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Authors: Amanda M. Lee

4 Shot Off The Presses

BOOK: 4 Shot Off The Presses
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Shot Off The Presses

 

By Amanda M. Lee

Text copyright
2014

Amanda M. Lee

All Rights Reserved

 

 

To my cousins, who give me fodder and laughs without even
trying.

Prologue

I’m not a bad person.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

I made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. That’s the way of the world, the way of our world.

I don’t think I should have to pay for that one mistake for the rest of my life? Do you? Of course not. You can understand that what happened, well, it wasn’t even really my fault.
I’m the victim here.

The fact that I have to do what I have to do now is just a fact of life. You might think I feel bad about it, but you would be wrong.

I’m a practical person, a logical person. And, logically speaking, this is my only course of action.

I’ve given it a lot of thought. The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one. You see what I did there? I love science fiction movies. In fact, I know that Spock himself would not only understand what I was doing, but agree that it’s the only way to rectify this situation.

It didn’t take me long to come up with a solution. In fact, I got the idea from an episode of television. That’s how I know it’s a good idea. If it wasn’t good, they wouldn’t have aired it on television. That’s a fact, Jack.

I don’t know why I’m explaining this all to you. You’ll either understand, or you won’t.  Besides, time is running short. I have a trigger to pull and an escape to make. Then I have more research to do.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this – and it won’t be the last.

It’s time. I’
ve got to go. It’s going to be rush hour soon, and that will complicate my getaway.

It’s now or never.

One

If I could hunt down the person that invented satin shoes that can be dyed to match an ugly bridesmaid dress, I would kill them.

Okay, that’s a little drastic. I would just rip off their arms and beat them with them until they lose consciousness. That wouldn’t stop me from having to wear one of these horrific things, but I would probably feel better about it.

“You look . . . adequate.”

The voice of my best friend Carly’s constant nightmares was currently trespassing on my present – and I hate the sound emitting from the abject evil standing behind me even more than Carly does right now.

“Thanks,” I replied dryly.

“She looks great,” Carly interrupted angrily, her thin features pinching into a hateful glare. Thankfully, that hateful glare was directed at her future mother-in-law and not me.

My name is Avery Shaw, and I’m a bridesmaid. Those words fill me with more fear than anything should – and I’ve almost been killed (a few times) this past year. I’m not really a professional bridesmaid. I’m a reporter for the local newspaper in Macomb County, Michigan. So, why am I in a wedding shop in downtown Mount Clemens? Because Carly has been planning the wedding from hell for the past year and a half – and the day is almost upon us.

“I’m not sure that this color really suits her,” Harriet Profit sighed, tugging up the fabric on my bodice irritably. “It kind of washes her out.”

Harriet Profit, in addition to being one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met, is the mother of Carly’s soon-to-be husband, Kyle. I love Kyle. I cannot for the life of me figure out how a woman like Harriet gave birth to a great guy like Kyle. Carly can’t either. She’s become convinced that evil skips a generation and, when they have kids, she’ll be giving birth to the one from
The Omen
.

“The color is fine,” Carly snapped. “It’s lavender. Everyone looks good in lavender. It’s not like I picked red, like I initially wanted to. That would have really washed her out.”

I glanced back into the full-length mirror in front of me and frowned. The simple shift dress, with the low-cut bodice and spaghetti straps, was supposed to be something I could wear again. Carly had promised. That’s always a lie, though, and I know it. You can never wear a bridesmaid dress again. They’re just too ugly. I’m fairly sure that’s by design. This is the bride’s day, after all. The bridesmaids are just window dressing.

Harriet reached up and gathered my shoulder-length blonde hair up and away from my face, pulling it back harshly. “She’s going to have to wear her hair up. It will bring the look together. I hope, at least.”

“What’s wrong with my hair?” I whined.

“Nothing,” Carly growled.

“It’s just a little raggedy,” Harriet said.

“Raggedy?” I was pretty sure that was an insult.

“I don’t think you get regular conditioning treatments,” Harriet pursed her thin little lips. “That might help. The wedding is too close, though. It’s too late to do anything about that now.”

I shifted my blue eyes to Carly and fought the urge to pinch her. It wouldn’t accomplish anything, I reminded myself. It would just piss her off – even if it made me feel better for a few seconds.

“Her hair is not raggedy,” Carly challenged Harriet. “I’m sick of you always insulting her.”

“I’m not insulting her, dear,” Harriet said evasively. “I’m just being honest. I don’t want anything to ruin your special day.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t come,” I suggested brightly.

Harriet narrowed her eyes. “What did you say?”

“I said you look great,” I lied.

Carly didn’t even try to smother the giggle in her throat. When Harriet swung on her, though, Carly managed to wipe the wide grin off her face and look appropriately abashed. “She’s just testy,” Carly said hurriedly. “She doesn’t like using her lunch time to do anything but eat.”

“Is that why the dress is so tight?” Harriet countered. “Because she eats so much? I told you we should have put her on a diet.”

“Hey!”

Carly put a reassuring hand on my arm. “She’s not fat.” Carly turned to me. “And the dress isn’t too tight. You look great.”

“I don’t feel like I look great,” I admitted. “I feel like I look like a big purple mermaid.”

“Mermaids are beautiful,” Carly waved off my concerns.

“Says who?”

“Walt Disney? Oh, just let it go,” Carly grumbled. “It’s too late to change the dress.”

“You could call off the wedding,” I interjected hopefully. “You haven’t done that in weeks. Those were fun times.”

“I’m not calling off the wedding,” Carly said firmly. “I’m over that.”

I couldn’t help but notice that the glint of hope that had flashed through Harriet’s eyes when I suggested calling off the wedding had fled just as quickly when Carly quashed the suggestion. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of uniting her family with Carly’s.

“Can I take this off now?” I could think of nothing better than getting out of this dress – and especially these horrendous shoes – and back into something a little more comfortable.

“Yeah,” Carly nodded. “Everything looks set with your dress for the wedding.”

“Great.”

I slipped back into the dressing room and stripped out of the lavender monstrosity – kicking the shoes under the bench as I did. I slipped back into my comfortable blue jeans and new Crystal Lake Killers hockey jersey – Geeky Jerseys, they’re awesome –
and pulled on my custom Batman Converse. I could hear Harriet and Carly sniping at each on the other side of the curtain and tried to push the voices out of my head. I only had a little more than a week to go, I reminded myself. Then it would be over. I could do this. No, I corrected myself, I had to do this. For Carly. She was my best friend, after all. As far as best friends go, she really was a good one – even if she was making me dress up for public ridicule in a few weeks.

I took a deep breath and slid the curtain open, slinging the dress over my arm and bending over to scoop up the shoes. “We’re done here, right?”

“You’ve paid for the dress?” Harriet asked doubtfully.

“No, I thought I would just steal it,” I replied sarcastically.

“I was just making sure,” Harriet sniffed.

“Great.”

Carly watched me zip the dress back up in its protective covering. She was quiet, but I could tell her mind was bursting with a myriad of thoughts. I had a feeling, given the fact that she was such a Type-A personality, that those thoughts were taking the form of to-do lists.

I glanced at my watch quickly, realizing that I still had twenty-five more minutes until I had to be to work. I could grab something to eat downtown if I hurried. “I’m going to go and grab a Coney.”

“A Coney?” Harriet wrinkled her nose. “That can’t be healthy.”

“No,” I agreed. “But it is yummy – and that’s all I care about right now.”

“Of course,” Harriet said. “I should point out, though, that if you eat too many Coneys then your dress isn’t going to fit the day of the wedding.”

“Well, that would be a shame,” I said with faux contrition. “I’ll live with it, though.”

“I’ll go with you,” Carly said. “I could use something to eat, too.”

“A Coney?” Harriet looked scandalized. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I was going to get a salad,” Carly said sharply, pushing me towards the front door of the shop. “Now I’m going to have a Coney,” I heard her mutter as we left the shop.

When we got to the Coney Island, we found a booth and ordered quickly. It only took the waitress a few minutes to bring us our order and I dove in happily. After a few bites, I realized that Carly wasn’t eating. Instead, she was just pushing iceberg lettuce and big slabs of tomato around her plate – she had opted for the salad at the last minute.

“What’s up?”

Carly glanced up in surprise. “Nothing. Why do you think something is up?’

“I know the salads here aren’t very good, but you’ve eaten them before,” I reminded her. “So, I ask again, what’s up?”

“I’m nervous.”

“Of course you’re nervous,” I laughed. “You’re getting married. It’s a big deal.”

“You don’t think I’m being crazy?”

I tilted my head to the side as I took a big bite of chili and onions and then shook my head as I swallowed. “I’ve seen you do a lot of crazy things,” I said. “And for no reason. This is not an instance of that. I remember that time you decided to see if there was a car behind you by flooring the gas pedal in the dark. That was crazy. This is nowhere near crazy. It’s normal to be nervous at a time like this.”

“Do you really think so?” Carly looked at me hopefully.

“Are you worried you’re getting cold feet?”

“Most of the time? No,” Carly said. “After spending time with Harriet? Absolutely.”

“You’re not marrying Harriet,” I reminded her. “You’re marrying Kyle.”

“She’s his mother,” Carly spit out. “I’m pretty sure she comes with the package.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Her part of the package, though, lives in Chicago. That’s six whole hours away.”

“That’s not that far,” Carly said. “Not really, in the grand scheme of things.”

“It’s far enough that she can’t just drop in,” I said. “And when she does come to town, you can always come and stay at my place.”

Carly brightened considerably when I made the offer. “That’s true.”

“Yeah,” I took another bite of Coney. “You, me and Lexie, we’ll have tons of fun.”

Carly pressed her tongue to the roof of her mouth sympathetically. “Lexie is still staying with you?”

“Yes,” I said, frowning as I thought about my cousin. “She’s using all the money I gave her for the yoga studio, so she can’t afford her own place right now.”

“That’s got to be annoying.”

“It is,” I agreed. “I’ve been spending most of my time over at Eliot’s.”

Carly’s mouth widened into a full grin – the first genuine one I had seen all afternoon. Eliot Kane was my kind of new boyfriend. We’d spent months flirting and just officially gotten together a few weeks ago. Things were still new – and they were still exciting – so staying at his apartment wasn’t exactly a hardship. He’s got a really great body and he’s really pretty to look at. Yes, I’m shallow, sue me. He’s got a good personality, too.

“I like him,” Carly said. “Of course, I liked Jake, too,” she added hurriedly. She was clearly hedging her bets.

Jake Farrell was, among other things – like being the county sheriff, my ex-boyfriend. We had spent our teenage years together before spending the next few apart. The fact that our paths now crossed on a regular basis – mostly because of our jobs – was a constant irritant to everyone involved.

“Why did you have to bring up Jake?” I groaned.

“Why not?” Carly looked confused.

“Eliot is still . . . weird about him.”

“Of course he is,” Carly laughed. “Jake is his competition.”

“Jake isn’t his competition,” I countered. “Jake is my past. Eliot is my present.”

“Who is your future?”

I met Carly’s curious eyes blankly. That was a weird question. Thankfully I didn’t have to answer it because my cell phone was belting out the
Star Wars
theme from inside of my purse. I pulled the phone out and answered it. It was my boss, Fred Fish, and he had an assignment for me. After getting the details, I disconnected and turned to Carly apologetically.

“I have to go.”

“A big story?”

“Pretty much,” I said grimly. “There’s been a freeway shooting on the north side of the city.”

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