Shame on You
Author:Tara Sivec

I’m a coward.

Go ahead and say it. I already know it’s true, so you may as well validate me. I got dressed and left the office at the crack of dawn. I snuck out of there with Griffin still naked and asleep on the couch.

I know I shouldn’t have done it. I know I should have woken him up and told him I love him. Hell, I should have told him last night before we had sex the third or fourth time. I’m stubborn and pigheaded and fiercely independent. Griffin already knows this about me so when he wakes up and finds me gone, he shouldn’t be too surprised.

All of this dating nonsense revolved around a bet. A stupidly sweet bet that Griffin came up with as a way to get back into my life, but still. A bet’s a bet and I do not lose bets. Plus, if I’m going to date anyone, it’s going to be because I choose to do it and not because I had to do it to hold up my end of the bargain.

In the wee hours of the morning, when I can still feel the scratch of Griffin’s five o’clock shadow between my thighs and every muscle in my body aches deliciously from overuse, I am pulling into the driveway of a farmhouse in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere.

According to the printout Ted gave me yesterday, this sprawling ten-acre farm surrounded by cornfields on all sides is owned by our very own man of the hour: Sven Mendleson. AKA Steve Lawson. AKA lying sack of shit, bail-jumper-hiding, drug-dealing thorn in my side.

Pulling up right in front of the huge wraparound porch, I put my Explorer in park, turn off the engine, and step out onto the gravel drive. I don’t see any other cars anywhere and while this should put me a little bit at ease that the place isn’t crawling with twitchy potheads and dealers picking up their stash, it leaves me feeling just a tiny bit uneasy. As I slowly make my way up the steps, I double-check my gun to make sure it’s fully loaded before sliding it into my holster. Taking a deep breath, I reach up and knock on the door, keeping one hand resting on the butt of my gun just in case.

I don’t hear any noise on the other side of the door, and I take a moment while I wait to look around the yard and keep an eye out for any movement. Not seeing anything of concern, I reach back up to knock again when the door is opened before my knuckles can make contact with the wood.

“’Sup,” the twentysomething guy in front of me says with a jerk of his chin.

As I take in his blue Cookie Monster T-shirt, ratty jeans, fuzzy yellow duck slippers, and open bag of Cheetos, I quickly decide this guy is most likely not going to be a threat to me. And going by his bloodshot eyes that he can barely keep focused on me, I’m going to guess the only threat he could possibly pose would be secondhand smoke.

“Hi, my name’s Kennedy and I’m looking for Martin McFadden. Have you seen him?”

He stares at me while he reaches one hand into his bag of Cheetos and brings one up to his mouth, crunching slowly.

“Weird old dude who believes in aliens, about this tall?” he asks, holding his hand up to his chin.

“Yep, that’s him,” I reply with an excited nod of my head.

“Nope, never heard of him,” he tells me, shoveling a handful of Cheetos in his mouth.

Oh, for the love of God.

“Look, I don’t really care what’s going on here—I just want McFadden. Tell me where he is, I will take him with me quietly, and you can go back to eating your way through the junk-food aisle of the grocery store,” I plead with him.

“Steve will be really pissed if I talk. I wish I had some Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch right now.” He stares dejectedly into his bag of Cheetos.

“I promise, Steve won’t be pissed. And I will buy you twenty boxes of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch if you take me to McFadden.”

I find it hard to believe the Steve/Sven I know could seriously get pissed about anything unless it has to do with bad hair, but I’m not about to tell this guy that.

“Peanut butter is delicious. Captain is crunchy. Crunchy is a funny word. I think Martin is in the snack making a kitchen,” he tells me with a nod toward the back of the house.

Good lord, this guy needs to be the poster boy for why kids should stay off drugs.

Taking a step past him and into the living room while he stands there licking the Day-Glo orange cheese off his fingers, I hear the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked and I stop in my tracks.

“Take your gun out of its holster and toss it onto the couch, slowly.”

It’s Sven, without the accent. I slowly turn around with my hands in the air and see him standing at the opening of the hallway with a .44 Magnum aimed right at my head. Holding that gun at me, he no longer looks like a hairdresser with a poodle named Mrs. Justin Bieber. Right now he looks like he would shoot me between the eyes without even blinking.

With one hand still up in the air, I slowly reach down with my other hand and gradually pull my gun out of its holster and do as he says, tossing it onto the couch cushions.

“Now, toss me your car keys,” he demands.

Have I mentioned yet how stupid an idea this was coming here alone?

Sliding my hand into my front pocket, I pull my keys out and chuck them at him. He easily catches them with the hand not holding the gun and puts them in his own pocket.

“Hey, Stevie, are we all out of mayo? I looked in the pantry and I don’t—”

McFadden walks into the room with Tinkerdoodle under his arm and stops speaking as soon as he sees the scene in front of him.

“What’s going on? Oh my gosh, don’t shoot her!” McFadden wails as he looks back and forth between me and the gun pointed at my face.