Home > Stop Ghosting Me

Stop Ghosting Me
Author: Tara Sivec


Chapter 1




“I brought you an entire suitcase of severed heads.”

“This is bullshit, Kenny!”

The man looks up from his crossword puzzle to frown at me. If I weren’t so infuriated right now, I’d be impressed with how many hours he’s been able to ignore my complaining.

“How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t call me Kenny at work?” he whispers loudly, nervously glancing around the small room as he adjusts the tie on his uniform.

Which makes me lean forward and grab onto the cold, metal bars in front of me to look around the one-room sheriff station as well.

“There’s no one here but us,” I remind my childhood friend with a roll of my eyes. “We are literally the only two people not out enjoying the celebration of the best night of the year in Harvest Grove, because you’re being a dipshit!”

The jail is only a block away from the town square. I’ve been forced to hear just how much everyone has been enjoying the last few hours without me, which has made me grumpier than usual about my current situation.

Kenny’s booted feet drop from the top of his desk with a loud thunk when they hit the floor. He tries to glare at me even harder, and I attempt to not laugh. Kenny Stuart couldn’t intimidate a kitten, and he knows it.

“I am an officer of the law, and you have to respect me. Come on, Sid!” he whines loudly, really not sending his point home very well.

“Fine. Let me out, Deputy Dipshit!”

Kenny just sighs and shakes his head at me before kicking his feet back up on top of his desk, leaning back in his chair, and studying the crossword in his lap again.

While I get more and more irritated listening to the muffled sounds of fireworks exploding, people laughing, and the faint tunes of Monster Mash playing for probably the hundredth time in a row.

“You know the rules, Sidney. I’m not letting you out of my sight until the festivities are finished, and there’s no chance of you wreaking any more havoc in town just hours before tourists start arriving.”

“I didn’t wreak any havoc,” I complain with a stomp of my foot. “I was running away from the havoc that was already wreaked.”

Kenny chuckles under his breath as he scribbles in a word with his pencil, which just makes me want to charge across the room and kick out the two legs of the chair he’s leaning back on.

But I can’t. Because I’m in a freaking holding cell!

“We go through this every year.” He sighs without lifting his head. “You know the drill. It’s one of the reasons why you have your own chair in there, so get comfy.”

Looking back over my shoulder in my tiny cell that is the size of a storage closet—because it was a storage closet back in the day of my grandmother’s childhood, when the sheriff’s office naively thought there wasn’t a need for a jail cell, until my grandmother became a hell-raising teenager—I scowl at the cushioned chair that looks like it was taken from a conference room and shoved up against the wall. More particularly, I stare at the gold plate attached to the fabric on the back of the chair that has been metal-stamped with the words Sidney Tanner.

Fine, so I have my own personalized chair in jail. As did my mother before me, and my grandmother before her. The only reason my aunt never had her own chair is because she married into the Tanner family, and criminal behavior doesn’t naturally run in her veins. That’s not to say she isn’t the cause of a lot of trouble; she’s just better at not getting caught than the rest of us.

But that doesn’t mean anything, and I shouldn’t be in here, dammit!

“Let me out right now, or I will call your mother.”

Kenny is completely unbothered as he shrugs. “Who do you think gave me the tip that you were lurking at the scene of a crime tonight?”

I let out a loud groan and smack my forehead against the bars of my cell.

“I cannot believe Colleen is still mad at me about that tiny little fire years ago that wasn’t even my fault.”

“You burned down her entire garage!” Kenny so nicely reminds me.

“It wasn’t the entire garage. The doorframe was still there when they finally put it out,” I mutter.

Just because someone finds you holding a gas can a block away from a raging inferno doesn’t automatically mean you’re guilty. Where’s the due process? Where’s the jury of my peers?

“Besides, you already used your one phone call on your own mother.” He snorts.

Right. Who didn’t answer. Because she was most likely too busy making sure the real criminals didn’t hurt themselves running away, like always. Another reminder from Kenny I didn’t need right now. This is what I get for giving them a five-minute head start.

“This time really wasn’t my fault.”

“Fine. Then whose fault was it?” Kenny looks up from his crossword long enough to raise an eyebrow at me.

All I can do is bite my tongue, and he knows it. He knows I’ll never snitch on the guilty parties. Heredity isn’t the only reason I often find myself in trouble.

Kenny goes back to his crossword, while I let go of the bars and start pacing the small space I was tossed into a few hours ago, like a caged animal. My heart rate kicks back up a notch. I’m having trouble taking a deep breath, and I have to wipe my sweaty palms off on my jeans and think happy thoughts before this panic attack gets out of control.

I hate being confined. And I really hate small spaces and have a touch of claustrophobia. Which is pretty laughable, considering how many times I’ve knowingly made the choice to do something that would put me in this small, confined space with no window to the outside world. Bitching at Kenny was a nice distraction for a little while, but if I have to stay in here much longer, I might start screaming. Or crying. Which is just not something a Tanner woman does. We get angry, and we rage. We do not cry.

I know it’s my own fault for not keeping a better eye on my younger sister and cousin. They usually don’t start with their bullshit until well into the middle of the night. But Penny and Ginger were more fired up than ever this evening and came in hot fifteen minutes into the start of October Eve. I normally have more time to enjoy the fun on my favorite night of the year, before I inevitably wind up getting in trouble covering for them. This year, I missed the fireworks, I missed the lighting of the town square, and I missed the countdown to midnight and the slow ascent of the huge, light-up pumpkin, where everyone shouts, cheers, and clinks glasses of candy corn martinis when the lighted pumpkin reaches the top of the fifty-foot pole it’s attached to.

And my number-one grievance—I missed eating my weight in pumpkin funnel cakes the bakery only makes this one night of the year. I am going to hold onto this current annoyance with Penny and Ginger until the day I die for that alone. But they are only one more offense away from getting their own personalized jail chairs, and I won’t let that happen.

“You can’t keep covering for them, Sidney,” Kenny speaks quietly, eyes still focused on his puzzle, making my mouth immediately dry up after drooling over the memory of pumpkin funnel cakes. “I get why you did it when they were younger, but they are twenty-year-old adults now, who are responsible for their own choices. And they do not make good ones.”

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