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"Do you have the account information?" Asher asks and I can see his jaw tightening.
"Yeah, it's in my phonebook."
"So, you didn't think about closing the account since we met?"
I rolled my eyes and looked at him, wanting to determine if he was being serious.
"I haven't even thought about it." His eyes narrowed. "What? You've been keeping me busy," I shout, throwing my hands in the air. "I'm sorry if I haven't thought about a dating site that I didn't even want to be a member of."
I hear Mr. James laugh from across the kitchen and I look up at the same time as Asher. Mr. James put his hands in front of him in a stay back gesture and laughs harder. I laugh, and Asher's eyes come to me.
"You think this is funny?"
"Um…no?" My answer sounded like a question, and I start laughing louder.
"What did I tell you about laughing at me, baby?" he asks. I see the look in his eyes, so I jump off the counter and start to run to get away from him. Sadly, his legs are longer and his speed faster, so I didn't have a chance to escape before I was lying on the floor and his big body was pinning me down, tickling me.
My head is thrashing back and forth. I am begging him to stop and then Beast comes over, not to help me, but to assist Asher in his torture. He is licking my face while Asher tickles my ribs.
"Are you going to close the account?"
He keeps up the tickling. "YES!" I screech my agreement about the dating site. "Please stop. I'm going to pee." I was finally able to say a full sentence. He stopped immediately. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom without looking back. When I am walking back toward the kitchen, I hear Asher and his dad talking.
"I want this shit done."
"Call Kenton and ask him to make November a priority. You can always send her to him to keep safe." Hmm, that's interesting. I've been wondering what Kenton did, but every time I ask about it, I get the run around.
His laugh held no humor. Then he answered, "He met November at the Christmas party and was getting ready to go in for the Kenton kill when I told him she was mine."
"He would never cross that line and you know it."
"The only thing I know is that I want this shit done." He growled. "I'm too selfish to send her away. I wouldn't be able to function knowing she was staying with Kenton." I heard him take a breath. "If things escalate, I'll take her to the cabin."
"Your cousin is a good man. He's also one of the best at what he does."
"I don't give a fuck. You were not there. You didn't see the way he looked at her. I know Kenton better than anyone. And unless something else happens, she stays here with me."
"Your jealousy could end up getting her hurt," His dad whispers and my heart starts beating double time.
"I would never let anything happen to her. I have my fucking reasons for not trusting anyone with her." I needed to quit eavesdropping, but it was like I was glued in place. "We don't even know what's going on. The only thing we know is she was attacked in New York. That may not have anything to do with what's happening here.
"The card shows the New York City skyline. I think whoever is doing this knows her from New York. We don't know if the attack and the things happening here are connected, but since she's been in Tennessee, she has had two separate instances where she has been left poetry. The thing is messy. We just need to clean it up and put the pieces together. I'm going into town to the florist. I'll call and let you know if I find out anything from them.
I could hear the frustration in Asher's voice. In the meantime, I'm gonna talk to my friend in Jersey and tell him about what happened today."
I walked out of my hiding place in the hall just as Mr. James was opening the front door. He tipped his head in my direction, his eyes soft on me. "I want you to be extra careful." I could tell that his tone was not that of the sheriff, but as a man who cared about me like a daughter. "If you're out, you need to watch who's around you. If anyone makes you feel even the slightest bit of unease, you go somewhere where there are a lot of people and call me or one of my boys. As I told Asher, this whole situation is a mess. I just need to see if I can dig anything up that will straighten everything out. In the meantime, stay safe."
"Thanks for everything." I walk to him and hug him around the waist. He gives me a one-armed hug, his other arm full with his notebook, his plastic bag with the card inside, and a coffee cup.
"I'm sure Susan is going to be stopping by soon and will want to see for herself that you're safe." He was not wrong. Susan was a momma bear and very protective of her cubs. Since being brought into the family, she has taken me under her care and made it known far and wide that if you messed with me, you would have to deal with her.
"Okay," I murmured. My real mother might not want me, but Susan loves me and she is better than anything I could ever ask for in a mother. Asher's brothers are always giving me a hard time, telling me I am a suck up. I don't care. Asher hooks me around my waist, pulling my back to his front.
"Talk to you soon, Dad," Asher says, shuffling us to the door as his dad closed it behind him. He locks it and turns me around, his hands framing my face. "You okay?" I can see the worry in his eyes.
"I'm fine. I just want to know who is doing this and why."
"Me too, baby," he says, laying his forehead against mine.
"Is it me, or is that poem totally creepy?" I whisper.
"It's not just you."
"What do you think it means?"
"I don't know, baby," he said quietly. I wrap my arms tighter around him and hold on. I can tell he hates this more than I do.
"Bye," I call over my shoulder as I walked out of Temptations.
"Bye, honey," Liz calls through the open door of her shop. I got up early to meet Liz for coffee and to explain to her about what happened yesterday. She knew I received flowers yesterday because I had called her, and everyone else I knew, to see who sent them. She, like everyone else, said didn't send anything and asked why. I couldn't explain the situation to at the time. Plus with each phone call, I got more and more scared and was too freaked out to tell anyone about what happened. Then Mr. James showed up and we found the card. So, I knew it was more than just a nice gesture from a friend.
After Mr. James left, Asher dragged me into the office, sat me at the desk, got my phone book and had me log onto the online dating site. He dragged me out of the chair, sat down, and pulled me into his lap. I poked around on the website and looked at any communications that I had received from guys. I clicked on my profile and the picture that I had used. I grunted a few times while reading some of the information I posted. We went to the section where people who contacted me left messages. I was surprised by the amount of inquires I received. Some were normal, others disturbing. The normal ones were just, would you like to have dinner with me questions. Others were, would you like to meet to have sex? Those surprised me. I never knew people used the internet for one night stand type of situations.
Once he was satisfied that no one from the website was stalking me, he canceled my account. I sat quietly in his lap the whole time while he was clicking away on the computer, fighting the laughter that was getting ready to explode out of me. When he was done and the computer was shutting down I turned to look at him. "All mine." He grunted and I could no longer hold it in. I started laughing.
"You're such a caveman," I said kissing him.
"Oh my God. I'm so sorry," I apologized to the person I bumped into.
The woman mumbled and her body bent to pick up a file. "You need to watch where you're going." I knew that voice. My body froze.
"Mom?" I whisper in complete shock as her head came up. Her hair was different, a little longer. I could see a few wrinkles around her eyes. She probably had to cut back on her Botox treatments now that I wasn't there to help her with money.
"November," she said and gave a curt nod, but didn't say anything else. She was wearing her usual gear. Black, wide leg slacks, a lavender blouse that I knew was real silk, and shiny black dominatrix shoes. Well, that's what I called them. The heel looked like it could be used as a weapon. I also knew that those shoes had a red bottom.
One of her ex-boyfriends bought them for her before his wife found out that he was keeping a woman on the side. She told him that if he continued on with the affair, she was going to take him to the cleaners. That was the last gift he gave my mother and the only thing she kept. All the jewelry and expensive handbags he bought for her got pawned. Well, any jewelry or handbags that anyone bought for her went to the pawn shop. She never kept anything except clothing unless it had the tags. Then, she would either get the money back or get a store credit for the item and find something else that she liked more.
"Mom, what are you doing here?" I ask, starting to freak out. I don't want my dad to see her and I really don't want my grandmother to see her. I look around to see if there is anyone out that I know, and lucky for me, the streets are quiet.
"Well, it's good to see you too," she snaps. Her tone says that it isn't good to see me too.
"Sorry, I'm just surprised. I mean, I tried to call you and you haven't returned any of my phone calls."
"You abandoned me for your father. He wanted nothing to do with you and you still left me for him." Great, now how do I deal with this? My dad didn't abandon me. My mother kept me from him, but I really don't want to get into an argument with her in the middle of the town square. Word travels fast in this town and I don't want my family to know that she had even been in the city.
"Mom, please. I didn't abandon you. You know what happened to me. I couldn't stay in New York anymore."
I watch her roll her eyes, completely disregarding my attack. "That kind of thing happens every day in the city, November. Don't be such a drama queen."
Oh my God. I want to scream in her face. I know that bad things happened in the city. I lived there my whole life. I watched the news, and read the paper. But it didn't happen to someone else. It happened to me, her daughter, someone that she was supposed to love and look after. "Mom, I could have died. I could have been raped. You heard what the police said. And trust me, I know that bad things happen, but I didn't feel safe there anymore." I take a deep breath. "You didn't answer my question. Why are you in town? Is everything okay?"
She shakes her head and presses her lips into a flat line before answering me. "Everything is fine. I had to see the lawyer in town for something that doesn't concern you." I am kind of curious about her meeting with the lawyer, but I'm not going to ask her about it. I want her to leave before anyone sees her.
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