Dixie was pleased with herself as she exited the Canton Library and headed to the Post Office. The librarian was happy to place an order with her as a new customer and had suggested that the Post Mistress might be interested as well.
Harlan watched her walk across the parking lot between the buildings, and he noticed she looked happy. The woman had one bad thing after another happen to her, but today she looked as if she didn’t have a care in the world. She was wearing her hair up in a high ponytail and wearing a pink fleece jacket with jeans. Her shoes were pastel pink sneakers, and he wondered where women could buy sneakers that color.
The last thing he wanted to do was to take that smile away from her. She looked confident and happy, and he didn’t have the heart to crush her with a safety lecture. It could wait.
A few minutes later, she exited the Post Office and glanced in his direction before stopping dead in her tracks and looking back at him.
“Officer Granger?” she asked, surprised to see him. “What are you doing here?”
“A little birdie told me that you had flown the coop. I thought we had an understanding,” Harlan said, trying to look stern.
Dixie looked down at her pink shoes and blushed the same color as her jacket.
“I couldn’t just stay at home and do nothing. My business is going to die. Did you see what was on the buildings on Main? Someone made an ad for me as a professional escort and then painted it everywhere. It is humiliating, not to mention the angry calls from local business owners that kept coming in,” Dixie said.
“People don’t think that you’re a call girl. It was clever that they used a stencil to do it, though. That must be how they were able to do it quickly without being seen,” he said, thinking out loud.
“Well, I’m glad you think that they were efficient with their smear campaign,” Dixie said, annoyed.
“Don’t get defensive, I was just thinking about how they pulled it off,” he said. “It was probably some stupid teenagers.”
“I doubt it. I bet it is the same person who is trying to destroy my business, and maybe they hired a few stupid teenagers to pull it off. When I find out who it is, I’m going to rip every hair out of their head, or at the very least, shave their heads in revenge for Louie.”
“Wow, remind me not to get you angry,” Harlan said.
“Wouldn’t matter. Your hair is already short,” Dixie said, then she laughed.
“Look, I get that you want to be independent and move about freely, but there is a killer on the loose. Or did you forget?” he asked.
“It is kind of hard to forget that,” Dixie said, frowning. “My ears are still ringing.”
“Have you thought about going into hiding, at least for a little while?” he asked.
“Why, and let them win?” she asked, surprised that he didn’t understand her point of view. “I’m tired of hiding from the crazies.”
“The crazies, as you call them, have stepped up their game. We’re talking about murder and your attempted murder now,” Harlan said, staring directly into her eyes. “This isn’t a game, Dixie.”
“I’m well aware of that. What do you suggest then, put me in jail?” Dixie asked, cocking her head at him and raising an eyebrow.
“I was thinking about the lake. No one goes there in the offseason, and I know a few people who have cabins there who might let us camp out. What do you think?” he asked.
“It sounds chilly,” she replied.
“It doesn’t have to be,” he said, looking at his shoes.
“Alright. I’ll do it but under one condition. I don’t want to be cut off from civilization completely. I need my laptop and phone so that I can still take orders, that is if I can find any customers,” she said.
“Only if you keep it to business, and nothing else. You can’t tell anyone where you are. Let your customers think that you are still living at home,” Harlan said.
“What about Angie?” she asked.
“You can bring her along,” Harlan said.
“Deal,” Dixie said.
No sooner had the word left her mouth that she began to regret her decision. It was a cabin at a lake, away from the comforts of home. The cabin would be far away from the Friendship Police Department, and that realization sent a shiver up her back.