Fear blinds, binds and distorts the past, the future and the present. Only the selfless act of love can slay that beast. – The Book of Stolen Secrets
“I can’t believe he’s asking for spousal support.”
Jenna Barnes stepped back from the sunglass rack and glanced at her friend, Marie. She tried to tap down on the nausea rolling around in her stomach. As for the constant depression these last couple months, well, she hadn’t been able to shake that. “Oh, yeah. He knows exactly how to hit me below the belt.”
“I think he’s an ass. How about these?” Marie slipped a pair of shades off the rack. “You said you were looking for a pair. They look killer.”
Jenna took the glasses and slid a thumb across the frame. “They also look expensive.” Her brows arched as she looked at the tag. “Nice find. They’re under ten.” She then frowned. “Not sure on the designer. I can’t find a name.”
“Does it matter?”
Jenna shrugged. Marie had talked her into shopping this afternoon for vintage clothing at one of the second-hand stores in town for a Halloween party in a couple of days. She’d also talked Jenna into going to said party, so she was now committed to finding a costume herself. So far she’d nixed a sexy nurse, a sexy pirate, a sexy cat costume and a sexy— Hell, none of them seemed to have more than four inches of material for the top or bottom. Sorry but she wasn’t going to be running around in a miniskirt that threatened to show her lady parts.
“Well…?” Marie prompted.
Jenna slipped on the glasses and looked at the small mirror on the top of the rack. She angled her head back and forth. The lenses completely shielded her eyes but didn’t completely overpower her face.
“You look mysterious and sexy in them. Those new highlights show off the mahogany tint of your hair and dark complexion. I wish I had your skin tone. You don’t lay out in the sun or use a tanning bed, but you look tan all year round, while I can’t get beyond my ghostie self.” Marie smirked. “If Wayne saw you now, he’d be changing his ways.”
“Like I’d take him back.” She didn’t attempt to hide the bitterness from her voice as she brushed away a copper lock from her brow to get a better look. “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”
“Damn straight.” Marie’s blue-eyed gaze narrowed. She swept several strands of light brown, shoulder-length hair back around one ear. “Like I said before, and I’ll keep on saying — he’s an ass. Spousal support? What the hell is he thinking? The guy is a pig. After he drained all your accounts, he plans on milking you for more? He’s a two-bit piece of s—”
“I’m not going to argue. He sure hasn’t made my life easy. I guess it’s just another sign of how my love life is a complete train wreck.”
“What about Kyle? Remember him? He was a keeper.”
Jenna sucked in a breath and hoped to hell the shock didn’t show on her face. The unexpected mention of Kyle caught her completely off guard. Yeah, he might not have been a train wreck, but she’d still managed to crash and burn because of him. Four years and she hated how his name still sent her mind spiraling into a psychotic episode for a wild moment or two. She’d never admit to anyone she still tried to avoid the stores and restaurants he was known to frequent. “Well, he might have been, but I hated the idea of dating a cop—what with having had a brother-in-law and uncle in the force. It’s not an easy life. My sister still hasn’t recovered from Barry’s death. I haven’t either. Their life together was way too short, and now she has twins to raise on her own. I can’t deal with that uncertainty.”
Marie grunted under her breath. “Better uncertainty than an ass like Wayne. At least you had the good sense to file for divorce.”
“I didn’t have much choice. The way he was behaving, he was going to put us in the bankruptcy courts. And the lies. Near the end, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. He’d become a pathological liar.”
“Well, I wish he wasn’t making it so damn messy for you. I swear you should shoot the bastard. Better yet, hire a hitman, so you don’t have to dirty your hands.”
At Marie’s almost rabid look of righteous anger, Jenna laughed. “Wouldn’t that be nice? I would love to have someone eliminate him for good. Any guy would do, as long as he runs him down and leaves tire marks on his too skinny, sorry ass.”
“Wouldn’t that make life easy?”
They both chuckled, and Jenna admitted. “I just want him out of my life right now, so I can move on.”
Someone grunted from behind her. Jenna peered behind her shoulder. Condemnation flashed in the cashier’s faded brown eyes. He stood behind the counter by the main entrance to the store and probably heard every word they’d said. He grunted again in obvious disgust, sending his jowls quivering as he snapped his mouth shut and jutted his chin upward in obvious disgust.
“Joke. It was a joke,” Jenna muttered.
“Sure. Whatever you say, lady.”
Jenna bit back a retort as she walked between two racks of musty clothing, slipped the glasses off and set them on the counter for purchase.
The cashier smacked a wad of gum between his teeth, sending his jowls quivering again, as he rang up her purchase and stuffed her glasses into a plastic bag. He never once met her gaze.
“Well, I wasn’t joking,” Marie whispered by her ear as she switched places with Jenna and stepped up to the counter.
As Jenna stuffed her bag into her purse, a scream reverberated from outside and into the second-hand store. Tires squealed. By the counter, all three of them gaped at the scene unfolding beyond the store’s floor to ceiling paneled windows. A white truck careened down the town’s main street, then hit the curb. A couple veered into a store’s entryway, avoiding the vehicle’s grill by less than a foot. The truck didn’t slow but barreled forward, heading toward the man further up the sidewalk.
Jenna shifted, trying to get a look at the driver, but afternoon sunlight bounced off the passenger window, obscuring the cab’s interior.
“Holy hell,” Marie whispered, a distinct layer of horror in her voice as she stepped up beside Jenna.
The truck’s nose rammed into the pedestrian, flinging him into the air and onto the street like a broken puppet. The truck veered suddenly and sped into the direct line of the body. The vehicle bounced, rattled as it ran over the man.
The cashier rushed to open the front door. The scent of burnt rubber wafted into the store as the person behind the wheel slammed on the brakes and turned abruptly into a neighboring street. More tires squealed. An oncoming car in the opposite lane ground to a shuddering halt mere feet from the victim’s mangled body.
Before Jenna had a chance to pull her phone from her purse, Marie was already calling 911. Jenna stepped toward the panel of windows. There was something familiar about the victim lying on the ground. Pulse pounding, she slipped out through the front door, while dread burrowed a path into her stomach. The grotesque scene propelled her across the sidewalk and onto the road. Her heartbeat lurched, then raced to an unbearable pace. Reaching the victim, she swallowed hard, trying to keep herself from vomiting. Crushed skull, blond hair matted with blood, legs and arms twisted at odd angles, the man had fallen on his stomach. The metallic scent of death clung to her nostrils. She clutched her churning stomach. She didn’t know if she could keep down the nausea. The stamp of tire tracks etched a path across his legs and backside. Fear leached the saliva from her mouth. Jenna edged to the side until the victim’s face came into view, but she already knew who the man was.
Someone had just killed her husband.