"That's the last of it." LeAnne Vines slid the last cardboard box full of her former life off the tan leather passenger seat of the Toyota Sequoia. Even on the sixty-degree, overcast December day, she was sweating. "I'll be sorting for a week, Tori."
One of her best and oldest friends, Detective Victoria Tyler, managed both the boxes from the back at once. It didn't surprise her. Tori was at least a half-foot taller than LeAnne. On any day she was stronger, but today she was freakishly strong. And at this angle, LeAnne could see how much thinner Tori was beneath her azure T-shirt and grey yoga pants. She didn't think her friend had ever been this small, and she looked a bit strange, even sickly, compared to how she'd always looked before. "I can't believe James sent all this shit home with you. There's no way you could see the windows."
"I couldn't." LeAnne balanced the box in her arms, hip-bumped the pearl-colored door shut behind her, then walked toward the three-story, beige brick Collins Bay apartment building she now called home.
Tori caught up to her just in front of the vehicle. "So, he's passively trying to kill you."
"Seems like it."
She groaned. "He's such a dick. He needs to give you that damned Kitchen Aid mixer. He can't even cook."
"Down, girl!" LeAnne let out a sharp laugh and shifted the box so she could see her sneakers, then stepped onto the concrete sidewalk. "I've got it. It's in the apartment."
"It's about damned time." Tori was ahead of her since she always walked faster with those long legs. She smirked back over her shoulder. "I was ready to break in and steal the thing. I'm telling ya, the Vegas plan would've worked." There was a weighty pause. When Tori spoke again, her playful tone was gone. "You know, he's ripping you a new one in this divorce."
"I know." LeAnne walked toward the steel staircase in the breezeway. She didn't argue because Tori was right. She, LeAnne's mother, and everyone who knew details of the divorce were of the same opinion, and they'd all expressed it freely. Hearing how she screwed up was getting old. Yeah, James was being a dick, but that didn't matter anymore. He and the judge would sign the papers soon, and that was all that mattered. Freedom.
Luckily, Tori didn't push the subject, and the two trudged up the stairs to LeAnne's second-story apartment, balancing the boxes. That was one of the great things about twenty years of friendship: they both generally knew what the other was thinking. And each knew when to shut up.
LeAnne opened the brown steel apartment door, then navigated her way through the bare taupe foyer. Just as she slid the box onto the edge of the counter that separated the cozy espresso and red kitchen from the matching dining nook, Tori walked inside behind her and booted the door shut. LeAnne pushed the vases back that they'd pulled out of the first box that came in an hour ago and pushed the new box back into their place. "Just put yours on the floor there."
Tori half-dropped her boxes onto the carpet in front of the high, round black dining table on the other side of the bar. "Next time the guys move the heavy stuff. I'm beat."
"Definitely." LeAnne grabbed a smooth plastic bottle of chilled water from the fridge and handed another to her friend. "I just didn't want them to meet me like this. When I'm..." She looked for a better word than "emotional" because that made it sound like she had PMS. There wasn't one. The divorce had been a rollercoaster of moods, and carrying in the cardboard-wrapped remains of her last decade had brought it all to the surface. Crying in front of Tori was hard enough, but she refused to do it in front of complete strangers.
"They wouldn't care." Tori took the water and guzzled three-quarters of it in the first drink. She gasped and plopped down onto the sofa. A corrupt grin spread slowly across her lips. "They'd probably kick James's ass."
LeAnne smiled at the idea of sending a few big guys to beat her ex to a bloody pulp. It was exactly what she'd wanted to do after he had slapped her that night, the night she finally confronted his cheating. Then she'd wanted to again when he'd refused to let her take anything from their home. James hated her through and through for leaving him, and it had not gotten better with the few months of separation. She wasn't sure what she'd expected when she decided to leave him. He was controlling, more so than she'd ever realized when she was still sleepwalking through life, but she'd never expected this.
"When is he going to sign the papers?"
She looked at Tori again. "Tuesday, he says."