“Holy mother of fuck!” I jerk back, revolted.
Because Jimmy Dean doesn’t have the face of a Calvin Klein model anymore.
Now he resembles the lead role in a production of the goddamn Elephant Man.
“Are der pebbers in dis?” he asks.
• • •
“You unbelievable bastard!”
“It was an accident!”
“Accident my ass!”
“I didn’t know—”
“Nana said she tol’ you he was allergic to peppers!” Jenny yells from the side of her truck, after a Benadryl-chugging JD is loaded into the passenger seat.
“I put pepper flakes in it, Jenn—I thought he was allergic to actual peppers! Not the goddamn flakes of peppers!”
And the awful irony of it? I’m telling the truth. After this I’m gonna have to seriously recalibrate my horseshit detector when listening to the outrageous claims of innocence from my clients. Apparently sometimes it’s not utter horseshit—no matter how much it may sound like it.
“I hate you!”
“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”
“Extreme!” she screeches, making me flinch. “You tried to poison him!”
I kick the tire of the truck. “If I wanted him poisoned he’d be fuckin’ dead!” I run a hand down my face. “But, maybe you should think about postponin’ the weddin’; at least until JD doesn’t look so”—I motion to the passenger window—“like that.”
Her eyes flare. So do her nostrils. “That’s why you did this? You think you can sabotage my weddin’, you rotten sonofabitch?”
Now that is actual horseshit.
“You listen to me and you listen good,” she hisses. “I’m gettin’ married on Saturday and I don’t care if I have to wheel him, half-dead, down the aisle and prop him up against the goddamn organ to do it! Until then you stay away from us! I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to hear you—I don’t want to look at you!”
“When did you turn so fuckin’ stubborn?” I yell.
She stomps her way around the back of the truck, replying, “When you became so fuckin’ selfish!”
“Jenny! Wait . . .”
But she doesn’t. She does the opposite of waiting—climbs in the truck and drives off. To take JD home and nurse him back to health.
Sofia stands beside me on the driveway, watching the taillights fade. “Well, that didn’t go as planned,” I grumble.
“Was it really an accident?” she asks with a lifted brow.
“Yes! It really was.” Then I pause, and rephrase. “A wonderful, serendipitous accident.”
She grins and I give my smirk free rein.
Then Sofia gasps. “Holy shitballs!”
“What? What’s wrong?”
She snaps her fingers and points to the sky, smiling broadly with discovery. “Allergic reaction!”
“Yeah?” I question.
“The perfect murder. Triggering an allergic reaction.” She folds her arms, proud of herself.
“Really?” I ask with a straight face. “My life is fallin’ apart, and you’re still playin’ the perfect murder game?”
She shrugs. “Well . . . it’s a good one. Brent and Jake will be impressed.”
I’ve never seen one so big. It’s too big.”
“It’s not too big.”
“It’s monstrous! It’ll kill me.”
“I promise, you’re gonna love it, darlin’. Touch it.”
She gasps. “I can’t.”
I take Sofia’s hand and press it against warm flesh. Forcing her fingers to stroke.
“See? It likes you. Now you just have to ride it—then it’ll really like you.”
On Monday morning I finally brought Sofia to the co-op to get a decent pair of boots. She fawned over a pair of dark brown leather riding boots with pink stitching and a hat to match. And I have to hand it to her—the woman can wear a fucking hat like nobody’s business.
Once we got home, it seemed like a good idea to put her equipment to good use.
And take her horseback riding.
She rests her hand on the black coat and sighs. “So this is how I die.”
I roll my eyes. “Since when are you so dramatic? Or a coward for that matter? You’ve got a dog the size of a small bull.”