Justice Delayed(7)

By: Patricia Bradley

Andi’s stomach curdled. She’d managed all day to push that night out of her mind. She’d been barely thirteen, and two days after the funeral, she’d had surgery to replace a heart valve.

Steph had been eight years older than Andi, and Andi idolized her big sister. Finding out who Steph was as an adult had been the reason for agreeing to meet Lacey at the airport. Not to discuss Stephanie’s death—the man who killed her sat on death row.

Andi turned around and slid the pizza into the oven. “I don’t remember. And I still don’t want to talk about it. Let it go. Okay?”

When she turned back around, her heart sank. Treece had that reporter gleam in her eyes that said she was not dropping the subject. Andi broke off a stalk of celery for her salad. Why did people always think they knew what was best for her? She sliced the celery in the wooden bowl with a rounded Ulu blade. She did not want to discuss Stephanie’s death.

“That celery isn’t your enemy,” Treece said. “What I can’t understand is why you won’t discuss your sister. You never back away from anything, except Stephanie’s death.”

“There’s nothing to discuss. My sister’s ex-boyfriend shot and killed her. My mom and I found Jimmy Shelton sitting by her body with the gun. He confessed, and Sunday night it will finally be over. What else is there to talk about?”

“For one thing, from what I read about the case on the internet, he recanted the confession. Said it was coerced.”

Andi stared at her friend. She’d been researching Jimmy’s trial?

Before she could say anything, Treece continued. “And another thing, he’s Will Kincade’s cousin. How do you handle it with him?”

Will was her brother’s best friend, and lately her heart had been reacting strangely when she was around him. She placed a carrot in the wooden bowl and attacked it with the blade. “We don’t talk about it.”

“Here, let me make your salad before you turn everything into mush.” Treece took the knife away from her. “How do you feel when you think about your sister’s death?”

Andi pinched her mouth together as her friend raked the carrot into a bowl of lettuce and dropped a handful of grape tomatoes on top. “Horrible, Dr. Phil. That’s how I feel. And angry that Jimmy is alive and Stephanie isn’t. Anything else?”

“You haven’t forgiven him.”

Andi narrowed her eyes, ignoring the dart of guilt pricking her conscience. “Forgive him? How do you expect me to forgive him for taking Stephanie’s life? I was ten when she left home for college, thirteen when she died, and I never got the chance to really know her. Satisfied?”

Treece palmed her hands up. “Sorry, didn’t mean to rile you. So how’s it going with Will? And don’t tell me you’re not attracted to him.”

“Give me a break. I haven’t had time for a boyfriend. Besides, I know better than to fall for him—he only sees me like a sister. No way would it ever work out. And how about you?”

“We’re not talking about me.”

Andi wasn’t going to let it go that easily, not if it would shift the conversation to Treece’s boyfriend problems. “Have you called Reggie? Or answered any of his texts?” She raised her eyebrows, waiting. “See, I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to get up close and personal.”

Before Treece could say anything, Andi grabbed her apartment key. “And now I’m going to go across the hall and get my bottle of raspberry vinaigrette.”

Andi fled the apartment, leaving Treece with her mouth gaping. Sometimes she pushed their friendship too far. She worries. Andi pushed the thought away. Living next door to Treece at times was like living at home with her parents.

Andi unlocked her door and frowned. She didn’t remember leaving the living room light on. Had to do better than that if she was going to cut her electric bill.

She was halfway to the refrigerator when the unmistakable click of the door shutting stopped her. The apartment plunged into darkness. Andi froze, her heart pummeling her chest. She turned to run, but rough hands yanked her back in a chokehold. Cold steel pressed against her temple.