The Dare(9)

By: Rachel van Dyken



"Jake?"

Grandma nodded. "He doubted me once. But never again."

The FBI agent was silent for a moment then asked, "Did you kidnap him too?"

"No, but I did almost kill him. I had the shovel and everything."

Coffee spewed out of the agent's mouth. "Murder?"

"Luckily, when I petitioned God, He said He'd take care of it. Want to know what He said about you?"





Jace





Memories of my gold-digging fiancée, Kerry. Dead memories, ones I'd killed off with a bottle of Jack — threatened to surface. She'd only used me for my position, and when I found out about her inability to keep her clothes on, she'd gone to the news and turned the story on me.

My reputation almost hadn't survived. And my heart hadn't ever been the same. My tie felt too tight, the room too small. Luckily, Beth kept me from hanging myself, and for a moment I enjoyed it.

The feel of her hands on mine.

The promise that someone actually cared more about me than my pocketbook or ability to buy them things.

But mostly, the concern that etched around her face when she was helping me. People weren't usually concerned with my feelings. I was a politician; meaning I didn't have feelings, just opinions that only forty percent of the population in Oregon actually agreed with.

Maybe I was projecting past memories onto her present person. Who knows what type of person she was now? The girl from high school could be long gone, for all I knew. Hell, I wasn't the same person anymore, and I partially blamed her for it. Beth had made me believe in magic, until the accident changed it all.

Grandma put her hands on her hips. "Well, what are you two standing there for? We have to get out of here!" She threw two duffel bags at us and stomped into the room. "Now change."

"Change?" Beth and I said in unison.

Grandma reached for the box of half-eaten cookies and pulled one out, closing her eyes as she chewed. Several crumbs landed on her leopard scarf, acting like a tray underneath her mouth.

"Well?" Grandma opened her eyes and stared us both down. I wanted to duck behind Beth and or make a run for it, but something kept me in place — maybe curiosity, or possibly desperation. Whatever it was, it was annoying as hell.

"May I ask why you're wearing…" Beth swallowed, "that?"

"Oh, this little thing?" Grandma chuckled then put up a hand and meowed. "I'm a cat."

"We noticed." I coughed to hide my laugh. "Aren't we supposed to be incognito, though?"

"Cats have nine lives."

"Thank you, Wikipedia." Beth smiled tensely.

"People love cats, and people love me. It's really the perfect plan. I'm famous too, you know. They won't even notice you leaving through the back door once I walk into the lobby. I'm donating a horrendous amount of money to the Portland Zoo. They'll think it's a publicity stunt and well… now I don't have to do my own press conference."

I was silent. Thinking. Wondering if she was insane or had finally fallen off that rocker and gotten a blunt head wound. I was about five seconds away from calling Travis and begging him to put his grandma in a home. She wasn't only a danger to society but a danger to herself.

"Strip."

Well, if the catsuit hadn't done it, that one word had.

I shook my head. "Strip?"

Grandma rolled her eyes and grabbed another cookie. "You can't be incognito in a tux and a bridesmaid dress."

Okay, so catwoman had a point. I looked to Beth, but she was already digging through the duffel bag grandma had brought her. She pulled out a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt.

Following suit, I unzipped my own bag and found enough clothes to go to the tropics for at least two weeks on vacation. I pulled out a pair of board shorts. "And I'd need these because?"

"No questions," Grandma snapped.

"How did you get all of our clothes so /fast?" Beth asked. "I mean weren't they at the Titus house? Or in my case, the rental car" Beth gasped. "The rental car!"

"Waiting outside." Grandma popped the cookie in her mouth and examined her nails. "Really," she chewed, "it's as if you two don't trust me. Grandma knows best, and that's all you need to know."

"You're wearing a catsuit," I pointed out.

Actually, it was more of a leopard jumpsuit with a long black tail, a leopard scarf that naturally matched, and a black beanie that looked a hell of a lot like something you'd see on a person just before they robbed you blind.

"Hurry up!" Grandma stomped her leopard heel and looked at her watch. It was also leopard. The woman probably had stock in the design.

Beth grumbled under her breath and stomped into the bathroom; within minutes she walked out and looked a bit like a guy's dream come true. Her white t-shirt was snug across her chest, her skinny jeans ripped in all the right places, and black-and-white Converse sneakers that made her somehow look younger. Not that I'd say that aloud lest she remove my balls with her fist. Apparently age was a sore subject. Not that I imagined she was much older. Then again, I wasn't a super good judge of anything lately, so I decided not speaking was probably a good call.

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