Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 42

That got my attention. “This is the police department’s room? Do you rent it by the month?”

His eyes bugged in surprise. “I don’t rightly know. I was just told that they use this particular room because the phone’s out.”

“Who else has stayed in here?”

“You know, people who get themselves into trouble and then testify to cut themselves a deal. Drug dealers, prostitutes, the works.”

I glanced at the nasty bed beneath me. “When was the last time the sheets were changed?”

Confusion crinkled his forehead. “I don’t know…”

“So how many people have you protected?”

“Countless.”

I doubted that. “No, you. How many have you protected?”

He gave me a sheepish look. “You mean like this? Here?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re the first.”

I really didn’t feel reassured. But if he was a newbie, I might get him to bend the rules for me. My tears seemed to horrify him, so hopefully I could use that to my advantage. “I’m really scared, Officer Sprout. My boyfriend Mason isn’t just anyone. He’s the assistant district attorney.” The words felt odd rolling off my tongue, but my stomach fluttered just from thinking about him that way.

“I know.” Officer Sprout didn’t sound very happy.

“He’s always there for me when something bad happens and he makes me feel safe. I know he can’t come here, but if I could just hear his voice…” My voice trailed off. “I’m sure your girlfriend feels exactly the same way about you.”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“I find that hard to believe.” And I did. He might be young, but he was cute even if he seemed a bit inept. I gave him a shy smile. “Here’s the thing, Officer Sprout. When a girl’s scared, she just wants her boyfriend to tell her everything’s okay. I’m sure you can understand that.”

He hesitated.

“I’ll make it really short.”

“I’ll get in trouble.”

I clasped my hands together. “No one will ever know.”

He closed his eyes and inhaled, then released a long breath. “If I were to go to the bathroom, the witness could potentially leave the room and go to the office.”

“What about your cell phone?”

He shook his head. “No way. That can be tracked.”

“Leave the room? Is that safe?” I was shocked he would suggest it.

“No one knows we’re here.” He shrugged. “It’s safe.”

Given his cavalier attitude, I had all the more reason to call Mason. “Okay.”

He walked over to the chair by the window.

I tilted my head to the side, squinting in confusion. “I thought you were going to go to the bathroom.”

He looked at me with a blank expression. “I don’t have to go yet.”

My mouth dropped open. “Are you serious?”

“I usually have three cups of coffee in the morning, but with all of the excitement, I only had one.”

I could argue with him and risk him changing his mind or wait. There was more than one way to handle this. I found a plastic cup on the dresser next to the ice bucket. I grabbed the bucket and headed for the door.

He jumped out of the chair and blocked my path. “Whoa! Where do you think you’re goin’?”

“I’m goin’ to get ice so you’ll drink a big glass of water and go to the bathroom.”

He shook his head. “I can’t let you leave.”

“But you…” I stopped. I didn’t want to press my luck. Setting the ice bucket down, I grabbed the cup and filled it at the bathroom sink before handing it to him.

“Thanks.” He took a small sip and set it down.

This was going to take a while.

I pulled back the greasy bedspread and thoroughly examined the sheets before lying down on the bed. I’d woken up early and it had been a stressful morning to say the least. I’d learned that my body’s way of dealing with stress was to sleep. If I had to wait for the deputy to go to the bathroom, I might as well take a nap.

“Do you mind if I turn on the TV?” Officer Sprout asked.

“Go ahead.”

I closed my eyes and let the talk show host’s voice lull me to sleep. When I woke up later, the room was dark and the news was on. Groggy, I sat upright and looked around. The officer wasn’t in his chair and the bathroom door was closed.

He’d gone to the bathroom without waking me.

I jumped off the bed and fumbled with the locks on the door, ignoring the rumbling in my stomach. I hadn’t eaten since the night before and it was close to six o’clock. No wonder I was starving.

An older man at the reception desk was watching a television that looked even more ancient than the one in our room.

I leaned against the desk, my heart racing. I wouldn’t put it past the deputy to find me and drag me back to the room even though he’d been the one to suggest this plan. “I need to use the phone.”

The man didn’t even look up. “Customers only.”

“I am a customer!”

“Then use the one in your room.” He sounded bored.

“I can’t. It doesn’t work.”

Perking up, he swiveled his head toward me. “Yer in room six?”

I nodded.

“That’s the Henryetta police’s witness protection room. The phone’s not supposed to work.”

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