Nailed (Marked For Love #1) (7 page)

BOOK: Nailed (Marked For Love #1)
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"I'm the third person they've sent after you, honey."

"Do you know what they're looking for? Why they'd want Karen and Kevin dead? They blew up their house! Was that one of your brothers?"

"It wasn't my brothers. They don't deal in explosives. I don't have all the details, but I'm almost positive your sister did it."

"Why?" Indeed, it boggled the mind and the wine and adrenaline from nailing Wynn in the parking lot didn't help. "Why?" I asked again, because I didn't know what else to say.

"Kevin has something that belongs to his employers, Sunset Pharmaceuticals. And he had to have been in pretty deep for them to go to such extreme measures. They want it back, soon."

"How soon is
soon
?"

"A little bit less than two weeks," he admitted.

"So how do we find them?"

"Tell me everything you know about your sister," he said again. "From the beginning."

I talked all night. I talked until I didn't have a voice anymore and I couldn't think of one more thing to tell Wynn and the sky outside was turning pink. I talked because I had no choice. I still didn't trust him—not a hundred percent anyway—but we were stuck with each other. I had to find my sister and he had to help me. If I ran, he or someone worse, would find me. I had nowhere to go anyway. Obviously not even Canada would be safe. And I had no one but Wynn to turn to. Not really.

I glanced at my watch. "
Fuck
. I can't believe it's nearly six."

He struggled to his feet and limped into the bathroom. I scrubbed at my face with the palms of my hands as fatigue sunk in deeper, and got up, scrounging around his kitchen to make coffee. Thank God he'd bought a coffee pot.

"Can I ask you something?" I said once he joined me again.

"My knee's fine, thanks."

I laughed but didn't apologize. He'd put me in jeopardy and gotten
exactly
what he deserved, and we both knew it.

"Why are you helping me?"

"I told you. I don't usually have to hunt...normal people. And if I find what Kevin took and return it in time, I'm in my dad's good graces again."

"What about...afterward?"

"We can still see each, other but no getting serious on me."

I rolled my eyes in obvious disgust and got some milk out of the 'fridge for my coffee. "I meant what happens to me and my family?"

Smiling, he reached for two cups and set them on the counter beside the pot of coffee that had almost finished brewing. "My orders were to find you and through you, retrieve what your brother-in-law took from his employer. That's it."  

"So, theoretically, they could send someone else to finish the job. Afterward."

"Only if they can find y'all."

Which meant, one way or another, I'd spend the rest of my life on the run. I half-heartedly toasted him with my coffee cup.

***

Spending the day doing apartment remodeling wasn't my idea of fun, especially after being up all night with Wynn. I felt wrung out, drained and numb by the time I joined Tony in 5-B.

"You're still here."

"For now," I said. If it looked like things might end up going South, I'd disappear again, and this time leave, the country. Any country. Didn't matter, it wasn't like I'd broken any laws (yet) and would have to face extradition. I'd just have to find a country that would let me bring Clyde. I smiled my first genuine smile in months.
Karen
would have to find a country that would let
her
bring Clyde. Me? I'd be shed of that damned animal, if we managed to get out of this mess. "You want to tackle the tub or start on 8-A?"

8-A was one of those things that you ignored and hoped would go away, like a plus sign on a pregnancy test or a big zit on prom night. The tenants had trashed the place then moved out in the middle of the night, taking only their clothes. Just cleaning it up enough so that we could do make-ready would take two or three days. But the tub in 5-B had to be refinished, and I hated the smell of epoxy.

"Never mind. I'll do the tub," he said, smiling in understanding.

"You don't have to," I offered, thinking damned if he didn't.

"I'll take the tub."

***

Early that afternoon Wynn found me standing in the middle of 8-A cursing everyone who'd ever lived here, all their ancestors, their pets and their pet's ancestors, too.

I was hot and sticky and I'd only trashed out half the apartment. With me going in and out I'd shut the air off so my jeans and t-shirt were stuck to my skin along with ten layers of grime. I yanked off my face mask and yellow rubber glove and accepted the icy can of Coke, swallowing half and  immediately burping. I flashed him an apologetic smile. "Sorry."

"Why security deposits were invented," he said looking around.

"No shit?"

"You need a biohazard suit," he said looking me up and down. "This is a long way from commercial real estate, lady."

"Exactly how much do you know about me?"

"Pretty much everything," he said, sipping his own drink.

"What happened to my house...and stuff." I figured since he knew everything he was the one to ask all the questions that had bugged me for the last three years.

"I think your house was foreclosed on. Since you're not legally dead, there wasn't much else Lisa could do."

"And I guess making the payments was too much to ask. I hope your day was more productive than mine."

"I've been cooking a brisket all day."

"Well aren't we just the happy cooker." Sue me for being grouchy. I think I was entitled after the last twenty-four hours.

"Get cleaned up and meet me for dinner, and we'll talk."

"How's your knee?" I asked as he turned to go.

"Better."

I still wasn't apologizing. "I'll see you about six?"

"You can't knock off early?"

"Unlike some folks, I don't get paid on commission or anything," I said, giving him a pointed look.

"Fine!" He held up his hands in surrender, an apologetic smile on his face. "I'll see you at six then."

As he left, Tony arrived with JoJo hard on his heels. She was dressed head to toe in red. Even her Ariat Fat Baby boot's were red. Her wispy, pale blonde hair was pulled on her head in a semblance of a French Twist. If I didn't miss my mark, she was going dancing in Alpine tonight.

"If you'd spend more time working and less time flirting, this'd be done by now."

And if she'd spend less time shopping online we'd have more money to fix the apartments up. "Did you need something, JoJo?"

"Just came to check up on you since I hadn't seen you around. Thought maybe you'd snuck off for a nap."

Shit
. One mistake and she never lets me live it down.
Bitch
. "Maybe if you'd open your blinds, you would have seen me trekking back and forth to the dumpster with those fifty-five gallon sacks of garbage."

"The bathtub's done so I can help," Tony said. His way of keeping the peace which he was really good at, which was part of the reason I liked him so much.

"See," I said, waiving a hand in his direction, "we'll be done in no time." Yeah right. We still had at least a days worth of cleaning in here.

Her nose twitched then seemed to almost shrink on itself. "What's that smell?"

"Cat." I pointed to the mask positioned on my head. It didn't help the smell much but God only knew what else was floating around in here I couldn't see.

"They never paid a pet deposit." Shaking her head, she turned toward the door.

"Genius," I muttered as she walked out.

"I heard that."

Chapter Twelve

"I'm starving," Julie said when he swung the door open.

If there was one thing he'd learned about her, she wasn't one to waste words. "Come on in. It's all ready." He led her to the kitchen and handed her a plate. He'd do whatever was necessary to butter her up for what he needed
her
to do. To that end he'd spent the day cooking brisket and making homemade potato salad. He'd even done up a relish tray with two kinds of pickles and driven all the way back to Wal-Mart to get some Kalamata olives for her.

They chatted about boring unimportant stuff while he made her plate and poured her a glass of wine.

"You don't have any tea?" She held up her wine glass.

"Not in the mood?"

"I got a headache from being in that damned stinky-ass apartment and
oh yeah
," she drawled with raised eyebrows, "I was up all night."

"I guess that didn't help." He retrieved another glass from the cabinet and filled it for her. "I'll give you a massage after dinner."

"And then what?" she asked with a grimace. "Because I'm not sleeping with you again."

"And then…we'll see." He fixed his own plate. "As long as you promise not to bash my knee with a bat again or run off."

"I can't leave Clyde alone all night. He'll tear shit up." Turning toward the living room, she said, "I can't wait until we find Karen, and I can give her that damned cat back."

With a soft chuckle, he joined her on the floor. He'd talked to his mom earlier who'd assured him his furniture and some more dishes would arrive tomorrow. He hadn't told her his cover had been blown. She'd only fret. But they had talked a lot about Julie and Karen...and Lisa.

The more he thought about it, the more he believed Lisa was the missing link in all of this. Her distance from her sisters and her somewhat shady connections was the perfect cover up to help Karen and Kevin get a new identity and get lost. However they'd done it, they'd been super-sneaky about it because he'd found nothing to connect the two sisters despite his and John's best efforts to uncover something. The least obvious of the sisters was possibly the most involved.

"I talked to my mom again today."

"And," she said around a mouthful of potato salad. "Damn, this is so good." She sagged against the wall and chewed, a tiny smile of pleasure on her face.

"Thank you. We went over everything my brother John had on Lisa. There's nothing to outwardly connect her to Karen and Kevin's disappearance."

"Told you—" she jabbed her fork in the air for emphasis and added, "—the bitch is crazy."

"Sure it doesn't run in the family?" he countered. From what John had said, Lisa was wild, she ran with a rough crowd, she had a record and probably a drinking problem, but wasn't crazy in the literal sense.

"Ha, ha." She stuck her tongue out at him, then popped an olive in her mouth. The smile on her face was worth the two-hour drive back to Wally World to get them.

"Anyway, there's a big
but
in there. My gut says she is connected. Tell me about Lisa. Tell me what John doesn't know."

"She got kicked out of high school for selling pot...shit, Wynn, that was over ten years ago. To be honest, I probably don't know her any better than you or your brother do."

"Try again," he urged. "Where does she fall in the pecking-order?"

"Youngest."

"So she's spoiled. Likes to have her way."

"Yeah." She shrugged. "I guess."

"She's only three years younger than you. How can you not know your sister?"

"Karen was the brain, I was the fat one and Lisa was the beautiful spoiled one, okay. That's how we were raised. You could find us in any Psychology 101 textbook. She got kicked out of high school, and two weeks later Mom and Dad were killed in a car accident. I was going to move home from college and help out, but Lisa took off right after the funeral."

"I need you to call her."

She forked up another olive and popped it in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully before answering. "Right. I'm gonna call up my estranged sister, who probably thinks I'm dead, and ask her if she's heard from our dead sister. If I was her, I'd definitely think someone had a gun pointed to my head."

"Not everyone watches
CSI
, Bonnie."

"
Law and Order
," she corrected.

He nearly choked on a mouthful of brisket. "Whatever. You have to call her. Be honest. Tell her you're looking for something and under no circumstances is she to tell you where Karen and her husband are. If you don't know, you can't tell and that means I can't tell either. And she needs to play it cool. If John even thinks that Lisa knows something, he'll go after her."

"Would he hurt her?" Her shoulder sagged. She looked wary, afraid, and dark circles had formed under her eyes from fatigue.

"Probably," Wynn reluctantly confessed. He didn't want to make things worse, but he had a feeling that, at this point in the game, she'd appreciate the truth, no matter how bad, a lot more than she'd appreciate more lies. "John is...um." How exactly did he tell Julie that his brother
enjoyed
killing people for a living?
And
was a complete douche.

"What?"

"He..."

"Just spit it out, Wynn. Is Wynn even your real name?"

"Yes it is, and I screwed up even telling you. I'm human; sue me."

Her expression was painfully serious. "I'm gonna die, aren't I?"

"Not if I can help it. But John and Will aren't exactly the nicest guys in world. Lemme try that again. My dad still hasn't forgiven me for not going into the family business."

"Which is?"

"Knocking people off."

"Knocking people off what?"

He didn't mean to laugh, it wasn't funny, but he just couldn't help himself. "The planet."

***

After dinner, they headed to the Speedie-Mart, located on the highway that led out of town, to use what was probably the last pay phone in West Texas. Wynn bought them a couple sodas and got a couple dollars in change.

"I shouldn't have eaten so much."

Actually she hadn't eaten that much. It was nerves, but he left her alone about it. The last thing he wanted to do was set her hackles up and have her balk at the last minute.

He handed her the quarters and dug through his notes for the phone number. "Ready."

"As I'll ever be," she sighed.

Once they were through he'd take her home and make sure she went straight to bed. More than anything she needed some rest and it showed.

BOOK: Nailed (Marked For Love #1)
9.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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