Pick up the phone for once, my brain hisses as I hook a left onto North Avenue and force myself to slow down. The last thing I need right now is a speeding ticket on top of everything else. Of course, since I’m headed to the police station I could just pay it when I get there, which would be convenient.
“You are seriously the only person I know who still actually calls people.” My sister Daisy’s voice fills my car suddenly. She doesn’t even bother with hello. “Even Uncle Ben and Uncle Bobby just text. What is wrong with you? If you’re trying to bring back phone calls, like high-waisted jeans or something, give it up.”
“You know who doesn’t text? Clyde,” I say sharply.
“Because he’s usually drunk,” Daisy says about our grandfather. She’s not being vicious, just factual. “And he dropped the only cell phone we ever gave him into a glass of whiskey.”
“Well he couldn’t text even if he wanted to right now because he’s IN JAIL.” I bark out those last two words as loudly as I can. My eyes dart down to my speedometer and I ease off the gas pedal.
“What?” Daisy replies, shocked. “Our grandfather is in jail?”
“According to my Tinder date, yes,” I reply as the light in front of me turns red and I’m forced to stop, and curse.
“Your Tinder date told you Clyde is in jail?” Daisy repeats and I can picture her lying on the lounger on the balcony of our dilapidated rental, a textbook beside her, pretending she’s studying when what she’s really doing is soaking up some of the last rays of sun before the fall days turn chilly. “How is this getting more confusing?”
“My Tinder date turned out to be a cop named Matt and Matt was meeting me on his lunch break, in uniform, because—and I quote—chicks dig the uniform,” I explain.
“Okay so we’re not seeing him again,” Daisy interjects flatly.
“No. We are not,” I agree and continue. “Anyway, when I told him my last name he got this weird look on his face and asked if I knew an old man named Clyde Todd, because he just arrested him for getting into a fist fight at city hall.”
“Who the hell was Clyde brawling with?” Daisy gasps. “Why was he at city hall? Are you sure it’s not mistaken identity?”
“Clyde Todd, age seventy, owner of the Todd Farm out on Route 2A,” I say and turn into the police station parking lot. I turn off my car and the call cuts out on my Bluetooth system so I grab my phone off the passenger seat next to my purse. “I’m at the police station now.”
“Okay. Keep me posted.”
I get out of the car and march across the small lot to the squat, one story red brick building. I burst through the front doors and beeline straight to the counter. “Hi there, I’m Maggie Todd,” I say to the officer sitting there. His shirt says Martinez. Burlington isn’t a big city, but I haven’t had a lot of interaction with our police department, so I don’t know him. “Officer Martinez, sir, I was told my grandfather is here. Clyde Todd.”
“Ah yes. This morning’s public disturbance. Don’t know if we’re charging him with disorderly conduct, battery or public intoxication. Maybe all three,” he says easily, like this is no big deal. “Just have a seat over there with Mr. Adler. The arresting officer will see you both in a minute.”
Mr. Adler? That could be a few different men, and none of them would be a welcome sight. I’d been so focused when I walked in I hadn’t noticed anyone else in the lobby. I slowly turn from Officer Martinez to the pine bench against the far wall. Manspreading all over it like he owns it is my least favorite Adler. The one I have to spend every waking hour avoiding because we inhabit the same college campus. Tate Adler.
He’s glaring at me so I glare right back, and then walk over and sit on the complete opposite end of the bench, pressing myself into the arm so I can be as far away from him as humanly possible.
I stare straight ahead so I don’t have to see his shock of tousled dark hair and his wide shoulders or bulging biceps that poke out of his white T-shirt and always look like they’re flexing even when they’re not. But Tate is looking at me. I can feel his eyes still on me and I fight the urge to blush. I’m not embarrassed, but any time I get elevated emotions of almost any kind—from annoyed to sad to elated—my skin tends to pink. The joy of a very pale complexion. I blame the recessive redhead genes Daisy and I were both saddled with. I tap my foot as we wait because I’m so agitated the energy has to go somewhere.
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