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Chapter One Friday, 8:00 AM Greyhound Bus Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia Just as I was about to cuff Misty Wetherington for ditching DUI court for the fifth time so she could hit the slots at Harrah’s casino with her book club buddies, my phone buzzed. I looked down. It was my calendar app, reminding me that I had to be at Bella’s school in ninety minutes. “Crap, I forgot.” I sighed. My daughter, Bella, had asked me if I could join her at Sugar Hill Elementary School today for Doughnuts for Dads. It was a PTA event to celebrate fathers, more like a back- door way to get men into the classroom without them feeling awkward. However, Bella’s best friend Lacy’s mom came to the last one and, according to my friends at the Sugar Hill Church Ladies’ Brunch, no one seemed to mind. And ...today was Bella’s seventh birthday. I had to be there. However, I was a little under an hour’s drive from the school. If I could punch it without getting a speeding ticket, I would make it in time. The only problem was I didn’t know what to do with Misty. With the exhaustively long lines at the City of Atlanta’s traffic court, who knew how long it would take to process her? I wondered as I looked down at her bleached, moppy hair. She was still on the parking lot ground, face to the gritty, piss-stained pavement while I straddled her back. My handcuffs dangled in my hands. “Misty, you have been caught on a particularly good day for you....” I placed the cuffs on the ground near her face so she could see them. I waited until she turned her head in the cuff’s direction before I continued. “Look. It’s my daughter’s birthday and I need to be with her. We both know that what I’ll make for hauling your butt to jail is about the cost of two tickets to the Atlanta Aquarium, the Coke Museum, and one night’s stay in the Georgian Terrace. So here’s my proposition. Today, I let you go. I’ll have Big Tiger finesse the city into giving you another FTA hearing, but on one condition: You fork over the money you were about to spend at the casino. I can surprise my girl with a kid-cation in Atlanta. What do you say?” Big Tiger was the bail bondsman who kept me under contract. He introduced me to bail recovery and taught me the tools of the trade. “And if I don’t?” She grunted. “How confident are you that the City of Atlanta will grant you a new FTA hearing after five no-shows without some help from Big Tiger? How confident are you that some other bail recovery agent isn’t lurking
behind any of these cars out here, waiting for the chance to take you from me? And uh . . . where are your gambling buddies when you need them?” Her gaze searched the parking lot. “Did they leave?” “Darling, they are the ones who turned you in. Now those are friends to keep. I can be your friend, too. Just say the magic words.” She sighed. “The money’s in my front pocket, Angel.” “Bingo.” I hopped off her and flipped her over. She reluctantly pulled the money out. I stretched out my palm until she placed the money into my hand. Misty was carrying five hundred dollars. I placed the money in my back pocket and smiled. “Happy Birthday to Bella.”
Friday, 10:10 AM Sugar Hill Elementary School, Sugar Hill, Georgia Sugar Hill Elementary School was unusually packed when I pulled into the parking lot. “I can’t believe this many men are here to eat doughnuts,” I said to myself as I sped up the boardwalk to the school’s entrance. When I walked into the foyer, Dale Baker, the president of our homeowners’ association, waved me down and mouthed good morning. I waved back and continued toward the front office. Inside, I spotted the parents’ sign-in sheet, pulled a pen out of the flowerpot pen holder, and signed my name. The front office manager, whose name I could never remember because the constant scowl on her face reminded me of the taste of a bitter honeysuckle, pulled her glasses down her nose and shook her head at me. I called her Mrs. Bitter behind her back. She pointed to the sign-in sheet. Her aged fingers seemed swollen, even for someone her age. “Uh . . . Miss Crawford, you don’t sign in here. This is for Doughnuts for Dads.” “I know that,” I said with a don’t-start-with-me smile. “Honey, I know you’re rough-and-tumble. I see you on the news, bursting down doors and pushing men around. But here at Sugar Hill we don’t need that kind of confusion for Isabella.” “No offense, but I know what I’m doing.” I brushed her off. This wasn’t the first time an older Southern woman had tried to tell me how to parent. It didn’t offend me, but today I didn’t have the time to extend her more kindness than the fake smile I’d already offered.
Doughnuts for Dads lasted thirty minutes. Ten minutes had already passed and Bella was still waiting in her homeroom class to be called. “Can you please call Isabella Crawford up to the front before it’s too late?” I checked my watch and turned away from her. She huffed. “I’m sure you think you know what you’re doing, but have you thought of how what you do affects Isabella?” I spun back around and she didn’t shut up. While I watched her mouth moving, my fingers curled into a ball. This was the first time since I became a single mom that I felt inadequate. It angered me. Thus, my resolve to be good faded the more she preached. Mrs. Bitter was about five seconds from getting her feelings hurt. I counted to ten real slow and hoped for some miracle to stop me from knocking the taste out of her big, meddling mouth. “Mrs. Montgomery, I’m afraid this young lady has plans for Ms. Crawford.” Justus Morgan’s voice made me tremble. I turned around. He stood in the front office threshold and looked down. Bella was in front of him. Her smile was as wide as the summer days were long. The shame I’d just felt faded away with every second of her presence in the room. “Surprise, sweetie!” I knelt down and hugged Bella. She broke free and grabbed my hand. “Come on, Mommy. Mr. Baker has saved us the biggest sprinkled cupcakes in the entire world because it’s my birthday.” I mouthed thank you to Justus as Bella whisked me away from Mrs. Bitter. When I glanced back, I noticed her head had dropped. Justus was saying something to her that made her cower. After Doughnuts for Dads, I thanked Dale and the rest of the PTA Room Moms’ Committee for putting this together and walked toward Justus. He had just completed a conversation with Principal Boyd. He must have seen me coming, because his face lit up bright. It made me blush. Justus was my pastor and once my secret crush. Now I avoided him when I could, because apparently he had a thing for me, too, which was even scarier than pining for him from afar. The last man I loved died in my arms and left me his daughter to parent on my own. I was still gun shy of good love and terrified of Justus To Hot to Be Holy Morgan. “Thank you,” I spat out before I lost the nerve. “For what?” He grinned. His deep right dimple humbled me even more. “For coming to my rescue with Mrs. Bi—Mrs. Montgomery.” He looked down and chuckled. “I finally get to be the hero.” “Look around this place, Justus. You’re always the hero.” He didn’t respond, just looked at me in that way that made me feverish around my lips.
“What are you doing here? Trish’s boys needed a stand- in?” Justus’s sister, Trish, was a military wife. Her husband, Mike, was deployed overseas more than he stayed stateside. Yet they managed to have three children despite his long stays away. They had a teenage drama queen daughter named Kelly and twin sons who were about Bella’s age. But rumor around Sugar Hill Community Church was that Trish had a new bun in the oven. “No, actually Mike was here. He couldn’t stay long. You probably missed him when you were chatting with Mrs. Montgomery.” “Good news for them.” I smiled. He stopped smiling. “He’s being called to Afghanistan.” “Wow.” “Wow indeed.” He nodded. “I’m here because I came to invite the dads to the North Georgia Bike and Car show.” “Bike and Car show?” I stepped back in surprise. “You bike.” “Among other things. Since you keep giving me rain checks on our date, you miss out on these cool things about me.” Our date? I folded my arms over my chest. Are we still on that subject? The last time Justus and I were together was at my brother-in-law Devon’s homegoing celebration. I had admitted that I had considered a relationship with him, but the reality of our situations didn’t seem like they would ever mesh. He’s a minister and I’m . . . well, I need a lot of prayer. He had brushed off my excuse as if I’d never said it, while I’d dodged him every chance I’d gotten since then. Today, after what he’d done for me, I owed him at least a straight answer. “Justus—” “Wait before you come up with another weak excuse why you can’t date me. Let me stop you by telling you that I’m letting you off the hook. You don’t owe me anything,” he said. “Good, because I don’t want to date you. . . .” The fire in his cheeks had gone out. “I understand.” I walked closer toward him and stood short of his boots. “I want to know if we could have a future together.” His eyes blazed. His smile outdid Bella’s. “What if I already know the answer is yes?” “Then I’m giving you the chance to prove it.” “No time like the present,” he said. “Tonight we begin.”
“You make that sound really, really, really hot, but I don’t have a babysitter for tonight. It’s Bella’s birthday. Besides, Whitney has plans. Her bestie is getting married and the bridal team is getting together to powwow about the wedding plans. Ava is taking the kids to spend time with Devon’s family, and Momma . . . hopefully she’s on her honeymoon with my quiet-is-as-kept, new step daddy.” “You want to know if I can fit into your world. That world includes Bella and her perfect birthday. Let’s do her up big. Let’s take her to the circus. They’re in town.” “Last-minute tickets for something like that is killer,” I said while those five hundred dollars burned holes in my pocket. “My treat,” he said. “That’s sweet, but a night at the circus with a kindergartner doesn’t sound like hot date material.” “Who says I want a hot date?” He touched my hand. “I want you. That’s all. Any time with you is blue hot in my book.” There was something about his hand squeeze, the sincere look in his eyes, and his way with words that made me wish very hard that was true. “Okay, then. Tonight we begin,” I said, but it didn’t sound as cute as when Justus had said it.
More Info about Someone Bad And Something Blue ISBN: 978-0-7582-5952-3 Author: Miranda Parker On Sale Date: June 26, 2012 Publisher : Kensington Publishing Corp. Please try to Pre-Order this book from: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com,BooksaMillion.com, indieBound.org, or your favorite retailer.