Boone's Baby(8)

By: Stormy Glenn




Chapter Three




Jackie winced at the intensity in the sheriff’s eyes. He had been avoiding this conversation, putting it off as long as he could. He was pretty sure the guy wasn’t going to let him do that anymore. He just had to figure out how much to tell him.

Jackie let out a sigh before turning toward the door. “You’d better come in.”

He led the way to the kitchen, waving to the small table in the corner before walking toward the teapot. “I don’t have coffee. Maybe something a little stronger?”

It was the middle of the night, after all.

“That’s fine,” Boone said as he went to sit.

Jackie could feel the sheriff watching him as he grabbed a bottle of whiskey and two glasses out of the cupboard. He carried it all over to the table and sat down across from Boone. He needed a little more courage, so he busied himself with pouring them each a glass.

“Saludé.” Jackie held up his glass before taking a healthy gulp. He tried not to cough as it burned down his throat. It wasn’t rotgut whiskey, but it was close. Jackie didn’t tend to drink often, but every once in a while he needed it.

Tonight was one of those times.

“So, what do you want to know, sheriff?”

“Who’s after you?”

Jackie knew he could lie and probably get away with it, but something twisting in his gut told him that would be a very bad idea. “I can’t answer that,” he said instead. When Boone’s jaw clenched, Jackie held up his hand. “I’d tell you if I could. I swear. I just can’t.”

“Why?”

“I’m not allowed to.”

Boone’s eyebrows rose, and he leaned forward as if he’d just sniffed something tasty. “I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed to tell me?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Jackie shrugged. “I’m not allowed to talk to anyone about it.”

“I’m the sheriff.”

“Sorry.”

“You do know I could detain you for interfering in a police investigation, right?”

Jackie smiled as he took another sip of his whiskey. “You could try.”

He wasn’t trying to be flippant with the guy, but there were scarier people out there than Sheriff Boone Marshall.

“I don’t get you,” Boone said. “I’m trying to help you.”

“I know that, and I appreciate it, believe me. I still can’t tell you.”

The tone of Boone’s voice was growing darker. “Why did you even call me if you’re not going to help me protect you?”

“Those kids had nothing to do with what you’re asking me about, and you know it.”

Boone’s sigh was long and suffering. He grabbed his drink and took a long swallow before leaning back in his chair. “You’re really not going to tell me?”

“I can’t.” Jackie almost wished he could just so he could prove he wasn’t feeding Boone a line of shit. “If I could, I would.”

“Can you at least tell me if I’m going to be getting any more late-night calls like this?”

Jackie dropped his gaze to the liquid in his glass. “Probably.”

“Probably?”

Jackie glanced up at the surprise in Boone’s voice. “If it gets too bad, I’ll leave.”

“I don’t want you to leave, Jackie, I just… I’m the sheriff. How can I protect you when I don’t know what’s chasing you?”

Jackie shrugged.

“What can you tell me?”

“My name is Jackie.”

Boone narrowed his eyes. “Oh, you’re a hoot.”

Jackie laughed as he grabbed the bottle and poured some in Boone’s glass again, and then his own. “So, Sheriff, what happened to your nose?”

“Saw that, did you?”

It was kind of hard to miss. Boone’s nose was swollen and reddish purple.

“I had to break up a bar fight earlier tonight.”

Jackie lifted his eyebrows. “With your face?”

Boone shrugged. “Hazards of the job.”

“Do you like being sheriff?”

“Most of the time.” Boone gingerly touched his nose. “Not all the time.”

“Do you want some ice for that?”

“No, it should be fine as soon as I sh—” Boone’s eyes rounded.

“As soon as you what?” Jackie asked.

“As soon as I get some sleep.”

That wasn’t what Boone had been about to say. Jackie would bet his life on it. But, considering he was withholding information from the man, he didn’t feel as if he had the right to pry.

“Can I ask you something?”

“You can ask,” Jackie replied. “I can’t promise to answer.”

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