“Hello,” Hannah said as I cracked the door open. She’s got some goddamn nerve just showing up like this as if nothing happened. Like she hasn’t ruined my life. I could slap the crooked smile right off her face. I could strangle the bitch with my bare hands. Hannah didn’t even have the decency to come in the morning. Nope, that wasn’t Hannah. Hannah had to come pounding on my door at 12 PM, waking the dog next door that fell asleep thirty minutes ago.
“Not you again!” I batted my eyes open, cracking the door. “What the fuck do you want?” I said. “There’s nothing left to say. We’ve gone over everything, and–“
“Look”– Hannah glanced over either shoulder–“I need your help,” Hannah said, bringing her voice to a whisper.
“What makes you think I, of all people, want to help you?” I crinkled my eyes and tightened my lips.
“Oh, relax.” Hannah swung her bangs across her oval blue eyes. It was as if I’d fallen for her all over again, but I couldn’t, no, not this time. “Simple. You still love me. You know you do — always will.”
“What is it you need?” I said, letting out a sigh I didn’t know existed.
“Let’s just say I did something”–Hannah lowered her chin–“something really bad.”
“How bad are we talking?” I raised a brow.
Hannah stroked her chin. “So, like I may or may not have murdered or killed someone. Killed. Killed is a better word for what happened.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind?” I waved my hands in front of my body. “Oh, no, you don’t. I’m not getting involved with some murder.” I went to close the door, but Hannah shoved her foot inside.
“I wasn’t drinking this time,” Hannah said, waving her arms. No, really, I wasn’t.”
I crinkled my eyes, motioning her inside. “Get in here.”
She passed through the door, proclaiming her innocence. “I wasn’t drinking. Look, you got to believe me.”
“Just like the last time or the time before that?”
“No, this time I’m sober,” Hannah said. “After we broke up three months ago, I stopped drinking. I haven’t had a drink in three fucking months.”
I lowered my body to a brown leather sofa and blew out my lips. We’d talked about this hundreds of times, but it never sunk in. She never got the message, and I couldn’t take it anymore. My father died from a drunk driver, and here I was madly in love with a functioning drunk. I couldn’t help her, but I also couldn’t not help her. Hannah was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me, and here I was contemplating getting rid of a fucking dead body. Fuck my life. Having said that, something about her denials rings true. Her eyes weren’t glassy, and she didn’t have her signature slurred speech. Something about the quiver in her lips told me she was telling the truth, but I still didn’t want to believe her. Hannah was stubborn and had a bad reputation in this town, but not even Hannah would kill someone, would she? I started to believe I didn’t know the woman at all, or I was losing my fucking mind. I opened and closed my hands. “What really happened?”
“What about some guy?”
“He just walked out into the street.”
“Were you texting?”
“No,” Hannah said, shaking her head. She placed her warm palm on my knee. “I swear it.”
“Okay,” I said, pushing her hand away. “What exactly do you want to do about this?”
“We need to burn the body.”
“My granddad’s got a firepit,” Hannah said. Oh, fuck. Not Hannah’s granddad. That dude fucking hated me, and to be fair, I hated him, too. He hated that I was half black, and I hated that he told Hannah she deserved better than what I could give. Yet, here she was back in my presence. Sure, one could say she was just using me, but Hannah wouldn’t come here unless she trusted me. Even though she killed someone, something about her coming to me pulled at something in my self-esteem. “I read up on getting rid of a body, and I don’t want to bury the guy. I want to make it look like an accident.”
“An accident with a fire?” I raised a brow.
“What? Don’t look at me like that. I am not a professional killer. I just figured we’d get rid of the body. Burn it beyond recognition kind of thing.”
I stroked my chin. “The accident thing is out the window if we burn him at your granddad’s firepit,” I said.
Hannah slapped her forehead. “Duh. That was stupid.”
I stood to my feet. “Let’s go,” I said.
“Don’t forget your coat,” Hannah said, throwing me the Chicago Bulls jacket she bought me last Christmas. There were about a dozen other jackets to choose from, but she specifically picked the one she bought me. It was as if she wanted me to reminisce on the times when she wasn’t a drunk. When she wasn’t out all hours of the night, nope, she wanted me to remember the real Hannah.
We slid into the car and passed stoplights and street signs, and followed curves and winding roads to the outskirts of Seattle. I couldn’t shake the thought, knowing there was a dead body in the car. I’d been through a lot with Hannah, but this was something new. This was unchartered territory.
“So.” I sifted my eyes to Hannah. “He walked into the street? And–“
“He must have been drunk.” Hannah shrugged, keeping her eyes on the road. I shifted my eyes to Hannah, and I loved the way the light breeze tugged her ponytail. Not even the cool air could calm the fire in my bones for Hannah. I loved her most when she had no idea how much I wanted her to be with her; to be tangled in bedsheets was everything to me. “It was on 34th avenue.”
“Across the street from the new Starbucks?”
“And no one saw anything?”
“The shop was closed, and it was a ghost town, which is why I didn’t think anyone would be there.”
“This is?” I said.
Hannah placed the car in park and shut off the lights. She left the radio on.
“We’re going to listen to music as set a body on fire?” I said, crinkling my eyes.
“Just get out.” Hannah smiled.
We made out way back to the trunk, but there was nobody. I scratched the top of my head. “I guess I don’t understand.”
Hannah pulled out a neatly folded blanket, a bottle of wine, slices of American cheese, and a vanilla candle.
“Would you tell me what’s going on here?” I said.
Hannah took laid the blanket out near the firepit and poured two glasses of wine. “I was a fuck up,” Hannah said. “Now that I know you’d do anything for me, would you marry me?”
I raised a brow. “Think it’s a good idea you drink wine?”
“This is cider, Dear.” Hannah winked. “Is that a yes?” Hannah handed me a glass.
“You know, I’ve been waiting for this day or a day like this since we met. Of course, I’ll marry you.” I pulled out a ring I’d carried with me every day in case I got the chance to sweep the woman off her feet.
Hannah fit herself in my body. “What was that about not you again?” Hannah gave me a tight-lipped smile. “I’m sorry for everything.”
“I meant I want you again.” I smiled.