Justice Delayed(6)

By: Patricia Bradley

She kept an eye out for the SUV as she drove to Midtown and was prepared to drive past the older two-story home where she lived if she spotted the vehicle again. Andi checked her rearview mirror and saw that the street was empty. She turned into the drive and pulled behind the 1940s house that had been turned into three apartments.

Mrs. Casey, the older woman who owned the house, occupied the first floor, and Andi and Treece lived in the two upstairs apartments. Instead of taking the outside stairs, Andi went through the back door on the main floor to pick up her mail that Mrs. Casey always placed on the hallway table.

Bill, bill, advertisement. She looked up as Treece peered over the bannister, a grin pasted on her face. “Don’t say ‘I told you so,’” Andi said.

Treece descended the steps, holding a pitcher in one hand. “I was thinking more along the lines that you must have been speeding to get here so quickly. You’re going to get caught one of these days.”

“Nah.” Andi shook her head and climbed the stairs. “But if I do, I’ll get Brad to fix it. Or Will.”

This time Treece laughed out loud, her dark eyes dancing. “You know that’s not happening. They might hover over you like mother hens, but neither of them has ever fixed one of your tickets.”

Andi gave her a sour look. They were mother hens, all right. Had been ever since she was diagnosed with a bad heart valve as a child. Her protectors, they called themselves. Guards, she’d called them, and their attitude hadn’t changed after her surgery, and had lasted even to this day. “What are you doing with the pitcher?”

“Mrs. Casey called from Nashville. She forgot to water her plants and asked if we would do it,” Treece said as she unlocked their landlord’s door. “If you’ll help me, it’ll be quicker.”

“Sure.” Andi followed her friend inside the apartment that was directly under Treece’s, where they found another pitcher and filled it with water. Fifteen minutes later the plants were watered, and she and Treece were climbing the stairs.

“I have the makings for a salad if you’d like it to go with your pizza,” Treece said.

“That sounds good,” Andi said as they topped the stairs and she walked to her door. “I think I’m going to change into something more comfortable. Do I need to bring over anything for the salad?”

“I don’t think so.” Her friend tilted her head. “Why do you think Lacey didn’t show?”

She hesitated with her hand on the door. Maybe she’d eat first, then come home and take a hot shower and go to bed. “I don’t know, but it sure wasn’t any fun driving to the airport.”

“Did you ever figure out who the person was that she mentioned on the phone?”

Lacey had rambled about someone. Andi tried to recall the name. “Do you remember who I said it was?”

Treece shook her head. “No. Only that you said she mentioned a name.”

“It was someone with initials . . .” She shrugged and trailed Treece into her apartment. Whenever they got together, whether it was for work or for social reasons, they always gravitated to Treece’s apartment. Maybe it was because she cooked, or because her apartment was more inviting.

She glanced around Treece’s living room. Their apartment layouts mirrored each other, but that’s where the similarity ended. Other than a couple of paintings, Andi’s walls were bare, and she certainly didn’t have knickknacks sitting around waiting to be dusted. The only pottery she owned was a sculpture her sister had been working on when she was murdered.

Treece, on the other hand, was a decorating maven. Bright paint covered the walls and bold fabric hung on the windows. African pottery, along with pieces from local artists, graced tables and bookcases. Andi really did need to make an effort to spruce things up over on her side.

She set her bag on the counter. “Where’s that pizza? I’m starving.”

Treece pointed to the top of the stove. “Microwave or oven?”

“Not the microwave,” Andi said, turning on the oven.

“While we wait for it to reheat, tell me more about this friend of your sister. You wouldn’t discuss her this morning, but I think you need to. Was she there the night Stephanie . . . ?”