By: Alexa Riley

“All right, I was just checking in before I head home for the night.”

Joey snorts at his words like she doesn’t believe him. She mumbles something I don’t catch, but before I can ask, Law is speaking to her.

“Josephine, can I have a word with you outside?” He shifts back and forth on his feet, looking nervous. Hell, I’d be nervous too if I kept calling Joey ‘Josephine,’ but he says it as if he’s always done it. The two can’t have a ton a history because Joey’s only been here a little over a year now.

“Who’s asking?” She motions for Sam to pour another shot. “The Sheriff or Law?”

“I’m asking, sweets.”

“Then the answer is no. Besides, you don’t like being seen with me in public.” She shrugs her shoulders like she doesn’t give a shit, but I can tell by how tense she is that it’s an act.

“That’s not fucking true and you know it.” Law takes a step towards her, but Joey slams her shot back and jumps up from the stool with a little wobble in her step. Both Law and I move at the same time to make sure she doesn’t fall.

“Don’t fucking touch her,” Law growls at me, pulling her towards himself in a possessive hold.

Normally, I’d tell him to go fuck himself, but Joey can hold her own, and I don’t want to start shit with Penelope’s brother. I already have a fight ahead of me, and I don’t want to throw fuel on the fire just yet. I want to keep my cards as close to my chest as I can.

Just as I thought, Joey pushes at Law’s chest and makes him take a step back from her. Joey is small, barely coming up to Law’s chest, but she knows how to defend herself.

“You made your choice. Now live with it.” She tries to go past him, but he grabs her by the arm, and she gives him a look that would kill a lesser man.

“You’re too drunk to drive.” His words are soft and filled with concern.

She doesn’t even respond to him. Joey just calls out Butch’s name. He’s over at one of the pool tables, but when he hears her calling him, he walks over.

“Butch has me,” she says, and her voice is a little smug.

Law clenches his jaw again, but what can he really say? If he knows anything about Joey, he knows she shares a townhouse with Butch. He was friends with her brothers, and he was the reason Joey moved here. She’s been staying at his place since she got here, but as far as I know nothing’s happened between them. But again, I don’t ask a lot of questions.

“Pick up your phone,” Law says, but Joey isn’t having it.

“Fuck off.” With that, she’s gone, strolling from the bar. Butch gives me a ‘what the fuck?’ look before he follows her out, leaving the Sheriff just standing there looking like a kicked puppy. I’m not so sure he can handle Joey. She might be small, but she makes up for it with attitude and an iron will.

“You’re in over your head,’ I tell him, finally turning to look at him head on.

“As long as I’m somewhere with her, I’ll take it.” With that, he follows Joey and Butch.

Shaking my head, I get our tabs and close them out, thankful I didn’t let myself get drunk like I wanted to. No, I need to make sure my sweet Penelope is tucked into her own bed for the night. Alone. Once I get that squared away, maybe I can start to think of a way to dig out of this shitstorm I seem to have landed myself in.

This morning I woke up without a care in the world, and now I don’t know what’s up or down. It’s making me understand now what the Sheriff was saying. I’d rather be in this mess with Penelope than have no Penelope at all.

Making my way out to my motorcycle, I hop on and drive past the Mayor’s place first. When I don’t see any cars or signs of anyone home, I head towards the old Anderson estate. I can’t believe that Penelope’s family has lived in the same town as me all these years and I’d never seen her before. There no way I wouldn‘t have remembered a girl walking around this town with hair and eyes like hers, no matter the age. Hell, I’d never met Law either until he came back to run for sheriff. Their father must have had them sent off to private schools their whole lives. Probably didn’t want them to see the fucked-up shit he does.

I’m sure he wanted to hide the fact that he fucks anything that moves. Mayor’s got a nasty reputation for not being able to keep it in his pants, even though he’s married to a woman who can in no way be Penelope’s mom. Unless she had her at five. I’ve also heard he likes his pills, too, but for all I know, that one could just be small-town gossip. Shit spreads like wildfire around here.

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