Night Shift Page 47


“My friend brought me over,” Fiji said, designating herself the main shopper.

“So what are you shopping for today?” he asked. The fingers of his right hand flexed and clenched in a fist.

Fiji glanced around, hoping she was making the scan casual. “Two things,” Fiji said. “I need a hammer that’s not too heavy for me to swing. Also, I’m interested in measuring this sort of window box, to see if it’ll fit on my porch.” Behind the man, she could see Olivia nodding vehemently. Yes, she knew him, too. She was just better at hiding it.

“Let’s take care of the hammer first,” he said.

Good. She wanted to get Olivia close to some usable weapons. “By the way, I’m Fiji Cavanaugh,” she said, as she followed him down the aisle to the left.

“Oh. Lucas Evans,” he said.

“Have you lived here long, Lucas?” She strove to sound just interested, not flirtatious. In her own opinion, she hit the sweet spot.

“A few years,” he said casually. “You ladies from around here?”

“Oh, no, we live in Midnight. Little bitty town, you’ve probably never heard of it.”

“And this is the closest hardware store to Midnight?”

“No, there’s one in Davy, and there are two or three in Marthasville,” she said, managing to sound surprised. “But we’re in town to visit a friend, and rather than get there too early, we thought we’d explore greater downtown Killeen before we went to her house.”

“Who are you visiting?”

“Agnes Orta,” Olivia said, not missing a beat. “We know her daughter.”

They stopped in front of a display of hammers that would have delighted Thor himself. Fiji genuinely needed a hammer, and she took her time hefting a few. One of them pleased her, and Lucas Evans assured her it was top-of-the-line. After a glance at the price, Fiji believed him.

When they returned to the front of the store to measure the window box, she handed the hammer to Olivia very naturally before she lifted a trough to feel its weight. After that she relaxed.

The hardware store owner was about forty-five, and he had a little gut and a soft brown mustache. He blended in perfectly; he was wearing a western shirt, plaid with snap buttons, and a rodeo belt, and Levi’s. Even cowboy boots. He was relaxing, too. Fiji could tell he was sure that Olivia was ignorant of his true identity.

Evans handed Fiji a metal tape measure that he had worn clipped to his belt. She had to admit to herself that he was good. If it hadn’t been for that initial flinch, she would never have guessed that he was agitated inside. Now that she was tuned to it, she could feel it under his skin.

“I own a small business, too,” she said chattily. “This is a great location. How many customers do you think you get a day?”

“Oh, depends on the season,” Evans said. “Lots in the spring, fewer in the summer. Then in the fall it starts back up, and there’s a boom around Christmas with people putting up lights and decorations and so on, repainting for the holidays. Course, most of them nowadays go to Walmart or Lowe’s or Home Depot.”

“Good to see a small business owner prospering,” Fiji murmured. She double-checked the planter’s measurements and turned to Olivia. “What do you think?” she asked. “Will it fit?”

“On your porch, I think it will,” Olivia said. “But I’m wondering if it’ll fit in my car.”

“I’ll buy it,” Fiji said with decision. “If it doesn’t fit in the car, I’ll ask a friend if I can borrow his pickup.” She paid for her purchases, trying not to wince as she handed over her debit card. She’d need to sell quite a few decks of tarot cards to make up for this shopping excursion.

Fiji and Olivia were about to each take one end of the planter when Lucas volunteered to carry it out to the car. Olivia said brightly, “That would be so great!” She ran ahead to fold the backseat down to accommodate the length of the window box, and Lucas, with a little help from Fiji, managed to slide it in at an angle. It just fit.

“See, it was meant to be,” Olivia said.

“I think you’re right, miss,” Lucas said.

“Oh, I’m a Mrs.!” Olivia told him, with what Fiji could only describe to herself as a coy smile.

Lucas was clearly stunned—and so was Fiji, but she hid it better— for a long moment. Recovering, he said, “Sorry, but I didn’t see a ring.”

Observant, Fiji thought.

“Nope,” Olivia agreed. “I don’t wear one. Neither does he.”

“Ah, welllll,” Evans said, after a long and pregnant pause, “enjoyed meeting you ladies. Have a safe drive back to Midnight.”

While he went back inside, Fiji climbed into the car in silence.

Olivia was quick to back out and drive away. “I don’t want him to look out and see us talking,” she said. “Looks too much like we were talking over him and our little visit.”

“True,” Fiji said faintly. “So he recognized you. Even,” she added with an edge to her voice, “though you’re a married woman.”

“Yeah.” Olivia gave her a delighted smile. “That was great, huh? I recognized him, too, but I don’t think he could be sure of that. He worked for my dad’s right-hand, Ellery McGuire. This Lucas Evans was pretty low down the corporate ladder, but I saw him at a company retreat.”

“It’s good you didn’t have to kill him,” Fiji said tartly.

“Thanks for getting me close to the hammers. But in a hardware store, you really can’t go wrong. It’s what they call a weapons-rich environment.”

Fiji nodded. “I did want a window box,” she said.

And they both sniggered.

“Are you really married?” Fiji said.

“Yeah,” Olivia said. “I really am.”

“To Lemuel?”

Olivia nodded. “The Rev married us.”

“Why?” Then Fiji flushed. “I’m sorry, that was just rude.”

“No, I know it seems unlikely. But if my father dies and I inherit, I wanted to be sure someone he would just hate would eventually get the money. Lemuel will outlive me by centuries.”

“And Lemuel agreed to this,” Fiji said, marveling.

“Sure. He loves me.” Olivia’s voice was rough.

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