“Don’t call me kid. I don’t like it.”
“Yeah, you kids keep telling me that. Tell your boss I want to talk. Tell him I’m a reasonable man. Tell him no deal is too big or too small. Think you’ll remember, or do you want me to write it down?” “I’ll remember you all right,” he said.
While we chatted, Whitlow stole out of my house and headed for his Honda Accord.
“That wouldn’t be Boston Whitlow, would it?” Allen said.
“In the flesh.”
I waved at Whitlow. He stopped, glared, and flipped me the bird.
“English majors,” I said.
“Heavenly Petryk must still be inside,” Allen said.
“Last I looked.”
“Neither of them told you who my employer is.”
“That’s smart of them.”
“Yeah, we’re all fucking Einsteins. Tell your boss what I said. You can also tell him that I don’t like being watched. I don’t like being followed. Do it again and I’ll go vigilante on your ass.”
“Only if you see me coming,” Allen said. He handed me his half-finished beer through the car window, ignited the engine, and put the Corolla in gear. “I’ll be in touch.” A moment later he drove off. I watched his taillights until they disappeared around the corner.
That’s the second guy you didn’t scare this week, my inner voice said.
Heavenly was standing just inside the door when I returned to my house.
“You still here?” I asked.
“I was just having a friendly beer with the man. Why would anything happen?”
Heavenly followed me into the kitchen. I drained the remainder of Allen’s beer into the sink, rinsed both bottles, and dropped them into my recyclable bin.
“I’m going to have another Summit,” I said. “Want one?”
“I don’t drink beer,” Heavenly said. “Do you have a wine cooler?”
“No, I don’t have a wine cooler.”
“A hard lemonade?”
“Or a hard lemonade. Lord, you’re high maintenance. No wonder you can’t keep a boyfriend.”
“That’s not fair.”
She spoke so sharply, my head snapped around to look at her. Her blue eyes were wide and bright and earnest.
“You’re right, it’s not fair,” I said. “I apologize. We have vodka in the freezer, Scotch, bourbon, cognac, and assorted wines. I have a pretty good Riesling in the refrigerator if that will do.”
“That would be nice, thank you.”
I served the wine in a crystal glass. “The bottle was already opened,” I said. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Heavenly took a sip. “This is very good,” she said. “You know your wines.”
“No, but my girlfriend does.”
“Oh, yes. She of the multiple presidential elections.”
“Why are you still here, Heavenly? Why didn’t you leave with your boyfriend?”
“Boston is not my boyfriend.”
“He used to be.”
“Yes, he used to be.”
Heavenly swirled the wine against the crystal. “Boston isn’t scared,” she said. “Or at least he’s pretending not to be. I am frightened, and I don’t care who knows it.”
“Who’s threatening you, Heavenly?”
She took a long sip of wine before answering. “Can I trust you?”
“Can I trust you?” I asked.
She didn’t reply.
“So we’re back to square one,” I said.
“No, I’ll tell you everything. It’s a long story.”
I pulled the cork from the wine bottle and topped off Heavenly’s glass.
“Do you know who Timothy Dahlin is?” she asked.
“He’s a millionaire; made his money in the home mortgage industry. He’s retired now. Sold his company and jumped just before the housing market went ka-phooey, and he and his golden parachute landed in Sunfish Lake.”
“Oh,” I said. “A serious millionaire.”
“Why do you say that?”
“They don’t let just anyone live in Sunfish Lake.”
“Have you been there?”
“Guys like me aren’t welcome.”
“Why not? You’re wealthy.”
“Not wealthy enough.”
“I’ve been thinking that if I found Jelly’s gold, I could afford to live in Sunfish Lake.”
“What can I say? Eight million bucks doesn’t buy what it used to.”
Heavenly sipped more wine before continuing.
“Somehow Dahlin got our names—”