“Oh, Link, don’t!” Lex cried out as her 3-year-old Australian Shepherd leapt onto her stomach as she lay on the couch in misery.
Tissues scattered the floor and cushions, and a bottle of liquid DayQuil was on the side table. The TV was playing some show that Lex couldn’t remember the name of and snow was making a curtain of white outside the living room window. Lex shifted on the couch to make room for Link to lay next to her. December was usually one of her favorite times of the year, but with this cold destroying her days and ruining her nights, it was quickly turning into her least favorite month. Though it was better than November--anything would be better than Thanksgiving had been at Geni’s house.
After the phone call from Geni the night before Thanksgiving, when she burst into tears--and suddenly there was Danny Wolfe, Lex’s cheating ex-fiance, on the phone right after her best friend started crying. The shock at hearing his voice after two years had kept Lex stunned while she listened to him say that Geni was okay, just overwhelmed with the case they were working on. Lex hadn’t gotten a word in before he’d hung up, leaving her staring at the phone dazed.
She hadn’t known what he meant about a case they were working on, since Geni had said they were only going to do the one case for Detective Newman back in October. That had obviously been a lie. When Lex tried to call Geni back, all she got was a short text saying everything was fine and then Geni ignored her phone calls the rest of the night. Lex didn’t hear from her again till almost one o’clock that night when Geni finally let herself through the front door. By then Lex was so angry with Geni for being on another case, for being with Danny, and for ignoring her phone calls that when Geni got home, Lex left without saying a word. It was safer for both of them for her to just leave, cool down before they tried to have a conversation. Too bad she wasn’t completely cooled down by the time Thanksgiving rolled around.
Lex rummaged around the cushions to find a clean tissue and blew her nose. Worst month ever. She took a drink of water from the bottle on the floor and slumped back into the the couch.
Thanksgiving had been awkward. Frustrating. And downright the worst Thanksgiving Lex had ever been to. Thinking about that day was causing her headache to get worse so she covered her eyes--it didn’t help. Her headache didn’t feel better and she could still see the Thanksgiving table in Geni’s house with the Newmans, Geni and her kids, and Lex all gathered around eating and, unfortunately, talking.
John kept talking about the case Geni and Danny had worked on the night before. A missing boy, turned out he’d been taken in place of his cousin, who was supposed to be taken as part of a game the family was participating in, and Danny had asked for Geni’s help. According to Newman, they’d never have found the boy without Geni and Danny’s teamwork on the case.
Her stomach twisted and Lex pressed her lips together to keep the small bit of ramen she’d managed to get past her raw throat from coming back up.
Teamwork was not in Danny Wolfe’s vocabulary.
John talking about the case wouldn’t have been so bad if Geni hadn’t kept the case secret, kept Danny’s involvement a secret, kept the entire freaking night a secret. She’d let Lex believe she was going to a bookstore to get some me time. Lex and Geni were supposed to have each other’s backs--trust was a major part of their friendship. The more Detective Newman had talked, the more Lex realized trust wasn’t something that had been between her and Geni during that case.
Yeah, Lex would have been upset to know that Geni was working with Danny, okay, more like livid, but it wouldn’t have hurt so much knowing they were working the case together as it hurt being deceived about it. She wiped a tear from her cheek. Man, this cold was making her eyes water now, cause Lex didn’t cry.
Bam. Bam. Woof. Bam
Lex jumped as Link barked, and then glared at her front door. How dare someone knock when she felt so terrible.
“Lex, I know you’re in there.”
She groaned. Please no, not her.
Bam. Woof. Woof. Bam. Bam.
“Please, Lex. I need your help.”
Fine. Lex fell off the couch and crawled to the door with Link jumping around her thinking she was trying to play with him. She opened the door and crawled back to the couch to huddle under her warm blankets again while Link took up a spot on the floor by the couch.
“I’ve been mugged!” Shanna Burton dramatically made this declaration after she shut the door and sat on the loveseat, the only available seat left in the room.
“So go to the police.”
“I can’t. Only you and Geni can help me.”
“Then go bug Geni. I’m sick.”
“I already talked to Geni,” Shanna said, “She said she’ll help if I can get you on board as well. Please, Lex, this is important. I was mugged.”
Lex looked Shanna over and sure enough, she did look as if she’d been through a mugging. Her expensive coat was torn, her hair was mussed up, and lingering fear was still in her eyes.
“Why can’t the police help you?”
Shanna bit her lip, then said, “Because the thing that was taken, well, I can’t let it get out that I had it.”
“Shanna, are you into something illegal?”
“Oh goodness me, no! How could you think such a thing about me, Lex Stevens?”
The pounding behind her eyes was escalating.
Lex said, “So, what was taken?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Then I can’t help you. If I don’t have proof that you aren’t dragging me into something illegal, then I’m out.”
Shanna stood and knelt by the couch in front of Lex and said, “I swear I’m not into anything illegal, but I need your help. It’s a matter of life and death, Lex. I’ve helped both you and Geni on cases before, now I need the favor returned. Please.”
Lex sighed, “I will help you on one condition.”
She was going to regret this.
“I won’t do this without police support.” She held up her hand when Shanna started to protest. “We don’t have to involve the entire force, just one or two officers to keep what we’re doing legal. Agreed?”
“You’re thinking of Detective Newman.”
Shanna continued, “And Detective Wolfe.”
“What? No.” Lex sputtered out.
“I met Detective Wolfe last month with Geni--I like him.” Shanna said almost to herself, “Yes, those two will be fine. Oh, thanks, Lex! I really appreciate this.” She stood and went to the door. “I’ll call Geni and you get ahold of the detectives. Have them meet us here within the hour.”
On those words, Shanna Burton let the door slam behind her.
Lex looked at the DayQuil on the table beside her. Obviously her mind didn’t work so well while she was on the stuff or she’d never have agreed to what was only going to be a disaster.
In her house.
This was going to be worse than Thanksgiving.
Written by Linsay Ernst