Out of Turn - Tiffany Snow

CHAPTER ONE

No one had shot at me in weeks, or beat me up. I hadn’t been cut, punched, or slapped. No one threatened me, stalked me, or stabbed me.

It was a nice change.

And that’s what I kept telling myself as I headed to my car. It was mid-afternoon, and the humid heat of late June in Indianapolis made perspiration slide down the middle of my back under the thin T-shirt I wore. The backpack I carried didn’t help matters any.

The air inside my white Toyota Corolla was stifling and sliding into it felt as though I were climbing into an oven. I rolled down the windows as I drove to my apartment, waiting for the AC to kick in. The air gusting through the windows was hot but cooled my sweat-dampened skin.

I thought longingly of the huge Lexus SUV I’d had the brief privilege of driving. It had been a gift, a wonderful gift that I’d have been happy to keep, if it hadn’t cost so much to drive it. Gas was too expensive for me to justify driving the luxury car—especially when I sometimes wondered how I was going to pay my rent—so I’d sold it, using the money to buy a used Toyota and what was left to help pay tuition.

I had just enough time to feed Tigger, my cat, and jump in the shower before I had to leave for work at The Drop, a bar downtown. It was Friday night and with the heat, I was sure we’d be busy.

In the summer, the owner of The Drop and my boss, Romeo, allowed the girls to wear black shorts and white T-shirts for our uniform. That would usually be a good thing, but Romeo believed sex always sells, so the shorts were nearly Daisy Dukes and the T-shirts tight, with plunging necklines. Not that I could be real choosy about it. I needed my bartending job at The Drop to pay the bills, especially since I was now taking classes during the day at the IU campus downtown rather than working for the law firm of Kirk and Trent.

“Hey, Kathleen! Can you give me a hand?”

That’s me. Kathleen Turner, and sometimes I really wished I was that Kathleen Turner. I bet she never had to worry about paying her electric bill. Cursed with the family legacy, I had been the last to be named for a famous Turner. My dad was Ted Turner, my grandma Tina Turner, and my cousin was William Turner, though he went by his middle name, Chance. Wish I’d thought of doing that years ago.

“Yeah, sure,” I replied to Tish, a waitress at The Drop who was juggling one too many plates of food. I shoved my purse under the bar and hurried to help her take the dishes to a table of five.

I was right. The bar was busy tonight and I didn’t have time to even think. I was grateful for that. I didn’t want to think. If I did, I’d remember.

“Another round, please.”

I jerked my attention back to my job, hurrying to fill the order tossed my way. By the time closing neared, I was nearly dead on my feet. Thank God. Maybe I’d get more than three or four hours of sleep tonight.

“Have some cheese fries,” Tish said, sliding onto a stool and placing a laden plate on the bar. “I’m exhausted,” she sighed, picking up a dripping French fry and popping it into her mouth.

I grabbed us each a bottle of beer and leaned against the bar. The cold, bitter liquid felt good going down. My hair had come loose from its ponytail, so I redid it, pulling the long strawberry-blonde strands up and off my neck. I hated when my hair got in the way when I was working but liked it too much to have it cut short. Along with my blue eyes, I thought it was my best feature.

“Have some,” Tish insisted, pushing the plate toward me.

I shook my head. “No thanks. I’m good,” I said, and took another drink.

“Kathleen, you drink too much and eat too little,” she said with a frown.

I snorted, my eyebrows climbing. “Yes, Mom,” I teased.

Tish didn’t smile back. “I’m your friend and I’m worried about you.”

“I’m fine,” I dismissed. To appease her, I picked up a fry and took a bite.

She hesitated. “You know, maybe you could talk to someone. I have this lady I see every once in a while—”

“No, thanks,” I interrupted, taking another swig.

“But it may help…”

Tish