I ignored the detective who’d just joined us, whom my lawyer Bennie had insisted could help me with my little legal… problem. I gave him my world-class I’m gonna kill you stare.
“Of course I’m your friend, Orla,” he said, confused. “What kind of statement is that?”
I looked in the direction of my new ‘detective,’ who was doing all he could to avoid my gaze, and looked back at Bennie.
“What?” he insisted.
I lolled my head back to stare at the ceiling and clicked my tongue. If that didn’t get my message across, nothing would. “You guys are trying to be funny, right? Like funny ha-ha?”
He just looked at me.
I thought attorneys were smart. “Bennie, you are my lawyer—”
“Technically I’m not Orla. I helped you get out of jail but we have no formal working agreement—”
“OKAY. Technicalities,” I said, waving my hand. “But say if you were my attorney, wouldn’t it be your job to be on my side?”
He frowned, still clueless. “I am on your side, Orla. And I want you to meet Tige St. James.”
Ty? What kind of name was Ty?
And wasn’t his name Tony, anyway?
Still avoiding my gaze, Ty passed me a business card. The one he hadn’t given me the night before, when we’d spent the night together. That’s when I learned Tige was pronounced Ty.
And people said I had a strange name.
Bennie continued trying to smooth my feathers. “He’s the best in town, Orla. Actually, the best in the state. This firm was founded by his father many years ago—”
“That doesn’t exactly help me with my current problem, now does it?” I snapped.
He looked between Tige and me and frowned. “Huh?”
“Oh, like you didn’t know,” I said, crossing my arms.
He looked at the door. Yeah, I bet he was dying to get out of there.
So I continued. “This is no coincidence. I know you guys planned this to set me up. Bennie, who told you I slept with him last night?” I gestured at Tige. “Huh? Tell me.”
Tige finally looked my way, horror crossing his face. Bennie wasn’t far behind.
I wasn’t giving up. “You guys. Pretending to be so innocent. Well, I’ve got your number. And you’re full of shit if you think you can throw me off. Bennie, you know full well what I’m talking about, that I fucked that guy sitting right across from us last night.”
Bennie’s eyes widened. “I… uh… I…”
He apparently hadn’t expected me to call him out.
“And you,” I said, looking directly at Tige, “are pissed I asked you to leave this morning. Look, buddy, no one wants to do the walk of shame, but it’s part of being an adult. And you just had to get back at me. I mean, I had fun, sure. The sex wasn’t bad. You know, nothing special—”
At this, both their eyes widened in horror.
Had I gone too far?
I didn’t care. “You were pissed I kicked you out, and this is you getting back at me. Brilliant. Clever. Really. Not sure how you pulled it off, but it’s not funny. We’re talking about my life here.”
Bennie’s gaze whipped toward Tige’s direction. “I thought you had a girlfriend, man.”
Tige shook his head. “No, that ended a long time ago.”
Okay. So not the point.
Bennie folded his hands on the conference room table and gave me his best trying-to-be-patient look.
“Orla, I brought you here to help you. I know nothing about what you may… have done, or not… done with Tige here, but I left a meeting for you, raced down to the police station, and promised to get the ball rolling on your case since your dad’s out of the country.”
All that was true.
“So you didn’t know…” I gestured between Tige and myself.
“No. And even if I did know, I don’t care. That’s not why I’m here. That’s not why Tige is here, nor is it why you are here. If you don’t want my help—or Tige’s help—say the word. I know I’m a busy man and I suspect Tige is, too.”
He stood to go.
All right. Bluff had been called.
Bennie was the winner.
And I felt like eating a bag of dicks.
“Look, I have a world of shit on my shoulders right now and I was just feeling… defensive, thinking you guys were trying to get one over on me. So fine. Thank you. Thank you, Bennie, for coming to get me this morning, and thank you, Tige—not for last night but for, you know, listening to my… situation.”
And for the first time since my life had taken a turn from the lovely new existence I’d created, my eyes filled with stinging tears, tears that had me wondering if leaving the douchebag boyfriend had really been the best idea, wondering if coming back to my old town was smart, and definitely doubting that going to work with my evil stepsister was something I ever should have assumed would work out well.
I should have stuck with kindergartners. They were so much more manageable than grown-ups.
Yeah, I’d been encouraged by Dad to work with Tawny, but I’d always suspected she was trouble. Why I thought things would be any different working together was just a naïve, dumbass move on my part. At least I’d known what I was dealing with in my old life. The boyfriend was a douche, but he was my douche, and he was a predictable douche at that.
I’d thought I was so smart to hightail it out of town, like I deserved a better life than an underpaid, underappreciated kindergarten teacher with a drag for a boyfriend.
I should have just stayed in the shit situation I was in. At least that shit was predictable, unlike the shit I was in right now.