This is part 2 of a multi-part short story. You can find the first part here.
Tom parked his patrol car in front of Java Joe’s, feeling a desperate need for a liquid pick-me-up after that last call. There wasn’t much he hated worse than drug calls except when they involved small children being beaten. Unfortunately, that last call had involved both. Goddamn druggies.
Tom opened the door and breathed deeply of the richly scented air that flooding into his patrol car. Coffee, scones, and—heroine. Shit. Tom looked around, trying to isolate the source of the foul odor.
There, he thought as his eyes tracked to a young woman walking up the street. He smiled grimly when her eyes skidded away from him and she ducked into Java Joe’s. At least he could still get his coffee while he terrorized the mule.
Shit shit shit! Jenna chanted as she dodged into the coffee shop. She hadn’t handled that well. In her defense, it hadn’t been the package in her purse that she’d shied away from. That cop had been H-O-T! And totally off-limits to her, so she hadn’t let herself get a second look. It wasn’t until she’d seen his humorless smile in the plate glass of the door that she realized that an on-duty cop might interpret her dodge in a different way. In a guilty way. Oh, well. What’s done is done, she thought as he slipped into the coffee house a moment or two behind her.
She ordered a double tall coffee from the menu board named Purple Fairy Dust, and amused herself by perusing the rest of the menu as she waited for the blue-haired barista to make her order. Most niche coffee houses had a theme to their drink menus. This place was no different, but Jenna wasn’t exactly sure what the theme was, other than bizarre. Besides the fairy drink, there was Cat-No-Tonic, Moon Fever, Witch Hazelnut, Yakkedy Squirrel, and Flamingo Anti-Flop. She was almost disappointed that she wouldn’t be in town long enough to try them all.
Smiling her appreciation to the barista, Jenna paid for her drink then found a table at the far end of the seating area. She deliberately face the window so she wouldn’t have to look at the sexy, suspicious cop again while she tried to think her way out of this situation. She clearly couldn’t just find the Aussie and deliver her package. She knew damn well “the shit” was drugs, though it pained her to have stooped to drug running just to make a few bucks. But she was a survivor. There had to be a way to spin this so she came out of it on top. Or at least not in jail.
Tom thanked Marissa, the owner and primary barista of Java Joe’s, for the regular tall coffee—Marissa refused payment, as usual—then casually scanned the customers sitting in comfy over-stuffed chairs and old booths covered in every color of fabric and naugahyde ever made . The room should have been an eye-sore with its garish mix of furnishings, but it wasn’t. Joe’s was the kind of place that made everyone feel at-home. Apparently even drug mules.
The woman was sitting in one of Marissa’s badly upholstered chairs, which was pulled up to a sofa table that was clearly too high to actually “go” with the chair. She had her back to the room, as if she had all the time in the world. He noticed, though, that she could see everything through the murky reflections in the big bay window in front of her. He took a seat by the door and began filling out his incident report on that last stop. He hated paperwork, but was glad he had a ready-made excuse for lingering.
Almost a half hour had passed when he saw the woman get up to leave. He quickly finished up the report he was working on—the third since he’d sat down—but didn’t put anything away. He knew that she knew he was onto her. But there was a set of rule to this. If he made it too obvious he was watching her, she’d go complain to the chief or something, then he’d have to back off, leaving her free to meet up with her contact at will. If he followed her without making it obvious, she’d simply not make contact, which wouldn’t net him a bad guy, but at least it would keep this batch of drugs off the streats of Talbot’s Peak.
He froze when he saw a slip of paper drop from her hand as she walked by. That was odd. There was no way she’d simply don that by accident. Tom waited for her to push out the door, then bent over to pick up the paper
“I’m looking for a ‘fat Aussie bastard’ to give him a package. Any idea where I might find him?”
Tom slid the paper into his pants pocket. Yeah, he thought. He did know of a “fat Aussie bastard” in town who would want a package that smelled like heroine. The question was, why was she telling him. And why do so in a way that made it clear she wanted to make contact with a cop without looking like she was trying to make contact?