Kat Holmes-Barringer was stressed about meeting her best friend Lexi at Beechwood Coffee. “They remodeled the place?” Lexi placed a large coffee down in front of Kat. “My treat.”
“That’s nice of you, Lex.” Kat trying not to tear up because she couldn't afford a coffee, took a sip of her drink and smiled. “Yeah, just last week the construction was taking place in here. Today’s the first day they’re open. There’s more electrical outlets, so no more waiting for the guy that hogs the plug for hours.” Kat’s phone beeped. She glanced at it and her face fell.
“Is it that weirdo? The tile guy?” Lexi took a sip of her latte.
“No. It’s the ex.”
“Alex?” Lexi moved to the edge of her seat and stared at Kat’s phone which beeped again.
“Yeah. He’s been blowing up my phone.” Kat put her coffee down without taking another sip.
“Can’t you block him?”
“I don’t think I should. The violation officer told me to record all the times he contacts me. If he breaks his restraining order, they’ll take a DNA sample from him.”
“That’s certainly breaking the restraining order. Your dad would roll over in his grave if he knew he was calling you.”
Kat looked uneasy.
“Did you tell your dad?”
“No. I never told him. I couldn’t. My dad would have killed him.”
“That would have been a shame. Poor piece of cow dung. How did you explain your injuries to your dad?”
“I told him that a man posing as a home buyer assaulted me.”
“Oh my god, Kat!”
“It would have killed my dad if he knew I was married to someone who was beating me.”
“You never told him? I can’t believe it.”
“I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe Alex would want to hurt me. I thought it was going to stop.”
“You told me. How is your scar? You have makeup on it?”
“That’s because I knew you wouldn’t judge me and yes, there’s makeup on it. My dad told me he didn’t care for Alex and I brushed it off. I felt guilty after for treating my dad like that.”
Lexi touched the side of Kat’s face. “Can’t even tell anymore.”
“Make up helps.” Kat frowned and her phone beeped again. “I loved Alex. How could I have loved cow dung?’
They both laughed.
“Ignore him. Don’t respond. Your dad would forgive you. Don’t feel bad.”
Kat’s phone beeped again. Lexi saw twelve text messages listed under Alex's name.
“Unfortunately, you’re a weirdo magnet, Kat.”
“Seriously.” Kat shoved her phone back into her pocketbook. “I won’t communicate with him. I never have any of the other times he’s contacted me and speaking of weirdos, I haven’t seen that creepy tile guy in a while.”
A FEW DAYS LATER,
Kat drew a double line underneath the balance of her checking account. A line creased between her brows. She had made the car payment on her 2008 C Series Mercedes five days prior. Her father had paid half down when he helped her buy it and she had a three hundred dollar monthly payment. No payment due for another three weeks. The mortgage bills were stacking up. It had been seven months since she’d paid it. The real estate market was at an all-time halt. I’ve got fifty dollars for groceries this week. No eating out. No Beechwood. She washed out her Beechwood cup and went into her bedroom closet.
“It’s got to be in here somewhere.” She dug into her suitcase from when she traveled to Lexi’s winter home in Palm Springs. She checked zippered compartments. “I know I had some coffee samples.”
She slipped her shaking hand into the last slot and felt a smooth wrapper. She pulled out a sample of coffee that Lexi had given her and headed to the kitchen.
Ripping the packet, the coffee crystals emptied into the ceramic mug that had hot water in it. She checked the clock. Ten minutes before I have to leave to meet my seller. I don’t know why I’m even listing the thing. Houses aren’t moving and I’m advertising it. They’ve got to come down on the price. I’ve got to sell something or I’m going to be homeless.
She stirred the instant coffee crystals into the water and watched it swirl around. That’s what I feel like – I’m the spoon in the current. It’s an under toe dragging me down. The clear water turned dark. She covered her mouth and attempted to choke back tears. One dropped into her coffee.
She dabbed her eyes with the back of her hand and checked to make sure yesterday’s mascara was still on. It wasn’t as good as the day before when she’d applied it, but there was still a decent amount on her lashes. She longed at her mascara. I don’t have any money for more right now. I can’t keep myself up like I used to.
She shoved her phone into her purse. There was just enough time to get to her appointment. She pushed on the side door that lead out to the driveway and walked outside. She froze in her steps. Her car was gone. She stopped breathing. She looked out to the road in front of her house, but her car wasn’t there. “Someone took my car!” Kat ran back into the house and grabbed the phone. She pushed the numbers for the police department and started to shake.
“That was my last gift from Dad.” Her next though made her freeze in place. She dropped the phone down onto the receiver before anyone answered. Her skin started to crawl.
Kat dialed Lexi’s cell. “Can you come and get me? I have to get to work. I’ll lose my client.”
“Where are you? Is everything okay?”
“I’m home. My car is missing.”
“Oh my gosh, Kat!”
Next: KAT'S CAR IS MISSING - JOE COFFEE CHRONICLES - Segment 6
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R.J. Grand is the author of the Fortier Series Mystery Books - THE PAINTING OF DECEIT and ON THE INSIDE.