Worth Lying For: Book Excerpt
WORTH LYING FOR
By: Lisa Cheney & Lisa Craig
I was too old to be scrabbling for loose change on the floor of my car. But the twenty-two pennies mined from the bottom of my purse wouldn’t buy me a coffee at George’s Market. An archaeological dig under layers of receipts, magazines, and old shopping lists was bound to unearth fifty-three cents more. I found a quarter by my feet, then, leaning over, hit the mother lode under the passenger seat: four dimes and a nickel.
I was about to haul myself upright, spare change and pride in hand, when some idiot zoomed up and parked right next to me, even though mine was the lone car in the lot. Craning my neck, I saw a mint condition, 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500. I may only be a receptionist/bookkeeper, but I’m a receptionist/bookkeeper for a classic car restoration garage. I know my muscle cars. And for my money, the 1968 Shelby is the best looking automobile ever made.
The early October morning sun glinted off its shiny black paint and bright chrome trim. I was filled with the covetousness I usually reserve for designer shoes and the occasional signature handbag. If I could own a car like that, and the right pair of stilettos to match, everything in my life would be perfect.
As I sighed over my vision, Jimmy Adler, the biggest jackass I had ever known, stepped out of my dream car. The driver—it was painful to think of him as the owner of this classic vehicle—had spent our high school days in a haze of pot smoke, emerging occasionally to sell to others or publicly berate his girlfriend, Tina. I hadn’t seen him much in the past twenty-some years, which was surprising considering we live in such a small town. Then again, in a small town you hear about people whether you want to or not. It was common knowledge that he had continued on his sordid path, and Tina, now his ex-wife, would never bring charges even after all the domestic violence calls. He was an absolute pig and he was driving my car.
In contrast to my own tee shirt and ancient wrinkled slacks, he was decked out. He had on a gorgeous black leather jacket that, even from a distance, I could tell was a soft, supple lambskin that called out to be petted. He hadn’t gotten fat, or lost his still-brown hair. Truly, there is no justice in the universe.
I watched him swagger toward the store. No, make that stagger. He weaved two steps sideways for every one he took forward. He was completely hammered and it was not yet nine in the morning. Stumbling over the front step to the market, he smashed his forehead against the glass door. He obviously felt no pain as he bounced off in surprise and fumbled for the pull handle. He pushed on it for a minute or so while shouting out some garbled swearing, before he realized he had to pull the door open. He hadn’t changed a bit.
The Shelby was parked way too close, but as long as I eased my door open there was enough room to get out. As satisfying as it would have been to bang my car door into his, I had to rise above such pettiness for the sake of the Shelby. A work of art is a work of art, no matter how big of an idiot the owner is. I lightly ran my fingertips over its smooth paint. Torturing myself further, I peeked inside the open passenger window at the red leather interior. Perfect. Damn it.
On the pristine leather of the passenger seat, next to an empty fifth of Jack Daniels and a couple baggies filled with suspicious-looking herbs, I saw a black duffle bag. Inside the unzipped bag I could see money: stacks and stacks of money. Not Monopoly money. Real, U.S. legal tender. Stupid drug dealing bottom-feeder, how do you end up with a Ford Shelby and a bag of cash while I’m looking for change under the floor mats of a Ford Escort?
On its own reconnaissance my hand shot out and grabbed the bag, then dragged it through the open window. Adrenaline tightened my throat as I stared at my offending hand. This was wrong, so very wrong. I was an upstanding citizen who paid her taxes, mortgage and insurance on time. I believed in my heart that world peace was possible. I had never so much as stolen somebody’s thunder.
Put. The money. Back. Slide the bag through the window, drop it back on the seat and this never happened. I dropped the bag through the open window of my car instead. Inexplicably, I found myself behind the wheel, speeding away as fast as my little junker would go.
I drove two tenths of a mile straight downhill then came to a screeching halt at the end of a treacherously narrow driveway to a daycare establishment called Smartypants, where I turned around. I came back up the hill in time to see the Shelby racing away in the other direction. Jimmy ignored a stop sign, hung a left with tires squealing, then disappeared from sight.
I went around the block slowly. I had no idea where Jimmy was headed. Chasing after him—for any reason—seemed like a bad plan.
As I cruised past the storefront it was impossible to see in or out through the layers of beer and liquor advertisements obscuring the windows. The convenience store had no obvious security cameras pointed at the parking lot. I was fairly sure Mr. George had no security measures in place at all, aside from a baseball bat he kept next to him at the checkout. I thought back. I hadn’t heard any cars driving by earlier and there hadn’t been a soul anywhere in the vicinity.
I had pulled off the perfect crime without even trying.