But after sitting there for an hour, I decided that I couldn’t do it—just sit here and wait.

My most pressing issue was the goddamn roach that I’d seen skitter across the floor just inches away from my feet.

Where there was one, there were more.

And the more I looked, the more disgusted I became with the establishment.

I was sure that if I picked up the corner of the sheet, I’d see freakin’ bed bugs.

I shivered with disgust.

I was hungry, tired and thirsty.

I wanted a Dr. Pepper, a burrito from Chipotle, and a goddamn nap, in exactly that order.

Picking up my makeshift weapon, I stood up.

Scooting closer to the door that led to the outside, I positioned myself perfectly.

Then screamed. Loud.

The outside door started to push forward just like I knew it would, and I waited until the guy’s head started to peek around the corner before kicking with all the force I could muster and slamming the man’s head in between the doorway and the door.

If there was one thing I could say about this shitty motel, it was that they had one hell of a heavy, solid door. It was a very welcome surprise.

The man fell down with a loud thump, and I pulled the door open completely.

I didn’t go outside yet.

I waited for the other two to come storming in here.

When they did, I handled them, too.

Chapter 12

Oh Mickey, you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey. Hey Mickey.

-I bet you sang that as you read it

Coke

A few hours earlier

I don’t know how I knew that something was wrong.

Maybe it was the way that the night felt heavy around me. Maybe it was the way that I’d intentionally been revving the engine of the truck just to see if she’d show—she didn’t.

Whatever the reason for my worry, I was walking back and forth across the dirty floor of my garage and kept looking in the direction of her place.

My foot kicked another goddamn tool that I’d found on the ground, and I grimaced.

Fucking cat.

Goddamn fucking cat.

My daughter’s cat was an asshole. Seriously, if there was one thing that I wished I could get rid of, it was that feline.

Unfortunately, my daughter would have a conniption if anything happened to her six-toed cat.

Bending over, I picked up the impact wrench and set it on the toolbox with the rest of the tools that I’d found on the floor and cursed. If that one was broken, I’d seriously skin the cat.

He’d fucked with my stuff one too many times. The little bastard was seriously too smart for his own good and knew that I hated his guts. So, he did stuff to piss me off—like piss in the rain boots I left on the back porch, and shit on my welcome mat so that I stepped on it in the morning when I walked outside.

The tools were a new thing, though. Something I wasn’t very happy about seeing as I was already quite pissed off.

She hadn’t talked to me in a week.

Sure, that could’ve been because she was busy, but I had a feeling it was because I’d shown myself to be just like all the others.

She hadn’t even talked in the group text with Frankie. Frankie had been so concerned that she’d called me, and I’d had to explain that I’d fucked up. In which my daughter had told me to ‘fix it’ because she missed talking to someone who actually understood her.

Which led me to now.

I kept revving that stupid truck, looking at the doorway, thinking that she’d come storming in…but she never did.

When the ominous feeling that something was seriously wrong became so strong that my heart was beginning to beat faster, I decided that I’d go check it out.

What could it hurt?

If everything was okay, I’d leave. No harm, no foul.

With my decision made, I started through the woods to her place, taking the slightly cleared path that the deer used to get from one property to the next.

The first indication that something was wrong was the lack of light.

The second was the shoe that I found in the middle of the driveway.

The next was the way her front door was swaying in the wind.

“Cora?” I called loudly. “Are you home?”

Nothing answered me but silence…and the hold I had on that feeling inside of me burst.

Something was very wrong.

She wouldn’t have left the door open—especially with it being this cold.

And that shoe that was in the driveway? It was one of her favorite pairs. She had it on every single time I’d seen her but once.

Which led me to the most frightening sign that something wasn’t right – her cell phone was on her drawing table and she would never leave that behind.

Oh yes, something was wrong alright.

I knew it down to my bones.


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