Author: Ilona Andrews
The way she sat now, leaning forward frowning, biting her pink bottom lip, her shirt dipping to reveal a hint of her cleavage… He wondered idly if he could get her to bend over a little farther…
“Just what are you staring at, exactly?”
Kaldar snapped back to reality. “You. You’ve been thinking hard for the last five minutes. It’s not good for you to strain your pretty little head like that. I’m waiting for the steam to shoot out of your ears to relieve the pressure on your brain.”
“Aha.” Audrey glanced at Jack and George. “What you have here is a man who was caught gaping at my breasts, and now he’s trying to cover it up with rudeness.”
Kaldar lost it and laughed.
“Don’t get any ideas,” Audrey told him. “I’m helping you to get your bracelets back, and that’s it. Most of Seamus’s contacts are back East. He did unload some hot merchandise in the West before, but I have no idea where. He’s a creature of habit. If a deal went well, he’d stick to the buyer like glue.”
“He wouldn’t have gone back East,” Kaldar said. “Too hot with the Mirror and the Hand both hunting him down, looking for the diffusers.” Judging by his actions so far, Seamus Callahan was a man with some talent but many flaws. He planned too much, he hustled too much, he lost both of his children and had chosen to save the wrong one. But even Seamus would know better than to run headfirst into a lion’s maw.
Audrey tapped her nails on her glass. “So the question is, who around here would buy such a thing? It must have been somebody who understood the diffusers’ true worth, because they paid over forty grand in Broken money for it.” Audrey frowned. “How long ago did Alex go into rehab?”
“Three days,” Kaldar said.
“So Seamus and Alex barely had time to make it to the rehab facility after that craziness with the Hand. Seamus would’ve gone through the Broken for sure, probably by plane. I doubt he could’ve flown in with a caseful of money. Too risky.” Audrey rose.
“He would’ve had to fence the merchandise here,” Kaldar said.
Audrey rose and headed to the fridge. “I need to see Gnome. He’s the local fence, and he’ll be our best bet.”
“Does he live in the fridge?” Jack asked.
Heh. Of course, with Jack there was no way to tell if he was joking or being literal.
“No.” Audrey pulled out a large brown bottle. “But he loves beer. Especially Alesmith Speedway Stout. I keep a bottle for him. Just in case.”
Kaldar squinted at the dark champagne-sized bottle filled with jet-black liquid. “Why is it black?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because they put coffee in it.” Audrey went to the door. “I won’t be long.”
“Nice try.” Kaldar rose. “I’m coming with you.”
“Gnome doesn’t trust outsiders.”
“What do you want to bet that I’ll get him to talk?”
She narrowed her eyes. “You like betting a lot, don’t you?”
Careful. “Even a perfect angel like me has to have some vices.”
“Angel? Please.” Audrey looked at George. “George, could you get a can of Pepsi out of the fridge for me?”
George extracted a can.
The boy tossed it at her. Audrey caught it and shook it up. The can landed in front of Kaldar on the table. Audrey waved her beer bottle. “I bet you this stout you can’t open it without foam spilling all over.”
“I don’t have to bet.” Kaldar tapped the can and opened it. Foam rose and fell back down. “See?”
She gave him a suspicious look. “Mhhm.”
Kaldar crossed the room and held the door open. “I can take that bottle.”
She thrust the stout at him. “Why thank you, sir.” Boom, a thousand-watt smile. She couldn’t possibly be trying to con him – all the cards were already on the table. It must’ve been force of habit.
He raised his hand, shielding his eyes. “Smile … too … bright…”
“You’re going to be a pain to work with, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I might grow on you.”
She furrowed her pretty eyebrows. “Like a cancer?”
“Like a favorite vice.”
“Don’t count on it.”