woman as I put her hand on the table and searched the drawer. “It might work on your hand.”
Damn, I was a slob. The drawer was full of stuff I didn’t need. However, I did find my eyelash curler, a few tampons, last month’s electric bill and the superglue.
“Mmmkay,” I said, assessing the situation.
I was going to have to touch her to make this work. I was hoping to live longer than forty years, but if my time was up—it was up. Maybe all the dead people were hanging out to let me know I was soon to be a goner. It would be nice if I went out doing something kind for someone. Reattaching a dead woman’s hand wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it was the only one I had at the moment.
“Here goes nothing,” I mumbled as I bit down on my lip and covered the stump with the goopy glue.
She watched in fascination as I then picked up her hand and connected it to her stump.
“I think I have to put pressure on it for at least one minute for it to hold. I’m pretty sure that’s what the guy in the commercial did. But to be safe, we’ll do it for two.
She looked at me. I looked at her. The silence was awkward and loud. If I was imagining the bizarre exchange, I needed some help immediately. Twice I thought I should start a conversation to be polite. I was Southern. It was in my DNA.
“Today’s my birthday,” I told her with a weak smile that I was fairly sure resembled a grimace. I was still hoping she wasn’t going to bite me. I needed to stop watching zombie movies.
The woman kind of moan-grunted in response. Since my life might still be on the line, I nodded and thanked her. Feeling the need to smack myself in the head, I refrained. If I dropped her hand, all hell could break loose.
After what felt like two hours, the two minutes were up. I stepped back and waited for her hand to crash to the floor. It didn’t. She held it up and moved her fingers. I was shocked that the superglue worked on her tendons too. Wait. Attributing normal to the impossible was nuts—like me.
“Wow,” I said with a surprised laugh. “Can’t believe that worked. Does it hurt?
As expected, she said nothing that made any sense, but she did give me a smile before she faded away.
I sat down heavily on the kitchen chair and mentally went over what had just happened. It was outlandish and unreal, and I couldn’t even talk to anyone about it. I was on my own in Crazytown.
I supposed if there was anything to be thankful for, it was that she wasn’t a flesh-eating zombie. She was just a dead person with a problem and I’d solved it for her. Note to self… stop watching horror movies.
The knock at my door pulled me back from my screwy introspective thought. Who was here at seven in the morning? The ghosts never knocked. They just appeared when they felt like it. I peeked through the peephole and audibly sighed in agony.
It was Stan—my latest mistake. Actually, my only mistake in a seriously long stretch of celibacy, but definitely a mistake.
Getting back into the dating scene twelve months after Steve died was too soon. I wasn’t ready for it. However, the bottle of wine I’d consumed at Patsy’s Bar and Grill last night didn’t agree with my assessment—not that it was a date. It was a booty call that never should have happened. Ever. At least I didn’t stay the night. A walk of shame at three in the morning was far classier than when the sun was out.
I’d already done surgery on a dead woman. It wasn’t fair that I now had to deal with Stan.
Happy birthday to me…
“Hi Stan,” I said as I opened my door enough to be polite, but not far enough to invite him in.
“Hello Daisy, you’re looking lovely today,” he said with an overly confident smile on his handsome face.
Glancing down, I realized I was still barely dressed. I hopped behind the door and poked my head out.
“Stan, what can I do for you? It’s kind of early.”
“I’m really sorry about last night, Daisy,” Stan said without any hint of apology in his perfectly cultured voice. I was sure he’d dressed in the pink polo shirt and starched madras pants with painstaking care. “I can usually go longer than that.”
Kill me now.
“It was great,” I lied and gave him a smile that I prayed didn’t look like I was constipated.
Stan was a nice guy with a job. He was extremely good-looking and had the personality of a box of hair. What on earth had I been thinking? Actually, it was the merlot that had done my thinking for me. I was an idiot. Casual sex wasn’t in my wheelhouse. I knew better. And accountants in madras pants didn’t equate to good sex—or even good conversation.
“I was just wondering when we had intimate relations last night… Did you… umm?”
“No. No, I didn’t, but no worries,” I insisted politely while trying desperately to ignore all of the floating entities that had popped up to see the show. Stan had no idea six semi-corporeal strangers were standing behind him watching my mortifying life play out in full color. Far be it from me to clue him in. I knew I was going crazy. No one else needed that info.
“I’d be happy to, you know…” Stan said as he made the peace sign with two fingers and then shoved his tongue between them.
“Good God, no!” I shouted on a gag and then slapped my hand over my mouth as the slightly decaying old man hovering over Stan’s left shoulder laughed like a loon. “I’m good—really. I have to go visit my gram at the nursing home in a bit and then get to work.”
“Can I see you again?” Stan asked as he made sure his meticulously gelled hair was still in place.
“I think maybe we should just be friends,” I said diplomatically, considering all I wanted him to do was leave.
“Is it because I could only go for ten minutes?” he asked with a slightly perplexed frown on his ridiculously pretty face.
“Actually, it was two minutes,” I corrected him. “But it’s not that at all. It was a very energetic two minutes.”
“Thank you,” he replied with a satisfied smirk.
It was all I could do not to roll my eyes. The laughing dead dude rolled his buggy eyes for me and I almost giggled.
“Welcome. However, I’m not in the right place for a relationship right now. It’s not you. It’s me. You’re just too… umm… perfect for someone else. You deserve someone who likes to shop at preppy stores. I, you know, don’t want to hold you back, and I’m not good at math, so… ahh,” I stuttered, searching for more inane crap to spew. He wasn’t an asshole. He just wasn’t for me.
And I wasn’t ready for any of this. It wasn’t Stan’s fault. I had my own intimacy issues. However, it was all kinds of stupid to have gotten drunk and tried to work them out with someone who was less appealing than eating a full bag of plain rice cakes.
“I see what you mean,” Stan said as he nodded seriously then glanced over at me with pity. “While the sex was outstanding, I’m far smarter than you.”
“I’m sorry… what?”
Correction. He was a complete asshole.
The hanging specters didn’t like that one either. They flew around Stan like a freaking tornado. It was difficult to focus on the boring man on my porch with all the hoopla going on.
“Well, I do have two Masters and my CPA license. And you’re just an attractive widowed paralegal with a great rack,” he said in a socially acceptable, pleasant tone, clearly unaware he was an asshole.
There were several ways to handle the situation. One was to kill him, but I had too much going on to spend any time in prison for murder. Plus, I’d never killed anyone. My fortieth birthday wasn’t a good day to start a life of crime. This was a small town and I didn’t need that kind of reputation. The second was to escort him right out of my life.
I knew exactly how to do that.
“Stan, I’m going to suggest you leave before I tell you that you have a tiny penis and I wasn’t exactly sure we were having sex at all. You wear too much aftershave and if you’re going to manscape, you might want to have a go at your back. So, unless you want to hear all that, you’d better sprint your preppy, pencil-pushing ass off my porch.”
“Can I call you?” he asked through the closed door as I slammed it shut.
I didn’t grace the request with an answer. It was embarrassing and unbelievable that I’d spent even two minutes of time I couldn’t get back on a jackass with a mini man tool who thought he was smarter than me.
God, I missed Steve. I mean, we had our problems, but he wasn’t hairy.
I was done dating. Forever. Forty, widowed and single was starting to sound very good.
Now I just needed to deal with the visible to only me weirdos hanging out in my house. However, I had to give it to them. They were very supportive when Stan was talking smack.
After a full two and a half minutes of contemplative thought—which was thirty seconds longer than Stan’s performance last night—I decided to ignore my uninvited houseguests. I was completely out of coffee and the lack of caffeine made me slightly dangerous. I’d just go on with my day and block out the fact I was hanging on to my sanity by a thread.
“Turn it up, baby. Bob Barker mumbles and I won’t get the damn price right if I can’t hear the old coot,” Gram shouted from her bed as I slapped my hands over my ears and winced.
“Pot, kettle, black, old lady,” I muttered with a grin as I handed my beloved grandmother her hearing aids. “Try these. Bob’s on fire today.”
“Hate ’em,” she griped as she adjusted her bed so she was sitting more upright. “With those little nuggets in my ears, I can hear every damn sound in this here prison I’m in. Happy Birthday, my Daisy girl!”
“Thank you.” I kissed her wrinkled cheek and breathed in her sent—Ivory soap and dime store perfume. It was the best smell in the world. “You like the bed?”
“Love it. You’re my best girl,” she said with a wink as she smoothed the wild dark hair out of my face. “The love of my life.”
The bed had cost me almost three full paychecks and the nursing home had pitched a fit when I’d moved it in, but I’d prevailed. Gram called her new home a prison, but I was onto her. I knew she secretly loved it. She played poker several nights a week while lying in her new bed and from what I’d heard from the nurses, she was juggling three paramours at the moment.
The visual of my ninety-year-old grandmother with a man-friend was alarming. I pushed it to the section of my brain labeled don’t go there ever. To reprogram the disturbing images, I started folding Gram’s housecoats.
“The show is rigged and I think Bob’s had him a little nip and tuck. However, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eatin’ crackers,” she informed me and everyone within a five-mile radius.
“I just ate a banana, Gram. Can’t listen to you talking about getting horizontal with Bob Barker,” I said as I nonchalantly glanced around the room and peeked under the bed. Thankfully it was clear—no ghosts and no unattached appendages.
They’d been following me constantly and I wasn’t sure what they wanted. Terrified at first, I’d gotten used to them… kind of. I had no choice really. It was either accept that I’d become a dead-people magnet or buy a straitjacket and commit myself. Hell, I still wasn’t sure they were really there. The only thing I was certain of was that I was losing my marbles.
“Daisy, I can’t do it now cause all my programs are coming on, but I have some stuff you need to know before I become one with the earthworms,” Gram said as she put her hearing aids in and then pulled them right back out.
“You’re not dying anytime soon. If you leave me, I’m traveling straight to Hell and yanking your sorry deaf ass back up here.”
“Hell ain’t so bad. I got a condo with air conditioning reserved.” She cackled with glee until Bob came back on the tube and began describing the final showcase.
I’d had enough of the big wheel and guessing the price of microwaves. The Game Show Network was on 24/7 in Gram’s room. If I had to guess, I’d have to say the episode we were watching was from the 1970s. I had to get to work anyway.
“Gram, I’ll stop by tonight. Make sure you eat today.”
I kissed her forehead. She waved me away as not to miss a second of Bob.
At least she was happy.
I wished I could say the same for myself.
Three Days Later
“I found thirty-nine dang silver wisdom sparkles in my hair today,” Jennifer griped as she tried like hell to frown but failed. “Looks like white pubes sprouting up out of my head. And wouldn’t you just know, JoJo, my hairdresser, is on maternity leave.”
“Wait,” June said, perplexed as she rummaged through her large tote and pulled out a bright pink tin. “I thought JoJo was a man—a gay man.”
“He is fabulously gay, but if that hottie was straight, he’d be husband number six. That boy wields a curling iron with skill—great with his hands if ya know what I mean,” Jennifer said with a chuckle and a wink that came kind of close to looking like a wink. “Anyhoo, his Labradoodle, Barbra Streisand, is having puppies and he took two weeks off.”
“Makes sense to me,” June said with a laugh. “Probably helps that he owns the salon.”
“Probably,” Jennifer agreed with a sigh and tried to frown again.
Again, no luck.
Jennifer recently had so much Botox injected into her face that her facial expressions were not in working order.
“While I like the wisdom sparkle nickname, the pube part is a bit uncouth,” June said with a shake of her head as she put the container of what I was pretty sure were cookies on the steps of my front porch.
“It’s the truth,” Jennifer shot back. “My face looks like a baby’s ass and my hair looks like an old lady with her bush on her head instead of in her pants.”
“You’re not old. You’re just gross,” June admonished her with a smile. “And anyway, I read that sixty-five is the new forty-seven.”
Jennifer laughed and pilfered a cookie from the tin. “You made that up.”
“I most certainly did,” June agreed. “However, I stand by it.”
I stood on my front porch and tried to think of something to add to the conversation to be polite. Politeness was ingrained in my Southern DNA. Nothing came to mind. Today, even being Southern wasn’t enough.
I adored June and Jennifer. They were my coworkers and two of my dearest buddies, along with Heather and Missy, who thankfully hadn’t joined Jennifer and June in the surprise morning visit… or rather, ambush. I was in sweatpants, a crappy t-shirt with holes in it and paint-splattered running shoes. My coat covered the worst of it, but I was very aware I looked like hell warmed over. I felt like it too.
My world had imploded as of three days ago and I couldn’t bring myself to tell my friends about it. Part of me was grateful they knew nothing about the physical existence of Angels, Demons, ghosts, Immortal Arbitrators and Death Counselors. The other part of me was devastated that I couldn’t tell them the truth.
My life had become an unending horror movie.
“You could pluck the wisdom sparkles,” June suggested, pulling her coat tighter around her body.
The cool November air felt like a sharp slap of reality in my face. I hadn’t ventured outside in a few days. The need to run ten or a million miles pulled at me, but I wouldn’t leave my farmhouse right now.
It wasn’t safe.
I also couldn’t invite my friends inside.
“You pluck one tinsel pube, five of the little bastards come back in its place,” Jennifer announced, plopping her round little body down on my porch swing.
“I call bullshit on that,” I said, surprising myself with the sound of my own voice. I hadn’t spoken in a while.
“You’re only forty, Daisy. Just you wait,” Jennifer warned, trying to raise her brow at me.
She failed. She’d gotten a double dose of botulism shot into her head. Her eyebrows were going to be frozen on her wrinkle-free forehead for at least six months.
“Men look distinguished when they go gray,” June said with a sigh. “My Charlie is so handsome with his gray hair. Women just look old. Not fair.”
“You’re both beautiful,” I said, mustering up a small smile.
June was an adorable and well-put-together fifty-seven-year-old. She was like a mom to us all—happily married to Charlie, who was a medical tech at our small-town hospital. She had four awesome kids and had won the Marriage Goals Award with Charlie. June was the only one in our posse who had gotten the happily ever after. The rest of us were a hot mess.
Jennifer—also adorable, just not as put together as June—was sixty-five and had sworn off men after her fifth divorce. She was short, round and obsessed with using her investments made off of her divorce settlements to improve her face. It was a given that the wisdom sparkles wouldn’t work for her.
“We’re concerned about you, Daisy,” June said kindly. “Are you doing okay?”
There was no way to answer the question. I would never be okay again. And there was no way to make them understand.
“I’m fine,” I heard myself say. “I’m just… I think I might need to be alone for a little while.”
“That’s understandable,” June said with a nod. “We’re here for you, sweetheart. Always.”
I wasn’t sure exactly what June thought was wrong with me, but my appearance and the fact that I hadn’t been to work in days must have tipped them off that something wasn’t right.
“That was kind of wussy,” Jennifer commented to June.
June shrugged and gave Jennifer a look that I was sure she used on her own children when they were out of line. “I don’t like to push. It’s rude.”
“I’ve got no problem with it. I have no filter whatsoever and I’m not nearly as tactful as June is,” Jennifer stated.
“That’s correct,” June chimed in, supporting her buddy with the tiniest of eye rolls.
“Thank you,” Jennifer replied, taking the compliment at face value.
A compliment was a compliment, no matter how insulting.
“My pleasure,” June replied.
“So anyhoo, to get back to the matter at hand, I’d like to say that Gideon, while he has a fine ass, is a dick and a good-for-nothing jackhole,” Jennifer said as her voice rose an octave, proving she was upset even though her face was incapable of conveying it. “The fact that he quit and took a job out of the country is bull crap. I hope he gets fired and that his nuts shrivel up and fall off.”
“Where did you hear that?” I whispered. My broken heart was beating so loudly in my chest I was sure the gals could hear it. Jennifer had almost gotten a smile out of me with the shriveled nuts part, but I was still too raw.
“Heather told us,” June said, taking my hand in hers and giving it a little squeeze. “Apparently, he didn’t even give notice at the firm. Just up and left.”
Normally, I craved June’s motherly attention. Today it didn’t help. Nothing helped… yet. Soon I would have to grow bigger lady balls and face life head-on, but right now, I was in a strange and secret limbo.
“It’s all good,” I lied. “And I’m the one who ended it, not Gideon. It wasn’t his fault at all.”
The last part was true, and his name on my lips was utter torture.
Jennifer eyed me for a long moment. I felt like a bug under a microscope. Also, I thought her face might have twitched despite all the Botox. I wasn’t about to share the news. The silver wisdom sparkle pubes were all she could take.
“You’ve forced my hand, Daisy,” Jennifer said, shaking her head.
“I have?” I asked, confused.
Jennifer rubbed her little hands together and grinned. At least I thought she grinned. Note to self… never get Botox.
“Jelly beans get their shine from shellac that’s made from insect shit,” she announced with glee.
Closing my eyes, I really tried not to smile. Smiling seemed so wrong with Steve in the state he was in, but Jennifer’s knowledge of the ridiculous was enormous. When Steve was alive, he’d loved her outrageous humor. He’d be happy that I was enjoying it now.
Jennifer spent hours at the nursing home with my gram, entertaining her with a fount of useless and stomach-turning facts. I loved Jennifer for that but it was hard being on the receiving end when all I wanted to do was go back inside and cry.
“You lie,” June gasped out, appalled. “I love jelly beans, especially the pink ones.”
“You’re eating poop,” Jennifer said as June gagged. “Perfume musk comes from a sack in the front of a deer’s pecker.”
“Do you actually search for this kind of stuff?” I asked, realizing that maybe Jennifer’s hilariously nasty and pointless skill with the absurd might be just what I needed right now.
“You bet I do,” Jennifer said with a cackle as she swung on the porch swing with her feet barely touching the ground. “A pig’s orgasm lasts for a half hour.”
“Next time around, I’m coming back as a pig,” June said with a chuckle as she seated herself on the top step.
“Last but not least—and this one actually pertains to the situation,” Jennifer said as she stood up so whatever the hell she was about to say had more of an impact. “A male honey bee’s ejaculation is so strong that it makes his junk explode and kills him.”
Tilting my head to the side, I stared at my friend. “How exactly does that pertain?” I asked, kind of scared of what she might say. One never knew what would come out of Jennifer’s mouth.
“I wish a honey bee’s ejaculation on Gideon. You’re too good for him. The son of a bitch is like my ex-husband,” Jennifer muttered.
“Which one, dear?” June inquired.
“All of them,” Jennifer snorted. “Not a single one was good enough for me. Took me till I was sixty-three to figure that shit out. However, the stock I bought with the divorce settlement checks is lovely. I tell you what, I’d like to give Gideon a good knee to the balls and knock his nuts up into his esophagus.”
“Well, he’s gone,” I said, wanting to wrap up the impromptu get together or, at the very least, change the subject. “Aren’t you two supposed to be at work?”
“Nah,” Jennifer said, swiping a few more cookies. “Heather’s got some kind of urgent lawyer business and told us to take the next two weeks off. Closed down the entire office.”
“With full pay,” June piped in. “I don’t feel quite right about that, but Heather insisted.”
“Daisy, I can tell you want us to leave since you haven’t invited us in and tried to feed us,” Jennifer announced with a cookie in her mouth as an appalled June lightly punched her in the arm. “Being that you’re as Southern as they come, I’d have to surmise that you really do want to be alone. Just remember we’re a phone call away, my friend.”
“Get your butt in the car,” June said with a wink to me as she pulled Jennifer across my front yard. “Jennifer’s way with words is slightly lacking.”
“Thank you,” Jennifer said.
June rolled her eyes for real and giggled. “However, she was right about us always being there for you. Call us any time of day or night, Daisy. I mean that.”
I nodded and gave them what I hoped looked like a smile. It felt like a forced grimace, but they seemed satisfied and drove away slowly, waving until I couldn’t see them anymore.
I knew exactly what Heather’s urgent business was. She was gearing up to help me take on Clarissa and save Steve’s soul from being damned to the darkness. Just as nothing was what it appeared to be, Heather was not simply one of my dearest friends and a lawyer who had hired us all from the old firm we’d recently quit.
No, Heather was much more.
And unfortunately, so was I.