I’m skipping today’s prompt again. Ian and Aidan are still being demanding. And there was some curiosity about what happened after Monday’s story, so I figured I could offer you some of that.
I wiped my hands on pants before walking into the store. Ian was going to put his plan into play today. And he was counting on me being there. I couldn’t let him down. I’d seen the deputy’s car parked out front, so this was likely where it would go down.
And if not, I’d keep my eye on him throughout the day, ready to step in as soon as Ian needed me.
The deputy was leaning against the front counter, flirting with the cashier. Fury flashed through me. Not only was she barely out of high school, and way too young and innocent for him, but he’d just tried to kill my best friend a month ago. And here he was acting like nothing had happened.
He’d been really good at that over the last month. Even leading the initial search for Ian. Everyone had been fooled. Even me. So maybe a little of that fury was aimed back at myself.
The door opened again, keeping me from doing something that would ruin Ian plan. And very possibly land me in a jail cell. That would help with this situation. So, I started to move down the aisle, keeping the deputy in my line of sight.
It was easy for me to recognize Ian as the man who had just entered the store, even in that heavy jacket, the collar up as if to block out the wind, and his hat pulled down to shade his face. it was all in the way he moved. But, I doubted the deputy had spent as much time watching him as I had.
He nodded to the cashier then moved down the aisle next to mine. He hadn’t said a word, but the deputy’s gaze followed him, the space between his brows furrowing. So maybe he had noticed something. Good. That was all part of the plan.
I watched until the deputy pushed away from the counter and headed for the door. Once he was gone, I slipped to the endcap and met Ian there. Out of sight of the cashier, I pressed a quick kiss too his lips. “I think it’s working,” I said. “He looked confused, but I think he assumed he was imagining things.”
“Good,” Ian said. “A little longer, and he’ll think he’s losing it. You have to keep playing the grieving boyfriend, though, or he’ll catch on before we’re ready.”
And that was the hardest part of the plan. I’d never been a good actor or liar. But, I was going to do my best. And hopefully we’d drive him to a confession.
A week passed, and Ian got braver about walking around town. I kept my distance while still keeping an eye on the deputy. And I could see the shift in his demeanor. Jumpier, constantly looking at reflections in windows and over his shoulder. His eyes darting back and forth whenever he came out of building. And he didn’t look like he’d slept at all since that first sighting.
He looked haunted. And I couldn’t be more pleased.
My part wasn’t as hard to play as I thought it’d be. Ian stayed away from me, worried we’d be caught otherwise. So, sometimes it still felt like I’d lost him. No one seemed to suspect I knew he was still alive.
Now came the hardest, and most dangerous, part. Actually confronting the deputy. And we had to do it with an audience, or none of this would have been worth anything.
We waited until the diner was at the busiest of the day. We wouldn’t even have to draw him here. Word got around quick enough in this town. He’d hear someone who looked an awful lot like a dead man was eating right in the middle of town.
I had already taken a seat when Ian walked in, without any attempt to hide his hair or his face. I could hear the shocked whispers, and I just barely held in a smile. He came straight to my table, smiling as if he didn’t notice people staring like he’d just risen from the dead.
he leaned down and kissed me then snatched the menu out of my hands. Just as he had every time we’d had lunch together here in the last year. Before that, only the kiss had been missing.
The waitress came over, but she could only stare a him. “Anna,” he greeted her. “I’ll have my usual. I’m sure Aidan will, too.”
Her mouth opened and closed several times then she scribbled down our usual orders and hurried back toward the kitchen. A few people had already left the diner, so I was sure word would be spreading both ways along Main Street. The sheriff’s office wasn’t far, so I didn’t think this would take long.
Sure enough, Anna had just delivered our drinks and side salads when the door to the diner swung open and the deputy walked in. His eyes were red-rimmed, with heavy bags hanging under them. It was the most color on his face. Then, his eyes met Ian’s, who gave him a smirk and a little wave.
I wasn’t quite sure if it was anger or fear that made the deputy’s eyes widen and his nostrils flare. But, he strode right over to our table. “What the hell is the meaning of this?” he asked me, not letting his gaze go back to Ian. “Who is this, Aidan? You never said your boyfriend had an identical twin.”
“He doesn’t,” I said. “You know perfectly well that Ian is an only child. His parents were devastated to hear they’d lost him.”
“Was,” the deputy said. “he was an only child. Because he’s dead now.”
“That’s funny,” Ian drawled. “Because I feel very much alive.”
“You aren’t,” the deputy shouted, finally turning to him. “You’re dead! I killed you. There’s no way you could have survived that fall.”
The rest of the room fell silent at his words. But, the deputy didn’t seem to notice. He kept ranting even as a chair scraped across the floor. Then, the sheriff was right behind him, pulling his arms behind his back even as he took out a pair of handcuffs. His face looked haggard as he hauled one of his own men off to jail.
As soon as they were gone, the atmosphere seemed to suddenly lighten again. Then, people were crowding around their table, everyone talking at once. Some laughing and slapping Ian on the back. He just looked across the table at me. “I’m going to have to explain why I basically faked my death and took so long to come forward.”
I reached over and cupped his cheek. “it’s okay. Whatever happens, we’re together now. No one will pull us apart again.”