The past haunts Sunshine's family.
Excerpt from Cemetery Hill
The phone shrilled its annoying chirp, waking me from a deep sleep. I rolled over and groped a hand across the bed to the nightstand. My fingers hit my cellphone, and away it went, skidding across the polish slicked surface onto the shag carpeting.
Damn it all to hell and back.
I sat up and flipped on the bedside lamp, already regretting the two quarters I’d be donating to my cussing jar, and blinked my sleep deprived eyes in the too bright light ‘til they focused on the phone lying like a black stone on the sea’s surface. It’d landed face up. Soon as I saw the name of the caller, my heart flipped over behind my sternum and a sappy grin replaced my irritated scowl.
Riley Treadwell, a childhood friend and my newly acquired boyfriend. We been dating for a while now, long enough for me to relax into the idea, but not so long we felt free to broach the s-e-x subject ‘less we had to. Riley was gung ho and ready to go, but me, I was a mite skittish about the whole subject for reasons I didn’t much like to ponder.
I leaned over, fished the phone outta the carpet, and thumbed the call open. “Hey.”
“Get dressed, Sunny.”
Riley’s voice held a grim note, tense and completely contrary to his normal, laid back drawl. I sat straight up and glanced at the time. 2:48 a.m., far too early for him to even be awake, let alone calling me. A cold knot of dread slid into my stomach. I flipped the covers off my bare legs and shivered in the bedroom’s too cool air.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Dad’s on his way over to Fame’s to arrest him.”
“What?” I squawked.
“Some kids found Fame’s wife and brother out on Cemetery Hill.” Riley sighed and a sound like skin scraping against skin filtered through the connection. “They’re dead, Sunny, both of them.”
And ever body knowed Fame’d run his wife off for cheating on him with his brother. Ever body also knowed Sheriff Treadwell, Riley’s daddy, and my uncle was in a long-standing feud, ‘though what they was a-feuding over was anybody’s guess.
“Shit,” I muttered, and winced. Three quarters in one night after being good for so long. Oh, well. The preacher man’d be able to do something good with my bad, surely.
I cradled the cellphone between my shoulder and ear, yanked open a dresser drawer, and fumbled for clean clothes. “How long ‘til he gets here?”
“Soon,” Riley said, real low and soft. “I’m sorry, Sunny. If I could do anything to stop him…”
“Ain’t nothing you can do, hon.” And that was a fact. Probably nothing I could do either ‘cept warn Fame and Missy and my two cousins. “Thanks for the warning.”
“I’ll be there soon as I can.”
“No,” I said right off, and slammed the drawer shut. “You go on back to bed. I’ll call you soon as I know something.”
We said our goodbyes and hung up, and soon as the line broke, I hit Fame’s number. He picked up on the first ring.
“The Sheriff’s on his way,” I said without preamble. “Some kids found Lily and Ferd dead.”
“I’ll be ready for him,” Fame said in that deceptively soft voice of his, and that’s all either one of us needed to say. We hung up without another word, and I stumbled into the bathroom to clean up, shivering from the cold air and the sick feeling growing off dread in my gut like a canker.
Lily and Ferd, dead. Fame the most likely suspect. And Sheriff Treadwell was on the case, good ol’ boy Chip Treadwell what had a burr in his side over Fame and the weight of the law behind his gun. I didn’t need two guesses to know how the investigation would go. Fame’d already been judged guilty by the folks in the know, and there weren’t a blessed thing anybody could do about it.